BOLD vs STRONG, EM vs ITALICS Which is Better

Bold vs StrongThe question of whether we should use <STRONG> tags vs <B> tags in one of our larger sites came up recently while we were implementing some changes, based on the recommendations of one of the SEO companies who are consulting with us (at my job).

One company recommended that we use <STRONG>, and not <B>, probably because it is what the WC3 recommends, however, we’ve been using the old bold <B> tag forever.

Being a little bit lazy (I really didn’t feel like making a mass change across a site of over 16,000 pages to change B to STRONG), and also a bit curious, because I could have sworn that I heard Matt Cutts say that it didn’t really matter which you use, I decided to do a little looking around.

It turns out that according to Matt and the actual Google engineers who weight the particular algorithm elements, <STRONG> and <B> are exactly the same when it comes to ranking and optimizing pages.

The exact same goes for EM vs ITALICS tags (<EM> and <I>), no difference at all.

I’d like to personally congratulate Google for “Keeping it Real”.

Also, if you’d like to hear it from the horses mouth, here you go…


  1. Thanks for the useful info. Since your on this html subject, how about some insight on the vs. the

    Is there a search engine preference/benefit to limit the and use the more often?

  2. That last post didn’t show the html in question. Let’s try this. I write it out. The Paragraph html vs. the Break html.

  3. Little Confused about Duplicate Contents from what I have read on sites:

    1st, why would, as an blogging engine, create duplicates within one blog!!! WordPress should know that it is not a good/right and practical way.

    Perhaps, some themes might be codded wrongly, then I understand.


    The original post will always have the same url, even if the post (not page) is listed under dozens of categories, or can be found by navigating the archives. Where/when does then duplicate posts originate.

    I hope what I have written above is not totally utter non-sense, as I am newbie at all this. I have seen people recommending using the “noindex” stuff, such as for categories folder within the wordpress.

    Purpose for asking this dilemma is because my new theme is under-development, and soon the blog will be completely hosted on my own wordpress.ORG engine, as it is currently on wordpress.COM. I simply want to be sure that I do not end up having “duplicate contents” within a single blog, hence somehow being penalized, not necessarily from search engines, but even as simple as navigation speed, etc.

    An explanation on this will be much appreciated. Thank you and looking forward for your explanation.

  4. Thank you very much for looking this up. I was getting sick of hearing wheezy junior engineers getting up in my face about this because they had their opinion on it. I’ll make sure to quote this the next the smack is tried to put down upon me. Power to the B and the I!


  5. There are still compelling reasons not to use and .

    Using and says something about the content–that you want something to be strongly worded or emphasized. Using the other tags simply say that you want them formatted a certain way. That’s what CSS is for.

    By using the latter two, you are separating formatting from content, which is an excellent design practice.

  6. I guess I’m kinda with you, Peter. Your post *used* the >tags<, but I think I got you. It’s all about content vs formatting. Then, would would have to decide whether or not the purpose for making an item bold or italic is purely for visual effect, or if it has meaning pertaining to the content. I mean, if we really want to get anal, shouldn’t we be using span class=”bolded” or something?

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