[html5] Understanding <nav> and <h1>

BlueBoden admin at blueboden.com
Thu Jan 21 11:33:04 PST 2010

A Heading is a Heading, regardless if its a part of an UI or a Document. You
can of cause use other elements such as P, but it wouldn't be correct to do

SEs do not need to tell the navigation apart from your content to analyse
your page content. Even the links in your navigation pass on Anchor text and
PR internally on your domain, so if anything, it would only have a posetive
effect. There are however circumstances where it may effect your rankings
negatively, such as having a poor navigation/content ratio, where the
navigation makes up for the majority of the page content, this can be
minimized with a higher PR.

I don't know if google uses <nav>, at least i havent seen any official word.
But you could simply setup a page without description meta tag which uses
<nav> and/or <article>, and see if google generates the description from the
content. If it includes the anchor text of your navigation, then its safe to
assume that google currently don't use these elements.

Having that said however, you could simply include the content first in the
source, at least until HTML5 becomes a recommendation. This will not
restrict your layout options, since everything can be positioned using
floats combined with absolute/relative positioning. This would likely also
avoid having to much importance applied to navigitional headers, though this
is likely minimized along side your site growth, (due to google slowly
analyzing your page structure). There was a time where google only indexed
around 100 KBs of the entire page, which made SEO experts recommend the
beforementioned approach, its still useful in some circumstances.

I wouldn't personally rely on drafts, I'd rather wait until HTML5 becomes a
recomendation, hopefully sooner rather then later.

It dose not make much of a differance SEO-wise, if you use H1's, H2's, or
even P's for your navigation headings, Matt Cutts confirmed it for google a
while ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn5qJKU8VM


From: "Nathan Ziarek" <nziarek at gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 4:17 PM
To: "BlueBoden" <admin at blueboden.com>
Cc: <help at lists.whatwg.org>
Subject: Re: [html5] Understanding <nav> and <h1>

> Thanks Blue ...
> I certainly don't believe there should be only one <h1> or <h2> tag
> per page, but I do believe that these tags should be used for the
> _content_ and not the _chrome_. This is a valid debate, one that's
> been had many times, but in my view HTML is a page structure, not a
> site structure, and therefore semantic elements (H, P, EM, STRONG)
> should be used on elements that describe the page, not the site.
> I disagree that this doesn't affect SERP and with the example of
> screen reader UAs.
> Assume my site looks something like this:
> <div id="mainNav">
> <h1>Menu Title 1</h1>
> <ul><li><a>...
> </div>
> <h1>Title of Article</h1>
> <p>lorem ipsum</p>
> While the algorithm of the search engine may be able to deduce the
> difference between the first and second H1 in some cases, it certainly
> cannot in all cases. In those instances (and my guess it is more
> common than not that the SE does not know the difference), I've
> effectively diluted the semantic power of the page content  -- the
> article title -- by each and every H1 in the menu.
> In the case of a screen reader, if the UA is parsing the document and
> reads aloud "Heading S E O" there is no way for me to know if this is
> the heading of a menu item or the article of the page I am on. I do
> not see a benefit to outweigh this confusion.
> This all changes with the advent of a semantic layout element like
> <nav>. Now all UAs that do not comprehend the design of the page
> (screen readers to SE crawlers) can understand that the content within
> <nav>...</nav> is not page content, but navigation. Using H1 within
> this page part makes much more sense.
> My question here is whether or not search engines -- and we can narrow
> that to Google and Bing (minor) -- account for the <nav> element yet,
> to the best of anyone's knowledge? If not, then I do believe using H1
> for a navigation element hurts the semantic relevance of your content,
> which effect search engines and screen readers alike.
> Best,
> Nathan 

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