Weekly SEO news: 26 July 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Webmasters are not sure about the importance of valid HTML code. Some think that it is very important while other say that it doesn't matter. Last week, Google said that valid HTML code is a quality signal.

Also in the news: Google releases a study about PPC clicks, a Google bug allowed competitors to remove your website from the index, you shouldn't use the meta refresh tag and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google says that valid HTML code is a quality signal

Webmasters are not sure about the importance of valid HTML code. Some think that it is very important while other say that it doesn't matter. Last week, Google said that valid HTML code is a quality signal:

"Why does validation matter? There are different perspectives on validation—at Google there are different approaches and priorities too—but the Webmaster Team considers validation a baseline quality attribute. It doesn't guarantee accessibility, performance, or maintainability, but it reduces the number of possible issues that could arise and in many cases indicates appropriate use of technology.

valid HTML code

While paying a lot of attention to validation, we've developed a system to use it as a quality metric to measure how we're doing on our own pages. Here's what we do: we give each of our pages a score from 0-10 points, where 0 is worst (pages with 10 or more HTML and CSS validation errors) and 10 is best (0 validation errors). We started doing this more than two years ago, first by taking samples, now monitoring all our pages."

What is valid HTML code?

    Most web pages are written in HTML. As for every language, HTML has its own grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and every document written in HTML is supposed to follow these rules.

    Like any language, HTML is constantly changing. As HTML has become a relative complex language, it's very easy to make mistakes. HTML code that is not following the official rules is called invalid HTML code.

Why is valid HTML code important?

    Search engines have to parse the HTML code of your web site to find the relevant content. If your HTML code contains errors, search engines might not be able to find everything on the page.

    Search engine crawler programs obey the HTML standard. They can only index your web site if it is compliant to the HTML standard. If there's a mistake in your web page code, they might stop crawling your web site and they might lose what they've collected so far because of the error.

    Although most major search engines can deal with minor errors in HTML code, a single missing bracket in your HTML code can be the reason if your web page cannot be found in search engines.

    If you don't close some tags properly, or if some important tags are missing, search engines might ignore the complete content of that page.

How can you check the validity of your HTML code?

Although not all HTML errors will cause problems for your search engine rankings, some of them can keep web spiders from indexing your web pages.

Valid HTML code makes it easier for search engine spiders to index your site. Checking the HTML code of your web pages only takes a few minutes but it will have a major impact on the accessibility of your web pages.

Back to table of contents - Visit Axandra.com

2. Search engine news and articles of the week

GoogleGoogle study claims that PPC doesn't cannibalize your organic traffic

"If search ads were paused, would clicks on organic results increase, and make up for the loss in paid traffic? Google statisticians recently ran over 400 studies on paused accounts to answer this question. [...]

The results were surprising. On average, the incremental ad clicks percentage across verticals is 89%. This means that a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused."

A bug allowed webmasters to remove any website from Google's index

"If the request is not cancelled it usually leads to the removal of the site from Google's index which is why I think this is probably the biggest vulnerability in Google today and why I am highlighting it here. I can't believe I am the only person to figure this out and there are a number of things that could be happening right now if this information is already in the wrong hands."

Editor's note: Google has fixed the bug in the meantime.

PageRankBing testing search ads mixed with organic results

"One of our analysts, Emily Kirk, spotted Bing mixing in paid search ads within its organic results. [...]

It's tough to say how this might influence ad performance if it rolls out to more users, but surely some will find this a poor user experience. It's good to see Bing testing, but I don't see this being the answer to their RPS concerns."

Google recommends not to use the meta refresh tag

In an online discussion, Google's John Mueller says that it's better not to use the meta refresh tag:

"In general, we recommend not using meta-refresh type redirects, as this can cause confusion with users (and search engine crawlers, who might mistake that for an attempted redirect). This is likely where the warning you saw came from. This is currently not causing any problems with regards to crawling, indexing, or ranking, but it would still be a good idea to remove that."

How Google might rank pages based upon usage information

"The patent tells us that term-based methods can be biased towards pages where the content or display of those pages has been manipulated to focus upon those terms. We're also told that link-based approaches are limited in that relatively new pages have usually have fewer links pointing to them than older pages, so they often have a lower link-based score."

Google changes Google Place pages

"Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we've heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages.

Rating and review counts reflect only those that've been written by fellow Google users, and [...] we're continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe. "

Search engine newslets

  • Video: Does selling the same product on three different domains look spammy? Answer: Probably not, but it depends. :-)
  • More than two-thirds of Google+ activity is private.
  • Google drops toolbar support for Firefox.
  • Mozilla jumps to deal with Google Toolbar demise.
  • Chairman: Google should have gone social earlier.
  • Google looks for the next Google.
  • Google warns users that their computers have been infected with malware.
  • Google removes the Google directory.

Back to table of contents - Visit Axandra.com

3. Success stories

"IBP is a tremendous product."

At RadRoadTrips.com, we strive to provide quality resources for parents to help them plan their family vacations. Our games, activities, and travel passports focus on helping children enjoy the travel portion of their family vacation.

After using IBP for only a few weeks we realized that our previous SEO methodologies were off track from the very beginning.

IBP has helped us determine the keywords that people actually use. Additionally, it has helped us understand how to change our website in small ways to support our desired search terms. [...]

Amazing customer service for a tremendous product."
John Andersen, RadRoadTrips.com


Send us a testimonial: 300,000 readers will read your success story!

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.

The winner of our competition is: Punit Manik

The winner of our Twitter/Facebook competition is Punit Manik. Thank you all for participating.

Back to table of contents - Visit Axandra.com

4. Previous articles

Back to table of contents - Visit Axandra.com

Do you have a minute?