For years, I’ve been writing blogs for CATMEDIA with tips on better digital strategies, the best social media platforms for your business, how to increase traffic to your website, etc. etc., and the list goes on...*Insert shameless self-promotional link here*
And how did I start writing these blogs? With an assigned title, a list of keywords I was required to use at least six times, another list of semantic words to use two or more times, and a strict requirement to write 1,000 words or more per blog.
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Were these well-written, insightful blogs? Sure. Were they textbook examples of search engine optimization best practices? You bet, but were they really effective? An argument can be made that although some of my previous blogs followed all the right rules, they didn't necessarily do their job.
Why? Because not all search engine optimization (SEO) best practices actually translate to conversions. There are other factors that increase your web ranking while keeping your audience engaged, and that is where this blog comes into play.
In 2018, your blog won’t end up on the front page Google just because you repeated the same long-tail keyword enough times. Don’t get me wrong; keywords still matter. But ultimately you will have to strike a balance between giving readers what they want while still strategically increasing your site’s SEO through content readability.
What is Readability?
Readability is best described as how easily someone can read written content. This isn’t a new concept by any means. Readability has been studied since the 1880’s. However, it wasn’t until the 1920’s when the issue of readability became more important to educators who found that their textbooks were too advanced for younger students. Researchers then created tests to gauge the difficulty of reading a certain piece of text, and this is how modern readability scoring came to be. In 2018, readability is as important as ever, but is often times overlooked by content creators in the digital age.
How Does Readability Affect SEO?
Did you know that the readability of your content affects how Google and other search engines rank it? Your clients and customers are smart; we know that. They might be business executives, marketing directors, or scholars. However, making your content easy-to-digest is a must. Why? Because studies have shown that the average human attention span is about eight seconds, and the national reading level is that of a 7th grader. These factors coupled with the quantity of content available online make readability a top priority.
There are probably thousands of blogs online right now on any given topic. So, if a reader thinks my blog is wordy or confusing, they can move on to another with just a few clicks. Improving readability will lead to more people reading your content from start to finish. Here are several ways to improve your blog’s readability as it relates to search engine ranking.
How Can You Score Readability?
There are several tests to score your content’s readability. Possibly the most notable of all is the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test. This test gave birth to the idea of a “grade reading level,” and is how we came to know that the national average is that of a 7th grader. The test puts an emphasis on sentence length rather than word length. Other notable tests include the Gunning-Fog Score, the Coleman-Liau Index, and the Dale-Chall Formula. You can access these tests online at Readable or Yoast SEO to score your readability, and make changes to increase it.
Other Tips For Better Readability
- Avoid run-on sentences. Try to keep your sentences under 20 words if possible.
- You are not Shakespeare. Just because you have a vast vocabulary doesn’t mean your readers do.
- Paragraphs should be five sentences at most. Longer paragraphs will deter readers from finishing your blog.
- Use headers or bullet points to visually break up your paragraphs. Creating separation allows skimmers to find what they’re looking for, and white space makes your content easier to read.
As a content creator, you understand the best ways to keep your readers engaged and coming back for more. Posting easy-to-read content while still using keywords will increase your search engine ranking. Ultimately, finding balance between these two strategies is the key to successful SEO strategy.
What else can you do to increase organic traffic to your website? Subscribe to CATMEDIA’s blog now to find out!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).