HTML is the basic code used to create web pages. Search engines can pick up ranking signals from specific HTML elements. Here are some of the most important HTML elements for SEO success.
The role of HTML code in SEO success: HTML title tag
Imagine that you wrote 100 different books but you gave them the exact same title. How can anyone understand that they relate to different topics?
Imagine you wrote 100 different books, and even though they had different titles, the titles weren't very descriptive — maybe just a word or two. Again, how would anyone know, at a glance, what the books were?
HTML headings have always been the most important HTML signal that search engines use to understand the content of a page.
Bad titles on your pages are similar to having bad book titles in the examples above. In fact, if HTML titles are considered bad or non-descriptive, Google changes it.
So think about what you hope to find on each page, based on the keyword research you've already done. Then craft unique descriptive titles for each of your pages.
The role of HTML code in SEO success: meta description tag
The meta description tag, one of the oldest supported HTML elements, allows you to suggest how your pages should be described in search lists. If the HTML title is equivalent to the title of the book, the meta description is like the snippet at the back describing the book.
SEO experts will argue that the meta tag is not a "ranking factor" and that it doesn't actually help your pages rank higher. Instead, it's a "view factor," something that helps determine if you're showing up at the top of the results due to other factors.
Technically, this is true. Which is one of the reasons we decided to call them “success” factors rather than ranking factors.
A description containing the searched keywords (in bold) may catch the user's eye.
A well prepared meta description may help to “sell” the user. Both can lead to additional clicks to your site. As such, it makes sense that we could count the meta description tag as a success factor.
Be careful, as the meta description tag does not guarantee that your description will actually be used. Search engines may generate different descriptions based on what they think is most appropriate for a particular query. But getting one increases the odds that your favorite will turn up. It is easy to do.
The role of HTML code in SEO success: structured data
What if you could tell search engines about your content in their own “language”. Behind the scenes, sites can use specific tags (code) that make it easier for search engines to understand the details of the page's content and structure.
The result of the structured data often translates into what Google calls a “rich snippet,” which is a search menu with additional bells and whistles that make it more attractive and useful to users. The most common snippet that you are likely to come across is reviews/ratings, which usually include cute stars.
While the use of structured data may not be a direct factor in ranking, it is clearly a success factor. All things being equal, a list with a rich snippet is more likely to get clicks than one without it.
The role of HTML code in the success of SEO: header tags
See heading up at the top of this page? Behind the scenes, HTML code is used to create a header tag. In this case, the H1 tag.
See subheadings on the page? Those also use header tags. Each of them is the next "level" down, using H2 tags.
Header tags are a formal way to identify the main sections of a web page. Search engines have long used them as evidence of a page's content. If the words you want to search are header tags, you will have an increased chance of showing up in searches for those words.
Of course, this knowledge caused some people to go overboard. Entire paragraphs will be placed in the header tags. This does not help. Header tags are just as important for making content as easy to read for users as they are for search engines.
Header tags are useful when they reflect the logical structure (or outline) of a page. If you have a headline, use the H1 tag. Relevant subheadings must use the H2 tag. Use headers because they make sense, and may enhance other ranking factors.