Does bold text help SEO?

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 talking about whether there is a difference between <b> and <strong> tags for SEO value.

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.

So does that mean I should put my keywords in bold text?

If it’s for the reader’s benefit, I would but I wouldn’t overdo it for the SEO benefit, just like I wouldn’t overdo keyword placement on the page. Keep focused on writing unique, interesting content.

Check out 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.

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. 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!

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