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Semantic Tags and Search Engine Optimization

Semantic markup is another way of helping Google, other search engines and even screen readers understand your websites structure and context of the available content.


Most of us are already familiar with some semantic tags, but it is crucial that we become more comfortable with what they are and how to use them. As time evolves, search engines will move to prioritize sites with semantically correct markup.

Semantic tags are HTML5 elements

HTML5 is the latest version of HTML - the markup language powering the web. With its release came a handful of new elements. These elements are used to better define the different sections of a webpage to give better meaning to their content.

Different semantic tags to use:

  • <article> elements define context that generally can live independent of the rest of the site. These commonly are used with Forum posts, News Articles, and Blog posts.
  • The <aside> tag is used to define related content that is placed beside content, like a call to action inside of a sidebar.
  • The <aside> tag is used to define related content that is placed beside content, like a call to action inside of a sidebar.
  • A <figure> and <figcaption> tag are used with an image and caption pair to add additional information to an image.
  • The <footer> tag defines the footing for a section of a webpage. The footer tag should contain information about its parent container like contact information, important links, and document author.
  • The <header> tag contains the introductory content of a section.
  • The <main> tag defines the main content that is unique to each webpage. You can have multiple
    tags on a webpage.
  • The <nav> tag defines a major set of navigation links. Typically this would be found in the header and footer.
  • A <section> element defines individual sections on a webpage. These could be used on a home page to split portions of a page into sections. The introduction would be its own section, as well as the contact info, Q&A section, etc.

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