A while back I wrote a post on how HTML5 might affect your page rankings and search engine results in the future, and I’ve recently been reading a bit more on the subject so it’s time for a quick recap.
With HTML5 bringing with it a more organised structural approach to page layout and tags defining what is what on your site, it should essentially make the search engine’s job easier in the future. Google is of course the primary search engine and probably the most open with regards to how they work, and HTML5 has actually come up a few times over at the Google support forums.
This particular response from John Mu, a Google employee, highlights the current situation with HTML5 and how they approach it currently:
In general, our crawlers are used to not being able to parse all HTML markup – be it from broken HTML, embedded XML content or from the new HTML5 tags. Our general strategy is to wait to see how content is marked up on the web in practice and to adapt to that. If we find that more and more content uses HTML5 markup, that this markup can give us additional information, and that it doesn’t cause problems if webmasters incorrectly use it (which is always a problem in the beginning), then over time we’ll attempt to work that into our algorithms. With that in mind, I definitely wouldn’t want to stand in the way of your implementing parts of your site with HTML5, but I also wouldn’t expect to see special treatment of your content due to the HTML5 markup at the moment. HTML5 is still very much a work in progress, so it’s great to see bleeding-edge sites making use of the new possibilities
As you can see Google is not giving any special preferences to HTML5 sites, and are sticking to catering for the majority, playing a waiting game to see that html does indeed gain wide spread traction and usage. So if you want to be cutting edge then HTML5 will allow you to be just that – just don’t expect Google to reward you for being ahead of the game!