HTML Lists: Are They a Google Ranking Factor?
Ordered and unordered HTML lists are frequently utilised in SEO content development to show step-by-step instructions and relevant items in an easy-to-understand format. Unordered lists are typically displayed as bullet lists using the <ul> element and <li> child elements. On the other hand, a numbered list is created by the use of the <ol> element and its associated <li> child components. Lists can help webmasters manage the text and numerical data on their websites. But can they help SEO content rank better in the Google Search results?
Some SEOs Claim That Ordered/Unordered HTML Lists Are a Ranking Factor
For them to be a direct ranking factor, adding HTML lists to a page and how SEOs employ them would need to be factored into the Google search ranking algorithm. Some HTML elements are ranking factors, like heading tags, but many SEOs question whether HTML lists also have the same impact.
When an SEO adds an HTML list on their content, the page will show readers a hierarchy of some sort, listing things in order, such as ingredients for a recipe content or instructions in a “how-to” article. Some site owners and publishers think that the higher their keywords are listed, the better chances they’ll have at ranking for those words in the search results.
Proof That HTML Lists Are a Ranking Factor
A 2010 Google patent showed that Google evaluated a web page using both unordered and ordered lists. The patented technique was utilised to help the algorithm determine the semantic relationship between words as it sought to understand the page’s topical relevance.
A part of the search engine’s approach involved analysing the page’s HTML structures. In doing so, Google searched for elements, like nested tables, titles and headings, line breaks, divs, and ordered and unordered lists. The search engine might actually be using all of the mentioned elements to layout a web page’s list of items. Moreover, Google may look at these elements to determine how the content in every section relates to the surrounding content and how topics and words relate to one another.
Google has expressed a keen interest in natural language and has improved its Knowledge Graph over the past years. Therefore, it is not surprising that the search engine company’s algorithm includes a way to gain better semantic comprehension of content through page elements.
In a Google Search Central article, the search engine company answered a question about marking a web page as a featured snippet. Google said that SEOs could not force their page to appear as a featured snippet because the search engine’s systems determine if a page is good enough to be featured, depending on the user’s queries.
One of the things that Google’s system looks for is listicle-type content, which the search engine company usually displays in coveted Position Zero snippets. So, while one can’t instruct Google directly to treat their SEO content as a featured snippet, they may create and format it in such a way to qualify for it.
Proof That HTML Lists Are Not a Ranking Factor
Since one can easily modify lists, it’s reasonable to believe that they don’t have a profound effect on rankings. What would it be like if SEOs could make a list of things they intended to rank for and easily climb the search rankings? There would be a lot of spam going on.
That is why some SEOs believe that the only genuine advantage that content producers and SEO specialists should focus on is the order and structure that HTML lists provide to a web page.
Lists offer readers step-by-step instructions to follow or a quick point of reference, which are useful because they highlight key information points. They make it easy for visitors who are scanning the page to get the most out of the content by assisting them quickly in locating the information they’re looking for.
From this perspective, ordered and unordered lists rank not because they are a direct ranking factor but because the content’s ideas are organised, coherent, and well-structured. Therefore, it does not matter to Google whether a piece of content has ordered or unordered lists.
However, it matters a lot when Google understands that an ordered or unordered list, a subheading, a high-resolution image, a quality video, or an original text with trustworthy and reputable sources are all working together. That’s when the search engine begins ranking the page higher in the search results.
In the end, the list is just another way of presenting the information, and it’s the page’s context, accuracy, quality, and trustworthiness that matter the most.
The Final Verdict: Ordered or Unordered HTML Lists as a Ranking Factor
Suppose Google uses HTML lists as a search ranking signal. In that case, it isn’t nearly as powerful a signal as it once was. Google’s algorithms used text on the web page, HTML, and links to rank the website. HTML lists are probably used to help Google contextualise the data from a broader standpoint, but the absence HTML list probably won’t affect one’s rankings in the search results.
With that being said, HTML lists do offer benefits. They can help simplify complicated ideas and bring order to chaos. They also help SEOs be more visible in the search results if they become eligible for featured snippets. And, most importantly, they improve the reader’s experience.
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