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Thursday, February 2, 2006

Optimizing HTML for Search Engines

Mike Davidson tested which HTML Google favors... e.g. bold vs h1. While the results seem to suggest this or that HTML element brings you a favor in ranking, the test was done with a non-competitive keyword – of course, as only this allows you test in “vacuum.”

I believe the role of actual HTML used on pages plays an insignificant role when compared to other factors, such as backlinks. It can’t be any other way, either, because on-page optimization can be very easily spammed; if great HTML would count for much in the eyes of Google and others, then spammers could beat good content by simply using “semantically correct” templates. As it is, they have to resort to off-page optimization such as comment spam, which is a little harder (and with the nofollow initiative, also less and less effective).

Naturally, differences in the HTML structure can play an important role when it comes to human visitors, among other contexts. For example, a nested table layout may slow down the page, or a misunderstood title tag may make it less likely searchers click on your site in the results. In this way, if two sites have equal content and equal authority, the one with better HTML would have higher chances of getting backlinks and thus ranking well in Google. But in the real world, such vacuums rarely exist...

[Via Digg.]


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