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Does W3C Validation Help In Search Rankings?

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Validating the html and other codes in your website can be a time consuming task. Because validation simply checks the mark up language for proper syntax, some have wondered if using this process will benefit a site when it comes to search engine rankings, and as such, is it worth doing?

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There are a number of sites that offer validation tools, but the most common one resides on the W3C web site. The process of validation is simple enough. You simply enter the URL of the site in question or W3C allows you to physically upload a page or a site and the validation tool scans the file and informs the user of any syntax. The corrections then have to be made by the site designer.

Is this work worth it when it comes to your site being spidered by search engines? This question was asked by a poster on the WebmasterWorld.com forum and also discussed by Daria Goetsch in an article that appeared lilengine.com. On WMW, Larryhat stated that he had recently finished validating his site’s code, and was wondering if this would be beneficial to his SERP ranking: “Might all this work have a positive impact on my rankings in Google and/or Yahoo SERPs? Maybe some small advantage I would have missed by not validating? Or, do G and Y frankly not care one way or the other?”

Certainly, there are a number of sites without validity that rank well, so why should you be concerned? Claus, in response to a declaration about validation said, “A valid page can be beaten by another page, just like an invalid page can”, emphasized this point. However, claus also suggested validation is an important step in the design process but cautioned; “Valid markup does not cut it by itself, it takes a wee bit more than that to get rankings.”

Before you discount validation completely, consider this error that tedster discovered:

“Last year, there was one unique phrase (word1 word2) that I knew should rank – and it didn’t I checked the page and a <p> was written as <p with no closing bracket – probably a copy/paste error. Everything between that tag and the next <p> tag was evidently not in the index.

I fixed the mark-up and within 7 days, the two word phrase was #1 and bringing in traffic from the search engines.

Similar problems can definitely come from a missing close quote. Things like deprecated attributes and such have no real effect that I’ve ever seen. But when your markup is not well formed — there are real errors on the page — then you can have sections of a page not indexed”

Another vote for validation came from StupidScript, who said, “Proper code = easier for spiders to parse as expected.” However, it was WMW administrator tedster who possibly gave the most compelling reason why validation can help with search engines, albeit indirectly, by saying, “another hidden benefit of learning about validation and well structured documents has been finding natural and appropriate ways to include keywords in my pages.”

WMW senior member encyclo had this to say about why you should be mindful of validation: “That’s why you have to validate – not to clean up stray attributes, but to remove one big possible stumbling block to proper parsing of your documents – either by bots or end-users.” His point was supported by Daria’s article. She said, “Your human visitors need clear, easy-to-understand content and navigation on your pages; search engine robots need that same kind of clarity.”

While validation is in no way a guarantee of high search engine rankings, it’s hard to deny the process has merit, if only for an increased understanding of web semantics. As for whether or not the task is worth the effort, I’ll leave the last word to skippy, who says, “Any little thing I can do to help a spider digest my content I gladly find time.”

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

Does W3C Validation Help In Search Rankings?
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  • Anonymous

    If anyone doubts that a “broken” page can get indexed and then whether or not it can be positioned highly in SERPs, Google using the string “Does Google care about validation?” (minus the quotes) and check the source of what is likely the top result. (look for a page from cass-hacks.com)

    Viewing the source code of the page you should see no doc-type, no html, head or body tags but yet not only is it indexed but is positioned, at least at the time of the writing of this comment, in the #1 position.

    That page is part of an ongoing experiment to see how badly a page can be messed up and still get indexed but so far, content relevance still rules all.

    As much as I wished extra credit were given for valid code it’s not.

    But, does that mean that I will stop validating each and every page and making sure they are perfect? No, the benefits of being able to work from valid code is much more valuable to me than the time it takes to validate and fix errors. It is even more valuable to the next person who may work on the code I originally created because they will also know that they are starting out with valid code and that saves a LOT of time!

  • Justin Case

    W3C Validation of this page
    Result: Failed validation, 97 errors

    • http://www.infobaldai.lt Virtuv?s baldai

      je very nice 97 errors! And how Author can write such articles for peoples but don’t take care of his own page validation

      • http://www.techworldspace.com Ashwin

        I took some time for validating my pages, since my blog is very new, my work was easy now i am following a specific pattern to avoid syntax errors. i don’t know whether this is going to help with my search results or not. But I strongly agree with “Any little thing I can do to help a spider digest my content I gladly find time.”

  • http://wallpapers4you.org Sukhdeep

    is the XHTML validation important  for seo, but if you check the homepage of google and yahoo they are also not validated.

     

    so how it can be necessary can anyone tell…

  • http://www.thesearchenginelist.com Search Engine List

    I just went through the onerous process of getting one of my pages to validate… but then every time I come to a <BR> tag, it all breaks down.

    There was no other way for me to use page breaks without putting everything inside of Paragraph tags… that was my only real problem until I tried  to validate a page with some Ajax or JavaScript.

    I’m new to this, so am unsure… is it best to put this: <!– JavaScript here –> or similar around script?

    • http://www.intrakitdesigns.com Luke Deer

      It’s been when dealing with JS to have as little on page scripts and instead include .js files. This not only helps with W3C validation but does have other SEO benefits. By removing on page scripts (most of which are in the head section, you remove text from your page thus bringing your actual text towards the top of your page. Search engines view text at the top of your page as more important. Why waste that on code?

      P.s. – For your break tag issue, use a / before your closing tag to make it a self-closing tag.

  • http://www.hargate-hall.co.uk Anthony

    I have just run W3C Validation on my site and most of the errors have come from scriptI have cut and pasted from google (eg custom search box) and bookmarking functions such as AddThis.
    Given that this is very widespread can it really matter?

  • http://www.seethrureviews.com/Sit-Stay-Fetch-Book-Reviews.html Sit Stay Fetch Review

    I found that validating html doesn’t do me any good (or harm) so I just don’t do it.

  • http://www.thefilipinoentrepreneur.com Lito | TheFilipinoEntrepreneur.Com

    I think making your site W3C compliant is mandatory if you are building a new site. But if you already have a website with lots of static pages, the time and resources you will spend converting it, is it worth it?

  • http://bestinternetmarketingcompany.com Best SEO Services

    In our experience the parsing is the big issue. It doesn’t seem that code errors in and of themselves have a negative impact, but if they result in the “message being lost” than yes that is bad! Definitely better safe than sorry – wC3 validation is not that hard.

  • http://www.rocketgermansecrets.com sees

    Thank u for your info, it is so helpful

  • http://www.rahulgladwin.com Rahul

    I don’t think validation matters. However, I always validate my pages as it boosts my confidence as a webdesigner. Furthermore, in addition to validating HTML, I also validate my CSS and RSS.