Google’s December Core Update was immense and it stirred up a lot of emotions (positive and negative) for site owners who improved rankings or were devastated by the update. Ross and Scott review what is known about the update, who was affected, and how to respond to it if you were on the losing side of the results. In addition, they discuss other noteworthy SEO news and answer a question from another valued listener.

Here is a transcription of the episode for your convenience.


Ross: Hello and welcome to SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM, episode 397. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing, and my stand-in co-host today is my company Senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Happy New Year, bud.

Scott: Happy New Year. 2021 is finally here. This is an exciting time.

Ross: Yes. I apologize to our listeners. December was a write-off. John and I tried to connect a couple of times to do it, to do the show. That didn’t happen. I pushed ahead and did a backup show or whatever, but I was burning out. December is such a busy month. I had to do a whole month of business in two weeks. It’s a bit insane.

Anyway, I hope all of you have done and are doing well, that you had a good holiday despite all the insanity, and that your family is well. I know we’ve all experienced some losses or know people who have. It’s a sad time and let’s just hope all this turns around. With all these variants coming out—the latest one is in South Africa—there are lots of uncertainty again, so who knows.

But let’s talk about stuff that’s fun. A big thing happened in December and that was part of the reason why I tried to get a show in because the December core update from Google came out. It was a monster. Now, when did it come out? This is Google’s defense; although they haven’t tried to defend themselves. It is fair? Their timing was as fair as it could be. They launched it after Thanksgiving—Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Any retailers or online stores that were doing really well in rankings got to benefit during that time. If they happen to be the ones that got hit, the people who took their place were able to do really well over Christmas. Who knows how much business is done then versus those other days? But hey, they had to find a time to do it, and they did.

Part of the reason they did this update then is there were a lot of businesses and websites waiting for an update as long as January 2020 or as early as May 2020, which is still not that early. They had to wait for another big update to occur, to see their sites restored. Unfortunately, these big updates are that significant and are making changes you rarely see—granular improvements—I feel for them. I’m glad that they were able to hopefully see improvements. I don’t know, but you can only hope. This update came out on December 4th, I believe.

Scott: I think it was on the 3rd.

Ross: On the 3rd, okay. John Miller talked about it on December 4th and mentioned how he felt the time was not so bad because they did all this. The key component here is that there is no one thing that it did. This update is chock-full of small updates. If you saw your site drop in ranking, it’s not going to be one thing that you find that caused it. In most cases, it’s going to be a whole battery of them.

Now, we’ve been contacted by a couple of past clients who just come to us when they need us and some of them have had some major issues. We’re having to do full audits, complete audits, digging in deeply to determine what could be wrong, and we’re comparing them against their competitors who did well. That means quite a layout. That’s a lot of time on our end, and a lot of expense, but I don’t think anyone can cut corners on that.

If you’ve been hit by it, reach out to someone. If you’re not certain what it is, you better be certain because you’re going to have to fix it. Reach out to people and reach out to an expert. Try to get some help. Be certain—as certain as possible, anyway—about what it is that caused it. Anything else I’m missing there, Scott?

Scott: Not a lot. It’s unfortunate that these core updates aren’t super clear cut. It’s nice when you get an update that focuses on the exact match domain update, or something where it’s super clear what’s going on, or excessive advertising. You know exactly what you need to do if you’re hit by it. Whereas, this could be so many different factors. Or it could just be nothing. It’s tough. It makes it a big challenge, that’s for sure.

Ross: One of the articles, probably the best one I’ve read so far—frankly a lot of them are just hey, we don’t know what it is, this is just a big update, blah-blah-blah; there wasn’t a lot to it— one is from Glenn Gabe. I love his writing on Search Engine Land. In this case, it was on his own website Anyway, he sums up what we just said here and I’ll read his quote here: “Google is trying to understand a site overall, and across many factors. This is why it’s very hard to identify specific things that changed with broad core updates. And it’s also why it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on with a certain website unless you work on it, understand the full history of the site, problems it had over time, improvements that have been implemented, et cetera.”

