Readability: How to Make Your Content Understandable

May 08, 2019

Web Accessibility SEO

When writing content, it is critical to write in a way that your readers can access and understand easily. Oxford Dictionaries defines readability as “the quality of being legible or decipherable.”

Hard to read content can turn away and frustrate potential or current customers. Google can tell when users don’t like your content due to bounce rates and other measures. If you work on improving your readability, you will also see improvements in your SEO, web usability, and conversion rates.

“Without readable content, your content marketing, your website, and your overall approach to online content are doomed to failure.” - Neil Patel, Content Marketing Institute

Readability Scoring

A readability score is given to your content depending on how sophisticated the content is on your website. The most common purpose of checking readability levels is to find pages that need to be simplified for a more general audience, a younger audience, or people with English as a second language. The language, terminology, word length, sentence length, syllables, and grammar can all contribute to a website’s readability level.

The most common standards for testing readability levels is the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability test. It determines readability levels (Grade 6-12, College, or College Graduate English etc.) based on average sentence length and the average syllables. Many readability tools and Web Governance tools will often analyze the content and judge the readability level based on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability test.

3 Recommendations for Improving Readability

  1. Reduce your sentence length. Think about using periods instead of commas where possible. Periods work wonders!

  2. Cater your language to your audience. For example, for more general audiences, saying “think about” is more readable than “contemplate.”

  3. Break up large chunks of content. Use subheadings, numbered lists, and bullet points.

There are some free readability tools, such as Readability-Score.com or Read-Able, where you can find out your readability score for a single piece of text. Although, this will only tell you your score number, not what grade level that number represents.

When it comes to easily viewing the readability level of your whole website or specific parts of it, what percentage of pages each grade level has, or what readability level each page has, Web Governance tools are the way to go.

If you work on writing more readable content, you will see increased engagement and conversions. Readable content benefits all!

Interested in testing your website for readability? Check out our Quality Assurance tool. We provide you with an overview of your site’s readability score so your organization knows the how easily your content is understood.

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