HTML5 and SEO Myths
By James Payne
HTML5 is the latest iteration of the W3C's markup language, and as more and more webmasters and companies take advantage of its capabilities, it is only natural that certain myths and fallacies will pop-up regarding its benefits and pitfalls. One area, in particular, that we see this happening is in the SEO arena. To help clear this matter up, today's blog post will look at some common HTML5 search engine optimization myths.
Search Engine Optimization Myths
It is hard to understand the myths behind HTML5 and search engine optimization without knowing some common SEO myths themselves. To further complicate matters, the major search engines (Google, Bing, etc) are not very forthcoming with the various parts of their ranking algorithms. This leads to more confusion, as SEOs and Internet Marketers debate what works and what doesn't. Add in a new or updated "version" of HTML, and you can see why these myths begin to become part of the popular web development lexicon.
SEO Myth: HTML5 Does Not Help Ranking
I have seen the claim on many websites that HTML5 does not have any effect on your position in the search engine page results (SERPs) at all - and even some who claim it has a negative effect on your digital marketing efforts. To answer the question in simple terms: yes, when used properly, HTML5 can help with your SEO efforts - just as previous HTML specifications could. HTML5 has some special elements to it, however, that make it far easier for search engines and bots to truly understand not just the words within the various elements, but the intent of the elements themselves. Known as Semantic elements, these new tags are meant to better define the layout of pages and better describe their contents.
SEO Myth: HTML5 Is Bad For Video
While they are coming around, some webmasters preferred (and still prefer) to use Flash for embedding video content on web pages. Those that still opt for this route are missing out on some key HTML5 features that allow you to make videos more SEO-friendly. Using the tag, you can add additional information about the content in your videos. HTML5 allows for the use of labels, captions, and subtitles on video content, giving you an extra opportunity to define your media. As an aside, the same type of parameters exist for static image content as well. Instead of relying on img tags and "alt" text, HTML5 gives you the tag and to define "captions" - just like you would see in old printed newspapers.
SEO Myth: You Can Only Use One h1 Tag
Even prior to the invention of HTML5, the proper use of the h1 tag (and heading tags in general) lead to much confusion for web developers and SEOs alike. Now that the newest iteration of our favorite markup language is in full steam, the mystery around h1 tags has become even cloudier, as new rules are in place that dictate the proper - or better put, "best" - use of the tags within a document. For starters, you can absolutely use more than one h1 tag on your page. In fact, if your content calls for it, you should use multiple h1 tags. The general rule of thumb is this: for each new "content section", you can use an h1 to label your section. Note that you do not have to use an h1 - you can use any header tag you deem necessary. However, as a best practice, I advise that you do. If you need more than one label or header in an article section, you should use the traditional h tag heirarchy (for example, h2, h3, and so forth).
Other Reasons HTML5 Is Good For SEO
While there are plenty of myths floating around about the overall negative effects of HTML5 on SEO, the truth of the matter is that the markup has many great benefits that will help your site rank better than previous iterations or specifications. From helping with code validation to speeding up web page load times (a factor Google uses for its ranking algorithm), HTML5 truly was designed to help webmasters better define their layouts, content, and indeed their entire websites in a way that makes sense not only to humans, but to search engines as well. So do not buy into the negative hype around HTML5 from an Internet marketing standpoint. Many, many hours of research and planning went into developing it and ensuring it made the work of Google and Bing much easier. Take advantage of that hard work and consider updating your old site to current standards!