W3C Validation, WordPress and SEO

w3c logoIn the SEO/Internet Marketing space there is never a lack of questions we’re asked on a daily basis. Here are two questions that really stood out to me, that I wanted to talk about here on the blog:

Does validation affect SEO?

No. In our opinion there is no correlation whatsoever with code that validates versus code that has errors/warnings when attempting to optimize the site for organic search. To be clear the W3C validation standards offer a meaningful guideline and not necessarily a rule. Google’s own properties contain dozens of errors according to w3c validation – here are the Google.com validation results for example. While this does not prove/disprove whether Google utilizes it in their algorithm, it stands to reason as an organization Google does not place a high level of importance on the W3C specification. W3C validation offers a great troubleshooting tool for development, but stressing over fixing every little error/warning will not make a meaningful difference in the search results.


Does the version of WordPress affect SEO

No. From the perspective of a search engine robot, the version of WordPress has little to no affect on how the data is presented. Typically the only difference between recent versions (within the last 1-2 years) of WordPress is the version that appears in the source code*. When WordPress is updated, the changes are typically in the code that cannot be accessed by search engines. The fundamental point of the updates is to add functionality, fix bugs and close vulnerabilities in the WordPress code. The risk of running an outdated WordPress version is security. If you’re not updating you may not be protected from newer vulnerabilities that can be used to access your site. While staying up to date helps, it does not guarantee protection. Running older versions also does not guarantee you’ll have any issues. Overall yes you want to update. Updating WordPress should be done to increase security – however it has no meaningful impact on how your site is ranked in the search results.

Unfortunately there are no reference articles for this question – either I can’t find them or noone is actually talking about this online.

*from a technical standpoint there are a few things upgrading will add to the site, such as a meta canonical, and a meta short url. Also if you upgrade from an old enough version  you’ll be moving from PHP4 to PHP5. If your site is set up correctly these new elements will not affect your site either positively or negatively.

In Closing

In my opinion, Google works on a much higher level than having hard fast rules like “validation helps SEO” or “outdated versions of wordpress hurts SEO”. The algorithm is much more complicated than that. It’s looking at hundreds, even thousands of data points to form an overall understanding of your site. It’s also learning as it goes – so it’s always adjusting.  What really matters at the end of the day are the basics: your company information, accessible & usable website, detailed service and markets – all laid out in a way that search engines can easily navigate. If you have the basics right then you’re very likely far ahead of your competition from an SEO standpoint.