Making sure your content is “readable” is important for SEO. Users are getting the information they need online and an easy-to-read page will make it more likely they will find your content and stay on your page longer to read it. Several writing elements contribute to content readability such as sentence length, number of sentences, sentence structure, average syllable length per word, and word choice.
How exactly can you measure if your content is readable?
One of the more popular ways to tell is by the Flesch-Kincaid Algorithm. This algorithm looks at how many syllables are in a word along with the number of words in each sentence. It uses a rating scale from 1-100 to indicate whether content has good enough readability. The higher the number, the better the readability. Aiming for a score of 60 or higher will ensure your content is easy to read.
Here are our tops tips for optimizing your content readability:
1. Use White Space to Your Advantage
Big chunks of text can feel overwhelming for readers. Spacing out words or images will allow readers to easily scan the page and naturally move their eye through the content.
Too little white space will make it more difficult for the reader, but too much white space will make the page look empty, so be thoughtful about how you use white space. Breaking apart long paragraphs of text into a few sentences and adding more white space to your margins are good starting points.
2. Use Shorter Sentences
Sentence length is the #2 predictor of content readability. Long sentences are harder to read and comprehend. Breaking up longer sentences into short, simple sentences will make reading smoother. Don’t be afraid of contractions and look for areas where you can cut out fluff and jargon.
3. Write Conversationally
To write for content readability, imagine you’re having a conversation with someone as you write. Writing as you would speak will help the reader feel engaged in what they are reading. You’ll instinctually use simpler words and sentences. As a bonus, writing conversationally adds personality to your content, which will help your readers feel a greater connection to you.
4. Bulleted Lists
Using bullet points to organize your content will break up the information, making it clear and easier to scan for key information. It shows the reader important keywords or phrases within the page. It also helps the reader grasp the bigger picture of what you’re trying to say with less words.
Besides making sure your content itself is ready to be shared, it is also very important to consider how it will render visually. Typography is an often overlooked aspect of content readability that can have a major impact. Consider font style and size when working to improve your readability.
a. Font Size
Smaller fonts are too hard on the eyes. A larger font will take up too much space on the page. Picking a font size that is just right will make reading online content easier. Generally, writers will use font size 12 for the body of the text, and a slightly larger font for titles and headings. However, with more people reading content on their mobile devices, many experts these days are suggesting 14 or 18 point fonts for the body. View font size iterations on your mobile phone to decide which is best for your online content.
b. Font Style
Using a font that is easy to read is very important to keeping a reader on the page. As a general rule, try to stick to sans-serif fonts. Sans-serif means “without serif”. Serif fonts use extending features at the end of each letter’s stroke. For example, view the difference between Google’s old logo, which had serifs, versus their new logo, which is sans-serif.
Commonly used fonts for readability include Helvetica, Times, Courier, and Verdana. Times New Roman or Arial fonts are great choices as well.
6. Use Images
Images are a great way to display data and give the reader something to look at. They are also a great way to break up the text and separate the information into sections. Making sure the image is relevant on the topic and explaining what is trying to be said is best when inserting images into content.
Making sure your content has strong readability will keep readers engaged with your page and help your overall SEO. Using simple words, including images to break down ideas, writing conversationally, and making thoughtful choices about typography can all help your content feel more accessible to readers.
When your content is clean and broken in smaller sections, search engines can more easily get the information they need from your pages and they are more likely to reference your pages for voice search, too, which continues to grow in popularity.