Understanding the missing behind any search engine company is simple. At it’s heart is the need to provide only the best results for it’s search users. Bottom line. Despite the fact that many web development projects consume much of their time on the design aspect, you have to be sure that you don’t overlook the finer details of the code within your pages that could be hurting your organic search result rankings. Sure, a change might only make a very minor impact on a single page, but multiplied over hundreds of content pages and thousands of keyword combinations, one simple change could make a huge difference to your bottom line.
But Why Bother With Validation?
Going back to our previous concept of putting ourselves in the minds of the search engine, if the search engines’ users are happy, then the search engine is happy. With that said, if you go to a website and you search for something, how do you feel if the result you click on is unbearably slow or worse yet, what if it errors? Visitors are gonna click the back button faster than you can say “Argh!”.
Invalid code can also make your page look like total rubbish. Sorry to be blunt, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. Depending on the error, it could break the design of your layout or the result could be as simple as making it appear that you have a bunch of typos within your page content. This could absolutely kill any chances you have of converting that visitor into a lead or potential customer.
Clean, proper syntax is what you should strive for. It keeps page load times down and will render the page the way it was intended to be seen by your users. Traffic is the life blood of any website, and it’s the steady, consistent conversion of this traffic into leads and customers that we’re all working towards. Don’t waste all your hard with by negelcting to check and fix your site’s validation problems.
The Most Common Validation Errors
The following is a list of the most common validation errors we’ve seen over the years. Many times the sites generating these errors look fine in most or all browsers. They may not affect the rendering of the site in a visual aspect, but they’re definitely holding the pages of these sites back from attracting more visitors and converting those visitors into sales. The best part is all of these errors are simple to fix.
Not Closing An Element
HTML elements within a web page must always be closed. Either a tag such as <p> must have a close tag like </p> or it could be a self closing tag such as <br />. By forgetting to close HTML tags, you not only increase the time it takes for a browser to render your page but you also run the risk of it jacking up your layout.
Special Character Conversions
Have you ever pasted content directly from a Word document only to have to go back and replace the quotes and/or ampersand characters in order to get them to display properly? It’s very common. Just make sure that if you’re writing your articles in another application and pasting it into your web page or content management software, do a final test in a browser to make sure that all characters are displaying properly.
Keep It In The CSS
Try to keep your HTML code as clean as possible and all styling elements should be called from your stylesheet. Often times web design software or page content editors within content management or blogging software will insert unnecessary styling code inline with your HTML, making your page syntax bulky and inefficient. Review your pages and any styling elements you find that have been hard coded inline with HTML elements should be moved over to your CSS file.
Forgetting The DocType
This is one of the easiest problems to resolve. One of the first things a browser checks for is the page’s Doctype. If it can’t find one, it has to guess what would work best and apply this to the page. By making sure you have a proper Doctype in your page template code, it will save the browser time and ensure that the page is rendered exactly how you intended it to be. The reason this is one of the easiest issues to resolve is because in most cases, all you have to do is add it within the header of your site template or content management system.
What’s the IMG ALT?
You should make it a habit to include an alt tag for each image inserted into your web page. It’s okay if this tag value is left blank but ideally it is recommend that you insert a clear and simple description of the image as the value for this tag.
Self Closing Tags
There are a few HTML tags that can be self closed. An example would be the <br /> tag. By adding a slash before the closing bracket, you can close the tag. This not only cuts down on page syntax, but in turn can cut down on load times. Every little bit helps.
Proper CSS Naming
One final note. Be sure to not start the names of your CSS classes or IDs with a number. They must always start with a letter in your naming structure.
Fixing these website validation issues are very simple, don’t take much time and can have a huge impact on your traffic and conversion rates. A great site that has been around forever is the W3C Markup Validation free validation service. Simply go to this site, enter in your website URL and it will spit out all the errors and warnings your site generates. Then you can go item by item and clean up your pages. Doing this will not only put more money in your pocket, but also make the internet a more efficient place for all.