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Will my new HTML5 website decrease my Google ranking?

For example, currently, I understand that search engines give the most emphasis to h1 elements, followed by h2, etc. However, it is valid in HTML5 to replace what is conventionally h2 with h1, encased in article tags.

But are search engines such as Google updated to become "HTML5 friendly"? Or will my site somehow be penalized by some algorithm for "h1ing incorrectly"?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 16 '11 at 13:16

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marked as duplicate by John Conde Apr 5 '11 at 11:41

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This is for webmasters.stackexchange.com –  Trufa Mar 16 '11 at 11:46
    
Great question! (even though it does seem to be a duplicate of webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/8577/…) I was just discussing/debating this yesterday. There doesn't yet to be a consensus on the use of headings (H1's in particular) inside semantic blocks in HTML5 –  Mike Hudson Mar 17 '11 at 3:35

2 Answers 2

There's an article here about that. It basically says that Google crawlers are used to not being able to parse all HTML markup – be it from broken HTML, embedded XML content or from the new HTML5 tags. And there is no special attention for HTML5.

So as far as understand Google does not penalize sites for using HTML5 nor it rewards using it.

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The HTML specs say that user agents that don't understand an HTML tag are to ignore it. Assuming that search engine bots follow this spec, and they do, then using HTML5 tags that aren't yet recognized by the search engines are ignored and shouldn't hurt your rankings.

In your example the <h1> tag is not being used incorrectly. It just is wrapped in a new tag that may or may not be recognized by the search engines. But that won't hurt you as that tag simply has no semantic meaning for now. But when it does you're rankings may benefit because of the increased semantic meaning. So use it without worry and with the expectations that in the future this will help you.

(One possible exception is the proposed multiple heading tag thing where you are allowed to have multiple <h1> tags on a page. I'd avoid this for now since that could cause issues as doing this previously could only be construed as an error in markup or manipulation of the SERPs. Obviously that may change).

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