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Ranking drop after adding h1 tags

     
10:20 am on Jan 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Noticed a couple of weeks ago that my client had coded their <h1> tags incorrectly (they used div class="h1") so they weren't actually doing anything useful.

Recommended they change this and these changes were made last week. Ran a rank check last night and a lot of the keywords have dropped significantly.

Is this something that might happen after adding <h1> tags (note: they weren't there at all previously). I'm hoping this is natural fluctuation as Google gets to grips with the new page structure, and that they will eventually stabilise.
8:24 pm on Jan 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you have multiple <h1> elements on a page, it might be a problem. Make sure to only use a single <h1> element and use <h2> for sub headers.
8:35 am on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Nope, only one <h1> tag. As I say, they weren't present before so all we have done is add them.
9:26 am on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Trouble is that we all give advice based on past experience but G keep moving the goal posts.

I know that I immediately improved a page's position in the SERPS by replacing an h3 at the top of a page with an h1 but that was over 5 years ago.
12:05 pm on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Looks like Google is starting to rank the "correct" pages for some keywords, e.g. for the keyword "sub-widgets", it was previously ranking the top-level widgets page, it is now ranking the sub-widgets page (albeit in a lower position) which I'm assuming it now deems to be more relevant after adding the <h1> tag
9:27 pm on Jan 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Jammy, any updates on progress? I have a site that uses h2's for headings, thinking of changing to h1's.
12:22 am on Jan 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It could be that this change was of such kind that Google wanted to re-asses the page again and the original page may re-appear where it was before the change if you give it a little bit of time.

I suggest that you do not change the page back again at least for a little while to avoid potentially triggering Google's Rank Modifying Patent [webmasterworld.com...]