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Do AAA, W3C validations help rank websites better?
ganeshgrowth




msg:3947461
 7:03 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do AAA, W3C validations help rank websites better?

 

Lame_Wolf




msg:3947467
 7:06 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

No.

Long answer... Sadly, no.

fishfinger




msg:3947475
 7:09 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not directly. But there are a number of high PR sites that will link to standards-friendly design and other sites so there are indirect ranking benefits to valid code.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947477
 7:13 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

They do,

If you follow the AAA and W3C validations properly visitor will have a better user experience. This will help a website score better.

I have seen good crawling and indexing these websites faster.

johnnie




msg:3947494
 8:06 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Running your site through a validator is always good practice. I always run my (or my clients') sites through the validator, just to make sure that the soup I serve is actually edible. Incorrectly closed tags for example can really make it hard for different browsers (and spiders) to properly work your site.

tedster




msg:3947495
 8:06 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

There are many reasons for not validating that don't affect the user experience (or the search engine's experience) one bit. However, validating your mark-up is a good step and it certainly helps avoid those drastic errors that DO affect user and search engine experience.

That said, there are many ways that valid code, in and of itself, is no guarantee of a good user experience. So I think the take-away I'd emphasize here is that there is no factor in the current ranking algo that rewards a site for valid code.

Lame_Wolf




msg:3947499
 8:17 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

They do,

Really ?

So, what about the 1000's of sites that rank #1 and are littered with validation errors... am I dreaming that then ?

I wish validation etc would gain you brownie points and rank better. But it doesn't. Good SEO does. Making a site that people want to link to without link exchanges help. Validation does not.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947503
 8:24 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

What is good on-page SEO then? it is going a step closer to AAA

Lame_Wolf




msg:3947524
 8:46 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you follow the AAA and W3C validations properly visitor will have a better user experience. This will help a website score better.

Poppycock.
How enjoyable an experience it will be for a user has nothing to do with the OP's question, which was... "Do AAA, W3C validations help rank websites better?"

Go to google. Choose a keyword of your choice and the chances are that most sites listed on page one will have validation errors. Even google's homepage is littered with errors.

I have seen good crawling and indexing these websites faster.

Again, nothing to do with ranking.

What is good on-page SEO then?

Not the group to talk about SEO, but you know the general things... like using H1, hyperlinks etc etc.

it is going a step closer to AAA

Look... Validation of a page, how accessable it is, has NO bearing on ranking.
I wish it did, but it doesn't.

Go to any search engine and check for yourself.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947533
 9:10 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

"Look... Validation of a page, how accessable it is, has NO bearing on ranking."

Again you are wrong here... You can never dream to rank a website if you do not follow the AAA basics. What is adding Text to the "Title" then?
It is Accessibility Guidelines 1.0's checkpoint 13.2 of [w3.org...]

By doing On-page you are doing nothing but indirectly following W3C AAA guidelines. The more check points you cover the more SEO friendly is your website :-)

AnkitMaheshwari




msg:3947548
 9:25 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think validation does not help in rankings, however I do make it a point to validate all the new pages that we create on our sites.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947561
 9:47 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think validation does not help in rankings, however I do make it a point to validate all the new pages that we create on our sites.

You mean to say if you do not have the "title" tag in your HTML document you will be able to rank a website?

I think most of the people here do not know what is the significance of validation.

Lame_Wolf




msg:3947562
 9:47 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Again you are wrong here...

Whatever. I cannot be bothered to argue with you. You live in your world, and i'll live in mine.

I think validation does not help in rankings, however I do make it a point to validate all the new pages that we create on our sites.

Exactly... and I too validate my pages.

There are very few validation errors that when fixed will *can* help with rankings. One that springs to mind is adding a well written alt attribute to images.

If a page on my site had say, a missing end tag, and I fixed it. My ranking wouldn't increase because of it.

I know of a site that has an obscure name. For the sake of it, lets call it "Purple Zebra Tomato Soup" ... It doesn't even rank on page 2 let alone page 1. Other sites mentioning it rank better (yes, they fail validation).

