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Using HTML Elements and Markups for SEO

HTML is the language in which websites are written. Some elements are for different purposes such as structural, organizational, cosmetic, or semantic. In this section of SEOwrit, we'll discuss ways to "Markup" keywords in the body of a document in order to affect how those keywords are analyzed by a search engine. We'll break down the different effects that certain markups have compared to others and compared to no markup at all. For example, we've bolded the first word of this abstract and do so in many of our abstracts. Why?

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Metadata and Page Details
Metadata and Page Details
Creator: Devin Peterson
Date: Created 05/29/2014
Subject: HTML, Keyword Analysis, Search Engine Optimization, Semantic Markups
Publisher: DNM Int'l
Peer Review:
Citation: Peterson, D. (2014), "HTML Markups: Using HTML Elements for Document Ranking", Retrieved (date), from

Why HTML Markups Matter in Real Life

Keywords Affected by HTML Usually STAND OUT compared to unmarked words.

In this article, it's important to note which type of HTML elements we are referring too. There is a class of HTML elements whose purpose is to define roles and meanings to certain sections of text. Below you will find a list of these various HTML elements and their practical purpose. Mozilla provides a very good source for all possible elements, but we are only concerned with the following items due to their specific meanings and implications.

  • Heading Tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6)
  • Strong
  • Emphasis
  • Bold
  • Italics
  • Underline
  • Links (<a>)

With the new HTML5 Standards, there is a whole new range of elements that represent the semantic meaning of sections of texts. Since this is a new release as of (5/29/2014), those considerations are probably not yet integrated in modern search algorithms, but will almost undoubtedly be used one day. These HTML5 elements includes:

  • Header and Footer
  • Main
  • Article
  • Nav
  • Aside
  • Section
  • Details
  • Menu
  • Source
  • Video
  • Figure

... and a few more that are probably not very significant enough to discuss.

There are more, but many tags are becoming obsolete such as the 'big' and 'small' tags.

Purpose of HTML "Semantic" Tags

These elements (especially in HTML5) are designed to structure text into defined sections for the purpose of organization and hierarchy, much like an outline, as well as to indicate priority, emphasis, and relevance to the primary topic of the webpage.

Analyzing Keywords Based on HTML Markup

The HTML Semantic Keyword Tag Ranking Function

SEO Expert Opinion

Common Questions

How Does Overusing Semantic HTML Tags Dilute Keyword Relevance?

There is an old saying in the world of web design, "If you try to make everything stand out, nothing will stand out".