Website Validation - Review of SEOBook.com

2010-03-08 - Back in 2009 August, there was a topic at SEOBook.com titled SEO Book Many Web Designers Are Still Offering Fake SEO Packages that I got involved with where Aaron Wall made the following statements...

In April a web designer who came across our site gave me the following feedback 'I don't know how you can advertise your skills in SEO when such a vital part of a good quality site is valid markup. Your homepage has 40 errors when I just checked.'

To which I replied '...and yet I rank page 1 in Google for SEO. Who cares about valid code? Not me. And not Google. Oh well.'

If you are a web designer (and/or want links from pretentious web designers) then validation is a great idea... it is core to the group circle-jerk amongst cool web designers. But for everyone else, it generally doesn't matter.

Emphasis mine. Really Aaron? Are you that sure that it generally doesn't matter? I've found the people it generally doesn't matter to are those who don't understand IT and/or the HTML markup they are working with. If they did, they surely wouldn't be telling their audience that it doesn't matter. That's like an automobile mechanic telling you that the extra nuts and bolts he has remaining after an engine rebuild don't matter, hey, the car still runs!

Note: You'll want to read the exchange that took place between myself and the SEO Book Community. There were 67 thoughts expressed in the comments of that post. Even after providing ALL the backup references, the community was still disagreeing with me. I know, it was my method of delivery.

Bitch Slap If we could have only been in a conference hall, it would have been much more brutal, there would have been <head>s and <body>ies rolling all over the place.

Back to Previous

Table of Contents

  1. Validation Review Disclaimer
  2. W3C Compliance is NOT an SEO factor to Google
  3. The Validation Showdown
  4. Images On - Images Off
  5. Required Attribute alt NOT Specified - 29 Instances
  6. Item 3. Line 76, column 131: required attribute "alt" not specified
  7. Item 9. Line 181, column 77: required attribute "alt" not specified

Validation Review Disclaimer

Let me preface this review with the fact that I have a great deal respect for the SEOBook.com community. It is by far one of the better SEO destinations on the Internet, one of the top ten in my mind, Aaron knows that too.

I believe Aaron also knows that I stand absolutely nothing to gain by investing my time in all of this. Right now, it is a matter of what's right and, what's wrong. I think it is wrong for those who are well respected in this industry (e.g. Matt Cutts, Aaron Wall, etc.) to downplay the importance of writing well formed and valid markup.

Back to Previous

W3C Compliance is NOT an SEO factor to Google

During those 67 thoughts expressed in the above topic, I had mentioned that I would do a review of SEOBook.com and Aaron, you know I'm a man of my word. Since Matt Cutts at Google was recently quoted misquoted as saying W3C Compliance is NOT an SEO factor to Google, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to start my next phase of the Validation Showdown - reviewing the top SEO destinations on the Internet with SEOBook.com being the second in my series of reviews, I've already performed a review of Google on 2009-09-08.

Back to Previous

The Validation Showdown

I started monitoring a large group of SEO websites for validation at the beginning of 2009 September, SEOBook.com being one of them. In fact, it was Aaron's article referenced above that got me started with all of this. I had my Developer setup the validation module within a week after that article was posted. It has since grown into a once weekly routine with quite a bit of validation data being acquired.

Let's take a peek under the hood (home page document only) at SEOBook.com and see what type of markup errors are present. There are 128 errors (cascading errors, the number is greater than 128) and 67 warnings (cascading warnings, the number is greater than 67) as of 2010-03-08. I'm only going to look at one specific group of basic errors - the alt attribute.

Shakes Head In this review, there are 29 instances of missing alt attributes. 29! It has been this way even after bringing it to the communities attention during the above topic in 2009 August.

SEOBook.com Validation History

Sources: Website Validation History for SEOBook.com, Website Validation Report for SEOBook.com

Images On - Images Off

Before we get into the specific line by line error reporting, let me give you a visual of what you're about to see. This first image shows SEOBook.com with Images On. The second image shows SEOBook.com with Images Off. I surf quite a bit with Images Off - so does the UA.

Back to Previous

SEOBook.com Images On

Notice the images under the As Seen In... heading at right?

Back to Previous

SEOBook.com Images Off

Notice the absence of image alt attributes under the As Seen In... heading at right?

Back to Previous

Required Attribute alt NOT Specified - 29 Instances

The attribute given above is required for an element that you've used, but you have omitted it. For instance, in most HTML and XHTML document types the "type" attribute is required on the "script" element and the "alt" attribute is required for the "img" element.

  1. Line 55, column 55: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/buy.jpg"> Want to Learn SEO Today?</h3>

    Note: This image is wrapped in an <h> element which means it has more weight than your normal image reference. An alt attribute assigned to images wrapped in <h> is treated the same as the <h> value it is wrapped in.

    Since this image appears to be used for decorative purposes, it should be assigned a null alt attribute (alt="") or the image can be assigned as a background property of the <h> element.

  2. Line 75, column 63: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/seo-community.jpg"> Recent SEO Community Threads</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  3. Line 76, column 131: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p><a href="http://community.seobook.com/"><img src="/images/seo-community-mini-logo.png" border="0"/></a></p>

    Note: This one is a little more involved. Notice the <a href> that wraps the image? Here's a visual with Images On and Images Off...

