The low text-HTML ratio is certainly a trigger point for opinion among many SEOs, I’m also on the fence about it but nevertheless, I try and remove this error, when it appears on the SEMRush audit. So the issue oscillates between less code being better for loading speed and more content being a key focus for search engines, spending a bit of time looking further into this issue on your website can certainly help to some degree.
The trigger point for hitting this error is 10% content to 90% code, which is substantially low for content – unless the nature of that page is more functionality and aesthetics, but the point of view of low content leading to lower rankings is valid; so I wouldn’t utilise these errors as major flaws, more prompting of further investigation.
This error seems to crop up more on a SEMRush website crawl, it’ll load the DOM of your site and then assess the total amount of content vs. HTML ratio. The errors will likely reside within the Warning section rather than error, giving webmasters a list of URLs to work through. Secondary symptoms of low content can be the page is not indexed, currently sat in the Crawled – not indexed part of Search Console, although there can be a full host of reasons why this may be the case.
You should really spend time assessing why the content is so low on this page, stuffing content in there to try and hit a higher ratio probably isn’t going to serve you well. If you can provide additional context which is useful to the reader then I’d certainly weave this into your on-page content. There is also the other side of the fix for this particular warning, that’s reducing the amount of code on your site which is a big driver for loading speed. So if you have overkill on features on your site, maybe look at throttling this back. There are tools such as HotJar which can show how your user interacts with your site and you may learn that most of the features on your site aren’t ever viewed due to users not scrolling or interacting, so there may be a business case here to withdraw them from that particular page – improving the ratio.
The fix often lies within prevention with this particular warning, if you build pages with the intent of providing the very best experience with the least amount of code and sufficient text, then you’re onto a winner. Many sites will often accumulate these types of errors due to technical issues with the site – for instance, bloating of blog tags with one post with content and nothing else. Building a technically sound website and publishing content mindfully will likely serve you the best dividends here.
Additional points on HTML to text ratio
- Adding content for the sake of it will likely have a negative impact on your customer’s experience. Please make sure you try and implement content that will benefit the users.
- Chopping and changing code on a website can impact the functionality; always check with a developer if you’re unsure about what you are doing. 5XX errors are more of a nuisance than your HTML to text ratio if you break the site.
- Try and get some user feedback from sources like HotJar which can highlight any sections of the site which may not be useful or used by customers at all – you can often safely remove these elements to decrease the amount of HTML on your site.
- These types of warnings are often OK if you validate the page is sufficient and search engines are not having a hard time crawling or indexing your page.
- I’d often look at these types of errors against the signals given off by the likes of Google Search Console.