Our fifth study module in this DIY SEO series focuses on having the SEO increase his SERPs through valid HTML code. Valid HTML is HTML markup code that is written in accordance with the W3C guidelines. Validation in the subject of HTML is the is the act of testing your code against W3C standards.
The W3 Consortium has as listed constituent members, some of Earth's most powerful and popular web biased influences of our time. It follows as no surprise then, that webpages written in compliance with the W3C markup validation rules should render perfectly in all standard and popular web browsers. Hence web pages so validated are considered to be of a higher standard against those that have not conformed to any W3C Standard.
Yes, but the word from Google is that W3C Validation is not a factor in determining SERP rankings. So why bother with valid HTML code at all?
To ignore W3C validation citing a source comment like this as a basis to omit validating your HTML code demonstrates a limited understanding on what HTML validation represents.
A set of standard HTML rules that anyone can learn so that he may code and know that his code will display correctly in any popular browser product is desirable knowledge.
The hiccup in our current web climate has been that HTML validation has not always rendered identically in all browsers. The most notable of non-conforming W3C browsers has been the MicroSoft internet explorer releases prior to the version release of internet explorer 8.
Google's validation stance is due in part to internet explorer's old stranglehold where MicroSoft once held a global browser dominance. However, this dominance has been flailing for many a year thanks to MicroSoft's financial need to replace older operating systems and for users to update their browser versions on a constant basis.
Also, if you followed the above link, you will note that microsoft is no longer trying to force html coders into writing extra special code so that his web page will work in internet explorer branded browsers.
In January 2011, StatCounter reported that firefox has surpassed internet explorer as Europe's most popular browser. The numbers were: FireFox @ 38.11%, Internet Explorer @ 37.52% and Chrome @ 14.58%.
On our site (22 Mar 2011), we also use StatCounter stats which reports these combined ratios as: FireFox @ 41.2%, Internet Explorer @ 34.2% and Chrome @ 18.4%. Though we tend to attract the better informed and tech savvy visitors here.
The inference of this above data is that the argument to ignore W3C validation is weakening with each passing moment. The Google code site does have a project to test for W3C compliance. This is the W3cMarkupValidationFilter. The project enables you to capture the HTML of a rendered page and return one of two images. Valid or Invalid. An invalid result also returns a link with a detailed description for each encountered error.
So the question the SEO should ask himself is, should he ignore W3C Markup validation?
Ok, so we understand this W3C Validation step is not all that important to quality google serps on a superficial level. Now let's take a look at W3C Validation on a practical level.
Only a dingbat would skip W3C validation of his own web page coding.
And that pretty much sums it up.
The fault in validation is not always that of the coder. Quite often he may need to insert third party code which is not correctly coded for the doctype of his html code. Or he may use a CMS that does not always format html correctly.
But none of the above is reason enough for the webmaster to not ensure his HTML coding is as clean and as valid as he can make it. It may not always be 100%, but with few or no errors, your page will load swifter and make browsing your site easier and more pleasurable for your visitor.
So let any seo "expert" explain why they don't bother with this step. Their day of reckoning will come. And that day will seperate the effective html coders from dingbat gurus of illusion.