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Is there a difference between the “strong” and “b” tags in terms of SEO?

Is there a difference between the “strong” and “b” tags in terms of SEO? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from Jean-Marc in Paris. Jean-Marc wants to know, in terms of SEO, what is the difference between strong and the b tag for emphasis on certain words of text. From the user perspective, both tags have the same effect, words are shown in bold. Which tag should we use, in which circumstances? OK, this sounded like a familiar topic. And I felt like I’d answered this one before. So I went and I searched, went through my mail. And I think we had answered it before. But it was in 2006. So I’m going to give you the state of the art answer as of 2006. I don’t think the answer has changed in any way, but let me just add that small caveat. Back then, whenever we checked, strong and b were treated the exact same in terms of ranking and scoring and how they’re indexed and all that sort of stuff. Likewise, there’s also the E-M, the em, and the i, stands for italics, and those were treated exactly the same. And you could use either one, and it wouldn’t make a difference in terms of Google ranking. So things might have changed since 2006. But I really kind of doubt it. I was always under the assumption that b and i have kind of been deprecated. But it looks like they’re still around in HTML5. It does seem like strong and em are sort of the new hotness that a lot of people prefer to use. But technically, one is talking about the presentation and is definitely saying bold. The other one is sort of a semantic label that says, well, treat this as strong. But in practice, every browser just goes ahead and makes it bold. So the short answer is, don’t worry about it. As far as I know, Google will treat the strong and the bold the same and the em and the italics the same. And so you don’t need to worry about it from that point of view. So whatever you want to do as far as deciding the semantics and whether you feel strongly about one way or the other, that’s totally fine. Because I don’t think that it will matter to Google.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: