What SEOs Ought to Know About HTML 5

It appears the era of HTML 5 is upon us. YouTube recently started offering a HTML 5 version of their video player (as opposed to Flash). Given the strong influence of Google - who happens to own YouTube - every online marketer should have some understanding of how HTML 5 will impact SEO in the near future.

If youre like me (a couple of weeks ago), youve heard of HTML 5, but havent given it much thought yet since (a) the release date seems so far ahead in the future , and (b) it might not affect me anyways since I dont write very much code (with the exception of meta tags and content).

Why HTML5?

A lot has changed on the internet since HTML 4 was first introduced in December 1997. Back then sites were collections of static pages; they were not the media-rich and socially interactive communities that we have today.

por qu?
por qu?

HTML5 will be the beginning of the standardization of websites. This means it will be easier for someone to update a site theyve never worked on. It also provides a better way to divide a page into several parts - making it easier to read for humans and bots alike.

How Will HTML 5 Affect the Internet?

HTML5 will help speed up the internet. As we all know, Google pretty much IS the internet - as much as you might dislike that fact - and they want to speed things up.

With the new HTML 5 tags, relativity will be improved because of how a web page is categorized. New HTML tags will point to what is most important on a page.

It seems like Google was hoping to push the HTML 5-based platform, by writing Google Wave in almost all HTML 5 (since HTML 5 reflects the interactivity and dynamic-ness of the internet these days). Since that hasn't caught on like it intended to, YouTube is the next push for Google to speed along things for HTML 5.

How Will HTML 5 Affect SEO?

HTML 5 markup is similar to the XML structure. Spiders will be able to distinguish what is content on a page more easily. With the new tags you will be able to point out navigation versus content. This lets the spiders know what to focus on instead of spidering the whole page. The spider is provided with a clear indication of content, thus creating a better experience for the end user (aka search results).

Spiders heart HTML 5
Spiders heart HTML 5

The goal of the new tags is to add more structure to a page and to help search engines decide what is the most relevant content amongst a sea of code. Currently the structure of HTML tags are not semantic and not in any particular order " which makes it challenging for a search engine to figure out what is actually important.

New HTML 5 Tags

Here are some (not all) of the tags that will hold the most importance in regards to SEO and the categorization of a page:

Header: This tag holds the primary info about the content following the tag. It can be included more than once on a page, so that different sections can have their own header. This also allows search engines to rank pages with multiple topics more easily.

Smashing Mag HTML 5 Wireframe
Smashing Mag HTML 5 Wireframe

Article: Points to the most important content on the page. It lets spiders know what the primary focus is.

Aside: Contains any tertiary or secondary info related the page. For example, this provides an excellent way to make a relevant, yet off topic comment. Basically, you can keep your content interesting without sacrificing the primary focus of the page.

Section: This tag specifies separate sections of a page containing an article or blog post. This means that (hopefully) a search engine will be able to pay attention to the contents of separate sections. Think of a big department store with the various signs pointing you in the right direction. Without them youd be lost.

Navigation: For navigational menus that contain links to different sections of the page/site. (Think primary navigation.)

Footer:Can be used multiple times like the header and will (rather obviously) be given less importance from the search engines.

Audio and Video: Both of these allow text alternatives to be placed within the tags themselves. This will make it possible for search engines to better index audio and video. With these tags you will be able to embed these types of files directly onto your HTML pages and give you more control over how they appear.

Now What?

For SEOs there is not much we can do at the present moment except wait and keep ourselves in the loop. Its best to be prepared, so that when HTML 5 becomes the next best thing to sliced bread, were not left scratching our heads going whaaaaa?


Stephanie Woods is an internet marketer. If you'd love to contact her to work on your site (because you're interested in seeing some great ROI for your online expenditures), you can check her out here. When shes not helping clients achieve their online goals, youll find her riding her beloved snowboard any time she can.

About the Author: Stephanie Woods

Stephanie Woods is a Search Specialist at Blast Radius in Vancouver, BC.

Steph Woods SEO

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