HTML tags, strong and b tags result visually same to bold, em and i tags for italic.

Does the search engines or browsers treat them differently or give priority one on another?

What to alternate tag should be used?

  • 2
    You should style you text for users, not for search engines. Sep 3, 2020 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


Short answer, probably not

Matt Cutts of Google has said that strong and b originally had no affect on your SEO and that his opinion is that of 2013, they still didn't. Matt Cutts and <b> vs <strong>

When to use <b> vs <strong>

According to SEO Ability you should always use strong for text you want to emphasize content, but use <b>for visual enhancements.

The difference between the two HTML tags is that bold makes text only visually look bold, while strong also semantically emphasizes the respective text as important and indicates that it is a meaningful word or text section.

They continue and say:

If you want to highlight a text section as important in terms of content, you should always use strong. You should only use bold if you intend a purely optical highlighting, e.g. you want to visually highlight a link or navigation bar from the rest of your page to make the page look clearer

  • There is no such thing as <bold>. In any case, HTML should never be used for visual presentation. Use CSS instead and, rather than following some SEO site, use the standard instead for guidance on usage.
    – Rob
    Sep 3, 2020 at 0:39
  • 1
    @Rob, you are correct, about bold. My freudian slip. In any case, the SO was asking about the SEO impact, not necessarily if one should separate application from presentation.
    – Trebor
    Sep 3, 2020 at 14:33

HTML elements strong and em are the semantic elements of the current HTML5 standard. Check the description that this standard gives for the strong element:

The strong element represents strong importance, seriousness, or urgency for its contents.

and for the em element:

The em element represents stress emphasis of its contents.

In turn, HTML elements b and i have no semantic meaning, which is clearly indicated by the current HTML5 standard (to b):

The b element represents a span of text to which attention is being drawn for utilitarian purposes without conveying any extra importance and with no implication of an alternate voice or mood...

and to i:

The i element represents a span of text in an alternate voice or mood, or otherwise offset from the normal prose in a manner indicating a different quality of text...

Mozilla also quite clearly defines the difference between these elements::

Do not confuse the <b> element with the <strong>, <em>, or <mark> elements. The <strong> element represents text of certain importance, puts some emphasis on the text and the element represents text of certain relevance. The element doesn't convey such special semantic information; use it only when no others fit.

My answer to your question: Semantic elements (as opposed to non-semantic ones) can help in the accessibility of content in accordance with WAI-ARIA technology. Also, semantic elements can help search bots to understand the content of web pages in more detail, and these elements can be useful for voice search and for the Text To Speech technique. The use of semantic elements can help search engine optimization, but their importance to SEO depends on the search algorithm of each search engine.

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