What Is Blog Readability and Why Is It Important?

Want your blog posts to stand out? Start by enhancing their readability.

Most of the text you see online is difficult for most people to understand. In fact, only 15% of readers fully comprehend online articles. Generally, people spend more time reading easy-to-grasp content… and gloss over everything else.

Blog readability isn’t just about writing style and structure, though. The right words can make the difference between a boring blog post and one that keeps readers engaged.

Let’s dive into what readability is, why it matters, and how to create readable content.

What is blog readability and how is it measured?

Blog readability refers to how easy it is for readers to understand your content. It’s one of the most important factors that determines whether your audience will stick around or click away.

When you write an article or blog post, remember that your audience includes people with varying levels of education. The average American can read at only a 7th- to 8th-grade level and struggle with comprehending more demanding content.

Readability is measured by a readability score, which represents the complexity of a text’s language. A higher score indicates harder-to-read content, while a lower score signals easier readability. Experts recommend writing at an 8th-grade level or below.

How to get a good readability score

Making your blog posts easy to read takes a little extra effort, but it’s well worth it.

These simple steps will help you improve your readability score right away:

  • Stay on topic
  • Limit adverb use
  • Shorten your sentences
  • Swap passive voice for active voice
  • Avoid complex words when possible
  • Keep paragraphs short and break them up with lists
  • Replace complex words and phrases with simple ones
  • Include relevant images or multimedia to break up text
  • Cut words that don’t add value such as “very” or “really”
  • Write conversational content as if you were talking to a friend
  • Organize content with subheadings (H1, H2, H3, and so forth)
  • Incorporate bullets to make it easier for readers to scan for information

Why you should care about readability

People are busy. In this digital age, we want fast answers to problems.

Content that’s easy to read and understand saves us time from sifting through other sources. Build trust by sharing your expertise and providing the essentials of what people need to know.

A good readability score can help your business:

  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Improve your blog posts
  • Boost click-through rates
  • Get longer business visits
  • Rank higher on search engines like Google
  • Be more approachable/relatable to your audience
  • Increase article shares across your readers’ networks

Encourage readers to stick around

If you invest time in maintaining a blog for your company website, you want visitors to spend time reading it.

Research shows that people respond best to online content that is helpful and easy to understand. When they find what they’re looking for, they respond favorably by spending more time on your website.

A readable article is easy to read and digest. Consumers are less likely to finish reading your posts if they find the content boring or difficult to follow. They may exit feeling frustrated that they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.

Engaging content boosts shareability

Don’t underestimate the power of shareability. This behavior creates new traffic for you as well as advertising revenue for your business — a boon for further growth! The more shares you get, the more traffic you get to your site, and the more readers you attract.

When crafting website content, aim to educate and provide value that your competitors aren’t offering. Be careful not to make your titles too sensational or gimmicky. This can attract the wrong audience and damage your credibility.

Pro tip: Before publishing any content, make sure your website makes it easy for people to share your posts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Search engines prefer easy reading levels

Google and other search engines prefer easy-to-read content. This is the basis of the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which measures how difficult a text is to understand based on its length, sentence structure, and vocabulary level. A higher score indicates a lower reading level (i.e., easier to digest).

There are many factors that Google takes into account when ranking websites in search results:

  • Social media signals like mentions & shares
  • Authority of content sources (quality of backlinks)
  • Readable articles take first-page positions on search engine result pages (SERPs)

Want your content to rank well?

Pay attention to the readability of your blog.

Expert tips to take your blog readability to the next level

Writing readable content takes practice.

Use these pro tips to level up your blog readability:

Vary sentence length for better flow

Combining short, medium, and long sentences improves the flow of your writing. Too many long or short sentences in a row sound unnatural. Think about how you would talk to a friend and write that way — then polish up later. Strive for diversity.

Limit paragraphs to 3-4 sentences

Forget what they taught you in college… paragraphs over 5 sentences often become difficult to read. Try to keep paragraphs between 3-4 sentences maximum for enhanced readability.

Review and revise to refine your work

Read your posts out loud, word-for-word. This will help you identify rough areas that need polishing. Our ears catch awkward phrasing that our eyes may miss.

Use formatting strategically

Format your posts for scannability. Bold key points, use bullet points to organize ideas, and break text into short paragraphs.

Check readability scores

Use free tools like Hemingway or Readable to check if your post hits the optimal 7th-8th grade reading level target. Adjust if needed.

Note: It may be harder if not impossible to hit this target if you’re writing highly technical pieces — and that’s okay. Still, try to keep it under 10th grade if possible.

Grow your blog audience with readable content

Ensuring readability is crucial — even the best content can go unnoticed if it’s not easily digestible for readers.

Prioritizing blog readability has a big payoff — higher traffic, lower bounce rates, increased social shares, better conversions, and more. It also helps establish you as a top expert readers want to learn from.

But creating optimized, readable blog posts takes time and skill.

Need help improving readability and writing content that attracts and retains readers?

I’m a seasoned freelance writer with 9+ years of experience writing long-form content for various businesses. Send me a message and let’s create something great together!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is a good readability score to target?

Generally, experts recommend targeting a grade level between 7th and 8th grade. This ensures most adult readers can understand your content. The exception to this is highly technical pieces with more complex terms you can’t avoid (e.g. medical blogs).

How can I check my blog post’s readability?

Use free online tools like Hemingway App, Readable, or the built-in readability checker in WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO.

What’s the best readability formula to use?

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is one of the most popular and reliable readability tests. Tools that use Flesch-Kincaid will accurately access your content.

How short should sentences be for maximum readability?

Ideally, aim for an average sentence length of 15-20 words. Very short sentences below 10 words may sound choppy, especially when not varied among longer sentences.

Is there a maximum paragraph length for good readability?

Paragraphs longer than 5 sentences often become difficult to read. Try to keep sentences between 3-4 sentences if possible — line breaks are your blogging BFFs!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn, but was updated on 10/18/2023.

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