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Will ChatGPT Take Your Job?

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Will ChatGPT Take Your Job?

ChatGPT has all the signs of being a technological game-changer. But will ChatGPT take your job?

A chatbot powered by machine learning and vast amounts of data, it interacts with users in an incredibly realistic way. 

But this OpenAI-created model does much more than just carry on virtual conversations. It can generate content like poems or term papers, debug code, answer queries, and more. 

This is an exciting development. But on a personal level, it’s more than a little worrying – particularly regarding its impact on job security. 

If technology reaches a level where it can perform your job as well or better than you can, what are you going to do for a living?

Most people have spent their entire careers working in one field. Are they all supposed to become carpenters or massage therapists? And if so, won’t the competition for those roles be intense? How will we survive?

The thought alone is enough to induce a full-on panic attack.

But relax. Breathe into a paper bag if you need to. 

Things are not as desperate as all that. 

You’re going to be fine. Airplanes have a complex system of autopilot and, during a flight, are controlled mostly by computers, but pilots are there sitting and tuning the computer’s controls whenever needed.

Yes, on a long enough timescale, technology will eventually assume your current role. However, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are still in their infancy, and you’ll (hopefully) be long since retired before the machines come for your job. 

And before that happens, the power of tools like ChatGPT will allow you to perform your role with much greater efficiency and effectiveness. 

In this piece, we’ll take a look at some of the jobs most likely to be impacted by ChatGPT and rate their security on a scale of 1-10, with one meaning no chance of replacement by machines and ten meaning polish up your resume, because you’re about to get your walking papers. 

Is Your Job Safe From ChatGPT?

Search Engine Optimization Professionals

Considering this is Search Engine Journal, our very first area of concern is about the future of SEO jobs. 

There is no question ChatGPT and similar programs will change how SEO professionals work. But this is search engine optimization – change is the only constant. 

And it’s already being employed by some professionals in the industry. From keyword research and strategy to content creation and reporting, ChatGPT shows great potential. But that doesn’t mean it’s coming for your job. 

For one thing, no matter how powerful AI-powered programs become, they’ll never be human, which means they’ll never have our creative ability or mental quirks (although ChatGPT is producing some impressive creative work). Current AI systems need both guided training from humans and human input to train on, which limits their knowledge of current and recent events and makes work produced by humans a core part of how they function. It also needs human fact-checkers.

And let’s not forget that now, Google considers AI-generated content to be against its guidelines. Although, the use of anti-AI-detection algorithms isn’t fail-safe. 

Most businesses serious enough to employ an SEO professional (which should be all of them) shouldn’t be willing to risk the negative impact of getting flagged as spam.

Machine-driven SEO will also struggle to reconcile conflicting information and determine what is accurate.

For the foreseeable future, it seems there will be a need for humans to oversee any AI-driven SEO efforts, offering creative input, providing strategic direction, and making adjustments based on shifting search tides. 

  • Risk of replacement: 2/10.

Programmers 

Programming is a common and often lucrative career path.

But one of the key features that keep coming up in discussions about ChatGPT is its ability to write code. Imagine it – code writing new code, never forgetting a decimal or closing bracket. It sounds like a home run.

Additionally, ChatGPT has shown an ability to pass certification exams, which could raise the bar for entry-level jobs and make it harder for junior developers to find positions.

There’s just one little problem: the OpenAI chatbot is still far from being able to write complex code. Sure, it can manage “Hello, World!” in HTML, but according to industry experts, figuring out more difficult applications is still quite a ways off. 

Screenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

There’s also the fact that Stack Overflow banned ChatGPT after it was used to answer questions — incorrectly.

That’s not to say it won’t impact the work programmers are doing.

As the chatbot and others like it learns and improves, they’ll increasingly take over the need for creating boilerplate code like generic functions, performing quality assessments, and debugging existing code. This, in turn, will free human developers up to focus on more complicated architecture.

In addition to streamlining coding and reducing waste, AI coders could also give rise to new jobs in the field, including code prompt executers and developer advocates (go-betweens between technical workers and non-techies). 

