SEO and HTML 5

by rishil on February 1, 2010

All this Talk Of The iPad Is Driving Me Insane!

HTML 5 Coming To A Neck Near You Soon    Photo Credit:

HTML 5 Coming To A Neck Near You Soon! Photo Credit:

So what’s the big news of last week? Okay, I promise not to mention the iPad. Oops. Sorry. To be perfectly honest, I am looking forward to seeing the proposed product in practice, but may not actually buy one.  The huge reason for this is the lack of Flash support. Now, don’t flog me – I don’t like flash for the web in general, however a huge portion of video and game sites rely on it. Steve Jobs seems to like it even less than I do:

He called Adobe “lazy” and confirmed that ipad’s would not feature flash – ever “so there. Source FreshEgg Blog

What does that mean? Well the screenshot below kind of summarizes quite succinctly:

iPad Equals No Pr0n - Highest Rated Comment on recent Engadget Post

iPad Equals No Pr0n - Highest Rated Comment on recent Engadget Post (click to follow through to engadget post)

OK, So What?

To me, the real story is that major media owners may start taking HTML 5 more seriously, if only to ensure that they do not lose traffic opportunities because of lack of iPad support. On the other hand, it prompted me to pull out my bookmarks on HTML 5 and start reading – I am not technically adept, and need to continuously read up on stuff. The stuff below is a result of me going through those bookmarks..

HTML – Affecting SEO?

Any markup changes can and will have effect on SEO; from lowering / increasing load times by reducing code bloat, to identifying key elements of a page.

Not only that, but as an SEO it is important to know how your on page link placement should be carried out, and how search engines will change their view on certain links if the site is coded in HTML 5. Will there be a wider use of the Rel attributes of links so as to establish relationships? How will those attributes play a role in Search Optimisation?

What about the rest of the On Page Links? For example, will links in the Footer element be heavily discounted? We know that search engines already segment the common links on the page, and have potential signals they use to identify those common elements. Should we make their work easier by actively identifying that content? Some SEOs I know actively refuse to use indicators such as <div id=”footer”>, and switch them to non identifiable div ID’s  so as to dampen the signals given out.

Currently, most content is wrapped in < div > or < span > tags regardless of what it is. There are new tags being introduced by HTML 5 with semantic meaning, such as < article > (for an independent piece of content eg. blog post or news article), < nav > (for navigation), < footer >,< header >, < audio >, < video > and even a < dialogue > element. < aside > can be used to indicate a piece of content removed slightly from the rest of the page in terms of relevance.  Source: Big Mouth Media

At the moment most of us will be speculating on what these changes mean, but most of us have caught onto certain common changes that we all think will impact on-site SEO.

HTML 5 will introduce new features that help us (and search engines) better dissect a webpage. In the past, <div> elements have been used everywhere where, in HTML 5 an array of elements will be available to describe navigation, text sections, articles and headers. The improved sectioning could quite easily assist a search engine in understanding the layout of a page. Source: SEOGadget

At this point in time, I cant really advise on HTML 5 and its effects on SEO, but I can say that whatever it will be, it is sure to be some sort of shift worth keeping an eye on. Definitely Video Optimisation for SERPs will be impacted.

The fact is search engines are making more an effort to semantically index and analyse data is demonstrated by their continued support of microformats.

A maybe less highlighted tid bit is that the HTML5 editors are Ian Hickson of Google, and David Hyatt of Apple. (take that info as you may…)

Cheat Sheet

HTML 5 Cheet Sheet (PDF - Via Smashing Magazine)

HTML 5 Cheet Sheet (PDF - Via - click image to download)

Thanks to the people at for putting together the cheat sheet above :) .


Although you should read the content I have linked to in the body of the post, here are a few additional links worth looking at.

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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

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5 SEO Tips You Probably Didn’t Know | Cagintranet Web Design
January 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm

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Stephen Tallamy February 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I hope that the search engines give some advice on the usage of the new elements. If you know that putting links in a < footer > element will get them devalued or ignored then that could be a useful place to put links that you want site wide but don’t care about getting any link juice (e.g. terms and conditions, etc). Likewise, if the < nav > section helps determine the way in which a spider crawls you site from a primary navigation point of view, that could also be helpful.


Terry Van Horne February 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Well most of those tags are spammable so… why would a search engine use them over it’s own page segmentation elements… IMO, it’s obvious SE’s in particular Google have been able to segment navigation and footer links. The microformats and machine readable language in general are the furure. HTML 5 is a yawner aside from it putting the nofollow and canonical tags under the W3c which are best not left to the whims of Search engines.


rishil February 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I think its more than signals Terry – its about segmentation clarity. I agree (as I mention in the post) that segmentation of common link area have been setting of filters for SE’s – this way the SE’s (google in particular) is giving you an option to clarify what YOU say those elements are.

Relationship attributtes are other signals that may play a factor (I ignore the nofollow argument for now), rel elements which show trust may actually end up drivig more juice to the linkee..

And dont forget SEO for Rich Media such as Video and applications, making their content more accessible makes them easier to optimise for. Def a game changer when it comes to video SEO.

Regarding spamming, well what isnt :P ?


rishil February 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

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