I was going through my hits and mint stats as per usual this evening and noticed that the lovely Carly was plugging me again.. I went to check out why I was being linked to find a thread at a forum where the discussion of tables and divs had come up. About three quarters of the way down the page there’s this gem:
i work for a professional company now (internship) and they could care less about if tables where only meant for data haha so yeah :) even the “big ones” don’t follow that rule (i think it’s a stupid rule … i hate w3c shit)
Aside from the misuse of the phrase “couldn’t care less” and the completely irrelevant hatred of an organisation she obviously doesn’t understand: she’s actually correct. The majority of professional companies could not give a monkeys whether a website is coded in fully valid HTML or whether it’s a mismatch of embedded tables, deprecated (not depreciated, which is something entirely different) tags and innappropriate use of various elements. This is because their main aim is to get the client on board and produce what they think they want as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible so that they can make the most profit.
This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care though, and here’s why: because the clients of these big companies are paying hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds out for advertising and pay-per-click schemes that are generating shoddy hits which rarely result in a sale. Only because of blackhat SEO techniques are they ranked on Google at all. Yet, here I am having never paid for advertising in my life receiving thousands of hits a day and listed #2 at Google (UK) for the search term “Jem” which.. isn’t even my real name!
I believe the key here is (at least partially) decent coding. Where as they’re using the kind of coding I’d expect to see left behind in 1996, static page names and stuffed meta keyword tags, I am using neat and fast-loading semantic divs with proper use of headers. I emphasise keywords throughout a page and try and create dynamic titles for pages that I feel would benefit from being ranked higher. Where their pages are creating “half-listings” in Google from broken tags and superfluous coding, mine are big and bold and beautiful.
My new geek t-shirts page is ranked on the first page of Google — despite having only been up four days — and is higher than the shop I buy the t-shirts from! That’s 7th for “geek t-shirts” out over almost 13 million results. My new quick php mail form: page 3 out of 90 million results. (If you don’t find that even slightly impressive, then you’re obviously not a geek.)
Until someone can turn around and prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has nothing at all to do with my mark-up, I think I’ll stick to my “stupid rule” and my sleek, lightweight divs, eh? :)