Matt, from the YouTube channel GoogleWebMasterHelp, has created a number of useful videos that both new and old web developers can benefit from hearing. One of his more recent videos from the end of September is designed to address a common question regarding validating HTML and whether or not that actually matters to Googlebot.
What is Valid HTML?
In his video, Matt mentions some good reasons for validating HTML, but he doesn’t actually talk about what it means to be validated. This is understandable, since there are a number of things that go into validating an HTML. There are several HTML validating tools which can check whether or not a website meets the World Wide Web Consortium HTML recommendations. As Matt mentions in his video, it is a good idea to have a valid HTML because it makes a site easier to maintain, helps when it comes time to upgrade, and is very important for any web designers that intend to give or sell their code to anyone else.
How Does Google Handle Invalid HTML?
Google recognizes that not every site is going to have perfect HTML. Even when sites are validated, there are sometimes updates which can cause one or two errors, which even though they might be small are enough to make a validated website no longer be validated. Not only that, but many new web designers are still going to be learning, so it isn’t expected for them to get everything perfect right away, and it would be unfair to penalize their sites.
Matt goes on to say in his video that the relevant information is what really matters the most. Google is going to make sure that the websites being displayed have correct and up to date information, not just that they have the cleanest code. It is still recommended to maintain a valid HTML, and could even become a requirement in the future once the process is more refined.
Video: Does Googlebot care about valid HTML?
(YouTube Release: Sep 25, 2013)