Is HTML 5 better for SEO

html 5

HMTL5 is the new coding standard for developing websites. Wikipedia states that:

"Its core aims have been to improve the language with support for the latest multimedia while keeping it easily readable by humans and consistently understood by computers and devices"

Theoretically it is a standard that would work consistently across all platforms including desktop browsers, mobile smartphones and tablets. This is clearly important in an era where mobile browsing is becoming extremely prominent and relevant.

HTML5 markup makes use of certain semantic elements that replace historic code. For example, elements such as, etc replace current use of and tags. In laymans terms this means that the backend code of the website is more logical and it should be easier for search engines to determine what a page on a site is about and what the various elements are more easily (and quickly).

Arguments For And Against HTML5

This (and other elements) has led to some debate about whether HTML5 is in fact better for SEO. There are arguments both for and against:

For HTML5

  • HTML5 contains more logical markup making it easier for the search engines to understand what's what and what a page is about. Specific tags could be particularly useful for SEO, for example:
    • used to mark a blog post or new article and catch search engine spiders attention for page relevancy.
    • traditional heading tags can be grouped into a block and once again increase relevancy.
    • traditional footer code can live in the footer tag and be used site-wide.
    • makes it easy for search engine spiders to find (and spider) the site navigation and therefor find other pages on the site.
    • video is fantastic for SEO!
  • Rich snippets, authorship markup and microdata are almost synonymous with HTML5 and make search engine results more appealing/clickable.
  • Importantly (for SEO) HTML5 can function as a direct replacement for Flash which has always been an SEO headache over the years.

Against HTML5

  • It's instantly obvious that the HTML5 markup is generally more detailed. This means more code, which in turn means a lower text-to-code ratio and more code for the search engine spiders to read in order to decipher a page. Something we'd always recommend against.
  • It would take time (and money) to re-write current websites into HMTL5 and there's no perfect measurement of the resulting impact on SEO. Search Engine Land noted that:
    • "none of the panellists [at SMX Advanced 2011] recommended re-coding your entire site with the new Schema.org tags, as there was very little empirical evidence to support using Schema.org tags as an SEO strategy."

The Conclusion

The general consensus on HTML5 seems to be a wait and see approach, but it is worth noting the value and we'd certainly encourage people to implement the rich snippets and microdata markup to enhance search engine listings and their appeal. Get your web agency or SEO company to ensure that microdata is being used properly on your site to improve your results!