A common misconception that has been growing is W3C compliance and tableless design increases my position on search engines. The fact is that doesn’t seem to be the case. The line of thinking is that only W3C compliancy is set as a web standard and search engines will cater their results to favor compliant websites because it has an easier time sorting through the code. Tests have experienced mixed results and some have actually shown worse results from the complaint pages. While people argue both sides of this, I think it’s fair to conclude that search engines put little, if any, emphasis on whether a site is tableless and/or complaint.
It’s common for designers and developers to claim that keeping the content separate from the layout (as is the case in tableless and usually w3C complaint pages) helps search engines sort data. That doesn’t seem to be true. In fact it’s been shown that using separate CSS formatting can hurt keyword rankings as many search engines look for the traditional format tags like bolding <strong>. Most tableless designs avoid those tags.
The point is not to knock W3C compliance. In fact, I’d encourage people to have the clean code that comes from W3C compliancy. From the blog link above I’ll steal 1.5 of his three advantages (Not sold that the other 1.5 is true):
- W3C Compliance will ensure that your website is accessible to the disabled.
- W3C Compliance will help your website be accessed through different devices like cellular phones and PDA’s.
What concerns me is the misinformation being provided to effect planning or buying decisions. Better SEO is a questionable benefit and likely not one at all. Again Tableless and W3C complaincy have many advantages, just make sure you understand what they are and aren’t buying into questionable claims.