Readability Check | How to Assess Reading Ease for SEO

When we are developing a page on a website and think we have optimised the content sufficiently for SEO purposes, there’s another aspect we want to look at closely.

We need to perform a Readability check!

There are different levels of depth that this aspect can be looked into – for example, the SEO plugin Yoast offers a complex evaluation for readability, includes Flesch Reading ease score, use of passive voice and transition words/phrases.

Readability Check | Ranki SEO

On the other hand, the SEO plugin RankMath offers a more simplified interpretation for readability, focusing on use of power words and sentiment in Titles, and use of short paragraphs & table of contents in your Main Content.

Both plugins can be a great help, and we will walk through their shared and unique features in this post. This will allow you to consider the different aspects for your own content building escapades!

If you don’t use an SEO plugin, you will be able to use the metrics of both as we discuss and explain how they work. Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the more basic and common aspects of content readability. 

Common Readability Check Features

Content Length

It is widely acknowledged that content length can be an influential factor when it comes to SEO ranking.

With that said, it does appear that as people’s concentration spans diminish due to the habit of scrolling through information at hyper-speed, it’s as important that you content is relevant, as it is long. 

This makes sense to us. As some of best performing content is not long-form, it’s shorter pieces that are more specific e.g. answering 1 single question. In terms of readability, this translates into ‘make your content length proportionate to quantity of information your reader needs’

In RankMath, the SEO scoring mechanism require >600 words for a positive score – we would suggest that you should not stress too much on this point, and focus more on quality rather than quantity. If you do that, your content piece will find it’s natural equilibrium.

SEO Readability Check | Ranki
Sub-headings

Using sub-headings is a broader requirement for your content layout but plays beautifully into the page readability. Make sure to break down your page into relevant H1, H2, H3.. tags to make it easy for the viewer to see the specific topic they are looking at.

If you don’t do it, it you will end up with a large body of text that look like an essay. This is not good for readability!!

Paragraph & Sentence Length

Another aspect that follows on from your sub-headings is both the paragraph and sentence lengths. You will want to keep both in check. 

Short paragraphs are easier to read and more pleasing to the eye. Long paragraphs scare the visitor, and they might result in search engines e.g. Google, looking for better, more readable content.

The same rule applies to sentences. Try to keep your sentence structure succinct, to help avoid confusion. If you are too elaborate, the message may get muddled and you will likely lose the attention of the reader.

Readability Check | RANKI SEO
Use of Images

The use of images is fundamental to a good looking web page. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it helps to break up your text, add context and/or help inform your readers. You should think about what useful information you may be able to share via an image or even a video. Both of which can be easily slotted into your page.

Do bear in mind that images and/or videos are ‘data heavy’, and therefore can negatively impact the loading speed of your site (slow it down!).  If often pays to be strategic and selective on the use of images and videos, making sure they are only used where they add value.

Try not to over egg the pudding!

On Page SEO Table of Contents
Contents Table | Example
Table of Contents

The Table of Contents feature provides readers with the option to jump from section-to-section as they wish, which is a big plus for user experience!

As you can see, this is only the start of the content breakdown.

You can view the entire Table of Contents at the top of the page, meaning the visitor gets a summary of the entire post.

The contents table provides a nice overview of the blog page, allowing you to quickly review the page structure. This way, you identify beneficial changes that will make flow better for the reader.

Rank Math SEO Plugin | Unique Features

Power Words

Power Words are tried-and-true words that copywriters use to attract more clicks. Such words reflect an intense or powerful message, and invoke curiosity in the reader. For example, if you are describing something really useful, you might use the word ‘Genius’, ‘Unmissable’ or ‘Extraordinary’.

Positive or Negative Sentiment

Headlines with a strong emotional sentiment (positive or negative) tend to receive more clicks. Try to evoke emotion by describing positive benefit or even a negative outcome, provided it is intriguing the reader to find out more.

Yoast SEO Plugin | Unique Features

Reading Ease

The Flesch reading ease test measures the readability of a text. It uses two variables to determine the readability score:

  • the average length of your sentences (measured by the number of words)
  • the average number of syllables per word

Then, it provides you with a score between 0 and 100. A score of 100 means your copy is very easy to read. And, a score of 0 means your text is very difficult to read. You can see the exact interpretation of all the scores on the scale in the table below. 

So, a text with a very high Flesch reading ease score is made up of short sentences, and it contains few two-syllable words. Conversely, a text with a very low Flesch reading ease score consists mostly of very long sentences and a lot of complex words.

Transition Words

Transition words are words like ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’ and ‘because’. They show your reader the relationship between phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs. When you use them, you make it easier for your readers to understand how your thoughts and ideas are connected. What is more, they prepare your reader for what’s coming.

Let’s consider an example.

I pushed the domino. As a result, it fell over.

When you start a sentence with ‘as a result’, your reader will immediately know two things:

What happened in the first sentence caused something;
The second sentence is going to describe the effect.

By using the phrase ‘as a result’ here, you show that the two separate sentences are part of one process. Without having even read the rest of the sentence, your reader can already guess what’s coming. In a way, transition words are the glue that holds your text together. Without them, your text is a collection of sentences. With them, the individual parts come together to form one whole.

As you can hopefully see, there is more to think about than meets the eye when it comes to readability.

The next time you are doing a readability check, take into account the factors outlined above and you will be on the right track.

If you need help with the readability of your content, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Ranki team by dropping us a message via the Chat Tool or the Contact Form below.

Good luck!