That is so key. It’s another argument—good argument, sort of self-serving, I suppose—to have an SEO working with you on a regular basis. They’re going to have an intimate understanding of what has been done, what hasn’t, and they’ll be able to either be proactive and ensure that you’re in the best place for the next core update, which is often forecasted quite ahead of time. If they’re not there, you end up having to be in this position where you’re not sure, and you have to put that time and effort into getting someone to find out what it is that’s gone wrong.

It’s hard. I hate seeing sites just plummet. The people who have contacted us to get some help with, none of them do anything bad. We don’t work with anyone like that. We only work with, the classic term is white hat companies.

The fact is, they are in different markets that have been hit hard. Both of them are health (in some way or another) and they were hit very hard. Your money or your life websites were hit particularly hard as well. Casinos, all those things, anything to do with gambling were hit hard. Coupon sites. Not all, of course. There are always winners, but those particular areas appear to have gotten a lot of impact.

Anyway, I do hope you are well. If you want to share some of your findings when you’re doing your research, if you’re doing this yourself, or you have any questions, please do post them on our SEO 101 Facebook group, and we can bring it up in the next show. If you have any findings, that would be great for all of our listeners, I’m sure.

Scott: I want to point something out real quick about these core updates and recovering from them and all that. Typically, to recover from a core update you have to wait for another core update. Let’s say you do all the work, you find that this is what I need to fix. You’ve got it all figured out. Great, fix it. But know that you’re not going to see a recovery in the next week, two weeks, a few months, depending on when the next core update occurs. Don’t fix it and then think, oh, it’s not working because unfortunately, you’ve got to be patient and wait.

Another point to that is, let’s say when the core update is coming—which, sometimes we have a pretty good idea, sometimes we don’t have a clue—don’t save your fixes until the last couple of weeks before the next update. By then, it’s too late and you’re going to have to wait for an entire, another cycle. You really want to get on it right away and don’t expect anything to happen for a while.

Ross: Yeah, and if you’re in a desperate space—we’ve seen this before, too—where you’ve lost everything, you’ve lost 90% of your traffic—there are a lot of questions that come to mind that I would ask someone if I’m talking to them—in a blanket statement, I would say that your question may be, should I start a new website? Should I go ahead and do that? Some of the questions around this would be, how much time and effort have you put into this site? Does it have millions of pages? How big is the site that you’ve already got? If you had a lot of rankings before and you haven’t done anything (obviously) black hat, I wouldn’t invest the time in fixing that site, but yes, I would probably launch another site.

I hate to say that. You’ve got to make money and if you can afford to invest that time into another website, and you know what mistakes not to make this time, go ahead and do that. At least that site will have a better chance of getting some visibility now while you wait for the next update. Again, some of them waited an entire year for the next broad core update. That’s not good for business. Insanity frankly, especially during that year.

Scott: I’ll just point out the obvious, at least obvious to me, but maybe not to everybody out there. If you do create another site, don’t just copy your existing site. Don’t copy and paste it to a new domain. That’s going to open up a whole other can of worms.

Ross: Oh dear. Yes, thank you for mentioning that. That is not a good thing. If you want to know all the ins and outs of that, and how you can perhaps use some of the content, contact us or post it in the forum. We do have a free strategy call we offer on, so consider that. I’m serious about it. It’s free and I’m a very giving guy. I’d love to help out if I can and then we can see if we can work together if that’s an option.

In any case, it is a big deal and I know that if you’ve won out, congratulations. It was, as most of the time it is, at least a two-part update. The first one was December 3rd and I’m going to get this wrong, was it the 11th?

Scott: It was right around the 11th.

Ross: That’s when further tweaks to the algorithm or the core update came out and some sites lost what they gained. Probably not all of it, but partially.

Scott: What I found in at least one situation is a client, Ross knows about this but I won’t name them. They’ve been struggling to get number one for a certain term and everything else doesn’t matter. That’s what they want. Number one for this one term. We’ve been there a few times and back-and-forth and back-and-forth, but for the most top part this specific term has been in the bottom half of page one as high as number two or three on occasion.

