7

Readability Level and SEO: A Powerful Correlation

Readability

Readability is the measure of how easy a piece of text is for reading and perceiving.

This is the most ignored thing. Some bloggers don’t know the powerful relation between readability and SEO.

The point is here! You may have high-quality content. Nevertheless, what about audience retention? Can you expect 100% of your readers to read a blog post that’s written in post-graduate students’ level? Nope. Right?

By writing in advanced level, your content will be grouped under “advanced readability section” of search engines.
In order to reach a big number of audience you have to be grouped under basic or medium readability level. You should opt for real simple writing style. This counts more in niche blogs.

How can I check whether my post is readable or not? The answer is to make use of Flesch-Kincaid Readability level.

What the heck is Flesch-Kincaid Readability?

There is a dozen of readability measures, Flesch-Kincaid Readability level is the most accurate one. It takes all the factors that affect readability while calculating.

You can easily check readability levels of your blog posts using this tool.

Readability tool

It calculates how easy or difficult a piece of content is to read.

What formula is used?

The formula for Flesch-Kincaid Readability level is,

Credits: Wikipedia

Look at the above formula.

For getting better readability scores, below are the rules.

  • Count of words per sentence should be low. Shorter sentences work better.
  • Count of syllables in your post should be low.

The above are the two powerful tips, you should follow to get high readability scores.

Syllable is a unit of pronunciation.

  • Word blog – ger has two syllables.
  • The word re – a – da – bi – li – ty has 6 of them. You can check for other words here.

Keep the syllables count of single words low. It improves the readability levels greatly. Having fewer syllables per word is important. It is important than having shorter sentences (analyze the formula).

What scores are ideal for SEO?

It’s tough to say. It varies across the niches.

Ok, let me be generic. The possible readability levels range from 0 to 120. Practically the range is 30 to 90.

For most sorts of content, readability levels 70 to 84 are desirable.

Above is rough. Because it all depends on your niche.

Google also knows this. It maintains a table where it lists the ideal readability levels of various niches.

The moment I came across a great post that is ranking high I check its readability level. Almost all the high-ranking posts have great readability levels.

High readability = high rankings

High readability correlates to high-ranking. Correlation does not mean causation.

It is one of the ranking factors. Don’t neglect it.

How to find optimal readability levels for your niche?

As I’ve said earlier, the optimal readability level depends upon your niche.

Below is the trick that helps you find optimal levels for your niche.

It’s a simple trick.

Niche readability

Just replace the above keyword with your niche keyword.

Most of the (57%) posts related to blogging have average readability level. And another (43%) has a  basic reading level. There are no posts that have advanced reading levels.

If your blogging related article has advanced levels, expect a drop in rankings. Because optimal readability level of blogging blogs is 65-70. Never be below 55.

Below are some of the readability levels of various niches. Look at them.

Niche1

No kid stories should have advanced readability levels. Most of them are basic.

Niche2

Now you got it! Niche matters.

Google’s main mission:

To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Basic readability level posts are universally accessible. Aim for basic level.

Usefulness is satisfied by quality content.

Simplicity wins here.

Google gives you some room.

According to Google,

  • 75-100 is basic readability level
  • 50-75 is intermediate-level
  • Anything below 50 is advanced

The above figures are based on my observations and analysis. Yeah!

If your content has a few complex words, expect a low readability level.

How to check your blog’s readability levels?

Readability level of a blog

Make use of “site:” operator.

All of the posts on my blog has normal levels.

I am on the way to edit my existing blog posts for better readability levels. Editing them for better levels would be a tough task once they are live on your blog.

Indirect impact of readability levels on SEO

Posts with high readability level, keep visitors for a longer duration. Because the content is easily readable. Once readers come across a blog post that is easily readable, they rarely bounce off the blog.

So, having high readability level decreases bounce rate and increases audience retention.

The web is already witnessing information overload. So, dumbed down version of the existing content, works a treat.

