Episode 12: On bold text being an SEO advantage and the importance of Core Web Vitals

Jon Henshaw talks about the latest news regarding bold text helping SEO and why Core Web Vitals is essential, no matter what people say online.


So it’s a new episode of the Coywolf Podcast, and there’s no music, there’s no sounds, there are no interviews. I guess I could make music. sings a quick tune There you go, that’s the intro.

I’m going to be doing something, maybe considered a test, I don’t know. But I have stuff I want to talk about; I just don’t want to do all the production for it and make a big deal. I just want to put some audio files out and see how that goes. So I really appreciate it, that one person who’s listening to this out there. Maybe the only person ever who might listen to it. But here we go.

I’m going to talk about two things today. And one is the new thing about bold text helping SEO. And the other thing’s going to be about Core Web Vitals and whether or not they’re important and how you should approach it, that type of thing.

So jumping right into it, John Mueller said on something to somebody that got people to write about it, that bold text helps with SEO. And it was really interesting to me to hear this because it’s not exactly new. At least it wasn’t new to me. And I know other people who already knew that that was a thing. That it could be seen as it’s meant to be, which is a level of importance emphasis. Although I don’t really like to use that word for it because emphasis is its own thing. But the main thing about this is that it’s about semantics. This is also what I think John is actually saying. It’s about semantics and it’s in line with the fact that you would use headings and you would use structure for your content.

The entire goal of what a crawler and algorithm is trying to do is figure out what in the heck is this page about. And yes, it also is trying to figure out individual passages, that’s a whole other topic. But it’s trying to understand what it is you’re trying to communicate with that page. And so it would help if you made something bold, if something was rendered bold. We know that you could use the wrong headings for something and Google will actually look at how that text is rendered. So for example, if you use CSS and you make that text bigger and bold, they’re going to assume that’s probably some sort of title or something. They’re going to assume it’s more important than the rest of the other text or copy that you have on that page. And so this is in line with that, it’s consistent and not new. So I thought that was interesting.

Of course, when these things come out, it’s the type of thing where, okay, well now that it’s like out and even being misinterpreted, we now get to watch it be abused. And I guarantee it’ll be abused because that’s what the whole SEO community has ever done. I include myself, I’ve abused stuff. Where you learn a new technique and then you just use it poorly, use it too many times, whatever it might be. And then eventually Google de-emphasizes it or takes it away. And I think a really old one would be meta keywords. Meta keywords is probably the poster child of completely using something for the wrong purpose to the point where it has no meaning anymore to the algorithm. They’re just sort of like, this is just a spam attribute. We don’t need this anymore.

But anyways, Google’s just trying to attempt to understand your content. And what people are going to end up doing is they’re going to, I guarantee it, use it unnaturally, artificially. They’re going to end up bolding phrases and keywords the same way that they would with links, with text and links. It’s going to be the same approach and it’s silly. And I think, if it does anything, it’ll probably just confuse it in a way that’s actually not to your advantage. It could possibly raise a flag with our system. I’m not sure it’s going to help it.

I’m sure though, as I say that there are a group of people individually in their basements who do all kinds of crazy stuff and test stuff and they never share it with anybody. And they’re just like, “Oh, I’ve cracked the code with bold text. And I can rank for anything if I do bold text.” I mean, sure, I bet there’s somebody out there who’s figured that out, along with a bunch of other crazy stuff that they’re doing.

But for the rest of us, for the rest of the world and for all reasonable purposes and what we would do with this information, I don’t think it’s going to be helpful to use it in a unnatural, artificial way. I think you just need to continue to write for humans and bots and focus on clarity and make sure that you’re focused on disambiguation and entities. What it is you’re including in there. And I have written about this before, the keyword here is disambiguation, that’s sort of a thing that I think is very important and is key to my success with most of my content marketing and SEO … that doesn’t make any sense. Having problems here, slurring. I don’t even drink and I’m slurring. Must be late at night.

