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What are the SEO rules for HTML 5?

Will using HTML5 semantic markup negatively effect my search rankings? I have read that using properly semantic markup, besides a general best practice, is also a white hat SEO technique. However since HTML5 is not quite yet finished, is using an element such as and going to cause a penalty in search rankings?

  • There is treatment of whether valid HTML affects your rankings (it doesn't) here: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/310/… – JasonBirch Jul 31 '10 at 4:33
  • Voted to close as a duplicate. – delete Jul 31 '10 at 5:00
  • I think this might be a better duplicate candidate: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/1413/… – Virtuosi Media Jul 31 '10 at 5:34
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    @ViruosiMedia: that is the same question as mine, but your link goes to an answer under the question. – delete Jul 31 '10 at 5:41
  • @Kinopiko - Good catch and my bad. I accessed it through my answered questions, so that's why it linked to the answer. Then I think I was looking at the URL Jason Birch posted rather the duplicate URL. I feel sheepish. :D – Virtuosi Media Jul 31 '10 at 15:13

Using properly constructed HTML5 will help your rankings, and improve your site's accessibility. Given identical semantics (in a prefect world), it will rank no better or worse based solely on semantics than an HTML4 or XHTML1 site. However, using HTML5 properly will improve your semantics simply by the nature of its design.

Google has put a lot of money and engineering effort into HTML5, including launching the site HTML5Rocks.com. The more semantically correct your code is, the better your rankings will be for the subject of your site.

Additionally, if properly constructed, HTML5 makes your site faster to render and generally smaller to download, improving page speed (which was recently added to Google's ranking algorithm).

As an <aside> (haha HTML5 humor) Google has for quite a while supported multiple <h1> tags on a page. In HTML5 this is encouraged with <section> and friends when it's semantically appropriate. Don't stress about trying to balance SEO with semantics on this one.

This whole answer assumes that the content of your site is worthwhile. And that you're using all of the HTML5 elements properly.

  • Do you have any evidence that using properly constructed HTML 5 will help your rankings? – delete Jul 31 '10 at 4:52

I don't think so. Googles has done much work on the new standard and she use it (with a fallback to flash*) on some pages. Youtube should be (or should come) with the html5 video tag.

So my meaning is: No, it doesn't has any negative effects on your Google ratings. Don't know about Bing, etc. (Btw. thanks god, that the Yahoo crawler is dead. :-))

  • HTML5 isn't just about video. There's a whole host of semantic elements. – TRiG Oct 28 '10 at 13:34

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