What I find most interesting is the strong views from various SEOs on both extremes.
Those that feel the H1 tag isn't used say;
- I doubt if the use of the H1 tag is still working to get get higher listings. I think it even may hurt your listings.
- I personally don't see it as H1's giving pages a 'lift'...but as H1's doing what they are supposed to do, so that a page can be shown for relevant searches.
- So the H1 tag often represents an artificial attempt to inflate a page's ranking.
Those that feel the H1 tag is used say;
- I think that used correctly it is still a major contributor.
- I think it is still a very large factor
- The idea that using H1 will hurt you is nuts. What can hurt you is not following Google's guidelines. If you use a bunch of crap techniques, that is what will get someone into trouble, not having an H1. It's like blaming your windshield for a flat tire.
- I will continue to use the H1. It helps to create a well-formed document and just because others have abused it is no reason for me to create crappy mark-up.
The ping pong debate goes back and forth. Me? I use it because of the last quote above.