ABBR Tag and SEO


I think that the ABBR tag is one of the least used tags, even by the so called SEO experts (oh, how I hate those guys proclaiming themselves experts or gurus). It’s the perfect spot to place your targeted keyword and it’s a completely white hat technique (of course, as long as it’s not abused). And the best part of it is that <abbr> it’s a hidden html element, visible only at mouse over. Place you mouse the word over SEO to see it in action. Therefore, it won’t take real estate space on your page.

Also, keep in mind that using related terms (yeap, that includes abbreviations or synonyms) it helps search engines differentiate similar themes (e.g. differentiate that your company is selling “search engine optimization” and not “engine optimization”, or you’re depicting the Indian Arm – as a river’s Arm in my beautiful British Columbia, Canada and not the arm of an Indian guy).


The <abbr> tag describes an abbreviated phrase. By marking up abbreviations you can give useful information to browsers, spellcheckers, screen readers, translation systems and search-engines. The title attribute is used to show the full version of the expression when you mouse over the abbreviation.

For more information on optional and standard attributes of <abbr> tag please visit the HTML abbr tag page.

What designers should know about the abbr tag in terms of SEO

  • this html tag – as well as any other html tags – can and should be altered using CSS (and maybe some jQuery for some nice tooltips) to make it more visually appealing
  • when you alter (CSS) this tag make sure it doesn’t look similar with the hyperlinks on your website. In fact make it look totally different so there’s no bad user experience for people click on it and going nowhere

What SEOs should know about the <abbr> tag

  • if you still believe that keyword density should be watched under the magnifying glass and if the content wrote by the copywriter(s) it doesn’t meet your KD requirements, use this trick to play with it (search engine do index and cache the abbr text)
  • don’t over use it – I would use the abbreviation tag on the first instance of the abbreviated words on the page, once in the main content and somewhere near the finish line of the main text content
  • if you optimize a long copy (e.g. a boring sales letter) you can increase the usage of the abbr tag (stick to maximum 2 times for each 100 words)

What programmers should know about the <abbr> tag

  • there’s nothing much to worry about this tag for you as this is content-related SEO
  • you could create a rules-based script that parses all the content on the website/database and automatically inserts the acronym tags on the needed words.

What copywriters should know about the abbreviation tag

  • as mentioned before, you should use abbreviations to indicate search engines more about the subject matter of a web page
  • once your copy is live on the website make sure that you (or your SEO colleague) used the the abbreviation tag on the first instance of each the shortened word
  • pay attention to the tone of your content – you may want to target content with  more abbreviations towards an educated audience and content with less abbreviations towards a new to the market audience
  • don’t write acronyms-only content even if you target highly specialized audience which uses acronyms frequently. For SEO purposes, search engines should be feed with both acronyms and full versions of the targeted keywords

Are you a web designer, a copywriter, programmer or search engine optimizer and have a suggestion about this tag and the SEO usage of it? Please leave a comment or contact me and if the suggestion is good I will update the article. Thanks!

Pitstop Media offers ROI focused SEO services. If you need a SEO company to help you rank #1 please contact us for a free, no obligation quote. We’ve helped companies rank first on Google in short periods of time, for highly competitive terms.

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Traian is Director of Search Marketing at Pitstop Media Inc. He has more than 11 years experience in helping small and medium businesses generate and convert organic traffic from search engines. Connect with Traian on Google+. He is also the author of the Ecommerce SEO book.


3 Responses to “ABBR Tag and SEO”

  1. Naresh said:

    Apr 11, 12 at 6:03 pm

    I re-posted my comments, because the this coment field does not accept HTML tags.

    I must say, this was a thorough article about the abbr tag. There is one thing you could have covered in this article… the difference between abbr and accronym tags . Both are generally confused with each other.

    accronym tag can also be utilized for SEO, and so can be the ‘title’ attribute (which can be used on almost all the HTML elements) in the similar way.

    The discussion about the significance of abbr, accronym, and ‘title’ attribute for SEO, are of similar vein (I think).

    Hence you may want to provide links to these (accronym,‘title’ attribute) articles on this page (I am sure you must be having these articles on your site) so that it gives your readers additional (and related) information.

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  2. TraiaN said:

    Apr 11, 12 at 6:20 pm

    Naresh, as a matter of fact there is an article on ACRONYM and SEO. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  3. Koeriers Antwerpen said:

    May 10, 12 at 7:33 am

    There’s another one thats overlooked, or tags (the h tags you dont use), put them once on yr site, add 1/2 keywords and put them n css not visible.

    None of the search engines will make prob of it, but it an easy keyword for free :-).

    Just to be safe, dont over do it

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