Why HTML5 Matters – It’s not what you think

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, there are more than 5 trillion pages on the web, and we estimate Google indexes >50 billion of them. There is NO algorithm that will allow Google to identify the best or most useful content. We have watched as “flavor of the month” SEO strategies have been introduced, succeeded briefly, and then failing dismally…, sometimes accompanied by a slap on the wrist from Google. These strategies typically reflect some observed statistical anomaly that is resulting in traffic. These are reactive techniques, and should not be mistaken for an SEO strategy.

One recent dandy, was the introduction of keyword URLs. In rapid succession, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and others automated the process to insure that your URL was “optimized” for traffic. Here’s a question…, how long do you think it took Google to reverse engineer this when they decided it was adversely affecting their results?

  • Inbound Links?
    This has been gamed for years.
  • Length of H1 Title?
  • Content Quality?
    A culturally astute reader may be able to appreciate the brilliance of Hemingway, but the reading level of Farewell to Arms is about Grade 6.
  • Accuracy?
    Well, how many definitions of a particular disease do you think there are?
  • Keyword Density?
    Did I mention there are 5 trillion pages on the web, and half a billion matches for a search for “surgery”. Heck, do a search for 8 random characters.

To understand why HTML5 matters, you have to think about it from a search engine perspective. As stated, no search engine can deliver the “best” or “most accurate” content on the web. In fact that might be a poor decision for a search engine. What a search engine must deliver is results that “satisfy” the user, and cause the user to continue to use the search engine in question. That is what motivates the search engine, and I urge you to spend a lot of your time thinking as if you were the CEO of Google.

As mobile traffic exceeds 15% of Internet activity, the search engines are looking for clues.

What a page written in HTML5 “suggests” to Google, is that mobile compatibility was a factor in design. If the page parses correctly, it “suggests” to Google that it will display correctly on most devices, and accordingly might be a satisfactory search result for the user. This has nothing to do with using HTML5 for interactivity, elegant forms, or geolocation. It has everything to do with giving Google a signal that your page will work correctly on an Ipad. If the page size seems appropriate, and the language is definitively tagged as English, you just improved your search result immensely. Google can’t decide whether you have the “best” search result. They can conclude that you have a search result that will satisfy the Google user, and that the user will return to Google for similar quality search results, and that is what Google cares about.

It’s even easy to visualize Google choosing to deliver HTML5 websites as results for searches conducted on a mobile device, and there is some evidence to suggest that’s happening already.

For most websites, it is time to transition to HTML5.