More and more readers prefer to read scannable, real simple content.

You can keep almost 90% of the visitors and convert them, with this simplicity mantra. Improved user behavior on a site is directly related to SEO. With this, you’ll get a certain SEO boost.

How to write real simple posts?

  • Search for good alternative words for complex ones
  • Cut out long sentences
  • Prefer active over passive voice
  • Use bullets and numbering (Google considers this)
  • Use headings (Google considers this)

Here are some of the must-read great articles on this:

As I’ve said, I’m on the rail to edit my existing posts. It’s for better readability levels and SEO. The whole process drives me insane.

To make the task of editing old posts easier, here is the killer tip.
Make use of Chrome extension called Pearls. It allows you to find multiple words or phrases on the page. It highlights those words.
Search for your common complex sentences and edit them.

Don’t use Pearls extension on your WordPress Post Editor. It may mess up with HTML stuff.

Here are the tools; I use to improve readability for SEO.

Bonus is below:

Download all the words that I search for in my posts to make my editing easier. Searching these words, make my editing process easier. It also includes some of the tips.

Don’t miss.

Share this post and get the raw text file. You will thank me for it.

Ever since I started this editing process, my organic traffic has increased by 125%. After noticing that, I wrote this post.

What are your views? What tricks do you follow to improve readability? Did you know that there is a relationship between SEO and readability? Let me know in comments.

Akshay Hallur
 

I'm a professional blogger with 5 years of blogging internet marketing experience. I'm also a internet marketing trainer and a consultant.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 7 comments
Soumya Roy - January 26, 2015

Useful information and resources shared. It was a really good read and points are noted. You are absolutely right site readability (especially in mobile devices) and usability are going to be strong signals for organic ranking in coming days.

Regards
Soumya Roy

Reply
    Akshay Hallur - January 26, 2015

    Hey, Soumya. I think you didn’t read the post. You read the post title, thought that the topic is about usability and layout readability and left a comment.

    This article is about readability levels in writing and SEO. How easily a piece of content is to read.

    Before leaving comments, please read the entire post, or just scan it.
    Leaving irrelevant comments hurts your reputation.

    Just an advice as a fellow blogger 🙂

    Cheers.

    Reply
Soumya Roy - January 27, 2015

Actually not, Akshay. I fully read the complete article which I used to do always before leaving any comment on any blog (though I am not a blogger). I am a bit clueless how my comment went irrelevant with this post.
I know the differences between readability and usability but what I meant is that readability and usability are the factors through which Google will decide how is the sites user experience, which ultimately helps in ranking and conversion optimization.
Please correct me if I am wrong. I am always ready to learn. 🙂

Reply
    Akshay Hallur - January 28, 2015

    Hey, Soumya, no worries. It happens for the best of us. I think it’s just a glitch in flow of your thoughts.
    And you are right. Both readability and usability are crucial as far as Google is concerned.

    Cheers 🙂

    Reply
Kathula Santhosh - January 28, 2015

Hii, Akshay..
Nice post, really usefull information you shared bro….
Shared on FB.

Reply
Austin O - November 10, 2015

Great article, I use readability in my article writing. Well I don’t typically write but I have my writers use the tool at http://fixtext.com to figure out which sentences have a bad readability score. I’ve had significant success once transitioning all my article writing to have a higher FK score.

Reply
Heather Erickson - April 23, 2017

I struggle with this. I use the Yost plugin (free version). It does a great job of keeping me on track. Sometimes, my readability bombs. I write a blog about cancer and once in a while the posts get a bit scientific. I recently had a bulleted list of the stages of leukemia. Each bullet began with “stage…” That was a big red flag. I sometimes wonder if I should just blow it off when I run into that issue. I’ve spent 2 hours today trying to get this right. Medical writing is often passive. It is a bit of a niche. I often find myself sacrificing good writing for the sake of readability.

Reply

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