Google has recently made some pretty significant changes in its ranking algorithm. The latest update, dubbed by Google forum users as "Allegra", has left some web sites in the dust and catapulted others to top positions. Major updates like this can happen a few times a year at Google, which is why picking the right search engine optimization company can be the difference between online success and failure. However, it becomes an increasingly difficult decision when SEO firms themselves are suffering from the Allegra update.
What is Semantic Code/HTML you ask?
Basically, it’s a way of writing your HTML in a more meaningful, structured and to be honest, sensible way. It’s all about using your header tags (H1, H2, etc) for yep, you guessed it – headers, instead of bolding the text and increasing the font size with the old <font size=”10000000000000000000″> tag. For paragraphs, use the <p> tag rather than sizing the font and adding hundreds of line breaks, for lists use the <li> tag, and so on. If you want to add an image, you use the <img=…> tag because it’s the tag for inserting images, so it stands to reason really that when you’re adding a heading, list, etc, you use the correct tag, not some sort of bodge. Got it? Great.
In the Design and content guidelines sub-section of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines there is a paragraph that reads “…. write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content”. The only way I know of achieving this objective easily is to use semantic markup.
Semantic markup means using html elements that are appropriate to ‘content meaning’ rather than ‘content presentation’. A simple example might be using <em> for emphasis in some cases rather than <i> for italic because <i> only tells the browser what to do and does not explain what the content represents.
Apart from helping Google there are other advantages in separating content from presentation and using semantic markup. For example much easier code maintenance and correct interpretation by other user agents like audio screen reader software.
So why use Semantic HTML? What are the benefits? Why can’t I just do things my way?
Well you can just do things your way if you want, but I’d probably not advise it. The biggest benefit of using Semantic Code is that you’ll be adhering to the Internet standard. And the benefit of that is that when things change and progress as they like to do on the Internet, the stuff that makes your site work isn’t going to get left behind.
Another great benefit is that it’ll make your pages load quicker. You whack all the crap and formatting in an external stylesheet, and it only needs to be declared and loaded once. For example: