What Are Semantic Tags And How to Use Them

Person checking out the effect of semantic tags on a web page

Semantic tags are a type of HTML tag that describes the content on your webpage. For example, a tag is used to mark up headlines but doesn’t tell you anything about what’s in that headline. A semantic tag would say to you that this is a news article.

This kind of markup isn’t just for web designers and developers—it’s also useful for blind users who rely on screen readers or other accessibility tools to navigate websites with less visual flair. So what makes these tags different from regular HTML? Simply put: semantically-structured data can be processed more efficiently by search engines (like Google). It’s also important because it helps people with disabilities understand the content better and interact more easily with sites.

What are semantic tags?

Semantic tags are tags that describe the content of a web page. Unlike presentational tags, which are used to style your content and make it look pretty, semantic tags describe the meaning of your page. Presentational tags are not really useful for SEO and can even harm your website’s search rankings because they don’t tell search engines what the page is about.

Semantic HTML5 markup will allow you to control better how Google crawls and indexes your site’s pages by providing rich metadata about each page. This gives them more information about the type of data on each page so that Google can better understand the site structure and index it accordingly. In other words, with semantic markup, you’ll be able to tell Google exactly what content is on each web page without using any keywords!

Why use semantic tags?

Semantic tags are used to describe the content of a page. They help search engines, screen readers, and other tools understand what is on the page.

Think about it this way: when you’re writing an essay for school, you start with an introduction that tells your reader what your paper will be about. Then you explain your thesis statement (what you want to prove). Then you give some examples of how those examples work in real life. Finally, in conclusion, wrap up everything by reiterating how they all fit together into one big idea or conclusion. In short:

  • Semantic tags help define how something looks
  • Semantic tags are more descriptive than visually descriptive

What do the different tags mean?

Each tag has a distinct purpose. 

Headings are used for organizing your content in an easy-to-read format. There are six heading levels:

H1: The most important heading. 

H2: Used for less important headings than the h1 heading but still a significant page section. 

H3, H4, H5, and H6: Used for headings in sub-sections under the main sections (h1, h2).; 

Paragraphs help break up text and make reading easier on the eyes; 

Lists allow you to create numbered or bulleted lists of items; 

Tables help organize data; 

Form tags help users fill out forms more easily.

How to use semantic tags

Semantic tags enhance the accessibility of your content by helping screen readers, search engines, and people with disabilities to better understand the structure of your page. It would be best if you used these guidelines in conjunction with the HTML5 accessibility specification to ensure that you provide meaningful information to users visiting your site.

Using semantic tags, such as ‘article’ or ‘nav,’ is also recommended to structure your site’s content. These tags help search engines, and people with disabilities more easily understand your page’s structure.

What NOT to do with semantic tags?

Semantic tags are intended for conveying meaning, not for changing the document’s appearance. So, it’s a bad idea to use them like so:

  • This is a heading
  • This is another paragraph!

It would be best if you used semantic tags only to give structure and meaning to your document. Please don’t use them to change the document’s appearance or behavior (though you can use CSS to do that).

It’s also a bad idea to use semantic tags to style elements. And finally, don’t use semantic tags if you don’t need them. The more HTML elements you add to your document, the less accessible it becomes (it will take longer for screen readers and other assistive technologies to process the content).

Semantic HTML can help you structure your pages for maximum accessibility, but it’s not about looks

Semantic HTML is not about the look or design of your page. It’s also not about how you arrange content on that page, as in the layout. Instead, it’s more to do with the structure of what’s on that page—what are its main parts?

Semantic HTML helps when you want to make sure everyone can understand what they’re seeing, even if they’re not looking at your site with a screen reader (or other assistive technology). This is because it uses tags that have meaning: Headline tells us this is a headline; Paragraph tells us this is some text between paragraphs; and so on.


Semantic HTML is a handy tool for web developers and designers, but it’s not just about aesthetics. If you want to make your pages more accessible, or if you want Google to understand the content on your site better, then this is the way forward. Hopefully, this article has given you a good understanding of how semantic tags work and which ones might be best for your needs!