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I have a news website and on most posts the first paragraph is in bold. Currently the authors are just using <strong> to bold the paragraph, would it be better from an SEO point of view to rather use a paragraph class that is styled with p.bold {font-weight:bold;} <p class="bold">.

Does <strong> on the first paragraph send the wrong message to search engines? The text is important but the main reason it is in bold is because it is the opening paragraph. I realise <strong> is used to emphasise certain words on a page

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I've just checked a mayor tech site, they bold it via css and a class. I have no clue wether it actually matters – Martijn May 28 '14 at 10:24
up vote 4 down vote accepted

There does not seem to be any evidence on search engines caring about strong markup at all. And they care even less about classes font-weight settings.

But in principle, it is possible that some search engines treat strong content as more important than normal text, i.e. give it greater relative weight inside a page. But it’s difficult to say what they could do with that information.

So it most probably doesn’t matter to SEO. On general grounds, it is better to use just styling when no particular importance is intended. Usually bolding an entire paragraph is not a good idea. Increased font size or special background color (with CSS) might work better.

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Google generally ignores markup such as bold and strong and others though not completely. It does not effect SEO! There is no additional weight applied to this type of text. None whatsoever. Please do not over think SEO. The mechanics of SEO is far simpler than the various SEO experts lead you to believe. One issue, however, specially marked content can get picked up as the SERP snippet. In that way, it can indirectly effect SEO. – closetnoc May 28 '14 at 15:17
Search engines definitely do take note of strong tags, as evidenced by this Matt Cutts video: youtube.com/watch?v=awto_wCeOJ4 However their weight is unlikely to be as much as it used to be. – DisgruntledGoat May 28 '14 at 19:50
@DisgruntledGoat. the video talks about the difference between b and strong and claims that there is none in Google. No evidence is given, and there is no hint of what those tags might matter—what Google would actually do with them. It’s really just usual chat about “semantics” except that it says it does not really matter. – Jukka K. Korpela May 28 '14 at 21:21
@Jukka since Google has code that parses b/strong tags specifically, something must be done with them. It may be very little, but the fact that video exists (and the original, which doesn't seem to be online any more) proves they do take them into account. – DisgruntledGoat May 29 '14 at 19:06
@DisgruntledGoat, Google needs to parse all HTML tags in order to be able to extract the text content, distinguishing them from HTML markup. No evidence has been presented on Google doing anything with strong tags but ignore them. Besides, even if it did something with them, this information would be useless if we don’t know anything about what it does with them. – Jukka K. Korpela May 29 '14 at 19:42

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