When the core update hit on the 3rd, they went straight to number one. It was celebration time, it’s awesome. They were there for a week. When this refresher correction, whatever you want to call it on the 11th, they dropped to number three. Now, granted number three is still awesome, and better than they were. They’re bouncing around a lot higher than they were, usually in the top three, top four now. It’s all good, but sometimes you get a little excited a little too soon.

Ross: We knew that, though.

Scott: I know, but you don’t want to know it, though.

Ross: No. He did. I could have called the client and said hey, we got it. Let’s talk about doing some more work together, blah-blah-blah, because that was a pretty big issue for him. But I knew, let’s wait a little while, and thank goodness we did. It’s frustrating to us, though. We’d love to see that back there. We’d love to see the party. We’ve improved rankings on everything else. Okay, not everything else but substantial improvement across the board since we started working with them, but there’s this one ranking that is very important to them.

Scott: We’ll get it.

Ross: We’ll get it. We will get there. Our life. Anything else we should mention about this core web update? I can’t think of anything. I think we’ve covered a lot of it. Do you read that article by Glenn Gabe? It’s really worth reading and it’s not too hard to find as well. If you go to, you’ll find it there under his marketing blog.

Scott: The only thing I would add is that if you were hit and you don’t know what to do, at the very least work on creating better content, work on your site authority, and make sure your site is user-friendly. Get rid of aggressive advertising, that sort of thing, if you have it. If you work on that, by the next core update, I’d be surprised if you didn’t start to see some recovery.

Ross: Yes, and that’s a good point. Another thing to note here is that in May 2021, the big Page Experience Signal update is coming out, and that’s using Google’s core web vitals to some point, to some degree. Now, that’s pretty important stuff. From an analytical point of view—SEOs have to be fairly analytical—the more confusion there is about what caused an issue, what caused the ranking drop, the harder it is to diagnose.

You’re going to want to get someone involved in figuring this out before that update happens, because that’s just going to complicate things more. If you haven’t done any work to improve your core web vitals, jump on that, too. It’s not fun, it is not easy work, and it can be horrendously structural. You end up having to do a fair bit of work to your website. Or it could be small.

More often than not, we’re seeing fairly significant updates from your hosting, to how your images are optimized, the forms of JavaScript you’re using—we’ve got a note on that coming up. There’s a lot of stuff that has to be worked on, but it’s all for the better. Give Google credit for this. It is improving the speed of the Internet and people’s experiences online.

Anyway, we’ve got lots to share here, but let’s take a quick break, and we’ll be right back.

Welcome back to SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM hosted by myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc., and my company Senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Remember, we have a show notes newsletter you can sign up at Don’t miss a single link and refresh your memory of the past shows any time. I’m also including actual show transcripts. You’re getting a lot more out of that now than you did in the past. Hopefully, you can check it out again if it wasn’t your cup of tea before. Trying to improve things always.

Next up here, John would have been very happy to talk about this today. He’s been waiting for the Google Request Indexing tool to come back and it did on December 23rd. It was enabled back on Google Search Console, and it’s a big thing for news websites like what he manages. It’s very important to them.

In this case, what you could do is, if you had new content—this is what he’s talked about in the past, a new or a big story or something—he could go and do the request indexing tool. What he would do is he would load the URL, and then make sure that Google can see it. He can see what it sees then he can click, indexed. That’s back. That’s good news for many websites.

Another story here: WordPress All in One SEO is a plugin that many people have on their websites. I did mean to read all this before the show but I didn’t. Apparently, the plugin owners enabled auto-updates on all of its users without their approval. As a result, one of the updates caused significant issues to websites. Be very careful about that. Maybe that was an issue if you found something didn’t work. That was why.

This one plugin user called All in One SEO a disaster, writing, “After nearly 10 years, I have to say goodbye. This recent series of almost daily updates since version 4 was released really shows that the new owners of All in One SEO have no clue at all about SEO. I don’t have the time to invest in being a beta tester for a plugin that has two million users but now doesn’t work because it is so full of bugs.” This is going to be fantastic for Yoast.

