How to Ace Your Content’s Readability Factor - A Short Primer
If readers can’t be bothered to read your content, what’s the point of publishing it?
Readability of content is a huge factor in optimising your page and bumping it up at the top of the SERPs. But it’s the readers, not the crawlers, who give their vote of confidence to your content, by way of increased traffic and engagement.
Is your content readable and valuable? How do you assess and measure your web content’s readability? SEO Premier Blog gives you the whole nine yards to acing your content’s readability factor in this short primer.
Readability - The Key to Unlocking the Value of your Content
Simply put, content readability means how clear and easy to understand your published content is according to your target readers. If your content is harder to skim and comprehend, your readers will less likely to get value out of it. And if you’re an SEO specialist, unreadable content can hurt or, at the very least, stagnate your page’s ranking in the SERPs.
Let’s ram it home again: Readable content effectively conveys information to the reader, whether it’s a discovery of new information or a solution to a problem.
Is your Web Content Readable?
There’s no standard way of knowing whether your content is readable or not. It is both science and art, but there are diagnostic tools available by which you can run your content and see where it can improve in the area of readability.
Subjectively, a readable content must take into account factors like:
- the vocabulary and jargon you use
- Sentence structure
- The ratio between familiar and unfamiliar words
- Paragraph length
If you’re wearing the hat of an editor, there are tests and tools that assess your content’s readability using the above criteria. In Microsoft Word, it uses the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which is arguably the most popular formula for diagnosing how readable a piece of content is. It checks the ratio of words to sentences and syllables and determines what U.S. grade level your content is best suitable to. If you get a score of 6 in the Flesch-Kincaid test, this means that people who read at a 6th-grade level will be comfortable to understand the meaning of the selection. This is also a good score to aim for when you write content online. Any score that is higher than 6 may be a bit laborious for the general type of readers or web visitors.
Other online tools that can provide you with a readability assessment are Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, Outright, and Datayze Readability Analyzer.
Better Readability in a Few Steps
Making your content readable gives readers the impression that the writer put careful thought into it. In short, unreadable content is lazy writing. SEO Premier Blog gives you four easily actionable steps you can do to make your content readable:
- The simpler the word choice, the better.
“Omit needless words,” said William Strunk in his book, The Elements of Style, and one will do well to remember that in doing any piece of writing. The simpler the vocabulary, the more readable it is. If you can’t help using industry jargon, give its definition or provide ample context clues about its meaning.
Let your creativity run free by mixing up your word choice. After all, a good vocabulary can make your sentences engaging and not sound boring. But always mind the ratio: the simpler the words, the better.
- The shorter the sentences, the better.
Shorter sentences are always easier to read and therefore, easier to understand. When a writer belabours the readers by writing long run-on sentences, interspersed with punctuations, it’s easier for them to engage less with it. When your sentences are stuffed with a ton of ideas, your readers will have difficulty comprehending all of them at once.
- The shorter the paragraphs, the better.
The general principle is that a paragraph must contain only one main idea, and the sentences within it should support that main idea. Remember that it’s harder for eyes to look at the screen, and having long paragraphs makes reading a lot more difficult. It’s ideal to have 3-4 sentences in one paragraph. As soon as you move into a different idea or topic, it’s a sign you need to jump to another paragraph.
- Chunk your text well.
This piece of advice harks back to the previous bullets. When you shorten and break up long sentences and paragraphs, the readers will find it easier to skim it. Another way to chunk your text is by introducing lists, adding photos or quotes in between texts, applying tables or graphs, and many others.
Don’t always be tempted to write long bulks of text when writing for online readers.