What is Readability and Why it matters for your Content and SEO strategies?

By improving your content’s readability, you can impress your audience and the search engine algorithms at the same time.

Updated: May 11, 2023
What is Readability and Why it matters for your Content and SEO strategies

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Consumers of your content often leave abruptly before getting anywhere close to your call to action.

They may lose interest, realize they don’t need what you offer, or it could be something else entirely like poor readability.

Readability is an essential characteristic of all good content, and it can play a big role in your bounce rate and your SEO.

Each piece of content needs to provide a good user experience and provide the reader with a solution to a concern or problem, an answer to a question, or share information.

It also needs to be well-written and easily understood.

By improving your content’s readability, you can better impress your audience and the search engine algorithms at the same time.

Know all about it below.

    What is Readability?

    Readability, in general, is whether or not customers can understand your content.

    More particularly, readability is a specific way of measuring the ease in which a piece of content can be read. Elements of this measurement include text complexity, legibility, and formatting.

    Also, to classify a piece of content as readable, it must be scannable, so a consumer can skim over the blog post or article and get a gist of what the content is about. This is essential today as so much information is available online.

    By creating readable content, you not only attract more readers but retain them longer. You do this with simplicity and clear messaging.

    A quick way to determine if your content is readable is to take a look at the sentence lengths, paragraph structures, and word choices.

    Any of these can affect readability and, in turn, affect your search engine rankings, bounce rate, conversion rate, and more.

    Why is Readability Important for Your SEO and Content Plan?

    Today’s search engine algorithms continue to evolve and think more like humans.

    Some say they attempt to mimic human behavior, reading content in the same fashion. As they continue to evolve and become capable of experiencing text in a human-like way, readability will be a contributing factor in how well you rank.

    Knowing this is essential to your content marketing strategy and your SEO plan.

    No longer will stuffing your content full of the right keywords propel your SEO. Clear, high-quality, readable content will.

    In addition, with difficult-to-read content, people fail to locate what they want or need and will bounce, going back to Google for a new search. 

    You can bet the search engine notices these bounces, using them as signals that the user experience is not optimal on your site.

    Another reason readability is important to your SEO and content plan is the rise in voice search. Google already recognizes this new phenomenon, so it factors readability into its rankings.

    Improving readability won’t immediately affect your SEO rankings. It will, however, keep visitors on your webpage longer, and the search algorithm will take notice. 

    Readability can also lead to returning consumers and even rising conversion rates.

    Essentially, then, readability improves the overall reader experience and alerts search engines to the inclusion of quality content that readers find worthwhile, which can bump you up in rankings.

    How is Readability Measured?

    Readability, in essence, is a measure of how difficult a piece of content is and identifies ways to improve it. 

    These ways may include shortening sentences, using subheadings to break up text, or replacing passive voice with active.

    As a matter of fact, readability is popularly measured by compiling key metrics that relate to the text itself and, from there, utilizing a formula to determine its status.

    The Flesch-Kincaid and Flesch Reading Ease formulas are two of the most common today.

    The Flesch-Kincaid readability score or grade identifies the school reading level of your content. It is calculated on the basis that content intended for the general public requires you to aim for an 8th-grade reading level.

    For the Flesch Reading Ease score, the range is 0-100, with 100 relating to the most readable.

    Both scores can be checked with the help of tools that you will see further in this post. 

    Just remember that while these grades are interesting to verify, they are not a testament to the overall quality of your content.

    Readability Tips for Your Writing

    Readability is all about a consumer’s ability to easily read or scan your content and have an overall good experience. To help with this, here are some readability tips for your writing.

    1. Write for Your Audience

    Keep search engine algorithms in mind, but always write for your audience.

    Previously you might have written only for the algorithms and not so much for your readers. This has to change if you want to succeed today.

    Converse with your customers and potential customers, focusing on them and their needs.

    2. Develop a Defined and Logical Structure

    The structure of your content is also important.

    Start by defining what it is you want your audience to know, then logically order the related topics or information. Make it clear and easy to follow.

