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So, what's Your DocType ?

How relevant is the proper Doctype on the page?

     
9:01 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We've got a doc type of
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

But how relevant is it to Organic SERP?
Would a plain vanilla Doctype work?
If so, what would you recommend?

To that point, do we even have to have a doctype declaration?

[edited by: Propools at 9:14 pm (utc) on Dec. 8, 2008]

10:33 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Your current doctype is a partial doctype, so it triggers quirks mode [webmasterworld.com] display in browsers.

Most people use the HTML4.01 strict or transitional doctypes, see choosing the best doctype for your site [webmasterworld.com]. Bear in mind your tables-based design may break if you use a full doctype, as it will switch browsers into standards mode.

Doctype has no effect on SEO. Doctype declarations do two things:

1. Switch the browser into quirks mode or standards mode.
2. Provide a HTML definition to validate against for code validators.

You don't have to have a doctype. If you're not using CSS or validation, you could just remove it completely.

If/When you switch to a CSS-based design, switch to a standards-mode triggering doctype. If you're feeling iconoclastic you could use the new HTML5 doctype, which also triggers standards mode:

<!DOCTYPE html>

3:23 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Mattur, Thanks for the input. I will investigate as much as possible and try and get it fixed. I'm so glad I can come to everyone for help. Everyone here is so helpful. Thanks Again.
3:29 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Corollary: A valid doctype puts you one step closer to browser compatibility with fewer or no hacks to make it work in all browsers (which is the advantage of standards mode.) Many CSS selectors fail in quirks mode.

what's Your DocType?

If you require iFrames or other elements not supported by a selected doctype, 4.01 transitional.

If you require frames, one of the frameset types.

If, and only if, you are using extensible tags or other features available to XHTML, a transitional or strict XHTML doctype. There's no sense in using XHTML if your documents are plain HTML or your server outputs text/html content-types. It's like saying, "My document is XHTML" when in reality there's no XHTML, it's HTML.

3:42 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Rocknbil, thanks. To my knowledge we don't use any XHTML or iFrames. I would guess the best doctype for us then would be: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">, yes?
4:40 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, if you're using CSS then use a full HTML doctype, and the loose transitional one is probably your best option:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

4:49 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Webmaster World Rocks!
5:08 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wonder since SE use is so tied to "user experience" I wonder if doctype may be one of the algorithms criteria. After all if the doctype doesn't pass the W3C standard, then one would be led to believe that it may not display properly, thus not giving the user of the SE results, the experience they were looking for.

Having said that, then would they lessen the "score" the site gets for having improperly documented doctype's? That's a metaphorical question for my own internal thinking.

But should anyone want to respond........Hint, Hint, Hint Google, Yahoo, Live that would be nice.

5:55 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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would they lessen the "score" the site gets for having improperly documented doctype's

No they do not - maybe years in the future, IF the majority of domains start employing standards. That will happen right after the next July blizzard in New York

6:20 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That will happen right after the next July blizzard in New York

LOL ;)

6:48 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Won't the validators also complain if you don't have the appropriate W3C links that match the DOCTYPE in the declaration? Seems to me I had that problem if I left them out, or if they were the wrong one for the declaration.
7:48 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That's what the "validators" seem to do. At least the one's I use anyway.
8:10 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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OK. It's official. We're gonna go with this doctype unless, persuaded otherwise I am.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

Anybody feeling kinda loosey goosey [merriam-webster.com]? :)
12:04 am on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hang loose, I always say.

Also, Propools, I was taken aback simply by a question from a Full Member asking a very basic, newbie-like question like this.
I had imagined they were teaching about doctypes in grade school by now. That it was general knowledge.

What end of the business are you usually involved with? Strictly server-side? Database, or what?
Just curious about who knows what and why, skillsets and all.