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Duplicated H1s

Duplicate H1 Headers

In this guide we describe what this element is, what the check is and how it works and provide context as to why this SEO check is performed. This check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag).


What is a H1 Header?

H1 headers are the primary header on any page and they can yield significant benefits to the SEO of a page when optimised for target keywords. A H1 header is defined at the tag and text contained within the tag:

<h1>example header text goes here</h1>

The H1 header is designed to head all the content on a page and is usually the most prominent text on a page. Typically found at the top of a page and in larger font than the rest of the text.


What is a Canonical Page?

A canonical page is a webpage that has a self-referential canonical tag present on it. A canonical tag advises Google as to the preferred / original version of content. If a page / piece of content is accessible from multiple URLs or is missing across multiple pages, a canonical tag helps to define the ‘canonical’ version.

A canonical tag contains a URL and if that URL matches the URL of the page being accessed, it is defined as a canonical page. Canonical pages are typically the ‘SEO’ pages of a site as they are most likely to appear in the search results. The canonical tag of our homepage looks like this in HTML:

<link rel="canonical" href="">


What are Duplicated H1s?

Duplicate H1 headers occur when the exact same H1 header text is used on more than one canonical page. It may be that a H1 header is used on 2 or 10 canonical pages, there is no limit, and this can cause issues. Google review H1 headers as part of their ranking algorithm and to determine what keyword/s a page is targeting. Having duplicate H1 headers across multiple pages sends a mixed signal to Google.

This can result from an unstructured expansion of content and natural website growth over time or could the result of sloppy content production. There are many reasons why this can occur, but it would be very unlikely that this is done purposefully or legitimately.


What Do We Check & How?

Our SEO tool extracts the H1 header text from every page and then runs a script to identify duplicates. These are then grouped into ‘sets’, where all pages that share the same H1 header are considered a ‘duplicate set’. The text must match exactly, including spaces, punctuation and special characters for it to be identified as a duplicate.

As mentioned previously, these checks are performed exclusively on canonical pages, so if a H1 is duplicated across 1 canonical page and 3 non-canonical pages this would not be flagged as an error in this section of the reporting. You will be able to see all duplicate H1s under the Headers category in the SEO Errors report.


What should you do with this data?

You can use our software to identify duplicate H1 headers across your site and you can use that data to:

  • Re-write the affected headers
  • Provide the list of duplicate sets to a client
  • Count errors on a site