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The “DOCTYPE” declaration is an essential component in the creation and rendering of webpages. It is a preliminary information piece that informs the web browser about the version of HTML or XHTML that a webpage is using. This declaration assists browsers in rendering the page correctly by applying the appropriate rendering mode, ensuring that the webpage appears as intended by the developer.

In the context of HTML5, the DOCTYPE declaration is simplified and appears as at the very beginning of the HTML document, preceding the tag. This declaration signifies that the webpage should be rendered using HTML5 standards, which is the latest and most widely adopted version of HTML.

The DOCTYPE declaration plays a subtle yet significant role in SEO. A correctly declared DOCTYPE helps ensure that a webpage is displayed correctly across various browsers, contributing to a better user experience. Search engines, in turn, value webpages that offer a consistent and user-friendly display, which can influence the webpage’s SEO performance positively.

Inconsistent or incorrect rendering due to a missing or incorrect DOCTYPE declaration can lead to usability and layout issues, potentially harming the user experience and, consequently, the site’s SEO. Therefore, including a proper DOCTYPE declaration is a best practice in web development that aligns with SEO strategies aimed at enhancing website usability and performance.