Tips and Tools for Improving Your Content Readability Score

 readability

Effective content is accessible content. Consequently, digital marketing managers should think about readability. Readability ensures that your written words are impacting people in the right ways. In addition, it helps you target the appropriate audience.

What is Readability?

Readability is the ability to read a text. Good readability, therefore, is accessible and easy to understand. Poor readability means the text is hard to comprehend. A text loses value if it is inaccessible to its intended audience.

Readability matters in every profession. It affects every setting where people read words. From teaching to legal documents, therefore, effective communication is key.

For digital marketing, readable content is especially relevant. While content is most effective when readable, readability is subjective. It can be challenging, therefore, to know if your content is easy to understand. This is where readability formulas and tests are useful tools.

Readability formulas turn readability into a math equation. This removes subjectivity so you can measure your texts accurately. It comes down to factors like the length of words, and words in a sentence. The formulas test how easy it is to scan and understand a text.

A readability analyzer is not 100 percent accurate. Still, it is faster than having someone test read your work. Busy marketers benefit from these tools because they help cut unnecessary words.

The Benefits of Good Readability

Readability matters everywhere. In marketing, it is particularly important for SEO, usability, and conversions. These are all key to turning readers into customers.

According to The Nielsen Norman Group, users only read about 20 percent of the text on an average page. That does not leave a lot of opportunity to make an impression!

As a marketer you want your words to have an impact. That can only happen if people understand what you are writing. A complex or long text, therefore, will lose readers fast.

Better rankings

Let’s say that a visitor immediately moves on from your site very quickly. Your analytics will show negative scores. You’re also likely to notice less time being spent on your site. Look out for higher exit rates and bounce rates, too. All these problems affect how sites rank in search engine results pages.

Google and other major search engines pay attention to how fast people give up on your site. Visitors can leave for many reasons. These include bad design, boring content, a buggy backend, and poor readability. Making your content accessible will help keep people interested.

Readable websites tend to rank higher in search engine results. Users come back to sites that feel accessible. When you make your content readable, therefore, more people are likely to find and use it.

More traffic

Also, when people search for content, they use words they know. If your text is full of complicated phrases or jargon, it will not appear in search results. Remember that real people are searching for you. Use the language they use.

Improved engagement

Your site should be usable by its target audience. Do not be tempted to write content to a readability level that could exclude your ideal viewers. A better readability score equals a higher rate of usability. Improved usability increases page views, engagement, and conversions.

More conversions

Keep your conversion goals in mind when creating content. Don’t forget micro-conversions, like clicking a link or watching a video. Creating more readable content is a good way to boost conversions.

What matters is that web visitors have to stick around to convert. Readable content keeps them coming and helps them stay. High-quality, readable content leads to conversions and more chance of business success.

Common Readability Factors

First impressions count a lot in content marketing. The content should look accessible on the page. The “speed of perception” is one factor to consider.

Avoid small text, big words, and lengthy, block paragraphs. All of this helps make your content imperceptible.

In terms of design, limit how much the reader must move/use his or her eyes. Poor use of the page and overly long text can cause fatigue and make your site less successful.

List of common readability factors:

  • Speed of perception
  • Perceptibility at a distance
  • Perceptibility in peripheral vision
  • Visibility
  • Reflex blink technique
  • Rate of work (reading speed)
  • Eye movements
  • Fatigue in reading

How Readability Formulas Work

One of the most popular readability formulas is the Flesch Reading Ease score. This analyzer works by checking word length and sentence length. Higher scores are more readable. Lower scores are more difficult to read.

 Flesch reading ease formula

The numbers also relate to school levels. Scores of 100.00 - 90.00 are at a fifth-grade school level. Scores of 30.0 – 0.0 indicate the reading level of a college graduate.

Note that the Flesch score is different from the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level looks at total words, sentences, and syllables per word. Note that sentence length is more important than word length.

Gunning Fog is a readability test that also estimates the education level needed to read a text. It looks at sentence length and complexity of words. Something with a fog index less than 12 is ideal for a wide audience. A score of less than eight is best for near universal understanding.

The Coleman-Liau Index looks at character count per word. Character count may be more accurate than syllables for automated computer programs.

The SMOG Index is popular in healthcare readability testing. Built on the Gunning fog index, it mostly looks at syllables in sentences.

The Automated Readability Index tests characters per word along with words in sentences.

The Linsear Write Formula scores grade level based on sentence length. It looks at words with three syllables or more.
 

Readability Tips You Can Put into Practice Now

The common element of these tools is a focus on short sentences and simple words.

