Webmaster trends analyst at Google, John Mueller, tweeted a reply to a question in regards to page structure.
It helps Google if there’s a clear structure on a page, with headings & content, but we’re not going to count it against a site if they improvise / get it wrong. That said, a clear semantic structure of a page can also make sense outside of search.
I replied and went a bit further. Here are my thoughts.
Proper page structure provides a higher level of accessibility. Proper site structure provides more efficient ways of internal linking and a great user experience. Doing either page structure or site structure wrong, will not result in a penalty. It is just the right thing to do. Imagine an internet where the blind could navigate as fast as the sighted. I hope Google will address accessibility just like page load speed. 🙂 Most reading this comment will not have a clue of what it’s like for people who are blind to read a web page. When you understand what that is like, you will then have more understanding of why accessibility (ie:proper page structure) makes for better SEO and you would, just do it.