Google Says Pages That Validate Do Not Get Ranking Boost

Sep 17, 2009 • 8:40 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

The question of having valid HTML and would it help your rankings in Google or other search engines is not new. Most SEOs believed that it made no impact on your rankings, unless Googlebot has serious issues crawling your site.

In a recent YouTube video, Google's Matt Cutts explained why does not validate (historically has not) and also added that Google doesn't "give any sort of boost to web pages that validate." He explained because "the vast majority of pages on the web don't validate," including

Here is the video:

For those in the SEO community and know Edward Lewis, aka pageoneresults, you will find it funny that he posted that thread at WebmasterWorld.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Jesse Friedman

09/17/2009 01:11 pm

Some people (including myself) would argue that standards compliancy is the first step towards a universally developed Internet where websites are far more browser compatible and users have better/more reliable experiences. I would also say that Google as an industry leader has a responsibility to 1. Be compliant and 2. Reward sites with higher rankings or at least a slight boost for being compliant.

Kristine Schachinger

09/17/2009 01:25 pm

First, I completely agree with Jesse. It is time we stop this debate about valid code. First of all, I am never sure why we do have it, as I have NEVER coded a site that was not W3C compliant. That is like being in construction and saying, well the concrete still works (mostly) even if I do it wrong. Time to get past this discussion. Do your code and be valid & yes you can support every browser/platform out there better with valid code. If you cannot, you need to learn more about how to code. That becomes a person in chair issue. Second, while it is true that Google does not "give any sort of boost to web pages that validate". It does not mean that the things in valid (and accessible) code do not help your website do better in the rankings. While it is a slight distinction, it is a true one. I (and other SEO's agree (of course others deny it vehemently)) sites can do better when the only thing on the site that changes is the code. Improved code to text ratios is one factor that it helps, but there is more than just that. However, will leave this discussion at that. Thanks for listening!

nick palumbo

09/17/2009 03:01 pm

I have been marketing and outsourcing websites for 10 years now. I have never once validated a website. I have consistently had and have websites rank well above average driving thousands of visitors per day in some cases to each website. As long as the user experience is not harmed in other browsers I don't see the issue. This is a way for people that aren't getting ranked to complain about the system or game. Its a classic "Don't hate the player, Hate the Game" scenario.


09/17/2009 04:06 pm

Hopefully, this will end the debate about SEO benefits for W3C friendly pages. It already lasted way too long... Merci merci merci


09/17/2009 04:06 pm

Hopefully, this will end the debate about SEO benefits for W3C friendly pages. It already lasted way too long... Merci merci merci


09/17/2009 07:52 pm

Attempting to parse web data, writing a crawler, or a browser makes it clear that nearly no one follows strict html and http specification 100% of the time. The browsers have a lot to do with this as they have created so many fixes for common violations that pages completely out of specification will render just fine, and so the web develops.

Luke Jones

09/18/2009 08:16 am

Standards aren't just about the rankings, they're about having compatible websites that work. And sure not _all_ websites validate, but most of the ones created by professionals do, and they're the most important ones. Personally, I don't validate websites just because I want them to do well, I validate them because it produces (most of the time) a website that works across most browsers, is accessible and so on and so forth. Does Google really NEED to validate? The code they're using isn't simple and, in some cases, revolutionary. So they don't _need_ to. Whereas a website like mine _should_ validate because I'm a front-end developer and SEO, so it's a standard. It makes me stand out from the rest.

Bill Kruse

09/18/2009 09:57 am

Why believe what Matt Cutts says? I mean, really, why would you? BB


09/18/2009 11:49 am

Agree with Luke, getting the listings is good but the conversion rate depends on usability and functionality. Saying that HTML validation does not affect SERPS is misleading. Bad code to content ratio can lead to problems [even penalties], DTD needs correct syntax, can affect indexing speeds. There are a number of indirect affects that can affect a site's performance and ultimately SERPs. Interesting that Google's own Website Optimiser tool forces you to put unbalanced HTML tags, stating that: "It will cause a problem, however, if your CMS doesn't accept unbalanced tags. There is no current Website Optimiser workaround for this situation."

Drew Stauffer

09/18/2009 12:57 pm

Well put Luke. Basically take pride in your work. A site that validates is a well oiled machine. A site that doesn't is a rusty tractor that works...sometimes.

Todd Allison

09/18/2009 07:24 pm

Validating your site does matter for SEO! A valid site allows you to get links from 100's of design and CSS directories that wouldn't be possible without. Forget the rest of the reasons - from a purely SEO perspective validating brings more links and thus more potential rank.


09/20/2009 10:05 am

In the near future, google has to see W3C validation as important as the upcoming web designers now in schools learn to build so.


09/25/2009 06:56 pm

Agreed - Matt Cutts is not an authority on anything. He is a mouthpiece and spreads more misinformation that anything. He does not eliminate FUD, he generates it. Why he is allowed to spy on SEO's at SEO conferences is beyond me.


05/02/2012 01:01 am

Also funny that google itself does not subscribe to W3C standards... over 40 errors!


06/01/2013 07:56 pm

Google's SEO tutorials suggest adding code to "help" Google find sites more easily - code which then turns out NOT to validate at W3. Google's own code is NOT compliant. The best way to achieve good rankings is to publish excellent content.

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