Scott: It’s funny you say that because I’m trying to think hard about all our clients. I don’t think any of them use All in One SEO. It’s all Yoast.

Ross: Yeah, none of ours. We have seen it, though. I’ve seen it before on our site.

Scott: We used to use it. I used to install it.

Ross: Years ago, like 10 years ago.

Scott: Is it? Yeah, maybe.

Ross: Because I had a Yoast episode on our podcast, probably 10 years. I don’t know.

Scott: Yeah. It very well could be.

Ross: I know that was around the time. I feel for all other people who have it implemented. I’m fairly certain that Yoast doesn’t import features. You can easily just implement Yoast and import all the settings from All in One.

Scott: You absolutely can, or at least you used to be able to. I’m assuming you still can.

Ross: Yeah. Someone else said here that, “Your once-reliable plugin has destroyed hundreds of pages of social metadata on multiple sites, broken layout, and this after I fixed the problems and told you last week. How dare you update my website without my permission.” I would not be [00:19:17] owners.

Scott: Auto-updates are basically never good. Let’s say you’re on holiday. Your WordPress or your All in One updates. Two weeks later you come back, you’re all happy and great, then you look and your sites went down for two weeks. You had no idea. It could end badly. Or you don’t have proper backups to restore to because maybe you only have a three-day automatic backup and you don’t catch it in time. I don’t know. I see no good in it, usually.

Ross: Another thing you should be aware of listeners, is that these plugins aren’t the end-all and the be-all. If you install these things, they’re great. They help a ton, but that’s not all the optimization you need to do. I’ll never forget the one person we talked with once and she just tore a strip off me because she felt we hadn’t been doing our SEO because we hadn’t fully maximized Yoast. I said, excuse me, we’ve been doing this a long time. We don’t rely entirely on all of the features of this plugin. We do a lot of stuff by hand. We don’t need to use the plugin in every case or all the features within the plugin.

If you don’t have a plugin and you don’t have an SEO, it’s very helpful, and we do use it. There are aspects of it that are very helpful, and I commend Yoast and his team. Joost de Valk is an amazing dude. He knows what he’s doing and his team is as well, so it’s great. Just don’t put all your eggs in that and expect it to do everything for you.

Google’s Lighthouse is now recommending JavaScript library alternates. I’m sorry, this is a little SEO 201 although these days it’s more 101 because core update vitals is going to be so important to all you owners of websites. JavaScript libraries cause a lot of problems with site speed. They can be clunky as hell. I am embarrassed to say I don’t know a ton. I can’t code in JavaScript—basics maybe—so I can’t speak to the technicalities of this except that I do know that JavaScript libraries can be unwieldy and there are smaller versions. This particular article talks about their recommendations now.

See here. “Google Lighthouse is now recommending specific libraries that are smaller, different frameworks.” Here’s one: “A notable library, MomentJS,” that’s all one word, “has 12 million downloads per week as of September 2020. It’s the first one Lighthouse points out having a few better options. Google’s logic here is irrefutable and rather well-known. In response, Moment’s own homepage and documentation now mirrors the advice provided Lighthouse is reporting. Moment is feature-frozen, with only stability updates planned.”

That’s a quote from Search Engine Land and an article from Detlef Johnson, one of the veterans of the industry. I remember meeting him when I started, so he’s been at it for a long time. I started in 1997.

Anywho, that is good news. There are many times when we’re working on websites and beating our head against the wall trying to get them to load faster, and one of the issues is the JavaScript libraries. It’s just not a simple thing to fix unless you’re fairly technical. It’s good to see that they’re giving some great recommendations on this.

Now, the Question Hub. Won’t you take this. Scotty?

