Not a ranking factor, but still important
4 mins read

Not a ranking factor, but still important

In a recent video, Google’s John Mueller answered a question about how semantic HTML helps search engines understand website content.

Mueller explained how semantic HTML affects a website’s search engine optimization, accessibility and search rankings.

But first, let’s define semantic HTML and how it works.

Semantic HTML 101

Semantic HTML elements add meaning and structure to web content.

It helps search engines and browsers better understand the content and context on the page.

Common semantic elements include the following:

  • headlines are used to denote importance and create hierarchies.

    is most important

    at least.
  • heels are used to represent blocks of text. The

    element defines a paragraph.
    lists are used to organize items.


        create unordered or ordered lists.

      1. defines a list element.
      2. tables Structure table data.
        creates a table

        defines lines,

        defines column headings and

        defines data cells.
      3. Left or anchor () create hyperlinks between pages. They help to show connections between content.
      4. Pictures () represent photos or graphics. The alt attribute provides a textual description of the image, which helps with accessibility and SEO.
      5. Article () represent independent, reusable content such as blog posts or news.
      6. sections () groups related content, e.g. B. Chapters or parts of a document.
      7. aside (
      8. characters (
        ) represent an image, chart, or illustration along with a caption. They show the relationship between the media and the surrounding text.
      9. Semantic HTML – a ranking factor?

        While semantic HTML helps search engines analyze page content and structure, it’s not a direct ranking factor, Mueller clarifies:

        “Semantic HTML helps to understand a page. However, it’s not a magic multiplier for a website’s higher rank.”

        While semantic HTML doesn’t immediately increase rankings, it improves SEO and accessibility and remains a fundamental best practice.

        This allows you to optimize for search engines while creating an optimal user experience.

        How Google benefits from semantic HTML

        Proper use of semantic HTML elements can help in search engine optimization in the following ways:

        • You can use headings to structure text passages
        • Place pictures next to the words that are relevant to them
        • Using table tags for data tables, not just for positioning content
        • Anchor links instead of links that work via JavaScript

        Mueller points out that Google’s algorithms are not very accurate on similar items.

        For example, when Google groups sections of text, it treats section, article, and div elements the same. The specific element used is less important than a clear structure and relationship between the elements.

        How people benefit from semantic HTML

        Semantic HTML greatly improves the experience of users from all backgrounds, including people with disabilities.

        This is done in the following way:

        Developers can create web content understandable to humans and machines by following semantic HTML principles, resulting in an inclusive web experience.

        Mueller’s Appeal to Website Owners

        Mueller concludes the video by urging site owners to use semantic HTML, even if it’s not a direct ranking factor.

        “Please use semantic HTML. It’s not a ranking factor, but it can help our systems better understand your content.”

        source: Google Search Central

        Featured Image: Screenshot from, June 2023.