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You may not bother with html validation or writing simple and clean code when designing your web site. Later you may find your site is slow loading, appears incorrectly in the main browsers and does not rank well for the major search engines.
Now there are sites that still do rank well even though the html code has many errors. This is because most of the current major browsers are still very forgiving of html mistakes, however future browsers will become more html compliant as the Internet advances. Sites that have not bothered with html code validation will then fall by the wayside or take time and money to be corrected.
That's why you should take the necessary steps NOW to make sure that the code on your web site is validated.
What is HTML validation?
This is the process that analyzes an HTML document in comparison to standard HTML rules, identifying errors and non-standard codes. Web pages are rendered using HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). As with any language there are rules and standards that should be followed. For example the HTML 4.01 Specification (rules and standards) are available at http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/. You can check the html validation of your web page by entering your url at: http://validator.w3.org/
7 Benefits of HTML validation
1. Web Site Accessibility - validating your html code helps to pinpoint areas of potential blockage that could prevent search engine spiders or visitors from accessing your website. When you run your site through a code validator it may produce many errors that need to be corrected so your pages will render well. ie include text with your "alt" tags for every < img > tag.
Why should you do this?
-Allows your site to be accessible to a larger audience (vision impaired, motor skill impaired, cognitive impaired)
-Allows your site to be accessed by wider range of devices (hand helds, screen readers, text browsers, search engines)
-Is a requirement for Federal and State Government sites
2. Search engine friendly pages - clean and simple code enables search engines to spider your pages more quickly and completely.
Here's an example:
What's wrong with this code?
< p keyword1 sentence, well written copy, etc.
< p > keyword2 paragraph with more choice content.
This code is missing a ">" The issue is not that the page will necessarily get skipped altogether but that the "keyword1" sentence looks like part of the tag - like a tag attribute. So the words in the "keyword1" sentence probably won't be included in the search engines computation, even though the page itself will be indexed.
Once a spider sees a correct tag further along in the page, then it's back on course. So, the keyword2 paragraph would make it.
3. Faster Loading - if your web page contains html errors it will take a longer time for the search engines to spider it, therefore slowing the loading time. If your page doesn't load in under 10 seconds your visitors may click away to your competitors' sites.
4. Less load on servers - clean and simple code won't tax your server as much as a site which has complicated code or contain many nested tables. Cascading style sheets (CSS) will greatly reduce the amount of code within your web pages. This will also cut down on the amount of web space and bandwidth used thus saving you money for hosting your site.
5. Easier to update and maintain web site - with no mistakes in your html code it is easier and faster to make changes to your web pages. For web site designers, this means you will save time and money when maintaining clients' sites.
6. Browser compatibility - validated code ensures your site is compatible with the current browsers and future browsers. You might say "well, it looks fine in Internet Explorer, so why bother with any other browsers?" Current browsers will continue to update their rules and future browsers will make sure they are html compliant.
7. Access more visitors - if you ensure your web pages appear correctly in all the major browsers you will be able to reach a larger audience which then increases the potential of your site to make more sales.
Part 2 of this article will discuss:
What documents to validate
The validation process
Common validation errors
Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) owner and author of http://www.iSiteBuild.com - Affordable Web Site Design and Web Hosting. Subscribe to his "Marketing Tips" newsletter for more original articles. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his in-depth articles at: http://www.isitebuild.com/articles
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