    Images On

    <p><a href="http://community.seobook.com/"><img src="/images/seo-community-mini-logo.png" border="0"/></a></p>

    Notice the SEOCOMMUNITY Logo? It is linked to the SEO Community Forums. OT, what is that border="0" doing there? That has been deprecated since the 90s.

    Images Off

    Notice the absence of an image alt attribute for the SEOCOMMUNITY Logo? And, where's the link at? If the alt attribute were present, there would be a visible link with images turned off, it would look like anchor text. The UA sees it that way too.

    But, it can be argued that the next paragraph with the SEO Community Forums link is a sufficient replacement for the lack of linked alt text above it. If that's the case, then the repetition of the destination link may not be optimal in this scenario.

  4. Line 91, column 54: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/blog.jpg"> Read Our Blog: Free Marketing Tips &amp; Strategies</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  5. Line 98, column 65: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/seo-tools-thumb.jpg"> Free SEO Tools to Help You Optimize Your Website</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  6. Line 107, column 55: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/world.jpg"> The SEO Glossary Teaches You Industry Jargon</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  7. Line 114, column 56: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/search.jpg"> Need Free Advice? Search Our Site</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  8. Line 118, column 58: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <h3><img src="/images/interact.jpg"> Interact With Us</h3>

    Note: Refer to Item № 1 for more details.

  9. Line 181, column 77: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-wsj.png" />

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/the-wall-street-journal.png" alt="The Wall Street Journal" /></li>

    Note: Lines 181 through 202, the remainder of the alt attribute errors, are all relative to the sidebar at right. There are a few things that may be incorrect with this particular structuring.

    First, this entire section of sidebar images should probably be wrapped in a <ul> (Unordered List Element).

    Second, the align="" attribute has been deprecated for quite some time, since the late 90s. There are 19 uses of it in just this one block of markup. That's 247 additional bytes (includes spaces) of deprecated markup. Every byte of savings counts in the overall equation.

    Third, where are the alt attributes for these sidebar images? When I first saw this back in 2009 August, I spent a bit of time dissecting the markup to see if I could determine why an SEO mastermind like Aaron Wall would not have alt attributes assigned to those images?

    Here, let me show you the visual again with Images On and Images Off...

    SEOBook.com Images On

    SEOBook.com Images Off

    So, what does a search engine crawler see in this instance? Since there are no alt attributes present, the crawler sees nothing except a file name reference. People using assistive technologies get the name of the file read to them if they've got that feature enabled.

    Surely this has some impact on the overall SEO initiatives? Aren't you losing the textual association with those authoritative resources you are promoting?

    Remember, the crawler e.g. Googlebot indexes the alternative text representation which in this case is not present. The person using assistive technologies may or may not have the file name read to them.

    If the intent was to minimize the association by NOT using an alt attribute, the images SHOULD be assigned a null alt attribute (alt="").

    Note: Items 10 through 29, refer to Item № 9 for more details.
    Red indicates current markup.
    Green indicates suggested markup.

  10. Line 183, column 81: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-nyt.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/the-new-york-times.png" alt="The New York Times" /></li>

  11. Line 184, column 84: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-wired.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/wired.png" alt="WIRED" /></li>

  12. Line 185, column 90: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-londontimes.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/london-times.png" alt="TIMESONLINE" /></li>

  13. Line 186, column 88: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-mediapost.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/mediapost.png" alt="MediaPost" /></li>

  14. Line 187, column 82: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-pbs.gif" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/pbs.png" alt="PBS" /></li>

  15. Line 188, column 86: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-poynter.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/poynter.png" alt="Poynter" /></li>

  16. Line 189, column 87: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-slashdot.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/slashdot.png" alt="Slashdot" /></li>

  17. Line 190, column 82: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-cnn.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/cnn.png" alt="CNN.com" /></li>

  18. Line 191, column 87: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-forbes.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/forbes.png" alt="Forbes.com" /></li>

  19. Line 192, column 83: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-inc.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/inc.png" alt="Inc.com" /></li>

  20. Line 193, column 86: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-about.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/about.png" alt="About.com" /></li>

  21. Line 194, column 86: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-msnbc.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/msnbc.png" alt="MSNBC" /></li>

  22. Line 195, column 91: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-theregister.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/the-register.png" alt="The Register" /></li>

  23. Line 196, column 83: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-cio.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/cio.png" alt="CIO" /></li>

  24. Line 197, column 91: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-wikipedia.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/wikipedia.png" alt="WIKIPEDIA" /></li>

  25. Line 198, column 93: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-businessweek.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/businessweek.png" alt="BusinessWeek" /></li>

  26. Line 199, column 92: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-techcrunch.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/techcrunch.png" alt="TechCrunch" /></li>

  27. Line 200, column 89: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-pcworld.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/pc-world.png" alt="PCWorld" /></li>

  28. Line 201, column 94: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-entrepreneur.png" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/entrepreneur.png" alt="Entrepreneur.com" /></li>

  29. Line 202, column 90: required attribute "alt" not specified

    <p align="left"><img src="/images/sidebar-usatoday.gif" /></p>

    <li><img src="/images/sidebar/usa-today.png" alt="USA TODAY" /></li>

Back to Previous

 

SEO Consultants Directory