tedster - 9:27 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)
Do you think the value of heading tags has increased over the past couple of months or do you think it may in the future based on what it says in the report card?
The H tags have a very roller coaster history with Google - and the other search engine too. There were times where a keyword in the H tag was a very big deal, almost the way keyowrd-in-title tag is. Then webmasters got wind of it, starting abusing it by wrapping all kinds of things in an H1 tag - even the whole page sometimes!
So the H tags lost power - they were no longer a signal that search engines could use to determine relevance. And since then it's been up and down. The main point is that it DOES go up and down, and that Google continues to gather statistics on what factors are strong, or let's say "less noisy" signals for deciding relevance. So at any time the help an H1 or H2 gives your page could get stronger, or it could vanish to nothing beyond a <p> tag.
Bottom line for me is that an H1 tag structure is a well structured document. It's the way HTML was originally conceived, it all begins with having a document and then adding mark-up to it. So from a practical point of view, I'd never stop using them appropriately, or start doing something different just because the amount of "pop" they give seems to be going up again.