HTML tags and SEO

In this article, I discuss what HTML tags are, what the influence of HTML tags on SEO and how you can respond to them. I also provide 25 examples of the most important HTML tags for SEO. Enjoy reading!

What is HTML? And how does HTML affect SEO?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. The HTML code realizes the structure of the website. HTML code is in a file. Search engines recognize HTML and rank search results accordingly.

Every HTML file begins with the so-called doctype declaration. That one is meant for browsers. This allows the browser to know which HTML version the page was written in. Directly below the ”doctype declaration” comes the opening HTML tag. With a tag, you highlight different parts of a Web page. These labels allow you to distinguish parts from each other. All sections have an opening and closing tag.

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The HTML opening tag is the first tag you encounter on the Web page. The closing tag is at the bottom. Within the opening and closing tags, all other parts of the web page will appear. Headings or subheadings are denoted by, for example, (

,

). An HTML element consists of the opening tag, the content and the closing tag. Attributes such as images can be added here. An example is width or height. Values are added to attributes (225px to attribute width and 100px to attribute height). The browser makes the image 225 pixels wide and 100 pixels high.

The most important HTML tags for SEO

Among other things, Google uses the HTML tags on a Web page to understand the page. Google deduces from these HTML tags what the Web page is actually about. If you want to promote the organic findability of your website, it is important to use these tags properly and fill them in correctly. Then Google reads this and the content becomes clearer.

Of all the tags, the following are the most important for SEO:

  • In the head section: title tag, meta description tag(1), open graphs tag, robots tag and canonical tag(2).
  • In the body section: header tags and alt tags.
HTML tags and SEO

The 25 most important HTML tags for SEO

Here is a table of 25 important HTML tags that can affect SEO. Note that HTML tags are not only for SEO, they are also crucial to the structure and design of a page. Keep this in mind when using this.

TagExplanation
<title>The title tag is used to indicate the title of a Web page and appears in the browser’s search results and tab.
<meta name="description">The meta description tag is used to display a brief description of the page in search results(3).
<h1>, <h2>, ..., <h6>These header tags are used to indicate the structure of the content on the page, with <h1> being the most important.
<meta name="keywords">Although less important today, meta keyword tags can be used to indicate a page’s relevant keywords.
<a href="URL">The anchor tag is used to create links to other pages, with the href attribute indicating the URL of the target page.
rel="nofollow"This attribute, added to an anchor tag, tells search engines not to track the linked page or pass on the link value(4).
<img src="image.jpg" alt="description">The alt tag is used to provide a description of an image, which is useful for search engine crawlers and visually impaired users.
<strong> or <b>These tags are used to make text bold, which can help highlight certain parts of your content.
<em> or <i>These tags are used to italicize text, which can help emphasize certain parts of your content.
<p>The paragraph tag is used to indicate individual paragraphs of text.
<ul> en <li>These tags are used to create unordered lists, which can help with page readability.
<ol> en <li>These tags are used to create ordered lists, which can also contribute to readability.
<blockquote>This tag is used to indicate long quotes.
<br>The line break tag is used to start a new line without starting a new paragraph.
<hr>The horizontal line tag is used to indicate a thematic break in the content.
<meta name="robots">This meta tag is used to give instructions to search engine crawlers on how to index or track a page.
<link rel="canonical">This tag is used to indicate that the current URL is the “main” version of a page, which helps prevent duplicate content.
<meta charset="UTF-8">This tag indicates the character encoding format of the page.
<meta name="viewport">This tag is used to indicate how a page should be displayed on different devices, which is important for mobile optimization.
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x">This tag is used to indicate that certain content is available in different languages(5).
<div>The div tag is used to indicate a part or section of the page.
<span>The span tag is used to group a piece or section of text within a document.
<html lang="x">The language attribute is used to indicate the language of the content on the page.
<noscript>The noscript tag is used to display alternative content for users who do not have JavaScript enabled in their browsers.
<meta http-equiv="refresh">This tag is used to automatically refresh the page or redirect to another page after a certain time period. However, it is not recommended for SEO.
25 HTML tags for SEO.

The use of tags should always comply with Google’s guidelines to ensure optimal SEO performance. Excessive or improper use of tags may be considered spam and may result in penalties.

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Does CSS also matter?

A web page consists of HTML elements. These elements are shaped by CSS. It is an abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets. With HTML, you structure the website with the insertion of chapters, paragraphs, videos and images. CSS accomplishes where these elements are on the screen, how big the element should be and what the color is. HTML is the foundation of the website and CSS the layout and appearance.

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There are many advantages to using CSS. Google’s crawlers look at the code behind a website and not what the website looks like from the outside to the visitor. Therefore, the CSS code should be excellent and unified with the HTML.

In addition, CSS improves the loading speed of a Web page. Load speed is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. This reduces the code-to-content ratio. When you index and keep headings and subheadings organized, crawlers quickly see what your page is about. This (potentially) has a positive effect on the web page’s ranking within Google’s results.

Conclusion: HTML and SEO

HTML code is the foundation of your website, and thus hugely important for its findability. Meta tags, title tags and heading structure help you put together error-free HTML code. HTML code determines the structure and layout of your Web site. If you want a high rating from Google, it is important to put good effort into the HTML code. Not only do code elements promote position, content is also of great importance. Meta tags are created based on the text on the website. The less text, the fewer keywords. The fewer keywords, the worse you can be found within Google.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is HTML?

HTML is the simplest programming language and is learned first by beginning programmers. HTML forms the framework of websites and determines where certain parts of websites are located.

What is the impact of HTML on SEO?

HTML code is the basis for your website. A good heading structure, Meta and Title tags ensure that your code is well put together. It also ensures that your site can be found properly. All this, in turn, leads to higher rankings.

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Ralf van Veen

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With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.