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What’s going on with HTML5 and SEO

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

At the Speak the Web conference a bit ago I attended a session about HTML5. Although I knew a certain amount of what was happening with HTML5 there was one part that I didn’t know and I couldn’t quite figure out what affect it would have.

Take the following snippets of code:

According to the Editor’s Draft of the HTML5 specification these two snippets of code mean pretty much the same. Although the second snippet of code contains only H1 tags their nesting within the section tags actually affect how they are weighted. So if a H1 exists at the top of the page and the next H1 is nested within a section tag it would become a H2.

What about SEO?

Apart from the increased code required to style headings in these way the concern I have in coding this is it’s affect on SEO. It’s widely understood that Google take into account headings within code as a determining factor in its rankings, with the H1 being the most important.

With a page full of H1’s as shown above how does Google respond? Currently I’d imagine a page fun of H!’s being seen as a bit spammy but as one of the editors of the HTML5 specification is a Google employee it’s fair to assume that Google probably have an idea of what they plan to do.

For this to work Google surely has to be able to determine a headings weighting based on nesting as the specification describes it but it’s how they do it that intrigues me. Will Google take the decision completely out of the developer’s hands and ignore a headings number level and instead create weighting based on position and nesting. If this is true does it become a case of ‘first heading first’ whereby the first heading on the page is given the most weighting by Google? Or will Google be able to mix the old and new and still allow developers and SEO’s the control over their code?

Maybe with HTML5 websites already finding their way onto the Internet has Google already got this one covered?