The concept of W3C Validation has gained a lot of importance recently as more and more websites continue to mushroom. From an SEO perspective, W3C validation has a whole new dimension, especially when you want your website to achieve higher ranking in the search engines for certain keywords.
Validating your website can greatly impact 2 aspects of your website – one is the user impression and the other is the search engine rankings. Let’s assume that you had a website built sometime back compatible with the Internet Explorer version 6.0 which you often use. When you see your website in this particular version of the browser, it may appear perfectly well. But let’s say your customer uses the latest version of Internet Explorer 8.0 or another we browser like Firefox. What are the chances that your website will display the same way in IE 8.0 or in the Firefox browser as it was designed for IE 6.0. What would be your customer’s reaction on seeing the website open with distorted formatting, cramped up and misaligned content in their latest browser?
This is a common issue that many may face and in most instances we may tend to overlook the issue not realizing what our customers or target audience may be experiencing with the website not showing the way it was designed to be, only because it is not W3C validated. With this, you have high chances of losing your customers who would not want to return back to your site after seeing it show up unprofessionally in their browser.
Most often we also debate on whether W3C validation compliance can really impact a website’s ranking in the search engines or not. You may also wonder that if your web page looks perfectly fine in the web browsers like IE, Firefox, etc, then why you should get your website validated. This is true if you are only concerned about just the display and presentation of your website across different browsers but if you are truly concerned about search engine optimization, then validating your website is a necessity.
Search engine bots or spiders check every website for W3C validation when they visit that site. When your website is W3C validated, the search engines can easily index your content as they are also in accordance with the W3C specifications. The search engines look for the same specification compliance on websites and if a website is compliant with the W3C standards, then that website would be more preferable to the search engine when compared to the others.
When your website has HTML coding errors like unclosed tags, nested elements, etc, the browser may ignore these and still display your website correctly because there is high pressure on browser developers to make sure that the browser will display a page correctly to a user regardless of such errors. However, when it’s time for the search engine bots to crawl your site for indexing your pages, the coding errors can make it difficult for them to read the content or even make some of it invisible.
Also, it is quite possible that the search engines will give more importance to the wrong part of the coding and your website may miss out on being found on relevant searches. For instance, when Google ranks two websites for position 1 and position 2, then based on the assumption that both the websites are equal on the search engine optimization front, the website that is W3C validated will be given more preference by search engines over the non-compliant website in ranking.
From another perspective, if you plan to promote your website through social media marketing like posting a story or content on Digg and your site does not load correctly in browsers like Firefox or Safari which are often used by Digg users, your content is most likely to get overlooked resulting in poor viewer-ship. With this you will miss out on potential traffic directing to your site.
As human needs clear, readable and easy to understand content and navigation on your website, similarly search engine spiders also need the same level of clarity with coding. It is important to understand that these search bots can instantly identify badly written codes or coding that is not W3C compliant.
One may never know if Google may end up including W3C validation as a part of their algorithm in the near future with a view to judge a site’s quality and authority. Validation may seem to be a tedious task if you have to fix every error on your web pages but the benefits of it cannot be undermined. It is worth the effort to get your coding error free if you want the search engine spiders to come back to your site and index it with ease every time you update any content on it.