Google Caffeine and the SEO benefits of HTML 5

September 2nd, 2009 Jason Posted in Google, links, seo | No Comments »

Things I read today:

6 Things to Expect if Google Decaf Gets a “Caffeine” Boost
A pretty thorough comparative dig into Google vs. Google. When Caffeine rolls out of beta and then migrates to the UK, what can we expect to see?

Also did a whole bunch of reading up on HTML 5.
http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/
http://dev.w3.org/html5/html-author/
http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/7-html-5-elements-that-will-make-seo-more-enjoyable
http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com/2009/06/22/html-5-seo/
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/x-html5/
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/07/24/google-html5-and-standards/
http://net.tutsplus.com/tutorials/html-css-techniques/html-5-and-css-3-the-techniques-youll-soon-be-using/
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/previewofhtml5

…the last one being a particularly useful writeup, explaining in pretty good detail but in a nicely readable way.

All this reading was prompted by a sort of ambiguous requirement included in our ongoing CMS migration – restructure code so that SEO-valuable content is at the top .

On the surface it makes sense – get the central content box as high up in the code as possible, move all the excess crap to the bottom, and position it all onscreen with CSS. A strict interpretation of this, though, is a nightmare when using shared resources across multiple sites, and causes all kinds of headaches for accessibility. A full code revamp is happening anyway to better linearize the code for accessibility, and the question came up whether coding to HTML5 standards would be sufficient. If a search engine discounts boilerplate code, can we assume that the HTML <nav> or <footer> tags will be recognized and equally discounted, regardless of where they are in the code?

Clearly nobody yet knows. What is the actual SEO benefit of HTML 5? There is absolutely logic in thinking that a cleanly organized page which essentially follows a DOM tree will be more easily crawled, and the content within more easily parsed and indexed by a spider. But that’s completely speculation at this point…and as the HTML 5 spec is still very much in draft mode (and likely to remain in development for years), we seem likely to make a stab without really knowing at all.

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