> @Ben Buchanan: Are the points you raised true or were you mentioning them
> as things to feed bottom-line oriented people? The point I'm most interested
> in is this one: "If they're an SEO type, mention that valid sites tend to 
> index more consistently in search engines (validation doesn't guarantee high
> ranking, but it is still a major part of any serious, ethical SEO)"
>
> Is that proven to be true? Genuinely curious.
>

Yes I believe the points are true - I wouldn't recommend lying as
an advocacy tactic :) You are of course giving things the best spin to
achieve your goal, everyone does that. But the spin should be presenting the
truth in the best light and addresing benefits that your manager cares
about. Talk bottom-line with bottom-line people; talk standards to
standardistas.

re: Cost efficiency it's about how well you can redesign your current site
or build new pages. My experience is that standards make that process
faster, which means less staff time, which means less cost. Of course if
your developers aren't any faster working with a standards-based site, you
might not be able to use that argument. But I'm yet to meet a standardista
who wasn't able to do things more efficiently with a standards-based site
compared with a non-standards site.

For SEO, there are two things to remember at all times:
1) No one single thing is a magic bullet, but there are lots of parts of the
puzzle.
2) Nobody except Google/Yahoo/etc's engineers are 100% sure what works. Many
SEO consultants pretend they're privy
to inside knowledge, but the ethical ones admit that everything is
just informed guesses based on observations.


So with that in mind, what I've said about SEO is as proven as you can
actually get with SEO.

I've had an SEO consultant say (direct quote) "if everyone built their sites
with web standards, we'd be out of a job". What they meant was, if everyone
created *semantically correct* documents, with a good title and heading
structure.

You don't have to build with standards to rank well - the crappiest website
in the world will rank highly if millions of people link to it. But, all
else being equal, a standards-based, semantically-correct site will do a bit
better than a site with no structure. More to the point, a correct heading
structure allows you to define the content heirarchy and create a
natural/"organic" keyword definition for your site. It gives you a lot of
control, by virtue of really accurately defining what you're publishing.

Nothing in the markup can guarantee high rank (not counting dirty tricks I
guess). But you can be pretty sure of accurate keyword indexing, which is a
big part of the SEO picture.

cheers,
Ben

-- 
--- <http://weblog.200ok.com.au/>
--- The future has arrived; it's just not
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson


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