Now this site does have validation errors. I could remake that site for them and get them to #1 in no time. I could even leave the errors in there and still get #1 position. Simple SEO, proper use of h1 h2 etc will ensure that.
I could fix the missing alt attributes and leave the rest of the errors.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947566
 9:55 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Simple SEO, proper use of h1 h2 etc will ensure that.
I could fix the missing alt attributes and leave the rest of the errors.

That is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Checkpoint 3.5 conformation. Check here [w3.org...]

So, you too understand that adding h1, h2 etc are important. Just that you have learn that the other way round. You are unknowingly conforming to the recommended standards.

steveb




msg:3947568
 10:01 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

"How enjoyable an experience it will be for a user has nothing to do with the OP's question,"

Sure it does. Popular websites get more links. Sites that load improperly frustrate users and they run away and will never link to them. Leaner code will lead to more pages crawled, changes picked up faster.

These are all indirect things, but they do answer the original question. In general, valid code will indirectly lead to your sites ranking (normally very slightly) higher.

mattur




msg:3947571
 10:18 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Let's be clear about what we're discussing here. There's two separate things:

1. WCAG1 AAA-level* accessibility.
There is an overlap between accessibility best practices and usability/IA/web design best practices and SEO best practices (eg descriptive link text, headings, good page titles etc). But some accessibility requirements clearly have no benefit for SEO (eg skip links, data table accessibility markup).

IMHO following accessibility guidelines can improve a website's ranking *if* you do not already know and implement web design best practices.

For example, you should already be providing good page titles for your users, whether you're concerned about accessibility/SEO or not.

But taking a best practice-designed website and adding extra accessibility markup to get to WCAG1 AA (or mythical AAA) will have no effect on rankings.

2. W3C Validation
No effect on ranking.

SE's aim to provide the most relevant results to a query. Downgrading a highly-relevant page because it was invalid or offered poor accessibility would give sub-optimal results, so there's no reason to believe SE's do this.

*WCAG1 AAA is widely regarded as impossible to achieve. AA is achievable.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947576
 10:34 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

steveb, mattur thanks for your comments.


2. W3C Validation
No effect on ranking.

If we see that in literally it is not correct. Again, mattur has taken valuable efforts to show the co-relation.

Lame_Wolf




msg:3947589
 11:10 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you mattur, someone on the same wavelength.

Shaddows




msg:3947610
 12:06 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

ganeshgrowth, you seriously need to tone down such statements as
I think most of the people here do not know what is the significance of validation.

Rarely have I seen such a collection of knowledge as is demonstrated on these boards. One day, you too may be able to make such knowledgable contributions.

Now, lets address your arguments, starting with the straw-man

Again you are wrong here... You can never dream to rank a website if you do not follow the AAA basics. What is adding Text to the "Title" then?

I would call it "basic page structure". It helps you rank better because Google uses it as a high level indicator of page content. That is is part of W3C is irrelevant. Incidently, I'm not sure there can be such a concept as "AAA basics".

Staw-man, as you will note no-one has said title isn't important.

If you follow the AAA and W3C validations properly visitor will have a better user experience

Hmm. Most people use IE. IE requires non-standard coding for optimum experience. Ergo, most people have better experiences with non-validating code. (This argument will probably not stand up to future IE releases, but does today)

By doing On-page you are doing nothing but indirectly following W3C AAA guidelines. The more check points you cover the more SEO friendly is your website :-)

Rubbish. By doing on-page, you are drawing on your experience of how best to encourage google to better rank your site. Unless AAA was written as an SEO-for-Google guide, ONE DOES NOT IMPLY THE OTHER. As both Google and AAA is aimed at providing optimal user experience, there is overlap. But this is just coincidental.
2. W3C Validation
No effect on ranking.

If we see that in literally it is not correct. Again, mattur has taken valuable efforts to show the co-relation.

Er, point 2 was written by mattur.

AAA and W3C gives your site structure. Thus, it will rank better than unstructured sites. However, pure SEO also requires structure. It too will rank better than non structure.

Pure-SEO may not validate. Re-writing it to validate might make it worse, SEO-wise. It will NOT give additional ranking simply because it validates- Google is not a validator.

So, you too understand that adding h1, h2 etc are important. Just that you have learn that the other way round. You are unknowingly conforming to the recommended standards.