And all this additional programming power will likely give rise to new programming jobs no one has even thought of yet.

If we’ve learned one thing from Moore’s Law, it’s that the growth of technology is exponential. And for every career door that closes, multiple new ones will open.

Keep an open mind and keep learning. 

  • Risk of replacement: 4/10.

Pay-Per-Click Specialists

In general, PPC specialists don’t seem to be nearly as concerned with the impact of ChatGPT and other AI technologies on their job security. If you were to hazard a guess as to why it could be because they’ve already made peace with it. 

If you’ve ever set up a PPC campaign, you’ve used the power of artificial intelligence, or something very similar to it, at least. Automated Rules could be viewed as a rudimentary type of AI, where you create rules for common use cases. 

Using several of these rules together in a process known as automation layering, is an important step to ensuring your PPC account doesn’t drain itself in the face of a bug or other unusual event. 

The possibilities ChatGPT offers to the field of PPC are just a continuation of this same philosophy. AI will automate the bidding process based on statistical learning methods driven by real-time information. It will likely also take much of the manual work out of campaign management. 

And just like with SEO, it seems extremely unlikely that ChatGPT or any of its competitors will take human workers out of the equation soon. In addition to the creative aspect, human PPC specialists perform one task no program currently can: Steering the ship.

Humans understand their customers, brand, and values. And this means, for the foreseeable future, a person will need to chart a logical course for every business. 

Likewise, a human will be required to teach AI which decisions it should be making, as well as diagnose what went wrong when things get off track. 

Read this for a thorough analysis of AI and PPC. 

  • Risk of replacement: 2/10.

Writers

As you can probably imagine, this is one area of particular personal concern. What are people like me, who depend on creating the written word going to do when ChatGPT and the like can come up with a better, snappier, more effective headline in less time?

This wasn’t much of a concern when computers were spitting out incomprehensible dialogue, ala “Sunspring,” the 2016 short film written entirely by AI. And then we got ChatGPT.

A query for the plot of a horror film about a haunted pocketwatch returned an incredibly coherent (and interesting) synopsis. This means even creative writing work could be at risk. 

creative writing prompt: chatgptScreenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

Until you run a second query for a horror film about a haunted cemetery. Which prompts ChatGPT to give you a similar synopsis with slightly different plot points.

Creative writing by ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

Is it different enough to pass copyright laws? Yes. But that’s not to say it’s not formulaic and uninspired. 

So, creativity does provide some sort of shield for writers (for now), but what about non-creative writing, journalism, whitepapers, etc.? Surely ChatGPT is a worry in those fields, considering it has become convincing enough to inspire concerns about academic cheating?

At the moment, the way AI systems are trained means they don’t have access to the latest events, which makes them unsuitable for breaking news and new developments.

Furthermore, using AI to build the connection and empathy of copy written by a living person might be quite difficult, especially in journalism and creative work where voice, nuance, emotion, and style matter.

There are several more routine writing tasks that AI can do very effectively, such as creating product descriptions, ad copy, video synopses, and other time-consuming and repetitive jobs.

While it does seem likely that automated intelligence will subsume some of the roles of professional writers, the day it will replace them entirely is far off. And even then, humans’ desire to create will still likely keep writing a popular activity. 

  • Risk of replacement: 4/10.

Sales Professionals

There is no question that big data and AI can be used to revolutionize the sales process. From more accurate targeting to behavior prediction, there is little question it can be used to make sales easier and more efficient. 

You’ve probably already seen the effect in your own life as retailers collect and analyze your buying habits to make predictions. Those store reward cards and discount key fobs exist for just one reason: to collect your data for analysis.

It’s been going on for quite some time now, too. Way back in 2012, Target data-mining identified a teen girl’s pregnancy before her father even knew about it. And it has only gotten better since then.

Surely, this means the sales occupation is headed out the door, right? Not even close. 

Legislators, especially those in Europe, are coming down hard on many of the biggest tech companies that use algorithms and AI with laws focused on privacy and consumer protection. Google is reducing user tracking; third-party cookies are going away. The technological leaps forward in AI may be limited in their application in sales and marketing for a long time.

