Looking Beyond W3C Compliance

    September 20, 2006

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) was established by the inventor of the web as we know it today, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee in 1994 to create a uniform set of standards for the internet and its continuing development.

During recent times the importance of W3C Compliance to any serious internet enterprise has gained an increasing amount of publicity.

However; whilst the term is rapidly becoming a buzzword in the SEO and web promotion industries, it is not a cure-all to poor search engine performance.

Instead, compliance with the standards set down by the Consortium simply represents an opportunity to remove many of the obstacles in a site’s code which may prevent search engine spiders from indexing it properly.

It cannot compensate for poor site structure or content.

Furthermore, webmasters should also look beyond the W3C Compliance results provided by the Consortium’s HTML Validator to other errors within their sites which cannot be perceived by this tool.

Flaws such as broken links or images (the main culprits being missing spacers) will score minus point from visiting search engine spiders and can ultimately have an adverse effect on a site’s rankings; yet they are undetected by the HTML Validator.

“Ah but…” I hear you cry; “what about the W3C Link Checker?”

For those of you not familiar with this utility, it is another instrument provided by the World Wide Web Consortium to help raise overall coding standards on the internet.

As the name implies, it identifies broken links within a page’s code so that the web designer may correct these and thus make the lives of visitors and search engine spiders that little bit easier.

The same function can also be found in most competent web design programs, but is usually overlooked with the same frequency as the banana at the bottom of each page in the W3C’s validation section.

No seriously; there is a picture of a half eaten banana at the bottom of all pages in that section, check for yourself.

So; whilst many SEO professionals and web promoters have jumped on the W3C Compliance bandwagon and are busily cleaning their client’s code, a fair percentage of them appear to be leaving behind a substantial number of errors not detected by their ‘first glance’ approach to the task in hand.

Any SEO or web promotion campaign must be approached with a full view of all the required tasks and this does include taking a wider view to a site’s content, code and structure than that provided by W3C Compliance validation.

An accomplished copywriter, Sasch Mayer has been writing content for web and print for well over a decade.
He is currently living in the Republic of Cyprus and working under contract to IceGiant Web Design.