What a self-satisfied statement! No, what we are doing is writing to self-imposed rules. You could equally say that WCAG1 AAA guidelines unknowingly conformed to existing SEO practise.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947612
 12:17 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

ganeshgrowth, you seriously need to tone down such statements as

I am sorry if I did hurt anyone here.

You could equally say that WCAG1 AAA guidelines unknowingly conformed to existing SEO practise.

No, its does not happen that way. Guidelines and Standards are laid down only after a significant analysis of the problems those arise from time to time.

Shaddows




msg:3947624
 12:45 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

That would be why they unknowingly conformed. SEO is (theoretically) done after significant analysis of ranking behaviour over time.

Of course, as there is only an incidental relationship, you would not expect the same things to be true of SEO and standards adherence

ganeshgrowth




msg:3947627
 1:02 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

yes,

If SEOs adhere to standards they should perform even better.

SuzyUK




msg:3947649
 1:35 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's not a case of same wavelength, it's a good old case of Common sense, and thinking outside your own box.

SEO, Best Practice Developing & Design, Accessibility & Usability are all crossed over in an inextricable manner. SE's did not invent how documents should be laid out but instead base their algos on what is common sense to real users too. Ignoring each profession or guideline tool/recommendation could now be to do so at ones own peril. If you are already meeting the AA Guidelines because of best practice of your profession, however it was learnt, then good on you, SE's will very possibly like the "naturality" of that. e.g. as a Standards enthusiast from way back before some of it was written in stone, I remeber when we were accused of adding unnecessary things like attributes.. whereas now the SEO world accept it as best practice too.

W3C standards are a little different in that they incorporate such things as title and alt attributes (think there's a
bit of bit of crossover with that one earlier in the thread?), which allow the AA guidelines to be followed, also earlier mentions in thread were of tables. Did you know that tables have a "summary" attribute.. have any of the SEO's split tested it yet to see if has any benefit, or has thougt that it might in the future. The validator will throw a warning if it's not present, but yes it's not necessary at present. Personally I see it as an accessibility attribute aiding listeners to know what a table is about before starting to plough through the data cell by cell. possibly it's in the AA guidelines too?.
..and who knows maybe SE's would rather rank the (well named)summary attribute than plough through meaningless data too?

All I'm saying is the same as most people already, there is no definitive answer as to what helps.. but it certainly doesn't do any harm, and if you're the person who has always structured your documents well, next time a SE tweaks their ranking algo (time does march on ;)) then perhaps you're already in prime position.

Shaddows




msg:3947721
 3:02 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

If SEOs adhere to standards they should perform even better.

No they shouldn't. Google couldn't give a monkeys if you comply with standards, per se. There is no ranking factor that relies on compliance. Compliance, in and of itself, is worthless.

The ability to structure pages is, however, critical. You need to get a grasp on the difference between causality and co-incidence. A page that hits all the structural attributes of w3c is necessary to rank well- but only becuase it is otherwise unstructured.

For images, empty alt tags are required for validation, but do nothing for SEO- maybe slighlty negative in that it advesely affects code-to-content ratios. VALIDATION IS NOT REQUIRED.

Of course, most of the time, you want to use the alt tags- because Google seems to use these as watered down content. Ok, you hit an AAA checkmark there, but its incidental. It now validates- still incidental.

There is nothing in AAA that I can think of that adversely affects SEO- apart from "code bloat". Of course, semantics from AAA may very well help in current and future ranking algos, as SuzyUK argues.

However, the key respose to the OP was made by Tedster:
There are many reasons for not validating that don't affect the user experience (or the search engine's experience) one bit. However, validating your mark-up is a good step and it certainly helps avoid those drastic errors that DO affect user and search engine experience.

That said, there are many ways that valid code, in and of itself, is no guarantee of a good user experience. So I think the take-away I'd emphasize here is that there is no factor in the current ranking algo that rewards a site for valid code.
[Emphasis Mine]


buckworks




msg:3947735
 3:11 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

As both Google and AAA is aimed at providing optimal user experience, there is overlap. But this is just coincidental.

No, it's not just coincidental. Googlebot is blind. The largest blind user in the world.

