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I'm rolling out a new webpage, and the logo of the product includes the text of the brand name.

Aesthetically, the page would look better with just the logo and subtext, but that would mean omitting the h1 tag - which feels like a fundamental error in SEO.

I know 'hiding' keywords is also risky, but is there anything wrong with setting it to white text on white background? While I know this was the black-hat methods of the early internet, is it bad if it's just one hidden (and relevant) header?

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    The h1 tag is very important. For what it is worth, you can place and style you h1 anyway you want with CSS so there should be no problems suiting your needs. – closetnoc Jul 5 '17 at 14:57
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    Google won't detect that and penalize though? – James Randolph Jul 5 '17 at 15:19
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    The H1 tag is no longer important at all for SEO. Google renders pages and gives weight to any large bold text at the top of the page, regardless of what tags are used. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 5 '17 at 15:20
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    Google will penalize your site for using white text on white background. They consider that spam. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 5 '17 at 15:29
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    Googlebot has been rendering pages for a few years now. You can log into Google Search Console and use "fetch as Google". When you choose the "fetch and render" option, you can see exactly what Googlebot thinks your page looks like. Google now uses that rather than your HTML structure to determine what text is on the page and which text is prominent. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 5 '17 at 15:32
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It's an important part of HTML document structure, and as a result has played an important role in SEO. That said, an HTML document remains valid without one and in isolation its value to SEO is negligible.

White text on a white background is strongly discouraged by Google, so should be avoided. That said, it isn't necessary: you can easily use an <h1> and position a logo image in front of it via CSS. This satisfies your SEO concern, and provides a text only fallback for accessibility purposes.

Further, the <h1> element often isn't used in the logo position anyway, or more precisely will be used on the homepage (to support optimisation for brand name searches) but dynamically switched for something of lower hierarchical value on inner pages (often a non-semantic element like <span>).

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    Google does not advise using text-indent, position or anything else. Google for some time has put less 'weight' on elements that are not visible, through text-indent, display: none and visibility. Using such methods simply lowers your sites accessibility since you end up with a image without a alt tag.If its a image, use <img> if its text use <h1>, while you may say the fallback indent has the alt tag, this is not true since a good alt for accessbility would be coke cola logo not coke cola. – Simon Hayter Jul 5 '17 at 16:57
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    I disagree. The "weight" of the hidden heading element is moot; repeated correlation studies have shown they are not strongly correlated with ranking performance, and CSS visibility techniques are widely used without negative consequence for SEO. There's no alt attribute, of course, but a screen reader will read the heading. – GDav Jul 5 '17 at 18:05
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    Sorry but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Google puts more weight on visible content, Google the past two years... here is one of dozens rebootonline.com/blog/hidden-text-experiment to get you started. Also note that I said less weight, not 'NO' weight. This is because Google puts more weight on the things that are seen first, because its natural for the importance stuff to appear first, FACT... – Simon Hayter Jul 5 '17 at 21:49
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    Furthermore but a screen reader will read the heading... headers normally don't describe the contents of a image therefore you are not catering for accessibility. Putting Google before users is muggy and absolutely avoidable because you want to believe that a <H1> is do or die, when in reality... it really doesn't matter. Markup plays little to no role in today's SEO. – Simon Hayter Jul 5 '17 at 21:58
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    I didn't say that you said "no weight", nor did I say anything about headers, and nor did I disagree about the differing value of visible and invisible content. Please re-read my comment carefully. – GDav Jul 6 '17 at 6:53

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