Valid code is a mark of professional ethics from a web designer.
Back in November Matt Cutts, the public face of Google for most webmasters, announced in a video that W3C validation doesn’t boost a website ranking.
What doesn’t boost website ranking?
W3C validation, what is it?
The W3C is the main organization in charge of “standardising” the internet. They publish rules, guidelines and recommendations on how best to build websites, and provide free tools to assess them against these standards.
There are many ways to build a website – like there are many ways to do accounts – but with valid pages, you can be reassured that a certain care has been taken when putting them together. You can validate your website pages on the W3C site: simply type your website address in the appropriate box and pressing the “check” button.
But what did Matt Cutts say?
Here is the video explaining why Google doesn’t validate and why websites that do validate don’t get a boost in rankings.
Why Google doesn’t validate: historically Google doesn’t validate because they need to be able to serve billions of pages a day and validation could cause a slight increase in file size, which would ultimately cost them a lot of money (because of the number of pages they deliver).
Why websites that validate don’t get a boost in rankings: too few web developers take the care they should when designing websites and only a small minority of all websites validate. Google aim is to serve the most relevant pages and that information is – far too often – available from non valid websites.
Why you should bother with code validation nonetheless
Even if website validation doesn’t mean “boost in rankings”, coding errors may still be detrimental to your search engine optimisation efforts.
From my point of view, you paid a professional to have a website designed, so it should follow web standards and adhere to them, the same way that I would expect my accountants to provide me with a set of accounts that follow accounting standards.
Apart from the professionalism I mentioned twice before, a valid code can also help fix possible bugs that would cause visual discrepancies in different browsers. Valid code also facilitates website maintenance, which in turn should save you money, if maintenance is not included in your website contract.
Finally, code validation should not cost you anything extra and should come as standard from a professional web designer / developer. If in doubt ask before agreeing to any deal as it may show a lack of proficiency or expertise.