Ordered and unordered lists are commonly used in web content to present related items, step-by-step instructions, etc., in an organized manner.
Using the & lt; ul & gt; an item with & lt; li & gt; The child elements form an unordered list that is typically displayed as a bulleted list. Option & lt; ol & gt; element i & lt; li & gt; children display a numbered list.
Lists can help you organize the text and numerical information on your website.
But can they help you rank higher in Google search results?
The Claim: Ordered Or Unordered HTML Lists As A Ranking Factor
For HTML lists to be a direct ranking factor, adding them to a page and how they are used would have to be factored into Google’s search ranking algorithm.
We know some HTML elements are like header tags. What about letters?
This would mean adding this:
… Would help you rank higher for blueberries and whipped cream and, possibly to a lesser extent, heavy cream and sugar in Google’s results.
The Evidence For HTML Lists As A Ranking Factor
A 2010 Google patent reviewed by Bill Slawski shortly after its release indicates that (at least at the time) Google used HTML markup for both unordered and structured lists in evaluating a website.
In particular, the method described in the patent helped the algorithm determine the semantic relationship between words in an effort to understand the actual meaning of the page. Sławski wrote:
“One part of the process behind this approach involves a search engine analyzing the HTML structures on the page for elements such as page titles and headings, unordered lists (& lt; ul & gt;) and ordered lists (& lt; ol & gt;), nested tables, div elements and line breaks (& lt; br & gt;) that can be used to list items on a page ”.
These elements can tell Google how words and topics are related and how the content in each section relates to the content around it.
Given Google’s growing interest in natural language and what we now know about its Knowledge Graph, it is understandable that the algorithm uses page elements that improve its semantic understanding of the content.
Lists can also help show your content in featured snippets at the top of organic search results.
In response to the question “How can I mark my site as a featured excerpt?” Google says
– You can not. Google’s systems determine whether a page would be a good featured snippet for a user’s search request, and if so, raises it. “
One of the things that Google’s systems look for and display in the desired Zero fragments is listicle content.
So, while you can’t specifically tell Google “This is an Emphasis Snippet”, you can write and format your content to qualify for an Emphasis Snippet.
The Evidence Against HTML Lists As A Ranking Factor
The lists themselves are too easily manipulated to count in the ranking algorithm. How great would it be if you could just list the things you would like to rank for and shoot yourself to the top of the SERP?
(It’s not great at all. That would be spammy as hell.)
Therefore, I believe that the real and only benefit that content creators and SEO professionals should focus on is the order and structure of the HTML lists on your website.
Letters give readers a quick reference or step-by-step to take action. They highlight key information. They help to easily convey what is most important. They help website viewers locate takeaways quickly.
As Roger Montti explained in a recent article:
“In my opinion and experience, an ordered or unordered list is not ranked because they are ordered / unordered lists. They are ranked because the ideas contained in the content are coherent, organized and well-structured. “
The list itself – whether it’s organized or subordinate – doesn’t mean much to Google.
But when Google becomes clear that a subtitle, original text backed by reputable and properly cited expert information, a structured or disordered list, and perhaps a movie or high-quality image work together – that’s when the magic happens. *
The list is just how the information is presented. The most important thing is the quality, context, credibility and accuracy of this information.
* To be clear, there is no real magic – black, white or otherwise.
Ordered Or Unordered HTML Lists As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict
Google may use HTML lists as a search ranking signal. If so, then it’s not as strong a signal as it could be when HTML, words on the page, and links were pretty much everything the algorithm had to apply.
I think it is used by Google to contextualize the information it evaluates as a whole, but the presence of a list (or lack thereof) will not move the needle on organic SERPs for you.
What lists can certainly do is sort out the chaos and simplify complex ideas.
They can help you get a highly visible, expanded search result on your featured snippet.
And lists can improve the reader experience, which is an SEO win all day long.