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goodsportz
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Hey Aidan, you make fair points and thanks for sharing those links. And agreed, Google don’t just use H1’s to understand what a page is about, there is a whole suite of signals they look for. But in all algorithms there is a sweet spot, where you get the most “points/score/tally” or whatever you want to call it, from the algorithms analysis of all the signals they are reading, and as SEO’s it’s our job to facilitate our clients getting the best score they can. Results I’ve seen suggest to me that the easier it is for Google to be sure of who you are and what you do, then the more likely you are to be rewarded with good rankings. In the context of this thread, if I had a client arguing with me about my recommendations on H1’s and casting aspersions on my integrity because they felt I was unnecessarily getting them to do work they didn’t need to do, I’d respectfully suggest to them that they don’t need my help because they clearly already know more about SEO than me, and I’d move on and help someone that isn’t going to tell me how to do my job. In my experience, clear structured data on the page (of which a clear H1’s is helpful in achieving) is advantageous for ranking. It doesn’t mean you can’t rank without it, sure, it depends on the strength of your competition on the phrase, (and the myriad of factors being crunched in the algorithm), but all other things being equal, a single clear H1’s that is bang on your target keyword, supported by a H2 H3 substructure, that gives a context to your subject matter, will give one page an edge over another. I mean Google actually requests structured data in webmaster tools. And businesses processing masses of data use schema to make sense of it. Google is facing the same problems and if you look into their patents, you see that they use similar approaches to resolving the issues of how to make sense of this data. Also your quite right, Google does share some useful points on how to produce content and give general information on what it regards as good content, but they don’t hand you the keys to the kingdom, and that’s what I meant when I said expect to be kept in the dark and mislead. I mean, why would anyone pay for Adwords if they could just rank No1! Googles IP is the secret sauce, that’s how they make their money and it’s in Googles interest for the keys to the algorithm to be kept secret. As evidence of this, consider the way they no longer share detailed information on keywords in analytics. Consider the way they stopped sharing page rank data and the way they have started implementing stealth penalties (ie no longer notifying people of penalties). All these changes have been made because they want to keep you in the dark. Seriously, I’ve had clients come to me that have done a bucket load of work following Googles recommendations but they still rank nowhere, and simply by taking that content and structuring and supporting it in ways that Google would never tell them to do, got them consistent top 3 results with local maps results across a swag of keywords, for years on end! What I’m saying is don’t expect Google to give you the secrets of how to outrank everyone else, they make their money by keeping that a secret, and getting you to say, bugger all this work on SEO, I’ll just advertise on Adwords.