Plus, ask any salesperson worth their salt about the most important thing to closing deals, and nine out of ten of them will tell you the same thing: Trust. And trust begins with personal relationships, something even the most convincing AI may never be able to replicate. 

Of course, that’s not to say there will be no use for ChatGPT and the like in sales. Most sales departments already use a CRM tool to help them go after hot prospects and automate marketing. And chatbots embedded in websites have made information collection easier than ever. 

Like virtually every other field discussed, ChatGPT promises to reshape the face of the sales process and automate administrative work, but it will never replace actual human interaction. 

  • Risk of replacement: 1/10.

Educators

If people were cold, uncaring machines, there would be no better way to educate them than by rote input. But humans are not computers, and education is about much more than transferring knowledge. 

And no amount of programming, algorithm tweaking, and data processing can ever replace human intangibles like patience, discipline skills, friendliness, and genuine concern for students’ well-being. 

Much like with sales, regardless of the advances in technology, it seems inconceivable that ChatGPT or another AI tool will ever be able to replace human educators. 

But again, this is not to say it won’t change how things are done. From grading to progress tracking, developing personalized learning plans to improving accessibility, there are many opportunities to use this exciting new technology in the field.

  • Risk of Replacement: 1/10

Attorneys

At first glance, the law seems like one field where AI is sure to make big strides. What is the law, after all, besides a codified set of instructions?

Why couldn’t ChatGPT be used to analyze legal documents, decisions, and precedents, then apply that knowledge to real-world cases?

There’s the human factor to consider. 

One of the main arguments against mandatory minimum sentences in criminal trials is that every situation is unique.

This is no less true for civil trials, divorce proceedings, bankruptcy, or other legal issues. And because the legal field deals with people, not absolutes, there will always be possibilities that even the deepest AI cannot account for. 

Due to the way ChatGPT was trained, basing a legal argument on its research alone wouldn’t consider at least last 12 months of cases and decisions. That could be catastrophic in some situations. Add to that its tendency to sometimes just get things wrong, and the tool might become more trouble than its worth in a legal profession.

While ChatGPT-like technology could prove beneficial to the legal field in roles like research and scholarship, automated contracts and forms, and even accelerating the judicial process, machines are not capable of rendering judgments. 

Nor are they guaranteed to be free from biases, which at first glance seems to be their primary advantage over humans. Depending on how they were trained, ChatGPT and other chatbots are susceptible to dataset bias and less than 100% accuracy. 

And this means the role of the judge, not to mention the power of a passionate and skilled attorney to sway opinions, is in no danger of replacement by computers. 

  • Risk of replacement: 1/10.

AI Isn’t Coming For These Jobs Yet

ChatGPT and other programs employing machine learning and big data in pursuing artificial intelligence can be wonderful tools. They show great promise in reducing or even eliminating a lot of the mundane day-to-day tasks you have to perform. 

And we have already embraced this technology in other aspects of our lives – simply look at the popularity of Alexa and Siri or any of the brands of robot vacuums thousands of people readily adopted into their lives. 

Why shouldn’t we hope that smarter machines will make our work lives easier as well? Because they will. 

With that said, some industries are more likely to be replaced by machines in the next few years or decades. These include positions like receptionist, many customer service jobs, driving jobs including taxi drivers and truckers, and soldiers. 

There are also rightful concerns about how AI tools like ChatGPT can be used by unscrupulous individuals or companies. From students cheating in college to fake scientific abstracts, whether AI tools cause damage depends a lot on how we use them. Some employers may be quicker to try and cut costs with AI than others. But it’s likely to also see resistance due to accuracy, ethics, and political issues.

One thing is certain – for every position they replace, they will pay for it in other ways, creating new opportunities and industries as they go.

Don’t fear what ChatGPT could mean for your career just yet.

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

We live in an age when AI technologies are booming, and the world has been taken by storm with the introduction of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is capable of accomplishing a wide range of tasks, but one that it does particularly well is writing articles. And while there are many obvious benefits to this, it also presents a number of challenges.