So that can be found and read a Coywolf Pro. I have a short link to it because I can’t spell this disambiguation without spell check. And there’s no way that I can say this via audio and you be able to know that too, unless you’re just a savant. But for us regular people, I made a short URL and just said writing. Basically what I’m saying is, I created a short URL for you and me that we could actually know how to spell. And so it’s coywolf.io/writing. R … writing, excuse me, W-R-I-T-I-N-G, writing.

Okay. The next thing now that I beat that to death, Core Web Vitals. So much discussion lately online, especially on social networks. And when I say social networks, I mean Twitter, because I’ve deleted all my accounts to like everything else because I can’t take it. So Twitter, I’ve seen a lot of discussion on Twitter about Core Web Vitals and does it help you rank? Does it really make a difference? Is it that way because everybody’s been working on it, so nothing’s really changed? How much influence does this signal have? That type of thing.

It’s kind of all over the place and all of it’s anecdotal. Which is okay because I use a lot of anecdotal evidence myself and that’s fine. As long as you specify that it’s opinion and just your thoughts, which is what I usually do. Versus hard, hard data. And to me, taking some set of data from one of these tools out there and saying, “This is somehow fact.” That’s just not true. It’s why every single tool out there has a discrepancy in their data with everybody else’s results. And it probably doesn’t match up with Google, which is probably the source of truth, that is.

So I created a … I didn’t create. I wrote an FAQ for the Coywolf Newsletter and I thought that would be a good way to get that out there. Especially since I haven’t written a newsletter since August, you might notice a pattern that I do a bunch of stuff and then I just need to chill. Also, I have a full-time job, so that gets my number one focus. But yeah, last time I did a newsletter on August and now it’s mid-November, so pretty awesome. But I digress. With Core Web Vitals, I wanted to write this FAQ because of the things I just talked about, just sort of like it’s all over the place. And I really hate it when people are saying like, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t a difference. And who cares?” And they’re just kind of crapping on it.

And I’m a big fan of Core Web Vitals. I am a big fan of anything that improves a user experience on the web. I think that it should be done because it should be done because it makes the web better. It is better for the people who are visiting your site. I think it actually helps reflect well on your brand. I think it will get people to come back. But it’s also something that Google cares about, which I very much appreciate. And it’s something that Google is putting a lot of resources towards and continues to. And so for that reason, regardless of what people are saying out there, other than myself, of course, very important what I say. But, regardless of what other people are saying out there, I think it’s going to continue to be important and will continue to evolve over time.

I talk about why you should care, which I kind of went over. The short answer is because Google cares. Is it worth it? And why? Can you improve your Core Web Vitals by just using a plugin like Perfmatters. I talk about the easiest way to optimize Core Web Vitals without changing your site at all. So I have a paragraph answer, whatever you want to call it, in there about what can you do to improve your Core Web Vitals without touching your site? What’s that miracle? And so I go into that, which has worked pretty well for me and it’s fairly well tested. And then the best way to analyze and measure for Core Web Vitals.

And then the last one is … and I’ll give you a little bit of the answer for this one is which measurements matter the most. And so the spoiler alert to that one is whatever is in Google Search Console. It’s the only thing that matters. I don’t care what tool you use out there, it doesn’t matter. It may matter if you’re trying to fix your pages and improve your performance, the details of that report matter. But the good needs improvement or poor that part, those is one of those three that you get for a page. The only place that matters where that’s reported is Google search console, period. And I kind of point that out and really kind of drive that home in the FAQ.

And so you could read the entire FAQ, which was sent out as a newsletter, but I also posted online at coywolf.io/cwvfaq. So like Core Web Vitals, CWVFAQ. And then you can read all that if you want.

Okay, that’s it. That’s all I got. Here’s the outgoing music. Okay, see, that’s it. We’re done. There’s no liking, there’s no nothing, there’s no commenting. This is just a one-way monologue out to the single person who will listen to this. And maybe you’ll find it useful, maybe you won’t. I don’t know. Thanks for listening. Bye.

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Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @henshaw