Shorten your sentences

Let’s say your readability analyzer says your work is too complicated. You can make significant improvements by shortening the longest sentences. If you have a long sentence, try to create two. A helpful rule is: “One idea, one sentence.”

Shorten your words

With a little thought, you will normally be able to exchange a long word for a short word or words.

Words like ‘proximity’ become ‘near.’ ‘Furthermore’ may become ‘also.’

Use fewer syllables

Use one- and two-syllable words when you can. Avoid using longer words unless they are widely used and familiar.

Keep your paragraphs short

Trying to force too many words and too much information into one place will backfire. Stop and take a breath with a well-placed line break.

You can also use subheaders and images to split up the text.

Avoid stiffness

Jargon and a formal tone can make reading exhausting. To keep your content loose and natural-sounding, write as if you were speaking. Make your text more conversational than formal. If you wouldn’t say it out loud, don’t write it!

Speak the language of your readers

You should know your audience well. Your audience might understand specialized language if you are focused on B2B. Writing for a general audience, however, should look different. You need to keep your word choice easy to understand. Stay away from techno-babble.

Anyone who wants to read your content should be able to do so. Know your target audience, therefore, and write for them.

Good text design

The design of your text can improve readability, too. Readability checkers may not pick up on this.

The font makes a massive difference. Choose a headline font that contrasts with the body font. Make sure your fonts are large enough to read.

Remember the terrible design choices of the early internet days? If so, you know that color is so important! Contrast the color of the font with the background color! And avoid gimmicks like scrolling text and animated gifs.

Digital marketers might worry about readability. You do not need to tear your writing apart to be readable though. The quality of your writing doesn’t need to suffer to become more readable.

When you start with strong ideas, strong writing should follow. Make the most of the power of words by not making them too complicated. Focus on your concept. Remember:

  • One idea for each sentence.
  • One idea for each paragraph.
  • And, one main idea for each content item.

With a focus on one idea at a time, you will simplify your writing without giving up quality.

The Best Readability Tools

One of the best things you can do for readability is to use an analyzer. Check your readability score before publishing any text. This is an easy step to take and makes a big impact.

Readability tools use different formulas, as examined earlier. Here are a few options that we think might work best for you.

Readable

 readable.io

Visit readable.io for a full range of tests. This site checks:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Index
  • Coleman-Liau Index
  • SMOG Index, and
  • the Automated Readability Index.

Readable also gives you text analytics and statistics. It shows letter, word, and syllable counts. You can also see adjective, noun, and adverb use. Keyword density helps with SEO, and you can even check the sentiment of the writing.

Hemingway Editor

 hemingway editor

Hemingway Editor uses the Automated Readability Index. It is a visual editor that highlights sentences you can split or shorten. The app singles out very complex sentences. It also picks up long words, offering alternatives. And you can use the app to find passive voice and excessive adverbs.

Readability Formulas Test

This page with readability formulas offers an automated checker. It uses:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Index
  • Coleman-Liau Index
  • SMOG Index
  • Automated Readability Index, and
  • the Linsear Write Formula.

The Readability Test Tool

 Readability Test Results for webpagefx com tools read able

The Readability Test Tool uses:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Index
  • Coleman-Liau Index
  • SMOG Index, and
  • the Automated Readability Index.

You can test by URL, or paste/write text directly.

Finally, this tool lets you add a link to your web pages. Visitors can click the link to see readability scores.

You’ll also find readability score tools in programs like Microsoft Word.

In Conclusion, Readability Matters!

Is there a default level of readability you should target?

 reading-grade

Boomerang found emails written at a third-grade reading level are optimal. Newspapers regularly aim for an eighth-grade reading level.

Almost half the US population has low literacy levels. So says The US Department of Education's National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Consequently, writing to a level people can understand makes good sense. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that people will read your content.

Hence, the more readable your content, the better. The evidence suggests that readability matters. A lot. Due to technical advances, you can easily make your content more readable.

Instead of having to pore over text, plug it into an analyzer. In this age of technology, improving readability scores is simpler than ever. With tools that show you exactly what to change, you can boost readability in a few minutes.

Digital marketers can use free readability tools. Alternatively, they can dig deeper with premium options. Once you get started writing readable text, you will find it easier to get into the groove. Simple and effective writing becomes second nature. Visitor engagement with your messages will take off accordingly.

Readable text is compelling. Your viewers will click it, read it, share it, and come back for more. Finally, your search engine ranking will climb as a result. That means more clicks, more viewers, and more shares.

A strong web presence is based on quality, accessible content. It won’t be long before your web content is doing exactly what you want it to do. Use your content to bring in customers. Boost conversions, thanks to great, readable writing.