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle that AI-generated written content poses for the publishing industry is the spread of misinformation.

ChatGPT, or any other AI tool, may generate articles that may contain factual errors or are just flat-out incorrect.

Imagine someone who has no expertise in medicine starting a medical blog and using ChatGPT to write content for their articles.

Their content may contain errors that can only be identified by professional doctors. And if that blog content starts spreading over social media, or maybe even ranks in Search, it could cause harm to people who read it and take erroneous medical advice.

Another potential challenge ChatGPT poses is how students might leverage it within their written work.

If one can write an essay just by running a prompt (and without having to do any actual work), that greatly diminishes the quality of education – as learning about a subject and expressing your own ideas is key to essay writing.

Even before the introduction of ChatGPT, many publishers were already generating content using AI. And while some honestly disclose it, others may not.

Also, Google recently changed its wording regarding AI-generated content, so that it is not necessarily against the company’s guidelines.

Image from Twitter, November 2022

This is why I decided to try out existing tools to understand where the tech industry is when it comes to detecting content generated by ChatGPT, or AI generally.

I ran the following prompts in ChatGPT to generate written content and then ran those answers through different detection tools.

  • “What is local SEO? Why it is important? Best practices of Local SEO.”
  • “Write an essay about Napoleon Bonaparte invasion of Egypt.”
  • “What are the main differences between iPhone and Samsung galaxy?”

Here is how each tool performed.

1. Writer.com

For the first prompt’s answer, Writer.com fails, identifying ChatGPT’s content as 94% human-generated.

Writer.com resultsScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the second prompt, it worked and detected it as AI-written content.

Writer.com test resultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the third prompt, it failed again.

Sample ResultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

However, when I tested real human-written text, Writer.com did identify it as 100% human-generated very accurately.

2. Copyleaks

Copyleaks did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written.

Sample ResultScreenshot from Copyleaks, January 2023

3. Contentatscale.ai

Contentatscale.ai did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written, even though the first prompt, it gave a 21% human score.

Contentscale.aiScreenshot from Contentscale.ai, January 2023

4. Originality.ai

Originality.ai did a great job on all three prompts, accurately detecting them as AI-written.

Also, when I checked with real human-written text, it did identify it as 100% human-generated, which is essential.

Originality.aiScreenshot from Originality.ai, January 2023

You will notice that Originality.ai doesn’t detect any plagiarism issues. This may change in the future.

Over time, people will use the same prompts to generate AI-written content, likely resulting in a number of very similar answers. When these articles are published, they will then be detected by plagiarism tools.

5. GPTZero

This non-commercial tool was built by Edward Tian, and specifically designed to detect ChatGPT-generated articles. And it did just that for all three prompts, recognizing them as AI-generated.

GPTZeroScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

Unlike other tools, it gives a more detailed analysis of detected issues, such as sentence-by-sentence analyses.

sentence by sentence text perplexityScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

OpenAI’s AI Text Classifier

And finally, let’s see how OpenAi detects its own generated answers.

For the 1st and 3rd prompts, it detected that there is an AI involved by classifying it as “possibly-AI generated”.

AI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generated

But surprisingly, it failed for the 2nd prompt and classified that as “unlikely AI-generated.” I did play with different prompts and found that, as of the moment, when checking it, few of the above tools detect AI content with higher accuracy than OpenAi’s own tool.

AI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generated

As of the time of this check, they had released it a day before. I think in the future, they will fine tune it, and it will work much better.

Conclusion

Current AI content generation tools are in good shape and are able to detect ChatGPT-generated content (with varying degrees of success).

It is still possible for someone to generate copy via ChatGPT and then paraphrase that to make it undetectable, but that might require almost as much work as writing from scratch – so the benefits aren’t as immediate.

If you think about ranking an article in Google written by ChatGPT, consider for a moment: If the tools we looked at above were able to recognize them as AI-generated, then for Google, detecting them should be a piece of cake.

On top of that, Google has quality raters who will train their system to recognize AI-written articles even better by manually marking them as they find them.

So, my advice would be not to build your content strategy on ChatGPT-generated content, but use it merely as an assistant tool.

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An “Awesome Idea”

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An "Awesome Idea"

Google’s John Mueller discussed heading elements with a member of the SEO community where he affirmed the usefulness of using hierarchical structure when using heading elements.

Background Context to What Mueller Said

Heading elements <H1> – <H6> are supposed to be used to indicate what a section of a webpage is about.

Furthermore the heading elements have a ranking order, with the <H1> being the highest rank of importance and the <H6> being the lowest level of importance.

The heading element purpose is to label what a section of content is about.

HTML specifications allow the use of multiple <H1> elements. So, technically, using more than one <H1> is perfectly valid.

Section 4.3.11 of the official HTML specifications states:

“h1–h6 elements have a heading level, which is given by the number in the element’s name.

If a document has one or more headings, at least a single heading within the outline should have a heading level of 1.”

Nevertheless, using more than on <H1> is not considered a best practice.

The Mozilla developer reference page about the use of headings recommends:

“The <h1> to <h6> HTML elements represent six levels of section headings. <h1> is the highest section level and <h6> is the lowest.

…Avoid using multiple <h1> elements on one page

While using multiple <h1> elements on one page is allowed by the HTML standard (as long as they are not nested), this is not considered a best practice. A page should generally have a single <h1> element that describes the content of the page (similar to the document’s <title> element).”

John Mueller has previously said that it doesn’t matter if a webpage uses one <H1> or five <H1> headings.

The point of his statement is that the level of the heading isn’t as important as how they are used, with the best practice being the use of  headings for indicating what a section of content is about.

What Mueller Said on Twitter

A member of the SEO community was joking around and gently ribbed Mueller about using more than one H1.

He tweeted:

The SEO followed up by sharing how he preferred using the best practices for heading elements by using only one <H1>, to denote what the page is about and then using the rest of the headings in order of rank, give a webpage a hierarchical structure.

A Hierarchical structure communicates sections of a webpage and any subsections within each section.

He tweeted:

“I’m too traditional with header elements. (HTML 4 for Life! lol)

I’d still recommend using just one H1 element on a page.

I patiently go back to pages to implement header hierarchy for fun.”

John Mueller tweeted his approval in response:

“I think that’s an awesome idea & a great practice.

Header hierarchy is not just useful to Google, it’s also important for accessibility.

(Google still has to deal with whatever weird things people throw up on the web, but being thoughtful in your work always makes sense.)”

Hierarchical Page Structure

In the early days of SEO, <H1> used to be counted as an important ranking factor, one that was more important than an <H2>.

So, back then, one always put their most important keywords in the <H1> in order to signal to Google that the page was relevant for that keyword.

H1 used to have more ranking power so it was essential to use the <H1> to help rankings.

Google’s algorithm was using keywords as a way to “guess” what a webpage was about.

Keywords in the anchor text, keywords in the title tag and keywords in the <H1> helped Google guess what a page was relevant for.

But nowadays, Google doesn’t have to guess.

It is able to understand what sections of a webpage are about, and consequently, what the entire webpage is about.

Despite those advances, many SEOs still believe that using an <H1> is some kind of magic ranking factor.

Headings are no longer about shouting what keyword you want to rank for.

The role of heading elements are now about telling search engines what a section of content is about.

Each section of a content is generally about something specific.

Heading tags make it easier for search engines to know what a page is about.

And that helps them rank the page for the topic.

And according to the official HTML specifications, that’s technically the proper way to use heading elements.

Lastly, Mueller mentioned a quality of the heading element as a way to better communicate for accessibility reasons, like for people who use screen readers.

The official HTML specifications say:

“Descriptive headings are especially helpful for users who have disabilities that make reading slow and for people with limited short-term memory.

These people benefit when section titles make it possible to predict what each section contains.”

So thank you John Mueller for calling attention to the benefits of using headings with a hierarchical structure, for calling attention to how hierarchical structure is useful for Google and for accessibility.

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