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The Google bot will rank words by the surrounding tag. A text between h1 tags will have more score than the content of another h{n} element or the p element, of course.

However, is the Google bot smart enough to understand words are more important when they are greater, bold or italic (defined by HTML or CSS, even by extern resource)?

If yes, does this apply to SVG text elements, too?

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There are two versions of the original Google research paper by Brin and Page written in 1997/8 which describe how the Google index was originally structured. Between the two, there is at least one significant difference.

The papers both describe indexing terms per HTML page and using a bit to describe characteristics of a term such as bold, italics, capitalized, etc. This is known as fancy. One paper describes the value in knowing if a term is fancy or not. However, the other paper also describes that a fancy term does not demonstrate significant search value in ranking. In otherwords, while there is value in knowing if a term is fancy, the reality is that a term being fancy did not improve the search results.

For a period, SEOs grabbed onto the first research paper and went nuts without further research. Soon all the SEO parrots where squawking the benefits of using fancy even justifying with data something that was never true. Silly Wabbits! The problem is, Google never saw the benefit of fancy, not even for semantics, and therefore never implemented any algorithms to boost the value of a fancy term. The exception is capitalization, however, this was only a semantic signal to indicate a proper name, title, company, etc.

So, the short answer is, terms in bold, italics, and capitalization have no value in boosting search results. Period. Never did. Likely never will. Not even semantically. They do have value for a user which brings me to my final point. Create content for your user not machines. SEO is important, but please, do not get into the weeds.

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Some recent SEO experiments I've read about indicate that Google no longer uses markup such as <h1>, <h2>, <b>, etc to figure out which text is important. Now that Googlebot renders HTML pages it ignores the tags and looks at which text is styled large, bold, and prominent.

So yes, Googlebot does look at text appearance now.

SVG elements are rendered on the screen. Googlebot knows how to index SVG text. I would expect Googlebot would pay attention to how SVG text is rendered as well, but I haven't seen any experiments about it.

  • Do you have any sources about this, anything Google has published? – modiX Jan 12 '17 at 8:38
  • I follow a bunch of SEO news sites and it was somthing that come up in the last year, but I can't find the link right now. I recall it was based on an experiment rather than on something that Google published. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 12 '17 at 9:55
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They look at text appearence, and they do look into SVG text.

  • Can you elaborate more on this? This answer is pretty thin in its current form. – John Conde Apr 18 '17 at 16:46

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