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I read the following and wondered:
1. is it true and
2. is it true specifically for Google:
"Search engines also prefer CSS-based sites and are likely to score them higher in the search rankings because the code is cleaner and therefore more accessible to search engines, important content can be placed at the top of the HTML document, and there is a greater density of content compared to coding. "
Google does not read your CSS file, so Google does not know what you have done in your CSS file.
Your CSS file could do a lot of things to spam the search engines.
I suspect therefore that Google trusts a website that does not use CSS slightly more than one that does. Google really should be looking at the CSS file, since it is a enhanced technology.
But of course from Googlebot perspective a CSS file is just one more file to read with possibly a 2 second delay slowing down the bot.
The goals of the originator of your quote can be achieved without CSS, IFrames is one way.
I've looked at a lot of top ranked site's code, and there is a lot of code before the content, but that code could be a minor negative, just like the risk of trusting a site using CSS could be a minor negative
My sites (and Google) support GZIP compression (4 X page size reduction supporting 56K modem users) could this be a small plus in your ranking? Google checks for GZIP compression, but only 6% of webhosts support it. Could be more important than CSS?
Finally for the typical web user who uses a 56K modem and only looks at 1.5 pages of a website per visit, page load time using CSS might be slightly slower. ( I know I'll hear about this comment! ). The Google toolbar can watch all this time critical activity, just like the Alexa toolbar does. Many top ranked sites in highly competitive commercial areas seem to have avoided CSS, but authority sites seem to rank well and use CSS, but CSS makes much more sense on complex authority sites where a given visitor visits the site frequently, plus Google "trusts" authority sites.
So anyway your guess is as good as anyones!
div style="FONT-SIZE: 1px; RIGHT: 1px; VISIBILITY: hidden; WIDTH:100%; POSITION: absolute"
(insert millions of keywords here)
right at the top of the page, and google sadly seems to wear it and give the site #1 in the results.
'be nice when they patch that particular hole. you'd think that font-size 1px or visibility hidden would set some alarms off but... :(
To sum , i have not had a negative experience in fact the opposite.