I recently had a discussion with a cruise client about the relevancy of H1 tags (also known as Header tags) on the home page. I almost always suggest that companies implement a relevant Header tag on the home page.
The top 10 (or first page of) results in Google for the keyword “cruises” includes almost all brands like Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and others. My client pointed out that some of these sites (direct competitors) did not use the H1 tag.
For competitive keywords, Google has stated that it prefers big brands. Yes, the competitor ranks in the top 10 without an H1 tag, but that’s also because they’re one of the biggest cruise lines in business. Read more here (https://moz.com/blog/why-big-brands-get-all-the-breaks).
So while it is true that some cruise lines are ranking in the top 10 without an <h1> tag, I wanted to illustrate how the H1 Header remains an element of importance. Here’s my example from a Google search of “cruises”.
There are only 2 sites ranking in the top ten that are not big brands but affiliate/travel agents not tied to just one brand. Cruises.com and Cruise.com
There are only 2 sites ranking in the top ten that are not big brands but affiliate/travel agents and not tied to just one brand. Cruises.com and Cruise.com
With that said: It is not scientifically proven that the H1 is very important but gives us an indication of how well implemented On Page SEO can have effect on Google rankings and that you don’t NEED to be an established brand to rank on one of the toughest keywords in Travel.