In last week’s Google Webmaster hangout, the question was brought up about HTML5, the current version of HTML code standard and whether it benefits SEO in any way.
Does HTML5 tags have a positive effect in SEO?
John Mueller answered the question:
No. HTML5 can be really useful for making a modern website, but it’s not something that we use on its own as a ranking factor.
HTML5 was the standard released in 2014, with version 5.1 expected to be released this year.
SEOs are always looking for that extra edge to help their Google rankings, and there have been a few who claimed that switching to HTML5 led to increased rankings in Google.
Google had said as far back as 2010 that HTML5 was not any kind of ranking signal, so it is likely other reasons that led to the increased rankings in those cases.
Along those same lines, having valid HTML is not a ranking factor either.
That said, having clean, updated code is never a bad thing, especially as browsers update, so there are other ways that having HTLM5 can benefit your site, such as user experience and load time.
There are many online tools to help you validate your HTML.
But in terms of ranking, unless your HTML is affecting user experience (and thus the likelihood those visitors continue to click through your site and/or link or share it), you are better off spending your time on other more direct SEO improvements instead.