How To Improve Readability & Google's Readability Score | Digital Next

Google has an undeniable influence on the success of a website. Many businesses pour resources into carefully curated keyword strategies and a myriad of activity that directly impacts ranking. While all these initiatives are critical, there are areas that do not receive enough attention. We are of course talking about readability scores and how to improve readability on your website. When it comes to improving readability, you not only have to think about Google but also your target audience. If you’re content marketing towards millennials then phrases such as ‘faux par’ is likely to go straight over their heads. Be smart with your content and follow our guidelines before to meet Google’s requirements too!

What is readability and Google’s readability score?

Google has more than 200 ranking factors that impact your visibility, with readability an easy attribute to get some quick wins on the board. Google wants its users to have a good experience when searching for and consuming content, which should be a sentiment you also share. And yet? Sentence lengths ramble on, headers are over-used or scarcely seen, and many more content crimes committed. With the rise of long-tailed search queries, businesses should be looking to improve their readability as a matter of priority. Complying with these elements will directly improve the readability score of your website, while also giving your content a fighting chance to land with your intended audience. Your readability score will fall between 0 and 100, or ‘very difficult’ to ‘very easy’. To achieve the latter, let’s find out how to improve readability for SEO on your website.

How can I improve readability for SEO?

There are a number of readability extensions which will assist in auditing and recommending changes, which is good news for content already published. For content not yet live, you can achieve a high readability score right out the gate by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Length of a sentence – too short can be jarring, and too long causes a lack of focus
  • Scannability – appropriate use of headlines and paragraph lengths
  • Consistency of voice – choosing and maintaining an active or passive voice throughout
  • Vocabulary – the average length, syllables and commonalty of a word
  • Punctuation – correct use of standard punctuation and mechanics

Sounds like common sense? Yep, we thought so too. While Google compliant, these directives are also working to enhance your content for all kinds of consumption – scannable or comprehensively devoured. Get into the habit of writing your content to these requirements and ensure that each page is pulling a score of 60 or above, which is the equivalent to an eighth-grade education level.

Are there any exceptions to these rules?

While reasonably robust, there are instances where these content compliances may work against your website’s goal. A photography supplier, for example, may sell common photographic equipment to the public, backed by a high readability score. Although if selling business to business, the complexity of the language may not be appropriate for the public, with long and uncommon words used. Google will not deem this website good or bad, but rather determine whether this content relates to the searchers search terms, and the authority this website has garnered.

One could also argue that a website rich with poetry would pull a low readability score. Why? Short sentence structures, intricate vocabulary, and varied punctuation will form the basis of most poetry. The consistency of inconsistent content formation will be picked up by Google, attributing these qualities to the search terms used, and a deeper assessment of the readability will be undertaken.

It’s quite easy to get lost down the many rabbit holes that promise an elevated ranking. Readability is a great place to start, as it impacts technical metrics as well as perfecting your content for your audience, which is the overarching purpose of your website. Improve your readability score by taking on your most viewed web pages first, and then work through the rest.

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