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Matt Cutts Confirms ‘Strong’ & ‘Bold’ Tags are the same. Kind of.

In a recent video from Google’s head of search engine spam, Matt Cutts, talks about a few different tags which are commonly used in web design.  The specific question he was answering was:

In terms of SEO, what is the difference between <strong> tag and <b> tag for emphasis on certain words of text.  From the user perspective, both tags have the same effect (words in bold).  Which tags should we use in which circumstances?

Cutts responds with a similar answer that he gave back in 2006 to a similar question.  These two tags are treated the same by Google for SEO.  In addition, he mentioned that the <em> tag and the <i> tag are also treated the same for SEO purposes.  He went on to say, “Things might have changed since 2006, but I really kind of doubt it.”  Which indicates that it is very likely that these tags can be used interchangeably without any impact on the site’s SEO.

He did not go into what impact they will have (regardless of which one is used) on SEO.  Placing keywords in bold or italic has been a common SEO practice for years, and people continue to use it.  It would be interesting to hear Matt Cutts’ take on how important it is to bold keywords, or whether he can see a day when placing keywords in bold will have a negative impact on SEO.  It is difficult to argue that bolding a keyword has any real benefits to the reader in most cases, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Google either eliminate any existing benefits of bolding, or even put in some sort of punishment.

Of course, it is very difficult to predict what Google will and won’t do.  What are your thoughts on this video from Matt Cutts?  You can see the entire video HERE.

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Michael Levanduski

Michael Levanduski is the assistant editor of Performance Marketing Insider, and an experienced freelance writer. He writes content for a wide range of sites in virtually every niche, though he specializes in technical writing as well as creating content for the performance and internet marketing industry. Michael was born in Grand Rapids, MI where he still lives with his wife and three children.

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  1. When it comes tags regarding SEO,it is very important now days not to overload our tags and create keyword stuffing. This will be penalized by Google. Simply tag a few prominent keywords.

    1. Exactly, using only tags that will actually help the visitor find what they are looking for is a good rule of thumb.

      Thanks for reading!


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