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
- heels are used to represent blocks of text. The
element defines a paragraph.
lists are used to organize items.
- create unordered or ordered lists.
- defines a list element.
- tables Structure table data.
creates a table
defines lines, defines column headings and defines data cells.
- Left or anchor () create hyperlinks between pages. They help to show connections between content.
- Pictures () represent photos or graphics. The alt attribute provides a textual description of the image, which helps with accessibility and SEO.
- Article (
) represent independent, reusable content such as blog posts or news.
- sections (
) groups related content, e.g. B. Chapters or parts of a document.
- aside (
- characters (
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
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:
- Semantic HTML assists screen reader software in delivering web content to blind or visually impaired users.
- Semantic HTML ensures keyboard navigation. On elements like “” links and ““/”
- Assistive technologies such as braille readers and text-to-speech software benefit from the clear structure and meaning of semantic HTML.
- Semantic elements enable responsive web design and ensure that content is accessible on different devices.
- Semantic HTML future-proofs content by complying with web standards. This means that even as technology advances, all users will likely be able to access the content.
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 YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, June 2023.