Can using tables hurt my Search Engine Results (SERPs)?
I can't seem to get a straight answer when it comes to how a site is coded/built and the affects that this has on SEO. After having taken a few web courses (design to SEO related courses) it seems to me that the "best practice" with regard to building a site that is search engine "friendly" is with CSS, utilizing as few tables as possible. I've been told by numerous instructors that tables can adversely affect SEO rankings and they don't recommend constructing with tables (they consider this an outdated approach).
However, I work with a couple of web developers that swear this isn't true and refuse to move away from building sites with tables. Can you solve this mystery for me once and for all? And, if CSS is the way to go, should I go to the expense of having sites developed with tables converted to CSS in order to improve SEO??
Note: This was a "priority question": by paying a small fee, Barb received an answer directly from me within 36 hours. Well worth it if it's a question where you need to know the answer immediately, not weeks, or possibly even months down the road. Even better, it helps support our work here at Ask Dave Taylor too.
Thanks, Barb. You ask a great question!
I have never heard that tables can adversely affect your SEO placement (also known as your "SERPs"), and on the face of it, that doesn't make sense anyway. As long as it's legal HTML and properly formed, I can't imagine it's a problem. The definitive word for this sort of thing is always Google, and a quick check at their Webmaster Guidelines reveals nothing about tables being good or bad.
SEO Notepad says: "Today, the discussion has become more of an argument over whether using CSS is superior to using tables, and that is a debate that is largely a matter of taste and style."
One author at Webmaster World had a good point too: "One advantage to table free design can be semantic. When you use tables for layout, groups of text on the page that are actually related visually and in meaning can end up widely separated in the html."
What I will say, however, is that a pure-CSS site is problematic, because if you think about it, a page that's encoded like:
<div class="super-important-title">My Important Key Words</div>
<div class="regular-text">This is stuff that's not anywhere near as important</div>
How can the search engine figure out what are the most important words on the page if it doesn't parse the CSS structure? Compare that to:
<h1 class="super-important-title">My Important Key Words</h1>
<p class="regular-text">This is stuff that's not anywhere near as important</p>
Now you've given Google a lot more information to work with: The "h1" is a headline that is critically important to identifying the content of the page, while the text in the "p" block is just regular text.
Ultimately, though, the real keys to success are to produce great content with frequency that's never shown up elsewhere online, to have good page titles that are specific to the content of that page, and to gain inbound links from related sites.
More Useful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Articles:
✔ How do I restructure my Wordpress blog without losing SEO?
I have a wordpress blog that was using categories in the url structure like this: /category_name/post_name/ Then I had read somewhere that if...✔ Change in Web site navigation drops PageRank to zero?
We changed our website recently and also changed the menus on it so some of our pages have a different path now. For...✔ How do I implement add rel=author for Google serps?
I notice that sometimes on the Google search results that the author of the article is displayed next to the match in the...✔ Add a new site to my Google Webmaster Tools account?
Thanks for your earlier blog entry about how to verify my account with Google Webmaster Tools! Now I want to add an additional...✔ How do I verify my site with Google Webmaster Tools?
I've heard that one of the best ways to improve my Google search ranking is to fix anything that's marked as incorrect in...
Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for my weekly AskDaveTaylor Newsletter and you'll receive even more tech and gadget help right to your inbox, along with exclusive news and industry updates. It's good stuff. I promise!
I do have a comment, now that you mention it!
Check This Out Too...
Look for Answers
All Our Categories
Apple iPad Help
Articles and Reviews
Auctions and Online Shopping
Blogs and Blogging
Building Web Site Traffic
Business and Management
Computer and Internet Basics
d) None of the Above
Google Gmail Help
Google Plus Help
Industry News and Trade Shows
iPhone and Cell Phone Help
iPod, Sony PSP and MP3 Player Help
Kindle Fire Help
Mac OS X Help
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shell Script Programming
Tech Support Video Help
The Writing Business
Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Network Help
Unix and Linux Help
Video Game Tips and Help
Windows PC Help
Find Me on Google+
ADT on G+