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Posted: 29 December 2014
Updated: 16 December 2017

Do HTML errors affect search impressions/ traffic?

Stack Exchange

Question from Pro Webmasters on Stack Exchange

Do HTML errors affect search impressions? (The errors shown in red when right-clicking the bottom-right-hand corner of a website.) And can correcting them eventually improve traffic?

I had lots of little HTML errors on my site (all pages) and I fixed them all on the 11th Dec. I’ve been told that this should increase the search impressions of my pages. Since then the impressions haven’t gone up, but maybe it is a matter of time? It’s been 2.5 weeks now.

I believe many (though not all) of my pages are otherwise well keyword-targeted.

Thank you!

My answer

[Read, comment, and vote on my answer at Stack Exchange]

In short, yes.

But, good HTML does not automatically mean you will get more traffic, so the fact that you have not seen an increase may not have anything to do with your HTML.

To your questions about HTML, some ways that bad HTML can affect your search engine indexing and traffic.

Sign-up for Google Webmaster tools, go to Search Appearance, then to HTML Improvements. Notice that there is a section labeled “Non-indexable content”. If HTML is so malformed, then search engines might not even be able to index it.

Click on Security Issues. Malformed JavaScript could produce issues here and that could seriously affect your entire site’s indexing.

Use Google PageSpeed Insights. Page loading time is part of Google’s ranking algorithm, and malformed HTML will slowdown your page rendering.

Even if you do not have advertisements, you can sign up for Google AdSense. AdSense gives you a “Site Health” score. From the explanation of the score:

We’ve analyzed how well your pages with the highest number of ad requests perform on desktop computers. Improving the performance of these pages can lead to an improved experience for your users and increased traffic and earnings.

Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, says that response times longer than two seconds cause users to leave your site and that response times longer than 10 seconds cause users to assume your site is completely broken. In other words, long response times will increase your bounce rate and reduce your page views per session. Malformed HTML increases page loading times.

Summary: bad HTML (and JavaScript) can hurt your search engine indexing and traffic but good HTML will not necessarily improve your traffic.

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