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For example, Frontpage comes with every Office installation, and might in fact be the editor of choice for the more amateur web builders. The implication of this is interesting to say the least.
I'd imagine most other search engines are smart enough now to get through HTML errors too.
Of course, if the page is riddled with unclosed tags etc, the content may become unrecognizable from the code.
Quite often I will see a page drop in rank for no reason and then find out it had some broken code so I would assume that a clean page would rank higher.
I'm familiar with the theory that google takes the quality of the html in a webpage into account for it's it's ranking algorhythm
If that was the case I'd be a PR0 with no traffic - no boasting about my HTML, it's garbage that evolved over 7 years and 5 different WYSIWYG tools and I'm always cleaning up messes I find as I convert it to all CSS, yet I dominate keywords all over the place and have for a long time.
I think it's content over HTML.
I once worked with a designer who insisted on using Dreamweaver. And<font><font><font><font>the code<b></b><i><i>that produces can </font> be pretty attrocious</font></font><b><b></b></b>
However, talking bout validation. I think it would be a bit hypocritical if Google were to start getting fussy about pages that don't validate:
I am not one to heap roses on Google.
Heaven only knows how much grief a minor algo change can cause me. The problem always shows up after the damage is done.
So when broken html causes the most important part of the page to go bye bye, do you blame G or the fact that the html is busted?