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August 27 2008

HTML Semantic rich documents

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One of the key aspects of on-page SEO (which is often overlooked by HTML developers), is creating semantic rich documents.  It sounds like something complex, but quite simply, it is using HTML formatting appropriately.  That is using H1, H2, H3, B, UL tags in the correct fashion.

Some designers have a nasty habit of making a number of span tags which alter the text so the appearance is suitable for the page but the structure of the document is out of whack.  The H1 should describe the main subject of the page and only be used once per page.  Subsequent content sections should use H2 to establish what they are about, if there are subsections within the H2 topic, they should be H3 etc.

Search engines use semantic rich HTML to assist them in determining exactly what the page is about, so correctly using those titles (and making them narrowly defined keyphrases for your niche) will help you get sites indexed in the correct niche/category.

Tools for checking the semantic structure of you page:

Web Dev toolbar for firefox (after installing go to information > view document outline)
W3C semantic extractor