SEO HTML Elements

What Is HTML?

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is one of the basic coding languages used to create websites and individual webpages. HTML is the language used to create web pages for display in web browsers.

HTML along with the other coding languages make up your web source code — the technical back-end of your website.

Here’s what it looks like:

You can see the HTML of any website or individual webpage — here’s how.

Right click “View page source.”

The HTML of that individual webpage should come up.

Why Is HTML Important For SEO?

Search engines — like Google — use HTML to better crawl, index and rank webpages. HTML helps to tell them (the search engines) what a particular webpage is about.

There are a number of different HTML tags that influence SEO — these will be covered below.

The more context you can give search engines about your webpage, the better your SEO results will be.

SEO HTML Elements

Page Titles (Title Tags)

The page title (or title tag) is the most important HTML tag for SEO — it is the search engine equivalent of your page header.

Here’s how it looks on the SERPs (search engine results page.)

It tells search engines exactly what your individual webpage is about, just like the headline would for an article.

The page title also appears on internet browser tabs.

The page title is shown if the webpage is shared on social media too.

source: semrush

The page title is also referred to as the title tags because the actual HTML tags are <title> … </title>.

To find the title tags in the HTML, search Ctrl + F “<title>”

Related Reading: Check out our full article on Title Tags.

Meta Description

The meta description is the short little blurb under the page title on SERPs.

It is like the summarizing subheading of an article under the headline.

The meta description isn’t a ranking factor — it doesn’t directly affect SEO.

Google (and other search engines) don’t look at the meta description. There’s no need to put a keyword there.

The meta description can influence click-through rate — a powerful user signal that affects SEO.

So in a way… A meta description does impact SEO, just not directly.

Compare these two search results with different meta descriptions.

Which one would you be more inclined to click?

Exactly.

The meta description acts as a short preview of a webpage — it entices and persuades people to click through. It’s a followup on the page title, it’s like the blurb on the back cover of a book.

Image Alt-Text

The image alt-text — also known as the alt attribute — is a HTML tag that tells search engines what an image is.

Look at this example.

The image.

The alt-text.

Straight from Google’s mouth, the image alt-text is “text that describes an image.” They even layout examples of best practice.

The alt-text is basically a long-tail keyword for images. It gives search engines more context to help crawl, index and rank webpages.

It also helps visually impaired people and those with poor internet quality to understand images.

You can view the alt-text of any image — here’s how.

Right click “Inspect.”

The image HTML should come up, highlighted on the side of the browser — look for alt=” … “

Related Reading: Check out our full article on Image Alt-Text.

Image Title

The image title is like the image equivalent of the meta description — it has no impact on SEO.

It helps provide additional image information in a user experience sense… You know that little text pop-up that comes up when you put the cursor on an image?

That’s the image title.

Because search engines (such as Google) don’t look at the image title, it isn’t as important as the alt-text or the filename.

You can find the image title the same way as alt-text — look for title=” … “

You will find that often, the image title and image alt-text are exactly the same.

This is because the best way to describe an image for search engines (alt-text) is the best for user experience (image title.)

Image Filename

The image filename is pretty straightforward — it is the unique name given to an image when saved, created or edited.

It does impact SEO — where the alt-text is like a long-tail keyword, the filename is a short-tail keyword.

The image filename will be accompanied with a unique file format — like JPEG.

Here is a list of common file formats.

  • JPEG — most common file type, useful for all sizes and minimizes file size
  • PNG — used for images that want a transparent background
  • WebP — for high quality images with low file sizes
  • SVG — used for logos, icons and really small images

The image filename is a little trickier to find when looking at the image HTML — it’ll be in the img src tag.

Look for the file format.

Related Reading: Check out our full article on Image Filenames.

Geotagging

Geotagging is the process of adding a geographical location to a webpage or specific content on that webpage.

Some of those specific webpage content/assets that you can geotag include:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • RSS Feeds
  • QR Codes

When you geotag something, you are giving search engines (like Google) very specific, exact geographical information.

This is very powerful for local related search queries — helping you get on the 1st page of Google.

With the advancement of search engine algorithms, geotagging has become less important.

Structured Data (SERP Features)

Structured data are special HTML tags that you can add to your webpage.

These tags make it easier for search engines to crawl, rank and index.

It’s like giving search engines — such as Google — a manual to your webpage.

The more information and context you can give search engines, the better your SEO efforts will be.

The biggest benefit of structured data is having your webpages/website shown as SERP features.

SERP features are the different, larger and more detailed results you see at the top and side of SERPs.

They make your search results look more enticing — it’s basically better advertising — it enhances click-through rate (user signal.)

There are 4 main types of SERP features.

  • Paid Results
  • Rich Snippets
  • Universal Results
  • Knowledge Graphs

Paid results are the paid Google Adwords and shopping results you see on SERPs.

Rich snippets are small additions to regular search results — such as ratings or site-links.

Universal results are a variety of different things — including the “People also ask” box, image packs and news boxes.

Knowledge graphs are rather large, intrusive SERP features that take a lot of attention away from regular search results.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is how often a keyword is used on an individual webpage.

It’s the frequency, not the total volume.

Here’s an equation to help you understand.

Keyword density = # of times keyword used ÷ total number of words

If I wrote 100 words and used my keyword once, the density would be 1%.

Keyword density used to be very important for SEO — that was until search engine algorithms became smarter.

Now, an unnaturally high keyword density (keyword stuffing) will negatively impact your SEO.

Still, keyword density is relevant today — keywords will always be.

The best practice for SEO has just changed.

Related Reading: Check out our full article on Keyword Density.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to learning the basics of SEO, the first step is usually covering the HTML tags.

This is because they are the most essential element — can you imagine not having a page title?

Good luck getting website hits.

To learn more about SEO, continue reading the guides in our learning hub, and join our mastermind community group here: SERP University.

Lars Erik Larson

Lars Erik Larson

Lars Erik Larson is a digital marketer specializing in writing long-form B2B Marketing and SaaS content that builds brand and ranks highly on Google. Lars runs Wordsmith Method, a content marketing business targeting small businesses and startups. Lars also acts as one of the expert mentors at SERP University.

4 thoughts on “SEO HTML Elements”

  1. Lars, is it possible to do much SEO with HTML elements if you don’t know how to do programming? Let me give you an example. I have several web pages, but I used different site making tools like WordPress, Wix software, and Site Spinner Pro where I don’t need to know HTML. That being said, are there ways to incorporate your hints without being HTML savvy?

    1. Devin Schumacher

      Definitely, you can just use the WYSIWYG editors on these tools which will add HTML markup automatically

  2. Some of these things are so basic that I’ve forgotten to do them. This is a terrific summary of the essentials for any website. As funny as it may sound to some, I’ve forgotten to put titles in my web pages. Even when I have put titles in, I’ve neglected basics like keywords.

  3. It’s clear to me there are so many little things you can do to help your SEO with various HTML elements. Myself, I like those “people also ask” boxes. They often help me find other things that help me in my data search (I do a lot of online research). I guess understanding SEO HTML elements not only helps you boost your web page, but helps you when you’re looking for something.

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