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Are the new HTML5 tags like

<header>,<footer>,<hgroup>,<nav>,...

... really useful for SEO?

How do google and other search engines treat these tags in terms of SEO?

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2 Answers 2

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Anything that helps a search engine better understand the content and makeup of a web page is ostensibly better for SEO. The information a spider is able to discern about the structure of your page directly increases the accuracy of the spider's effective grading of your page. This is not to say that it will necessarily give you a better ranking, only to say that the spider will more accurately rank your page based on its content (which typically results in a positive gain).

This is why table based layouts are so bad for SEO... it is nearly impossible for a spider to distinguish between body copy, headers, sidebars, etc. Therefore it is significantly more difficult for the bot to determine contextual relevancy of any one keyword/phrase against another. This makes the end weight of the page far lighter than what it would have been otherwise, had the bot been able to understand the correlation between the content on a page.

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The direct answer is: No. You could use HTML4 designing the document with block elements (<div>) instead of using semantic elements (<main>, <article>, <aside>, <nav>, etc), and the result in the SERPs would be exactly the same. It would affect if you had a really bad design, for example using HTML frames: that would be negative because crawlers could not read all the content of the site. It would also affect if you used Flash for the design, instead of using HTML elements with its content.

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