Content readability is a term you might hear used when reading up about how to enhance your content.

In our latest blog, we look at the role readability levels play in content writing. 

We also examine how you can boost your content’s readability in a practical way, helping you to get your writing readable, engaging and successful.

1 - Get your head around readability

Readability is essentially the ease with which information is delivered through text.

That’s what we’re talking about in simple terms. But there are two main factors that will directly the effectiveness of this.

The first is the complexity of your text. If you’re writing about lemons, using words like acetous or cloying are only likely to confuse, and are examples of poor readability. People don’t want to have a dictionary at hand when reading your blog.

The second is the audience that are reading your content. 

Who are you writing for? Who are you looking to appeal to? Understanding their age, gender, interests and topic understanding can enable you to find the right style of writing for your audience.

This is readability in essence. If it’s not something you’ve considered previously, it’s advisable to start doing so immediately. 

2 - Know your audience

group of people in a street setting

Of the two points outlined above, understanding your audience is probably the biggest factor when it comes to whether your content truly lands or not. 

The ability to craft content that is interesting, informative and encourages direct action on the part of the reader can help you stand out from your competitors. 

This is where audience analysis pays dividends. 

You might have a vague idea of what type of people read your content. But is that actually accurate? Has it changed over time? And is your content actually appealing to this main group enough?

Of course, no two customers are exactly the same. So you need your content readability to cover as many bases as you can. And the best way to do this is to:

3 - Simplify!

Generally speaking, readability will improve if you keep things simple. Factors such as sentence length and word choice will impact your overall readability score. 

Long sentences won’t do you any favours. Neither will confusing grammar and weird content layouts. 

Using long words is a no-no as well. You’re trying to provide readers with relevant information - not give them a tongue twister. 

And also try to reduce the number of words in a sentence you generally use - particularly if they have 3 or more syllables where possible.

person with hands together reading blog on laptop computer

4 - Understand what you’re writing

person scrolling through content with black and white filter

There are various types of content that businesses will produce. These include social posts, blog posts and articles, and even the occasional white paper. 

The way you approach writing each type of content will naturally vary. But you can also change the way you approach readability for each as well.

For example, the reader of a white paper is likely to have a greater understanding of the field you’re discussing. They are likely to be seeking information and insight, and therefore the complexity of your writing can be that bit higher. You can afford to be more technical, as simplifying isn’t necessary given the knowledge of the average reader.

But it’s a very different situation when writing a social post or blog. People will want more approachable content that is easy to read here. This is a format where staying as readable as possible will bring the biggest success.

5 - Get scientific

If you want to ensure that your readability is the best it can be, there are options out there that can give you a more scientific answer.

For example, the Gunning Fog Index is a readability test that uses a formula to give a readability score. This score aligns with a reading age or qualification estimate of a hypothetical reader. So content with a score of 12 is perfect for the reading level of an 18 year old student, while a score of 17 is ideal for a university graduate.

There are other tools out there that use readability formulas and are worth taking a look at. These include the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Automated Readability Index, and the SMOG Index. And many marketing tools today also have readability technology embedded within them.

The SEO Factor

All in all, if readability isn’t currently a consideration within your content marketing approach, it should be.

But all this isn’t solely from a user perspective. There’s also an SEO angle.

While search engines don’t use the readability of web pages as a direct ranking score, there are indirect elements at play.

For example, search engines will rank based on user behaviour. Readable, engaging content is likely to increase time spent on page, social sharing, conversion rates and session numbers.

So by enhancing your readability, behaviour-based ranking is likely to move in the right direction. 

There are different levels of focus you can place on readability. You can simply try to make your content more readable. Or you can use tests and indexes to really analyse what you’re producing.

The choice is yours. But whatever you do, don’t ignore the impact of readability any longer.

Contact the Williams Commerce marketing team if you want to take your SEO and content to new levels.