Scott: Google just launched Question Hub for the US, not for Canada because we always get things last. But this week, they’ve launched it and it’s cool. We’ll see how that goes. There’s not a lot of information on it right now, but the gist is that it allows you to see questions and content gaps online. Google will give you unanswered questions to give you an opportunity to create content for those questions, which is fantastic. What I’m not clear about exactly is where that content goes. Are they just giving you the question, and then you can take and run with it on your own stuff? Or are you answering it on their own platform? Because we haven’t had it here; I don’t know a lot of hands-on stuff. Now that it’s in the US, we’ll probably see it with some clients and dig into it a bit more.

Ross: I did look into that a bit. People were discussing it in one of the forums I was in. First of all, one of the really cool benefits of this tool is it will give you some great ideas for content. Just pure ideas for content. Sometimes, we get stumped—what am I going to write about today?—and you do want to think about not just writing the odd thing; writing something that people need the answer to. This gives you the possibility of showing up in Google Snippets. There are lots of different things that can show up, and if you do a good job, if there’s a gap.

However, not seeing the interface personally, I can tell you that you do submit the URL for the page where you’ve created the content for that content gap. Then, does Google take that information and only show the answer within its search results like the content? I believe so. They will provide a link to your content, so you will still get that business.

Who was that I was talking to? It was Roger Monty. He was saying, do you want to show up in a snippet? He says, why not you? If it’s someone else, it’s still visibility. And that’s true. Yes, Google is potentially taking that business or that page view from you, but it is still great branding and it is still a potential visit. It’s top of the page, just number one by far.

Snippets are good and this Question Hub may be helping to populate that content. I don’t know enough about it yet. It’s been around awhile, but it just hasn’t been on our radar since this was just released in the States, which is “closer” to home.

Scott: I look forward to it. I see a lot of potential there. I’ve signed up for my… whatever you call it. I’m on the waitlist.

Ross: Someone here… wow, I can’t even say his name. Now, the reason I can’t is because this is very prominent in Indonesia and Nigeria. His name is probably from there. Bayo Olupohunda, I think that’s how you say it. Editor-in-chief of He’s Nigerian. “Since we started creating content for question, how about our publications have enriched the web with well-researched and in-depth answers to questions directly asked by users of Google?” It doesn’t say he’s got a lot of traffic from it. Obviously, that was cherry-picked by Google, but if it’s an opportunity to bring in some more visibility, that’s a good thing.

I know that many of my colleagues who have seen discussing this are very skeptical it’s going to have any benefit, with the exception of the intel. It is helpful to know what gaps there are. It’s a pretty awesome marketing tool.

Scott: I have to assume. Let’s say you create the content, then Google cherry-picks it, throws it in a snippet, and you lose the page view. I have to assume you’re getting some level of authority as a result of all those transactions. Google’s got to be giving you some benefit from that and you may not see it in terms of that specific piece of content but your site as a whole should get some boost, and maybe you’re going to get rankings or traffic elsewhere as an end result. Like you said, even Roger said it. At the very least, you’re still getting some branding and that’s prime branding. It may not be total gold, but it’s still super useful to contribute to this if the content aligns with your niche.

Ross: Definitely. Let’s take a quick break. We get back. We’re going to talk about Passages and EU domains. Quite the issue there.

Welcome back to SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM hosted by myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing, and my company Senior SEO, Scott Van Achte.

Passages—there isn’t much to say here. It hasn’t been released yet. It was supposed to be released at the end of the year 2020, but it is going to be released in January 2021, they think. That’s just one company’s estimate, so we’ll see what happens there. I do expect it to happen within this month or February. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe they just didn’t want to be a part of 2020.

Scott: I wouldn’t launch anything in December.

Ross: On that note, I am a bit jaded, but I’m afraid 2021 is going to be 2020.1 just because it’s not like everything stopped.

Scott: What do you say? Where’s that Zoom leave button? I got to find out right now.

Ross: Anyway, I’m hopeful it’s going to be amazing. Already, I do see business isn’t bad so far, so let’s hope that continues. I really feel for all these companies that are having to shut down during the last year. It’s a nightmare.

Anywho, Passages are not out yet. If you don’t know anything about Passages, we have a ton of information on that in the last couple of episodes, so please do check that out. Just be spending more time on the same thing we talked about a ton, just check that out.

