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Now, I've heard many (if not too many) conspiracies/myths about tables and SEO. Now, I'm in a state of confusion, and I have no idea what to do. Below, I will write two SEO and table myths that I need clarification about.

Tables for page layout:

It's been said that you should not use tables for design, as it has a negative impact on SEO. However, in a video my Matt Cutts, he states that it doesn't matter, and that Google has to deal with both CSS and table layouts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL_GZwoC2uQ).

Now even after this, people still have different opinions, and I never get a proper answer.

I currently use the Atahualpa theme for Wordpress, and it has been a very popular theme. It even has some SEO features built in. However, I have a problem. This theme uses a table layout, and I was wondering if this theme would hurt my SEO. Should I still continue using this theme?

Tables are bad just in general:

Now, I've heard a lot of comments that say tables are bad for SEO just in general. Now personally, I feel as this is completely false. However, I need a professional's view on this matter to guide me in the right direction. Are tables good or bad for SEO?

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marked as duplicate by bybe, John Conde Apr 18 '13 at 0:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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The Google crawler has to handle everything, table, CSS, HTML5, legacy HTML, etc and it handles more and more things, including some Javascript now. Now, unless an official statement from Google is made, they most likely not remove support for anything. So, to confirm the first part of the question: Google understands tables.

That is good but what is really needed for SEO is that Google can understand your page. If it uses tables with a clear structure, there is no reason why using table in itself would be bad for SEO.

Where tables can work against SEO is if they do not scale properly because Google runs page-layout algorithms which are designed to determine which sites show more contents above the fold and fits in smaller mobile screens. Notice that I said can because it is perfectly possible to make scalable layouts with tables. I know of some extremely popular sites with high PageRank that use tables for their layouts, even after recent redesign.

The reason why you do not get a proper answer has much less to do with tables than it has to do with Google secrecy. To prevent people from easily gaming the system, Google is vague about nearly everything relating to SEO. Only a few absolute statements, such as don't by links are ever made. See the official Webmaster Guideline for details, most other things are guesses, speculation or empirical tests.

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