One of the most useful things you could ever do for your SEO skills would be to spend some time using an audible browser reader to experience for yourself how different sites (including your own) would come across to a blind user.

In that context, a site will be experienced as words. No colors, no images, no lightboxes to highlight things ... just words, words, words, delivered one after the other. In that context, how well are your pages delivering the information they're intended to convey?

The words you use, the order you put them in, the cues about importance, and background information that you do or don't include along the way, all work together make it hard or easy for the listener to make sense of what your web page is telling them.

And that's what you're giving the search engines to work with, too! Spiders are blind, remember?

The better you get at designing for blind users, the better you'd be designing for the search engines as well. Even if you'd never heard of SEO.

When heard through a reader, skillfully constructed web content would have flow and logic very much like a radio program, another medium which conveys information by means of words delivered in linear sequence. So it's worthwhile to learn some of the basics about writing for radio, too.

Making a site that people want to link to without link exchanges help. Validation does not.

Ah, but validation can help to remove glitches from your user experience, so it would support the goal of creating link-worthy pages.

Validation issues wouldn't affect ranking as directly as accessibility might, but nonetheless, validation is Something That Helps.

---------------------

IMHO, "perfect" validation is not always a realistic goal, but "better" validation usually is.

I wish the W3C validator provided an option to "ignore error reports triggered by characters within URLs". For me it's not feasible to run around rewriting other people's URLs to please the validator, but I try to make sure my pages are fully valid in every other way. That would be easier if there was an option to filter out the errors about characters within URLs that the validator doesn't like.

SuzyUK




msg:3947744
 3:27 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

empty alt tags are required for validation, but do nothing for SEO

ah.. but non-empty alt attributes used to count before they were abused by SEOs remember. So why stick in empty ones just to pass the validator? Use them properly.

It is my opinion that SE's are not that silly, like buckworks says, they are the largest blind user that has tweaked their settings to be able to remove alt text from their preferences because they had no wish to "listen" to repetitive strings that didn't serve any purpose. So they unchecked a button to remove it from their prefs.. maybe sometime in the future they'll recheck that box to see if they're still being abused or used properly. Why not use it properly instead of figuring out ways to find the next loophole.. guaranteed SE's have more data than you by now and possibly even go 'checking/unchecking boxes' (tweaking the algo) at random to keep everyone confused ;)

Shaddows




msg:3947753
 3:39 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

"No, it's not just coincidental..."
Ok, but its not causal. Google rewards pages with good structure etc, but no BECAUSE of AAA. If AAA changed its guidelines, the google algo wouldn't blink.

The rest of your post is spot on, and I don't think anyone has argued anything else. We started trying an audible browser about 18 months ago (site is about 10 yeards old) and was shocked by the result. Our image alts are now informative, and we just relaunched the site with a mind to accessability. But we don't validate- too many deprecated tags [blushes- not my area guv]

tedster




msg:3947869
 6:42 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google today (and the other major SEs) are not quite so "blind" as they used to be - the algorithms today do include some basic idea of the visual layout and page segmentation.

A recent case in point, over at Google Groups Matt Cutts, confirmed an erroneous penalty because their algo analyzed an page with an iframe as having too big an area of whitespace.

However, it's still a very good mental model to think of search engine's as blind users - even if they are now seeing a faint glimmer of the visual page.

ganeshgrowth




msg:3948241
 8:15 am on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

No they shouldn't. Google couldn't give a monkeys if you comply with standards, per se. There is no ranking factor that relies on compliance. Compliance, in and of itself, is worthless.

How do you know it does not?

Shaddows




msg:3948270
 9:10 am on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Observation. Why do you think it does, other than "it should"

ADDED:

You can test it yourself. Write some compliant pages on a throw-away domain. Then drop something, like the doctype from the header. Thats a pretty fundamental non-compliance. See if your ranking changes. Or, try leaving some tags open. Or drop some empty alts. Or use deprecated tags like
<a target="_blank" href="/example">example</a>

Of course, testing at the moment is pretty pointless, as SERPs are wild anyway

[edited by: Shaddows at 9:23 am (utc) on July 8, 2009]

This 54 message thread spans 2 pages: 54 ( [1] 2 > >
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