Are CSS-based layouts better than tables for SEO?

By | August 15, 2019

>>CUTTS: Thomas from Cincinnati asks, “Is
a website designed with a CSS-based layout more SEO friendly than a table-based layout?”
Frankly, I wouldn’t worry about it. We see tables, we see CSS, we have to handle both.
So we try to score them, you know, well no matter what kind of layout mechanism you use.
Frankly, I would use what’s best for you. A lot of people these days tend to like CSS
because it’s easy to change your site. It’s easy to change the layout. It’s very modular.
Whereas tables, sort of, have this, you know, Web 1.0 kind of connotation to them. But if
you have the best site, we will try to find it and we’ll try to rank it highly regardless
of whether it’s table-based or CSS-based.

24 thoughts on “Are CSS-based layouts better than tables for SEO?

  1. Daniel Carvalhinho Post author

    Ok. You handle both, obviously…
    But, in CSS-based designs, the content tend to be more organized and, when well done, the page will be lighter and the "code vs. content" competition will decrease….

  2. Andy Mabbett Post author

    Please don't advise people to just use "what's best for them". They should use what's best for their users, which means making web pages accessible.

    Tables are meant to be used for tabular data, and table-based layouts can be very inaccessible to people using assistive technologies (and, for that matter, when used /badly/ for tabular data).

    Sure, Google can index both, but being indexed by Google isn't the only consideration.

  3. Sal Baldovinos Post author

    I can't imagine working on a layout in tables anymore. CSS layouts are much more flexible and you can do so much more (that's probably subjective, but still). 🙂

  4. TheDonBarracuda Post author

    Thanks for giving us Google's view. What people need to do is use some common sense, CSS might be a headache to begin with (I know it certainly was for me) but once you get the hang of it, it makes life so much easier (I only use tables when I feeling very lazy). Pros for css and the negs for tables have already been mentioned by the other posters here. CSS is where everyone is going and it should be a standard, look at dreamweaver CS4.

  5. TheDonBarracuda Post author

    Problem I've just ran into is that 3/4 of visitors to my site use IE, 1/4 of these IE users are still using IE6. IE6 doesn't obey the CSS and the site looks like a complete mess, however my site that is built using tables looks the same in every browser.

  6. vipm Post author

    CSS layouts aren't consistent across different browsers and browser versions. That's bad for the user to see an ugly site when they're using a browser that doesn't show your css layout correctly. Tables enables site to not have to maintain different code for different browsers, since tables will appear the same for almost all browsers and versions.

  7. vipm Post author

    @plabrow tabular reports should never be done with css. Insisting on using a tool in a situation it was not made for results in less productivity, errors, and delays in development. Even authors of how-to-css books have advocated using tables for tabular data. CSS is just a tool, it is not a religion and should be treated accordingly.

  8. vipm Post author

    All I can say is, CSS was not well-designed, well thought out, nor well executed. It has many inconsistencies, redundancies, and contradictions. Compared to the elegance and practicality of PHP, CSS is like spaghetti code. CSS seemed to have been invented by committee instead of by one good visionary. HTML, for all its weknesses, is a lot better designed and thought out compared to CSS.

  9. yogistra Post author

    These CSS nazis are really starting to piss me off, thank god for some common sense in the video. I cant remember the last time I visited a site and said hmm the tables are really slowing down this mother….

  10. Guerra dos Bichos Post author

    i cant believe there are still people fighting the Table x Tableless War

  11. ZelenoJabko Post author

    CSS and tables are not mutually exclusive! He should be talking about TABLE layout vs. DIV layout.

  12. Brian Post author

    2 years have passed and the new devs out there are even more in to the CSS Bible and the search engines still do not care how a site is coded but some swear they do. If the crawler doesnt have to wait more than a second for text content to load then you make it in to the Google index.

  13. Brian Post author

    If your a good developer then you use the best tool for the job if a table will be more versatile and help you align content better then use it. I know developers that have been coding for close to 20 years and never once have I heard a complaint that a table was used instead of a div other than every couple years a random CSS slave will email them and point out a table. If layout code is that precious then code in perl or php and force the output. Ive been in it since 99 and never heard it.

  14. MumblingMickey Post author

    the column length thing is just so annoying is css. Despite what matt says here css does not help you change your site more easily.

    But to be honest tables were originally meant for tabular data and not site design. Despite what Matt says here you'd have to wonder how Google defines tabular data from site design data if its looking at tables generically as he says.

    I'd just like Google to come out and say in no uncertain terms that CSS and TABLEs have no impact whatsoever.

  15. Sasch Franchina Post author

    he answered. .I think I head it.. he said CSS

  16. Owen Prescott Post author

    Stay away from tables for layout, you will regret keeping them and have to edit dozens of pages in the future otherwise.

  17. slapmyfunkybass Post author

    why are they… there is no proof css handles design any better; actually, due to the browser fetching the external sheet it probably slows down the rendering process

  18. slapmyfunkybass Post author

    not true – all modern browsers can handle tables just as well as css

  19. Jake Pranger Post author

    Another good video here my man. this stuff is good for sure. are you still messing with this stuff?

  20. Majestic Travel With LARRY & UMEKA Post author

    I've been hearing alot about CSS!

  21. Dorian Jepsen Post author

    Is this still relevant in 2015? I'm reading articles that say "tables aren't semantic", "tables have bloat", etc, etc. I spent the afternoon converting one of my tables (filled with tabular data) to CSS and the file size was practically the same as the HTML table code.

  22. Fred Gandt Post author

    @Matt Cutts or anyone from the @Google Developers team:
    What about tables used for tabular data, not layout?

    My specifics are thus:
    A website for a takeaway restaurant, where I created the menu(s) as a set of tables – HTML tables – since that seemed like the logical thing to do.
    I've added Product markup and will be keeping it even though I've since read that Google is currently only taking notice of it if each product has its own page (one per page (is this still correct?)).

    I'm seeing on Webmaster tools and search results, an apparent lack of understanding of the content of these tables; there appears to be no sense of where one entry ends and the next begins.
    It's as if the textContent is being stripped in its entirety from the tables, and read as if it were never tabulated. This of course results in a total lack of sense.

    So, is tabular data in tables "understood" by Googlebot, or has the long time inappropriate use of tables for layout pushed Google to regard them as nothing more than a means to a layout end, and thus ignorable?


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