HTML5 – The Future of Searching the Web

HTML5 StructureImagine if you discovered that the local phone book was missing entire city blocks worth of businesses only because the primary language of the area was not English. Although these businesses speak English and may offer services you need, you’ll never know they exist because the phone book’s creators don’t understand what they do. Many don’t realize that this is exactly what happens with internet search engine results. Of all the languages that a webpage can be built with, the current search engines can only understand a small fraction of them.

This all stems from the fact that the internet began as a text based system. Hyper text markup language – or HTML for short – is the basic language in which websites are developed, delivered to users, and interpreted by web browsers to be displayed. Search engines dig through the HTML code of a website to make determinations on what kind of data the page contains, what keywords are important for search results, and how useful the page would be to the search engine’s end user. However, there are websites that want to have more than basic text and picture functionality.

Graphical websites driven by languages like Flash and Silverlight may not have very much HTML code. This means they might as well be written in an alien language as far as the search engine is concerned. If a company created a brilliant Flash based website, full of animations, sound, and interactivity but the only HTML on the entire page was only a reference to the Flash object, their website will fall into obscurity in search engine result pages.

HTML5 – the upcoming new standard for the basic web page language aims to solve this problem. HTML5 incorporates functionality of products like Flash and Silverlight into a coding language that search engines still understand. HTML5 also aims to put context into searches. Search engines will be able to understand when they’re reading from a blog, when they are reading a caption on a photo, when they are reading comments of users, and properly “weigh” these different items to determine how relevant said page is to the requested search.

It will take a few years for HTML5 to fully become integrated into the World Wide Web. Since current browsers just ignore HTML syntax they don’t understand, some companies have already begun preparing their websites with HTML5 code. Creating a uniform language for the internet will go a long way to helping people find what they are looking for.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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