Does Readability Help You Rank in Search?

Does Readability Help You Rank in Search?
November 16, 2017 James Wolf

We all want to attract website visitors through search engines then keep those visitors on our site as long as possible. With massive amounts of information on the internet, users tend to scan content until they see relevant words or phrases. As such, one metric of content marketing success becomes increasingly important: readability. Yet it goes severely undervalued and underused. Readability keeps visitors clicking at your website. That’s why a content writer needs to ensure that visitors can read their content easily.


What is Readability?

Readability refers to how easily the audience reads and comprehends content. One way to measure it is with Flesch Reading Ease. This numerical score measures sentence and word length.  In addition, good content is also scannable, so the visitor can easily find the information they want. The first paragraph should encourage the visitor to keep reading, even past the keywords that initially attracted them. Design elements like white space, headers and layout can enhance readability, as well.


Why is Readability Important?

Readability works for long-term success, to keep customers interested and engaged. Cramming keywords into sentences where they don’t fit doesn’t make for a good read. Higher readability often correlates with higher conversation rates because the audience can easily understand concepts. Information is accessible, appealing and often direct. Bounce numbers decrease, and engagement or conversions increase. It will take time, but your Google ranking will also increase.


How Do You Make Sure Your Content Is Readable?

You’ve learned what readability is and why it’s important. Now, it’s time to learn how to write readable content. The following are ways to improve your content’s readability:


Write Simply

Online readers don’t have long attention spans with overwhelming information at their hands. Keep words action-oriented and simple, and avoid the passive voice. Variety helps create interest. Alter the first words used, and mix short and long sentences. Too much of one or the other will likely lose the reader or bore them. Write like you’re having a conversation with an acquaintance.

One of the most important things to keep in mind, especially for a global company, is translation. Readability often makes for easier and more accurate translations online. English has more than one meaning for many words, homonyms and all sorts of other confusing grammatical nightmares for non-native speakers.


Plan Ahead

Remember writing outlines for research papers in high school or college? Well, outlines still come in handy. Approach content development with a goal and a vision for how you want to reach that goal. Write out the basics–the skeleton of what you want to say. Build from there, and present your information logically. If you write to your goal and with readability, chances are you’ll hit the keywords you want anyway.


Read it Aloud

That’s right. Sure, you may sound crazy, but you’re secretly brilliant. Read your writing aloud to see how it sounds. If sentences sound like they go on too long, they are. Watch out for odd phrasing. If it doesn’t interest you, it’s probably not interesting. Reading aloud helps you take the reader’s perspective.


Use Tools

A few companies offer tools for maximizing content quality. Yoast’s excellent and free SEO plugin scores primarily readability and SEO. Though Website Grader doesn’t give you specifics on upcoming content, it analyses your current website’s content. You can use that score to focus on re-writing your current website. That way, you’ll gain practice for new content. Website Grader offers a readability tool based on the widely-used Flesch-Kincaid model.


SEO is more than back-end keyword strategies to immediately raise your company profile on the first page of results. SEO involves long-term strategy, dedication and nurturing. That’s where readability comes in and where you succeed.


PHOTO: StockSnap / CC0 Public Domain


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