It’s no secret that easy-to-read website content usually ranks higher in search engine results than difficult-to-read content. But did you know there’s a direct correlation between readability and Google search results rankings?
As a search engine optimization (SEO)-conscious webmaster, it’s essential to keep this in mind when optimizing your website for better search engine visibility. In addition to optimizing your website’s meta tags and building high-quality inbound links, ranking for any competitive keyword requires easy-to-read and understand content.
This article will show you how to improve your website’s readability (and, consequently, its rankings) with some simple tips.
What Is Readability?
Readability measures how easily visitors can read a piece of text content. It’s based on various factors, such as word choice, sentence length, structure, formatting, font type, font size, grammar, and more. Combining these factors will determine how easy the content is to read.
Visitors consume text content by reading it. Content with excellent readability is easy for them to read. Visitors can quickly and effortlessly read the content. Content with poor readability is difficult for them to read. Visitors may struggle to read or comprehend the content.
The Impact of Content Readability on Search Rankings
How does content readability affect search rankings exactly? Google has neither confirmed nor denied using content readability as a direct ranking signal. It keeps most of its ranking signals under wraps, including content readability. But during a Webmaster Hangouts Q&A, John Mueller shed some light on this topic.
According to the Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google doesn’t have algorithms to analyze the word count or reading level of content. Mueller added, however, that webmasters should “figure out” readability for their audience.
Audiences are an Essential Factor
Different websites have different audiences. It would help if you targeted your site’s audience when creating content for your website. If it’s a medical website, you may want to use a higher reading level along with medical-related terms. If it’s a travel blog, use a lower reading level with no technical jargon or terms. Google doesn’t necessarily have readability-related algorithms, but according to Mueller, webmasters should create content that’s easy for their respective audience to read.
Content readability affects visitor engagement, which in turn can affect search rankings. Visitors are more likely to interact with content if they can easily read it. They may leave a comment, share it on social media, bookmark it, or link to it from their own website.
Strong engagement shows search engines that the content is popular among your website’s audience. And with strong engagement comes new inbound links. Visitors may link to your website’s easy-to-read content. Google’s algorithm uses these inbound links as a ranking signal.
Creating easy-to-read content will also better optimize your website for voice traffic. Voice traffic consists of visitors who discover your website via a voice search. Visitors may use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to search the internet. When these virtual assistant apps respond to voice searches, they’ll typically speak an excerpt from a top-ranked page. Easy-to-read content ensures that virtual assistant apps provide voice search users with an intelligible response.
How to Improve Content Readability
You can improve content readability in several ways. Start by identifying your website’s audience. Take note of a typical visitor’s occupation, age, location, income, interests, and other characteristics. This is the audience for whom you should create content.
Formatting content with paragraphs and subheadings can make it easier to read. An all-too-common readability mistake is creating a large wall of text. Most visitors don’t read text content word for word. Instead, they scan it while looking for important words or phrases. If you create a large wall of text, they won’t be able to scan it. Some visitors may then leave your website rather than read the content.
Content that’s formatted with paragraphs and subheadings is easier to scan and, thus, read. Visitors won’t encounter a wall of text. With the proper formatting, they will see an organized piece of content broken into multiple paragraphs with subheadings.
You should format text content with images as well. Images can complement text content so that the latter is easier to read. At the same time, images serve as reference points. Visitors can find points of interest by shifting their attention back to an image.
Choosing a Simple Font
Font type can affect content readability. It will determine the style of the letters and numbers. For body content, you should use a simple font type. Decorative font types are acceptable for titles and subheadings but can harm readability when used for body content.
Some of the best simple font types for readability include:
You should be conscious of the contrast between the text content on your website and the background. Like font type, contrast can affect readability. Using a font color similar to the background will result in poor contrast. The text will visually blend into the background, so visitors won’t be able to read it easily. For good contrast, choose colors that are polar opposites, such as a black font color and a white background.
Grammar and Spelling
Grammar and spelling errors can make your website’s content harder for visitors to read. Errors are inevitable when creating website content. The more content you create, the greater the risk of a readability-harming grammar or spelling error. Fortunately, you can minimize them by using a typing tool. Grammarly is a popular typing tool. Once installed in your web browser, it automatically checks any text content you type for errors.
Use SEO Plugins
If your website is driven by WordPress, install an SEO plugin. There are three popular SEO plugins for WordPress: Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and RankMath. Each plugin can help you create better content by improving readability.
For example, the Yoast SEO plugin is a universal search engine optimization (SEO) plugin that will analyze your content and rate its readability. If it needs to be better, the plugin will make recommendations on how to improve it.
After installing Yoast, you can analyze content readability by checking the bottom of posts and pages in the WordPress editor. The plugin will add a readability tab to this area. Clicking the readability tab will reveal any readability problems, such as a low Flesch Reading Ease score, passive voice, or long sentences.
The plugin will also give you specific recommendations on how to fix these problems.
How To Check Your Website Stats
Once you have improved the readability of your website content, it’s time to check how visitors interact with it. Google Search Console and Google Analytics make it easy to view website stats. Google Search Console will show you which keywords are generating organic search traffic, while Google Analytics can provide information on page views, bounce rates, and average session duration. This information can help you understand how visitors interact with your website content and, thus, if they find it readable.
If you want to get insights on how your content is showing up in search results of other search engines, you should use a tool like Ahrefs. It will give you insight into how your content performs in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines. Moreover, it can also help you create better content by analyzing the content of competing websites.
Creating content for your website is essential. But it’s not enough to simply create any content. You should focus on creating readable content. That way, visitors will be able to understand and engage with it. To make your content more readable, use short sentences, simple words, proper grammar and spelling, and the correct formatting. You should also install an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO to further improve readability.
With easy-to-read content, visitor engagement will increase. Increased engagement can lead to more inbound links that fuel higher search rankings for your website.