Readability is defined as the quality of being easy or enjoyable to read. G Harry McLaughlin, the creator of SMOG Readability Formula, defines it as “the degree to which a given class of people find certain reading matter compelling and comprehensible.”
Content marketers can use readability as part of their strategy to drive more website traffic. If you’re a blogger currently dealing with a high bounce rate on your website, you might want to check how your copies perform in the readability test.
The Impact of Readability on SEO
Improved readability can help your website rank higher in organic search results. It reduces your bounce rate or the percentage of visitors who enter and leave rather than continue to view other pages within the site.
What is a good readability score? The higher your article scores, the better it reads. They say you should aim for at least 60. But to help you understand how it works for different age groups, here’s the readability level for every Flesch Ease score:
- 0-30 - very difficult (college graduate)
- 30-40 - difficult (13th to 16th grader)
- 50-60 - fairly difficult (10th to 12th grader)
- 60-70 - standard (8th or 9th grader)
- 70-80 - fairly easy (7th grader)
- 80-90 - easy (6th grader)
- 90-100 - very easy (5th grader)
It's useful to know how to improve readability score when you’re writing for specific audiences, like the Malaysian audience. Here’s a simple guide in enhancing your articles’ readability to ensure your content will be effective for your readers.
1. Format your blog posts
Have you ever come across a good article but stopped reading it halfway because the fonts are hard to read? To make your articles more readable, use minimalist fonts such as Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica.
What makes a good font? Lindsay Kramer of 99designs suggests using fonts with proper spacing between the characters.
If there’s too little space, the fonts will be difficult to read because the letters appear too compressed. Likewise, fonts with too much space in between characters can confuse readers because they are not sure whether space is meant to separate a letter or a word.
Moreover, it’s important to keep an eye on the appearance of your website as a whole. Responsive web design is ideal for websites because it lets visitors access your site from a variety of devices. That said, you might want to consider the type of devices Malaysians use to access the web.
According to AdSpruce Mobile Video Advertising, the use of desktop computers in Malaysia is steadily decreasing. Web page views on mobile devices equate to 52%, with 48% coming from handphones and 4% from tablets.
Aside from selecting the right fonts for your blog and using the right web page approach, it also matters to use headings, bullet points, and visuals to make your copy skimmable.
2. Shorten your sentences
Long sentences are common in novels, especially in old books, because they add rhythm and poetic power to writing. However, writing long sentences may not work in copywriting because you're not aiming to convey tension and lively descriptions.
Why shorten your sentences if you can explain yourself better by writing a long sentence? Because it gives your readers the impression that you have done some thinking about how to present the information. It helps to present your ideas more clearly.
Shorter sentences might mean more work for you as the writer but remember that they are easier to digest for your readers.
3. Assess your writing with readability score tools
Take advantage of free readability score test tools like Sitechecker.pro, PrepostSEO, and Copywritely. Simply paste your text on these websites, and you will get suggestions on how to improve your writing.
Grammar checking tools also offer this kind of feature. In the Hemingway app, for example, your text will be assessed not just by the number of words, characters, sentences, and paragraphs. It also calculates the text based on the use of active or passive voice and adverbs.
Readability test websites use different formulas in checking texts. The most popular among readability test tools is the Flesch Reading Ease, a formula invented in 1948 to help educators choose levels that are adequate for students’ academic level. It’s calculated based on the syllables per 100 words and the average sentence length.
According to the Flesch Reading Ease table, sentences as short as 8 words are considered very easy to read while sentences with 29 words are very difficult to read.
There's also the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which, like the Flesch Reading Ease, calculates text based on sentence length and word length. However, it weighs them on different factors.
Gunning Fog Index Score is another readability system that also calculates texts based on syllables and sentences. However, lower scores are better. The ideal score for the Gunning Fog Index is 7 or 8. A score of 20 means it’s difficult to read.
4. Limit the use of difficult words
Joseph Kimble, chair of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Research & Writing Department, once said, “Plain language does not mean baby talk or dumbing down the language. It means clear and effective communication.”
In copywriting, it’s important to limit the use of jargon or technical terms, especially if you want to reach a wider audience. After all, the main purpose of creating copies is to deliver an on-point message to your readers. Using a conversational tone in your article makes it more reader-friendly.
5. Break up your copy
Google prefers long-form content, and it works in content marketing because in-depth articles provide more value to your audience. But if you’re going to think of the drawbacks, long-form content might feel intimidating, especially for readers who don’t read but only skim.
It’s the same feeling as being served a buffet of food in front of you. It can make you feel exhausted just by looking at it. So how do you make it more digestible? Break up your texts into short paragraphs. The ideal length of paragraphs is around 2-3 sentences.
If you follow the tips above, you can successfully create a readable article. Just remember, the purpose of improving your readability is to make your copy worth your audience's time and attention.
If you want to learn more about readability and its impact on SEO, and other marketing strategies, keep an eye on our blog for more updates.