Readability is a ranking term for how easy your content is to read and understand. It can have a big impact on your SEO score, and can be a make or break factor for how likely users are to engage with and benefit from your content.
When content is easy to read and clear to your target audience, it makes both readers and search engines happy.
In this article, we’ll breakdown readability, explain why you should care about it, and provide some tips for improving your content’s readability score.
What is Readability?
Readability is the practice of making your written content easy to understand, consume, and digest for your customers or target audience.
In terms of SEO, readability is essentially how difficult or easy your content makes it for users to get the answers they are looking for. Google will give your pages a readability score. It is one of several factors that Google takes into consideration when assigning content an SEO score.
Why Does Readability Matter?
Readability is important for numerous reasons. On top of making your content easier to understand and digest, here are the best reasons to focus on readability:
The first and most obvious reason to aim for a good readability score is to make your website’s user experience as smooth as possible. Long, bulky text can lead readers to exit the page and look for a more readable resource.
By breaking you content down and making it more readable, you improve your site’s user experience. The better the user experience on your site, the more likely users are to stay for longer, which improves your overall SEO score.
It’s Good for SEO
Search engines like Google now have the ability to mimic human behavior, and they are only getting better at it.
What does that mean for readability? Well, since Google is trying to mimic a human, it attempts to read your text as a human being would.
While you used to be able to get away with stuffing as many keywords as you can in your copy to give yourself an SEO boost, Google actually now penalizes that type of behavior.
It is important to choose and use valuable keywords, but doing so at the cost of making your text less readable will come back to hurt you in your SEO ranking.
Readability Impacts Voice Search
If your content has a bad readability score, it could really hurt you among readers that are searching by voice, which is a demographic that’s constantly growing.
In fact, Google reports that 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile.
Why does that matter? Well, if you have wordy answers or try to cram too much information into one paragraph, users searching by voice could end up listening to relatively long answers.
Unless your text is broken up into sections or written in a way that’s extremely easy to understand, it can make for a complicated and hard to digest verbal answer.
When looking for answers, voice searchers want something that is short and to the point. If a voice search results in an overly-long answer, there’s a good chance that users will go somewhere else for their information.
Tips to Improve Your Readability Score
Below are our best tips on how to make your content more readable for readers and search engines both:
Less is more: A good rule of thumb for your content is to make it concise and engaging. Your articles should put the most important information at the very beginning and avoid fluff or unnecessary words.
Keep paragraphs short: Content that is broken up into smaller, easier to read paragraphs make it easier for the reader to consume and digest the information. Long paragraphs can make readers feel overwhelmed, and short graphs encourage users to read further by breaking up the content and making it seem like there is less to read.
Use accurate descriptions: Descriptions, headings and subheads all help increase your readability score. They help search engines and your audience alike by putting the information into categories and telling readers if the content they are engaging with contains the information they are looking for. Using header tags (<h1 – h3>) and filling them with keywords improves your readability score and helps your SEO rankings.
Choose fonts wisely: Font choice can play a big part in how readable your text is. Small fonts can make it hard for users to read your text, which will increase your bounce rate. Whatever font you choose, make sure it is one that your audience can easily read. Keep your text appearance simple and make sure text is aligned so that readers can skim it more quickly.
Read it out loud: As a good best practice for your content, read it out loud before you finalize it. Our brains are able to move quicker than our mouths, which allows the brain to complete incorrect sentences or sentences with missing words. When you read your content out loud, you force your brain to slow down which makes it easier for you to catch mistakes. It is not a must, but reading your content out loud as a final test is a great way to prevent having to go back and fix errors later.
Marketing to your audience is a vital part of business, and readability is an essential part of making sure your content is clear to your target audience and favored by search engines.
Making sure your content is clear and readable is a great way to ensure your readers learn about your services or products, and find what they need when they are looking for it.
For more tips on how to make your content stand out, check out our 13 best content writing tips.