Do you think that W3C compliant web site HTML code can positively impact your Web site’s search engine rankings? Although you will find mixed opinions about this topic on the web, W3C compliance is incredibly important for browser compatibility and overall site usability. Therefore, it’s fair to conclude if code works well for the visitors and browsers, it can only benefit your efforts with the search engines.

The general concept is that while W3C compliant code may not necessarily propel your search engine rankings, bad coding can indeed cause lower rankings – especially if coding errors are significant enough to prevent search engine spiders from reaching your page.

Businesses and their Web Developers
Many businesses encounter obstacles related to W3C compliance. For example, a business may not be educated to recognize that W3C standards exist. When a business is aware of W3C standards, it may be challenging to distinguish between various Web site development disciplines, such as Creative Design vs. Applications/Databases vs. Assembly.

Let’s consider the different disciplines, and their involvement with coding. Many Web designers aren’t aware of W3C compliance or concerned with code. At the same time, many application and database developers are neither concerned with the creative nor W3C compliance. For these reason, you should look for someone with an understanding of coding structure to assemble the Website’s creative design, applications and databases.

There is pressure on Web developers (not creative designers who usually never look at Web site code) to ensure a Web site displays properly in different browsers. Finding a Web developer who creates an attractive site, that is also W3C compliant, can be challenging. Many talented Web developers do not create W3C compliant sites due to the time involved, as well as the lack of appreciation received from the client for doing so.

The slow conversion to “standards-based-development” is partially a result of how easy it is to create a non-W3C compliant Web site. With the boom and instant gratification of ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) site creation tools like Dreamweaver, it is now relatively easy for Web developers to create professional looking sites with little code knowledge. Overlooking source code errors happens easily because no one ever reviews the code. Some examples of sloppy coding would include improperly nested elements, unclosed tags, and unrecognized parameters.

While these errors may not affect the display of your Web page to a user, it can be an entirely different story for search engine spiders. Non-compliant Web page coding can result revenue losses due to your site not being ranked. Additionally, your Web site may be inaccessible to a larger audience, difficult to navigate, or difficult to maintain.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
What exactly is the W3C? W3C was created in 1994 in collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), with support from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the European Commission.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the standards for coding HTML and CSS for Web pages. These standards are created for the very basic Web site to the most complex Web site and include things like Accessibility Standards. The W3C will also provide tools to validate your HTML and CSS code for free. You do not have to guess at the problems, they will not only identify them, but also explain how to correct them.

In Summary
Requiring your Web developer to insure W3C compliance of all web pages may have the following positive benefits

• Better chances for good display rendering in different browsers
• Decreased dependency on error correction of browsers
• Potential speed boosts for your Web sites
• Increased opportunities for search engine spiders to understand your web pages and positively impact search engine rankings

So, why would one take the risk of having bad Web site code, if good Web site code will help visitors and search engine spiders alike?