Why Readability of Content Really Matters and How it Impacts SEO

Why Readability of Content Really Matters and How it Impacts SEO

Maqsood Rahman
Why Readability of Content Really Matters and How it Impacts SEO

Need Help With Your SEO?

As a content creator, you know how to craft an article and include important aspects such as best-fitted keywords and data-driven insights. However,  before submitting the article you need to check its readability, something many content teams overlook.

If you want your written article to rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs), you should take your article’s readability seriously. 

Two common questions regarding readability:

  • How does readability affect my search engine optimization (SEO) score?
  • Do search engines have special features to check the content readability? 

So the quick answers are, yes, readability does affect your SEO and, no, search engines don’t have special features to check readability. Readability is considered an indirect ranking factor but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. This article discusses what readability is, how it affects SEO and why it matters.

What Does Readability Mean?

Readability refers to how easy the content is to read and understand. Excellent readability means your content is easier and clearer to understand for the larger audience segment. Focusing on your content’s readability helps to target visitors who enjoy online reading. What’s more, by producing content that is easy to consume the reader is immediately engaged and they will spend more time on your page.

Why Does Readability Matter?

Here are a few reasons why readability should be prioritized when creating new content and in your content marketing strategy:

Your Content Effectiveness Depends On It:

Content that is difficult to read and full of wordy sentences is not ideal for search engines. When visitors struggle to understand your content, they ignore it and try to seek out content they can quickly get a grasp on. Thereby, readability helps to improve the effectiveness of your content. 

Understand Readers’ Reading Age:

When writing new and unique content make sure you have a predetermined idea of who your audience is and the reading age you’re trying to match. Interestingly, the average reading age is lower than your expectation. Both Grammarly and the Hemingway App give you an idea of the reading age of your content – both of these editors are well worth using to ensure your content is high quality, unique and consumable. Overly complicated language will distract and often, disengage your user no matter what their reading age was.

If your content maintains a readability score of grade eight or lower you can rest assured at least 85 percent of the public can read it.  That number will increase if the content readability is improved to grade five.  Most experts encourage online writers to produce content with a readability level of age nine. By not addressing the readability of your content you could be considered to be discriminating against your readers and their ability to learn. 

Improve Website Accessibility:

Most of the search engine algorithms track the behavior of website visitors and engaging content is a website element that keeps visitors on your site for longer. This sends positive signals to the search engine, indicating your website is considered a high-quality site with good information.  Copy that is highly technical, convoluted, or verbose makes your website non-accessible for visitors. 

When considering your content’s readability be sure to look out for lengthy sentences and chop them up for easier reading. Also, try to use active voice rather than passive voice.

Understand Your Online Reader

Any avid reader will tell you their way of absorbing information and working through text differs between reading online and offline. Studies show, many of your website visitors just scan the web page and only read around 18 percent of the text. This is mostly because online readers are searching for specific information. So if the sentences are too long and too wordy, your visitor will become impatient and likely to bounce from your website to move to the next site. 

Key Takeaways to Producing Easy-To-Read Content:

  • Less use of complex materials
  • Simple language
  • Straightforward information
  • Reduced jargon or slang phrases 

How Does Readability Affect SEO?

Improving the readability of your content will improve your SEO. Readability ensures your website benefits from the following:

  • Increased dwell time 
  • Reduced exit rate
  • Reduced bounce rate
  • Increased shares
  • Increased conversion rate

When you improve your content readability, you improve your user’s behavior on your website. Online readers don’t have the patience to work through long and complex content. They read to get the information and they want it in the fastest and simplest way possible. 

If your content’s first few sentences are hard to read or make use of complicated language, nobody will read it. Make sure the information you want to share is accessible, simple and concise.

Improved dwell time and a reduced bounce rate mean Google will rate your website as valuable and useful and include it in the SERPs for key terms associated with your content. This results in a better ranking of your website and is a great boost for your overall SEO strategy.

Readability Improves User Experience (UX):

 Your website copy should be created with your audiences’ preferences in mind. In your content, they must be able to find the information they need, uncomplicated solutions and the answers to the questions they searched. Your content must be optimized with keywords, contextual content and directed for user intent for it to work in alignment with your SEO practice. If you are meeting all of these requirements with your content you’ll find your users will have a seamless experience with your site.

Help Your Content Rise to the Top of Page One on the SERPs:

Google can quickly recognize quality content. In fact, the latest algorithm updates allow the search engine to identify synonyms and predict what the audience wants to read. From the search query, the search engine can make an educated guess about the search intent and then deliver content related to that query. When your content matches that search intent Google will favor your content and it will rank higher on the SERPs.

Increase Voice Searchability:

Voice search is growing in popularity and Google, as well as other search engines, present results constructed in a voice-like-manner. If your content contains long sentence, hefty paragraphs and difficult words, imagine how it sounds in voice search. Plain language content has a better chance of being read out loud by Google for voice search purposes. 

Simple Tips to Make Your Content Easy to Read

  • Remember less is more. Keep your content concise and interesting and include the most important information.
  • Keep the sentences shorter. Studies show that the average sentence length is 14 words and longer sentences disengage the reader.
  • Formatting is important. An article that looks text-heavy is off-putting to most users. Don’t be afraid to start a new paragraph. It’s always better to have more paragraphs as it makes it easier for your reader to scan the piece to find relevancy and answers.
  • Write a great heading and include subheads. Categorized content allows the reader to choose the specific content they want to read and it improves the overall reading experience while boosting SEO rankings.
  • Font size and style is important to improve readability. Small and complex font themes make your content difficult to read. Ideal font type for readability is Arial or Verdana. Keep the font size at 12 points if you use Arial and for Verdana keep it 10 points.
  • Avoid using passive voice. It makes your content distant and less clear and can make your content excessively long which is not ideal for readability.
  • Use bullet points or ordered lists to highlight key takeaways in your article. This shortens your sentences, helps direct the focus of your piece and offers quick clarity to the reader. Most people remember highlighted words more than the rest of the text they’ve read.
  • Images play an important part in improving readability. Including meaningful and quality images in your article helps to keep your readers engaged. It breaks the monotony of the text and helps to optimize your content for on-page SEO.
  • Use different readability tools to check your readability score. Incorporating such tools will improve your writing skills and help you create unique content. Some of the most used and favorite tools of online writers are:

⇨ Readable.com
⇨ Grammarly
⇨ Yoast SEO
⇨ SEMrush SEO writing assistant
⇨ WebFX Readability Tool
⇨ Readability Analyzer

It’s not an easy job to optimize your content for readability but it’s worthwhile as it has a huge impact on your SEO rankings. Make sure you fully understand the readability concept to improve your scores as well as your rankings on SERPs.

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