am committed to website accessibility and, as such, valid XHMTL and CSS code. When I changed my site to a validated, accessible website I began to see results. After around two months of having propagated the Internet I began to reap the rewards. My web rankings are better, although I am lazy on this task and could do more to improve them. Just before Christmas we had three new clients and it’s all due to higher rankings because, I assume, my site’s content can be read more easily by the bots and spiders out there!
Validating your code is important, but not to the detriment of your website’s reason for being. The legal stand point in the UK is that you must do all you can ‘within reason’ to make your site accessible for those with visual impairments and other disabilities.
There are some things that just won’t validate, eg -moz-outline to take borders off images, links, etc. Although, I include it in my CSS when necessary as I don’t like those ugly outlines when you mouseover pictorial links.
As for linking, again I am not an avid linker. I have had people contact me to exchange links, and have done so. I also use a few affililate links on my links page. My business is Virtual Assistance, that’s what I do… I don’t have time to exchange links, play with the SEO tricks, etc… my clients’ work must be done!
My advice? Validate your XHTML and CSS as much as possible. But don’t cut off your nose to spite your face… if you need something on your website, but it just won’t validate, then let it be… as long as the rest of your code is valid and it doesn’t stop a user/visitor from knowing what services you provide, then go with it. But if you do some research, you might just find a ‘hack’ (or workaround) and get your code validated that way.
Your website content does just as much for you as playing with linking – read up on ‘copywriting for SEO‘ and try to write your website content in your own style, but including the tips other people have found work for them.