Now, this next bit just blew my mind. The title is, “Over 80K .EU Domains Suspended Due to Brexit Regulations”. I just can’t get over this. Tell me a little more about this.

Scott: I literally just found this as we’re about to start recording this SEO 101. I don’t know a whole ton on it yet, but I know about 80,000 people who are not happy right now. I could tell you that much. If you are part of Brexit and you are in the UK, you might be in trouble because your .eu domain is suspended. It’s so major, I don’t even know what to say. I’m speechless about it. You’re going to have businesses going under in a heartbeat and re-registering new domains to try to get their livelihood back. I don’t even know what they’re going to do.

Ross: I’m reading the article here and it says, “In 2018, long before EURid sent its first notice, the European Commission suggested that .eu domains owned by UK citizens could be cancelled at the end of the Brexit transition period. Three year later that day has come.” Now, that was unofficial, but in October 2020—which is really not that long ago—EURid has notified by email all UK registrants and their registrars that they will lose their eligibility as of January 2021 unless they demonstrate their compliance with EU regulatory framework by updating their registration data before 31st of December 2020.

By the way, I should give credit here to Matt Southern on Search Engine Journal. Another great article. As per the new regulations, they have to be a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence—whatever that means, Union, I guess [00:31:42] have to be a citizen. A natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a member state. This stuff doesn’t make any sense to me because I don’t live in Europe.

Scott: I’m the same.

Ross: But maybe listeners who are will understand this. An undertaking that is established in the Union, or an organization that is established in the Union without prejudice to the application of national law.

Anywho, what this comes down to from an SEO perspective is that anyone who has lost their .eu domain has lost all its authority if they haven’t prepared for this. That is big. You just think about how much you invested. It’s like losing your physical, brick-and-mortar location. Just been kicked-out one day. When people are going to come back to that location to buy, woah, where did you go? There’s not even a ‘we moved to this place’ sign. Devastating.

Scott: Scanning this article as we talk. I have maybe just a little bit less sympathy, knowing that they potentially had close to three years’ notice. It still sucks in a huge way, but if someone smart in 2018 saw this coming—you set up your new domain, you set up your redirects—and at this point, it’s not that big of an issue anymore. There was a bit of notice. It’s not that they just pulled the plug today and it was like, wait what? Some people would have been for sure.

Ross: It would appear UK registrants of .eu domains saw this day coming. The number of owners shrunk from 300,000 in 2017 to 81,000 at the beginning of this year.

Scott: A couple of 100,000 people fixed it.

Ross: Yeah. That’s good, but what about that 81,000? Let’s just hope there were people who maybe were just sitting on the domains and weren’t using them.

Scott: Maybe they’re all link farms. They’re all Wikipedia and DMOs clones. I haven’t seen a DMOs clone in a while, but…

Ross: On a positive side, there’s going to be a lot of people just salivating over some potentially good domains that are now free and have authority that they can now forward to their own websites.

Scott: You know what I have to wonder? Let’s say you’re a big brand. I guess it wouldn’t be super big like Nike or something, but you’re a fairly big company. You’re losing your domain now because somebody in your organization dropped the ball. Some random guy comes and scoops up your domain as a result of Brexit. I wonder if there’s legal recourse there to try to get it back. It might get interesting.

Ross: If it’s trademarked, you can’t use it.

Scott: It might get interesting in the next couple of months if any of those 80,000 are people who would go after it. I don’t know. It’s just going to be interesting, that’s all.

Ross: It is. The other thought, too, is, of course, countermanding what you just said. If you have the trademark in the EU, you could probably keep it anyway. You’ve got a substantial reason to keep that domain and probably didn’t affect you, but you would have to notify them first.

Anyway, let’s get off that. When you mentioned that I was dumbfounded, it sounded amazingly bad. Even though it does appear that there were a fair amount and people weren’t completely blindsided by this. There are certainly quite a few angry people there that were clueless. Not exactly a good year to do it because not everyone was on top of everything. It was pretty overwhelming, so hoping there are not too many innocents that were taken out in this.

Next up, Miller file. Good old John, we got to get on an episode soon. Maybe I’ll get him on episode 400 or something. We’re going to do something special for that. Anyway, Google explains what URL removal tool does. The URL removal tool is in Google Search Console. It’s a place where you can go in and request to have a URL removed.

That sounds innocent and simple, but it’s fairly confusing because you’re not removing it. Removing sounds very permanent, but it’s actually temporary. John Miller wanted to make that statement very clear. Someone was saying, why is it still there? Why did it come back? Anyway, the reason is it’s temporary. I’m not sure why that isn’t clear. Even Barry Schwartz mentioned that or I believe it was Barry that said, why should it be a temporary removal tool? Because that’s what it is and it should be clear. Anyway, it’s part of his job. He’s got to be out there explaining these things because we forget sometimes. It’s important that that’s as clear as can be.

We’ve got a question from one of our listeners from Josh Rowe. Josh says, “Regarding page title tag and H1 text, how important is it that these two items don’t match on a single page?” Why don’t you take this, Scott?

Scott: I would say, it’s not really that important at all, today anyway. Even John Carcutt noted in the Facebook group. He replied saying that in his eight years of managing new sites, they’ve always had a matching H1 with a title tag, and they’ve had zero issues as a result, which was interesting because I didn’t know that. I knew there wasn’t a lot of correlation between the two matching.

Some SEO tools definitely bring it up and they say, hey, this matches up and you need to change it. We used to be really vigilant in making sure they’re not the same, but a few things have happened over the years. H1 tags are not as critical and valuable as they used to be. That’s the only thing that’s changed in the last 10 years of SEO, the value of H1s. With their decline in value, it’s not like you’ve got two super-strong signals here that you’re basically appearing to be stuffing. I’ll change an H1 if it makes sense.

The real question, though, is not really how important is that they don’t match. It’s why are they matching? I would definitely see a lot of cases where they probably shouldn’t. If they are matching, look at what they say, because often you’ll have in your title tag. If it’s a blog post, you’ve got the heading. You’ve got the name of the blog post, and then perhaps a bit of branding, or maybe some geographic information or whatever that you wouldn’t necessarily want in the H1 in the first place. In cases like that, they wouldn’t naturally match anyway. If it’s a product page, maybe it might make sense that they do, but more often than not I’d say they wouldn’t align with each other anyway. But if they do, just take a look at them. If you’re a human, which I’m assuming Josh is, read them both. If they make sense the way they are, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Ross: It’s a very good point. If you’re over-optimizing, that’s an issue. Don’t think about the optimization so much when it comes to that stuff. It also looks weird as hell if you’ve got the title and then the title again, essentially. That makes no sense.

Scott: It makes me think about when people share stuff on social media. They’re posting social the blurb of whether it’s a description or whatever. It’s got the thumbnail with the picture and the same blurb. When you click on it, the first paragraph in the article is the blurb. I’m reading the same thing three times. It’s driving me crazy. I’d say it’s kind of similar in a way. Duplication is annoying.

Ross: It’s very important.

Scott: It is.

Ross: All right. On behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing, and my company Senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Thank you for joining us today. I’ll again remind you that we have a show notes newsletter. You can sign up for You’ll have the show notes from this one, including a transcript coming up in a few days. I hope you enjoy that. If you have any questions you’d like to share with us, please feel free to post them on our Facebook group, easily found by searching SEO 101 podcast on Facebook.

Also, if you have any thoughts or suggestions for guests, please do let me know. I should say that I’m always getting a request to be on the show from people, many of which I’ve never heard of. I may start looking into that, but I’m thinking of any of the past people we’ve had on, any of the people you see on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, anything like that. Feel free to post a request and I’ll see what I can do. I’m looking for some ideas we’re going to be doing that a lot more this year.

Anyway, have a great week, and remember to tune into future episodes that air at 1:00 PM Pacific, 4:00 PM Eastern every Monday on WebmasterRadio.FM.

Scott: Great. Thanks for listening, everyone.