Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts on the Difference Between “Strong” and “b” Tags in Terms of SEO

Screen Shot 2013 10 21 at 4.45.34 PM Matt Cutts on the Difference Between Strong and b Tags in Terms of SEO

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, answers a question about text formatting in his latest video where a user writes in to ask:

“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?”

This is a throwback question from 2006 when Matt assured us that, when it comes to SEO best practices, there is no difference between using <strong> or <b> tags. Both tags get treated the exact same in terms of ranking and how pages are indexed.

In the video Cutts recalled answering this question while adding that there is also no difference between <em> and <i> tags when it comes to ranking, scoring and other search factors.

Matt was somewhat vague in his response, saying things may have changed since 2006, “but I really kind of doubt it.” You can use either one and Matt says there won’t be any difference when it comes to Google ranking.

Matt says that the only difference between the two tags is that that <strong> tag refers to presentation, while the <b> tag is a semantic label. But he reminds us that in practice they both do the same thing, every browser just uses the tags to make text bold.

Matt ends the video by reassuring us not to worry about it. Go ahead and use whatever you prefer.

You can see Matt Cutts’ full response in the video below:

 Matt Cutts on the Difference Between Strong and b Tags in Terms of SEO

Matt Southern

Freelance Writer at MattSouthern.com
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert articles he contributes to many well respected publications across the web. Contact him via his website if you'd like him to write for you.
 Matt Cutts on the Difference Between Strong and b Tags in Terms of SEO

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9 thoughts on “Matt Cutts on the Difference Between “Strong” and “b” Tags in Terms of SEO

  1. “Matt says that the only difference between the two tags is that that strong tag refers to presentation, while the b tag is a semantic label. But he reminds us that in practice they both do the same thing, every browser just uses the tags to make text bold.”

    I was very glad that I have read some of these ideas. I keep that in my mind now Matt!

    Thank you for the informative post and video.

  2. With so many people referencing him. Matt Cuts should really not be vague about anything he says. He has quite the platform and should be as clear as possible. If he is restricted by company policy to not say something then don’t say something. Don’t allude to things, i expect people to read between the lines. He is normally pretty good and is clear and concise.

    1. I agree Brett. Seems like an answer that would have been easy enough to research. One phone call to engineering. Maybe even a question Matt should know already. It seemed like Matt “punted” on this answer which is kind of disappointing. A ton has changed since 2011 (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) much less 2006, so why would anyone assume that b, strong, i, and em tags would be treated the same today as they were in 2006?

  3. This is scary. Matt was being pushed to declare which was the preferred one in Google’s eyes. If was the preferred one the whole SEO world would have gone into a tizzy changing every tag. It does not bare thinking about.

  4. Isn’t vagueness kind of Google’s thing as a whole on some level? I do agree with Sean Owens in that we all would have jumped onto our CMS’ to change our tags if they were different than what he said.