If I hide my H1 tag for aesthetics reasons on my site, can it result to penalty?
JOHN MEULLER (Webmaster Analyst from Google):
So in general, not ranking as well as I expected is something that is harder to diagnose than just looking at the H1 tag. So we use a lot of factors for crawling, indexing, and ranking. And the visible content on a page is something that we do take into account. But if you’re hiding this content, then from our point of view, we assume that this is not really relevant content for your page. f it’s relevant, then obviously you would be showing it. So that’s something where if it’s relevant, then let us know about that and be clear with your signals. Don’t say, this is a heading, but actually, Google, ignore it. But rather make it clear that we can pick it up and see, oh, this is a heading. And you show it to users as well as a heading, so therefore, we can assume this is really an important part of your page. One technique that people have used in the last decade or more probably is just use H1 tags and style them as normal text and assume that because they’re H1 tags, Google will treat this as the more important content. And that’s really not the case. So wrapping the whole page in an H1 tag isn’t really going to help your site significantly. So I would mark up the headings on your page. Use proper HTML markup. Let us know about semantic structure of your page so that we can pick that up and actually use that for the Search results.