    3. Create Clear Titles

    Include clear titles that clue the reader in to what they can expect to learn from the content.

    Avoid the clickbait title approach of the past. You still want to grab people’s attention, so creating an interest in your title is warranted.

    Just keep the title more straightforward. You may want to try creating a few different ones for A/B testing as you learn what will work best.

    4. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

    For readable content, avoid keyword stuffing, which can turn readers off, forcing them to go elsewhere.

    With the advancements in search engine algorithms, Google now recognizes this excessive use of keywords and will often throw a penalty your way.

    5. Write Clearly

    Write as clearly as possible to provide the information your audience needs.

    Limit or avoid the use of difficult words and complicated sentences. Include shorter sentences when possible, alternating with longer ways to avoid monotonous passages

    Avoid too many one-sentence paragraphs. These can become distracting to the reader and interrupt the flow of reading. 

    Don’t make them too long, either. Limit paragraphs to 3-5 sentences max.

    Whenever possible, also avoid using the passive voice. Stick with natural language and write in a conversational manner.

    To know how to converse with your viewers, consider creating buyer personas to identify your ideal audience.

    6. Pay Close Attention to Formatting

    With information overload on the rise, consumers today want content they can scan.

    For this, you’ll want to pay close attention to content formatting, but without going to the extreme.

    Use subheadings to break up text and compartmentalize information. Use occasional bolding or italicizing to attract the reader’s attention to important points or concepts.

    Utilize bullet points and numbered lists when applicable, making bulky information more readable and scannable.

    The use of visuals can also break up the text.

    7. Create a Valuable Link Building Strategy

    An internal and external linking strategy can help you not only achieve trust and authority; it can also help in your rankings.

    Evaluate the best, most relevant links to include, and keep them at a respectable number. Spread them out within your content.

    8. Read Content Out Loud

    As mentioned earlier, voice search is on the rise, and clear content will be valuable in this arena.

    Once you compose content, read it out loud to ensure it is clear and will be recognizable by search engines.

    5 Best Readability Tools

    Now that you know how to incorporate readability into your content, it’s time to test it out with one of the available readability tools.

    1. Yoast SEO (popular plug-in for WordPress)

    The Yoast SEO readability analysis tool checks various elements of your content and provides you with a content readability score in a report.

    This report provides details on how you use active vs. passive voice, sentence structure, paragraph and sentence length, transition words, and subheading distribution. 

    It also gives you a Flesch Reading Ease score between 0 and 100.

    2. SEMrush (SEO Writing Assistant)

    For a tool that allows you to determine the desired readability level of your particular content, try SEMrush.

    Within this tool, you can make customizations such as the preferred tone of voice of your content, which can range from casual to the more formal.

    SEMrush also provides a list of recommended keywords or phrases that exist in the top-ranking content for you to consider adding.

    3. Readable

    Readable is a web app that will analyze content and provide you with both a Flesch Reading Ease score and a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade level.

    The tool will also look at your text and identify characteristics that can affect readability.

    4. Grammarly

    Grammarly can help you compose better content but doesn’t deliver a readability score.

    This tool is useful, however, as it identifies many mistakes that affect readability and offers suggestions on how to correct them. These include grammar, spelling, word choice, and style. 

    Choose the free version, or consider paying for the Premium subscription.

    5. Hemingway App

    Hemingway is a tool similar to Grammarly, but with the ability to provide a reading level for content. It also highlights issues within the text which can affect its readability.

    Use the free web app, or download it directly to your computer for a fee.

    Wrap Up

    Keeping content clear and readable leads to a better overall customer experience, resulting in longer website dwell time and less bounce.

    As a result, this readability can positively affect your SEO, and you can rank higher on search engine results pages.

    It takes time to compose readable content, and today there are valuable tips and tools available to help. Use these, and both your content plan and your SEO strategies will benefit.

    Also, stay alert of rising SEO trends like those found in our blog post!


    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Barbara von der Osten Rock author vector
    Barbara is one of our WriterAccess talents. Find good writers like her on www.writeraccess.com/trial

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