Does W3C Validation Help With SEO?


We get a lot of questions via email, IM and our Twitter account; some of which we can answer very quickly and simply, whereas others require the equivalent of a undergraduate essay. One of the common questions we get asked is whether or not W3C Validation can help with SEO – or more specifically, whether not validating your website can harm your search engine rankings.

Usually, I just answer with one line – Google doesn’t validate, so don’t worry about it – but I usually get asked a series of follow-up questions with that, so I thought I’d put together a blog post on the subject.

Generally, my answer to this question is no; as long as your site renders and loads properly, then you shouldn’t be overly concerned. A site that doesn’t rank well isn’t likely to change by having a validated website, and the reverse is also true – if you’re ranking well, adding a page that doesn’t perfectly validate won’t cause your rankings to drop.

Obviously, if you have a major coding error, then you probably will struggle to rank and fixing it should be a priority (so if your site isn’t rendering because of an unclosed tag somewhere, you need to sort it out), but you shouldn’t spend a lot of time and money finding and fixing tiny errors just so your site validates according to W3C’s guidelines.

Google.com doesn’t validate (and hasn’t done for a long time), but the team at Google don’t appear to be too bothered by it. As a general rule, if they’re not concerned, it’s likely you needn’t be either. And if you don’t believe me that their site doesn’t validate or that they’re not too fussed about it, check out the official GoogleWebmasterHelp ‘Why Doesn’t Google.com Validate‘ video.

Generally speaking, if you’ve got a relatively low number of errors (say less than 50), and your website is ranking reasonably well, I wouldn’t bother putting in the effort to locate and fix those errors just so you can validate your website.

Whilst researching this topic, I came across a fantastic post on the Yoast website on the same topic, where you’ll find a lot of top SEO’s giving their opinion on W3C validation – so if you want to do some more reading on the subject, you can find the post at yoast.com/w3c-validation-seo.

If you’ve got a question you’d like our SEO team to answer, just drop us an email using the contact form on the right.

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