The Ratio Of Code vs Content

Search Engine algorithms are complex enough but does the ratio of Code vs Content really matter that much and should we spend the time figuring it out

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Article: The Ratio Of Code vs Content
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Article Published / Updated: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 03:36:23

I recently attended a seminar and the guest speaker was a well respected SEO Expert. His presentation was fluid and I must admit he did an awesome job of captivating his audience.

During the presentation he touched on the subject of the much debated topic of Code vs Content, and for those of you who don't know what that's all about, I'll attempt to fill you in.

Code vs Content Does The Ratio Matter That Much

Code Vs Content is the ratio of one to the other. Simply put count the number of characters on a your web page. Not the page that displays on the net but rather the characters on the coding page. Now count how many characters will actually be displayed on the web. Divide this number by the first number and you have a percentage.

SEO Experts believe that the content percentage should be greater than the code percentage. I think that is a noble idea but how many websites do you know of that can claim that is so on their website.

For one, most SEO guys will also tell you that you should limit the number of words you are displaying to your visitors. They go on to say that content should not stretch out further than 4 inches, that the number of words should not be less than 400 but not greater than 900 etc.

Well if you follow that rule then I can safely tell you that if your page is black on white and you use no style at all, don't include any Meta data and use no pictures or links, then you can achieve what they want.

So let us be real. We all know that although the use of Meta tags is still in question we are all still using them. Websites are designed to attract visitors so bland pages are not the way to go. Pictures still speak a thousand words and links are all that Google wants. So how do we manage to keep the percentage of code below 50 percent? We would need to write loads and loads of content.

To be honest it is really difficult. Not impossible but difficult. But does it really matter? I don't think that I have ever come across a statement by any of the top Search Engines which addresses this matter. They all mention the fact that they like validated error free coding but no where do the mention anything about the ratio of code vs content.

We often hear that search engine bots seldom read more than the first 60 or so characters of any line. I don't buy that, that their bots don't like to filter through lines and lines of table coding to find the content. I don't buy that either.

So what is the real truth. Well no one seems to know. The only thing that we can safely tell you is what we have experimented with and what we think works. This is by the way the 21st century and we believe that there are some pretty smart programmers out there. And we are sure they can write code which can discriminate code from content. I think it would be simple to write a bot that would exclude the content found in between these <> brackets or to include certain taged content.

With that said it seems apparent to us that the code vs content issue is really not an issue but rather a smokescreen. If Google's bot is cleaver enough to find duplicate content then I think we have proven our point. Bots are written with such complicated coding that we are sure those experts have incorporated some pretty good filters.

Page Speed Matters Much More

The only negative effect we can find through all our research is that, heavily coded pages load slowly. Search Engines, in particular Google, makes Page Speed a huge issue. So we can see where a heavy page is not a good idea. But there are other factors at work regarding load times or page speed such as image sizes, scripts, videoes, etc. The load times of heavy code really are small compared to the weight of an un-optimized image.

So here is what we do know. The content of your page needs to be optimized properly for both user and search engine. That the coding needs to be compliant and error free. Overall and together both the content and the code should not exceed a certain weight somewhere between 9-30Kbs.

So here are our findings. As long as code and content are optimized and that content meets the requirements of search engines and that the coding is valid and that the weight of the page is not excessive then ratio between the two does not matter at all.


Now go forth with this ammunition and build beautiful, professional, looking websites. Add captivating and interesting content. Optimize both with user and search engine in mind and get good rankings without the worry of percentages...

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Artemis Glikakis is the Managing Director of Position Front Page International Co., Ltd.. His expertise in this field of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, has lead him to write many articles on the subject and he is always in the forefront when large clients come along.

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