When it comes to ranking signals, marketers may tend to overthink the small SEO details. In a recent Webmaster Help Channel video, Search Engineer Matt Cutts confirmed that digital content is treated the same whether writers use the “strong” or “B” (for bold) tags to highlight important parts of the text. This guidance seems to steer brands away from buying into the idea that one technical trick will give them a leg up in search results. As always, SEO best practices and high quality content (the bigger picture, if you will) are the proven strategies for earning search visibility.
Cutts said he provided guidance about coding best practices back in 2006, but decided to conduct new analyses to determine whether updates through 2013 made a difference. His latest research confirmed that one tag does not increase ranking signals more than the other. The same goes for “em” and “I” commands used to apply italics to text.
“Technically, one is talking about the presentation, and it’s definitely saying bold and the other one is sort of a semantic label that’s saying treat this as strong, but in practice, every browser just goes ahead and makes it bold. The short answer is: Don’t worry about it,” Cutts said.
On a similar note, Cutts recently explained that small HTML errors may not impact rankings as significantly as publishing poor quality content. This is a message the search engine has continually spread. User experience is of the utmost importance for maintaining the most visibility online and optimizing for visitors has a bigger payoff than catering to search crawlers.