How to Analyze a Page HTML Semantic Structure

H1 – H6 elementsbriefly describe the topic of the section they introduce“. They form a page HTML semantic structure that can “be used by user agents, for example, to construct a table of contents for a document automatically“.

Heading tags will not dramatically effect the page rankings, of course, but the correct usage of the elements will “reinforce” other on-page factors and structure the contents of a document. Being one of the methods to give your keywords prominence, the heading elements clarify the page main topics (both to users and bots).

A page semantic structure analysis is an important part of site SEO diagnostics that can help to:

  • identify on-page issues;
  • analyze your (competitors’) main keywords;
  • improve your keyword prominence;
  • understand if you are outlining your content correctly.

Here are two tools to help you analyze any page semantic structure:

  • Web Developer FireFox extension gives any page semantic outline (located under “Information” => “View Document Outline“):

Web Developer: HTML semantic structure

Semantic extractor: HTML semantic structure

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
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16 thoughts on “How to Analyze a Page HTML Semantic Structure

  1. I thought a lot of time, is there still importance of H Tags, as i have been seen many sites without H tags rankings on top of SERP’s, but thanks for this post for giving detailed information on how H tags relates with keyword prominence.
    Thanks, Smarty.

  2. @Jann
    did you never see a book starting from the section, instead of a title. Starting your page with the h3 tag ( that it’s not absolutely forbidden) let think to the spider that you don’t have the title of your book, just sections.

  3. The numbers show relative importance, and say nothing as to how those should be visually rendered.

    However, you should generally start at H1 for the most important, and work down for the rest.

    CSS takes care of what they look like on screen. :-)

  4. @Jaan

    Unfortunately I actually deleted my test pages, but I can assure u, as probably most of us that a document with an H1 is heavy than one with H3.
    A starting doc.

    You can do a stupid test if u want. Create two new pages, same content, same title. One with h1, and one with h3. Link both of them to an index of a dir that is new.
    In yout content or title write an absurd word that u and only u know (ex. thsstestforhtmlhedtag) and submit to google. wait some days and then try to look for that occurence and see the serp order.
    That’s all.

  5. Semantic structure refers to the arrangement of words, not to how they are marked up in HTML. Search engines are still using primitive semantic algorithms that are not likely to be influenced by whether you break your copy up with section headers.

    In semantic analysis you look for relationships between words and groups of words. If you can identify patterns you’ll be able to notice triggers that allow acceptable substitutions.

    We’ve already begun to see these kinds of substitutions in suggested alternative searches and in the variant copy expressions that appear in relevant search results (as opposed to irrelevant copy expressions that have always appeared in poorly organized queries).

    We’re not yet to the point where a query like “canine trainer” produces results similar to the “dog trainer” query, but when we get there it won’t be because of HTML markup.

  6. @Micheal

    To be more precise, doing semantic HTML mean use markup correctly, and it’s not dependend by the word arrangement at all.
    If you have a heading use the heading element, beginning with the H1 element. If you have a paragraph, use a paragraph element. If you have a list, use a list item element. yadda yadda yadda

  7. @Michael : I guess we are talking about two different things… I was referring to HTML semantic structure, not semantic structure in its broad meaning…

    1. html family provides only syntactic and structure to the semantic document, more semantically improved version of SGML family. XML is as a derived type of SGML is providing human readable structural details to the semantic langauges such as rdf, rdfs well understand by machines. semantically rich SGML family language is HTML 5.

  8. I have a slight suspicion that they do affect the ranking of the website. H1 is usually used to determining what the page is about and should normally keyword phrases.