One SEO professional asked John Mueller in a hangout about using h2 tags in the footer of their site.
Their main question was: they have a services footer which shows up on every page of their site. They have used h2 text for the headings of this footer.
When they look at the hierarchy of headings for every page – they all show up as h2 tags. His questions – is it best to change the h2 tags to paragraph (<p>) tags? Or can they separate the footer?
They would want to do this using semantic HTML tags. So by doing this, they would separate the footer from the rest of the page.
So can they still use h2 tags for the footer, and it will not be assigned to the main content by Google?
John answered that in HTML 5, there is an element that you can use for the header, and the footer as well. Within these elements, it’s possible to have your headings again, essentially.
Even from a semantic point of view, you can set this up properly. It should be possible. And John doesn’t think it would cause any problems on Google’s side either way.
This happens at approximately the 03:38 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
SEO Professional 1 3:38
Yeah. Okay. The second question I brought to you is, we have like a service footer now, where this footer shows up on every site on our website. And we have used h2 text for the headings of this footer. So when I look at the hierarchy of headings now for every- they appear on every page, like the h2 text. And my question is now, is it the best way to change this h2 text to normal paragraph things? Or is there a way I can separate the footer, for example, with semantic HTML tags from the rest, so that I still be able to use the h2 text for the footer and they will not be assigned to the main content by Google?
So where are you seeing the problem with the current setup?
SEO Professional 1 4:55
That’s when I look at, like, for every article we have, it doesn’t matter which topic is about, we also have the headings of this always the same service footer in the heading hierarchy.
And is it visible in the search results? Or is it just like, from a semantic point of view?
SEO Professional 1 5:19
It’s from a semantic point of view. I thought maybe Google is now confused if this heading- because these headings always appear on every page, or can they recognize it? And can they, can Google separate it from the main content?
Yeah, usually, that should just work now. In HTML 5, there’s also an element that you can use for the header, and I think the footer. And within those elements, you can, like, have your headings again, essentially. So even from a semantic point of view, you could set that up properly. It should be possible, I don’t think it would cause any problems on Google’s side either way.
SEO Professional 1 6:12
But do you think because the service footer is above the regular footer? Could I put both of these into one footer tag? Or should I…?
Sure. Yeah. So from our point of view, what usually happens with these kinds of common elements is we can recognize them across the site, because they’re more or less repeated across the site. And then we can try to de-emphasize them when it comes to search. Because we realize it’s the same text on all of these pages, we will just pick one of these pages to rank essentially, for the text in that footer section. It’s not something that we would say is critical for the rest of the page.
SEO Professional 1 6:58
But it would be cleaner to tidy it up and to separate it semantically?
Yeah, I think it would be cleaner. I don’t think you would see any practical change. So that’s, that’s always kind of the tricky part. From a theoretical point of view, you can make it, you can make it cleaner, you can make it easier to understand. But from a practical SEO point of view, we’re so used to these kind of footer elements and all of the weird ways that they’re used. That’s usually not a problem.
SEO Professional 1 7:27
So it’s more for my backlog. Not for my To-do list today?