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Idle (or burning?) question about h1 header tags

Do h2s work like h1s in the absence of an h1?

9:52 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have a client who has an authoritative, well-indexed, high ranking site, with thousands of unique, well written features. So what’s the “problem”? The content doesn’t have H1 tags.

Because of some legacy issues with the CMS, each story is published with the headline in the H2 position, the slug in the H3 position and author in the H4 position. No H1.

I know that’s generally suboptimal, but it seems to be working fine. Do I stand to gain anything by moving each of these up one level? Or do search bots, seeing no H1, use the H2 as the key indication of page content? In other words, is there a cascading effect?

Ever seen this issue? What did/would you do? Double down or stand?
2:12 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Sounds like a case for if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Besides, isn't using too many h1 tags one of those heavy-handed SEO things that just annoys the search engines?

I know the no-h1 problem. In my case it's got something to do with a legacy of e-books where you're only supposed to have one h1 in the entire volume. I've slowly slowly built up to where I can have h2s on every page, and h1s on the index pages. In time, in time.

Oh, I've just remembered something concrete. Fragment links in g### results. I first noticed them last year, but I think they've been around for ages. The first one I specifically noticed in logs-- and still the most common one-- is now an h2.* But I'm pretty darn sure that all the headings on that page started out as h3s. So they can definitely see lower-level headings.

* When I went to refresh my memory about header level, I found that the link is on a page whose overall title is a spin on "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Heh.
2:19 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Lucy24. I really appreciate the response. I'm inclined to agree with you. Just wanted to hear any contrary advice or opinion.s

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