Do you need to fix W3C errors? Print

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In monthly search engine marketing reports, or in reading search engine marketing forums, you may have come across references to "W3C errors" in your website. What are these issues and what do they mean for your online shop?

W3C errors relate to the structure of the generated HTML in your store. W3C are the global organisation that maintain the standards for the HTML language ( They are the keepers of the HTML language, purists, and make the rules about what standards do and don't apply to the way a page should be generated. The theory is that if an HTML page meets these standards perfectly, then search engines will find the structure of a generated page easier to process, and therefore give your pages the maximum chance of ranking in search engines.

So W3C errors relate to the departure from the pure HTML standard.

In practice, search engines and browsers are very sophisticated and can detect and process minor deviations from the official standards - just like when you speak to someone in person, your brain can process a sentence that may not be 100% grammatically correct.  Some search engine marketing forums or "SEO gurus" will state that you must strive to resolve W3C errors, but the reality is that this is not necessary and will not affect your search engine rankings.  Yes, pages that severely deviate from the standards may find that search engines "miss the point" of a page as it might mistake one section of a page for another, but in most cases search engines like Google are smart enough to understand and process a page even though it isn't perfectly compliant. In sophisticated shopping cart software like Ozcart, and in many of the largest websites that you visit every day, it's unlikely that any page in the site will be 100% compliant with the pure standards, and in fact you will find that even Google's own site doesn't comply.

For example, putting Google's Australian homepage through the W3C's validator shows the following:

Errors found while checking this document as HTML5!

Result: 26 Errors, 4 warning(s)"

So W3C standards are relevant to making sure that your website is indexed by Google but not a "must achieve at all costs" type of search engine marketing objective.

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