I saw this question on a forum in an internet marketing think tank that I help moderate on Facebook.
Does anyone have an opinion on whether there is benefit to underlining or bolding keywords in a post to help with on page SEO? I don’t like how it looks visually but wonder if doing so gives content more of that “google juice”.
This video by Matt Cutts hints at an answer to this question while he is answering the question of whether there is a difference between <b> and <strong> tags in terms of SEO.
My friend Scott Bernadot aptly pointed out that he hints that there might not be a difference between <b> and <strong> tags in terms of SEO but that there seems to be an effect of having one of them compared to just plain text. He might have been being facetious and there could be no effect whatsoever, but let me know in the comments what you think.
So does that mean I should put my keywords in bold text?
I say no, unless it’s for the readers’s benefit. It’s interesting to look at Wikipedia articles (e.g. this one) and how they use bold text to highlight important info. Google uses hundreds of signals to determine content relevance in keyword search and something makes me think that having keywords in bold is not going to help you, unless it helps your readers.
I’ve read a lot of over-optimized pages that read like spam content to trick search engines and having keywords in bold seems to run along that same vein and isn’t good for user experience.
When does it make sense to have keywords in bold text?
Having your keywords in <h1> <h2> <h3> tags etc are a good signal to Google that a certain section of text is important. My friend and online marketing expert Nicole Pereira had some words of wisdom for when it makes sense to use bold text in keywords:
Bolding, underlining, bullets all help to structure information in an educational manner (see all the texts books you read in college). Google likes it when it thinks you are providing educational relevant material. If a word is in your link, in your title a bolded header and underlined in the body google know this is an important topic on your page as well as the reader.
What are your thoughts on using bold text and SEO? Sound off in the comments!