SEO 101 - let's get a (little) technical

on Fri 17 Apr

Making sure your content is relevant to what you are offering your customers is one thing. Helping Google understand exactly what the content on your website is, is another. There are two terms you might hear web developers or SEO specialists mention. Semantic markup and microformatting. We’re hoping to demystify both….


Semantic markup

Once a search engine (like Google) has looked at the content of your site to determine it’s relevant it then looks at the headings on a page. But it’s not just about putting it in a bigger font. That’s aesthetic rather than explanatory.

The land of semantic markup is all about the meaning of the text that’s on a page. Content on a website page can be viewed in a similar way to creating a document in Microsoft Word. We’re able to type information and change the text to show the reader what’s important, by making some text bigger, or putting it in bold or italics.

But although Google might be able to see that a piece of text is bigger than the rest, it can’t tell that it’s particularly important unless you tell Google it is.

Semantic markup is basically all about using the correct HTML tags when creating text. Whether it be headlines, list items or block texts (for example) - by specifying that your text is a Heading One (H1) or Heading Three (H3) when creating it on your web page, not only will it automatically look more important for your reader, but Google will be able to tell that it’s the text it should really take notice of.



In a similar vein, when we’re looking at a website it’s easy to read that the text in a particular text box is an address. But all Google sees is a text box.

When we look at an image we know it’s of a cat playing a piano. Google just knows it’s an image.

Microformatting is also semantic but it delves deeper into the meaning of the content; helping like Google know that ‘this is a person’, ‘this is their job description,’ ‘this is a picture of the person’. It ultimately speaks directly to Google; walking it step by step through what it can’t actually see.

The web platform that a website is hosted on should do everything it can to assist Google in what a website is about. Unfortunately, many DIY site platforms just provide templates of boxes for the builder to complete. But there is something you can do.

Google Webmaster Tools is a great support in specifying the meaning of the content on your site. It’s intuitive and helps you make optimisations to make Google better understand it. Take a look!


At Smart Little Web, all of our websites include semantic markup and microformatting; helping Google to understand what the content of a website is. It’s actually all done automatically, so our customers never need to worry about it. If you’re not a customer, we hope the blog has helped.

Please do read our other blogs in our SEO 101 series.



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