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Does your Website Need W3C Validation?
How to help search engines and browsers "read" your website better?
Although it’s not yet proved without doubt that W3C validation gives you better search engine rankings, it’s sure that errors in your code can cause you big problems. Converting your website pages to XHTML will help you reach more customers, as your site will work better in more browsers and non-traditional devices.
The W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium and provides guidelines based on best practice, regarding how websites and web pages should be structured and created for long–term durability. The W3C validation is just a standard for specified machine language, checking web documents, spelling, grammar, syntax, and proofreading.
XHTML is the newest standard for this hybrid markup language designed for web documents. It is a combination of classic HTML and advanced XML. Validation is in fact, the process of checking documents against this formal standard. Converting your HTML web pages to XHTML takes time. This will definitely help your website in the future. Although the easiest way of creating XHTML pages is to start a new project, redesigning and updating old pages could also be a viable solution.
The rules W3C outlines are not compulsory since they don’t have a certification program, but there are reasons why you should bring your website into compliance. Main advantages that derive from W3C compliance:
- Your website will be more easily accessed by people with disabilities and the user experience will be improved; (read more website usability articles)
- W3C validation helps you reduce the amount of coding on your pages thus emphasizing the importance of content. Your site will have the chance to get indexed and as a result get higher rankings in the most important search engines, since spiders are known to crawl websites with relevant content;
- Your website can be easily accessed from different devices – PCs, laptops, PDAs, cellular phones, etc.;
- Validation is fully compatible with a wide range of dynamic pages, scripting and active content, multimedia presentations, etc.;
- Different current and future browsers will display pages in the same way, or at least in a very similar fashion.
Pay attention that search engines check the HTML or XHTML code of your website in search of relevant content. If they find invalid HTML or XHTML code – meaning code that is not following the official rules, you might be removed from indexes. If there is an error on your web page code, spiders will stop searching your whole website, and this could very well be the end of your optimization efforts.
Not all errors are so severe as to cause problems with search engines rankings. Take the time to run your web pages through a validating tool, after you’ve made all the necessary modifications.
Fortunately there are free services that allow you to check your documents for compliance with web standards. The W3C's free online Validation Service (validator.w3.org) is used by many professionals to ensure their sites comply with web standards.
There is a active debate whether valid HTML or XHTML will take your website to the top of the most important search engines. There are still many big names on the web, with good rankings, which haven’t validated their websites. But be prepared for the future and include in your SEO techniques W3C validation. Though the impact of valid HTML or XHTML is still of low importance compared to other SEO factors, when it comes to improving your visibility on the internet, no method should be neglected.
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At present working with web standards doesn’t guarantee you first ranks, but it helps you reach a larger audience and improve your long-term search engine optimization strategy for your business. In a continuously growing industry, where new websites appear every day, it is better to take advantage of every method, and stay one step ahead of your competition.
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