Google: HTML5 Doesn't Give You A Boost But Has No Downside

Mar 22, 2012 • 8:32 am | comments (2) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

HTML5It has been about a year and a half since we last reported on Google's view of HTML5 where John Mueller of Google said "our crawlers are used to not being able to parse all HTML markup," adding "HTML5 is still very much a work in progress."

But now, the same John Mueller 1.5 years later said there is no downside to using HTML5, in fact, HTML5 generally makes for cleaner code that is more applicable to add meta formats to it.

John wrote:

Our crawling and indexing systems currently don't do anything special for HTML5, so there is no "bonus" for using HTML5 constructs, but similarly also generally no downside.

That said, most of the pages with HTML5 markup that I've seen tend to be very clean - with little "cruft" and unnecessary elements. While having clean markup isn't something that our algorithms explicitly look for, we occasionally see pages that are almost unparseable. Also, clean markup makes it much easier to maintain the website, easier to add new elements like microformats, and frequently makes the pages more portable across a variety of browsers and devices. So with that in mind, there's nothing holding you back (from a search point of view) from creating an awesome site in HTML5 :)

As you can see from the tone of John's message, he wouldn't advise against going the HTML5 route now. In fact, he seems to recommend it when it makes sense. Two years ago, his tone was a bit different, at least, the way I read it.

So feel free to go the HTML5 route - of course animation, movies and such need content for Google to index, without it, it won't rank for much.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Lyndon NA (Autocrat)

03/22/2012 12:43 pm

As far as we know - there are no Direct benefits of using HTML5. It's not like Google with give your rankings a boost for changing from HTML4/XHTML to HTML5. Yet there maybe indirect benefits; G may be able to process things a bit faster, and pickup more relevancy/entity information, as well as displaying a higher quality SERP listing etc. These may give you a little advantage over competitors, if not a direct ranking benefit. Then there is the Device factor - we may find newer devices/browsers will support HTML5 better than other formats due to an inherent ability to identify chunks and format as they prefer. There are downsides though. You need to monitor your audience. If you have a moderate/high % of users using older browsers, they may not support (fully/properly) HTML5, or specific features of it. You also need to be aware that things are not written in stone - and you may see alterations to HTML5/Schema implementations ... as well as possible browser issues. So don't rush ahead unless you know your users will be okay with it.

Eliseo V

03/24/2012 03:06 am

 That is a very good point: checking which browsers are being used by current users of a web site and validating compatibility before moving forward.

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