5 tips for writing readable blog posts

Reading from a screen can be difficult, so if you want people to read your whole blog post, it must be easy to read. This will get you more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. Luckily, improving the readability of your content is something you can do relatively easily, to give your site a quick boost during these difficult times. This post gives you five top tips for writing readable articles. To make improving readability even easier, Yoast SEO offers a readability check! It’s available in several languages and we add new languages regularly, check out which features are available in your language.

Focus on your audience

Remember the most important advice I can give you: Make sure your text is pitched at the right level for your audience. If you write about LEGO and your content is aimed at kids, then it should be really easy to read. But, if your audience is scientists with a Ph.D., your text can be much more challenging and still be appropriate. The five tips below should, therefore, be seen as guidelines. For some audiences, text could be made even simpler, while for other audiences the rules will be a little too strict. If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the art of copywriting for both people and SEO, consider taking our SEO copywriting course, part of our Yoast Academy training subscription.

Read more: Readability: Dumbing down or opening up? »

Tip 1: Write clear paragraphs

Make sure you write clear paragraphs. For a blog post, we advise you always start a paragraph with the most important sentence, then explain or elaborate on that sentence. This helps a reader to grasp the concept of your article, just by reading the first sentence of each paragraph. Make sure your paragraphs aren’t too long either (7 or 8 sentences is quite long enough).

Tip 2: Write short sentences

Try to write short sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand than longer ones. Also, you’re likely to make fewer grammatical errors as your sentences are nice and short. We consider sentences containing more than 20 words to be too long. If you’re writing in English, make sure you only have a few sentences of 20 words or more in a blog post, but each language has its own limits. Also, make sure paragraphs don’t have more than one long sentence each.

Tip 3: Limit difficult words

Limit the use of words that are difficult to read. Remember that reading from a screen is harder for everyone. Words with four or more syllables are considered difficult to read, so avoid them where possible.

Of course, sometimes your blog post is about something that’s hard to explain or requires a more advanced vocabulary. For example, I wrote a post about illustrations. The word ‘illustrations’ has four syllables and can be seen as a difficult word, but I still had to use it (and quite often too). In cases like this, make sure your sentences and paragraphs aren’t too long, and your readers will still be fine!

On a side note, unless you’re focusing on a niche market, difficult words usually make less useful focus keywords for a page. In the example above, ‘images’ or ‘visuals’ might have been a better choice. Remember the most important thing is that your focus keyword fits the subject of the post. Proper keyword research will give you better alternatives for difficult keywords.

Tip 4: Use transition words

You can make your writing much more readable by using proper transition words (or signal words – the same thing). Transition words are words like ‘most important’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’. They give direction to your readers. These words give a signal that something is coming up: if you’re summarizing, you’ll use ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘third’, etc. If you want to compare, you’ll write ‘same’, ‘less’, ‘rather’, ‘while’ or ‘either’. If you want to conclude, you’ll use ‘hence’, ‘consequently’ or ‘therefore’.

Using transition words is a bit like putting cement between your sentences. The relationship between two sentences becomes apparent through the use of transition words. Readers will understand your content much better if you use these kinds of words properly.

Tip 5: Use variation!

For a piece to be attractive to a reader, it should be varied – you should try to avoid repetition and shake things up a little! Alternate longer paragraphs and sentences with shorter ones and try using synonyms if you tend to use a particular word too often. Some people use the words ‘and’ or ‘too’ a lot. Mixing these with words like ‘also’ or ‘moreover’ could make your writing more attractive – and much more readable too.

Use Yoast SEO

To help you write readable copy we offer a readability check in Yoast SEO. It checks the length of your sentences and paragraphs, and whether you use transition words or subheadings. What’s more, it assesses your use of passive voice. It also calculates the Flesch Reading Ease score of the piece, a formula that indicates how easy to understand your text is. Check out the readability score of this text

The Yoast readability analysis will help you quickly find things to improve.

Conclusion

If you want your readers to get to the end of your blog post, make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make your text more difficult than you have to. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway can help you to write more readable text. And, if you use our Yoast SEO plugin you get a readability check on your content as well, so you’ll be able to check whether your writing is SEO-friendly and readable at the same time!

Keep reading: Blogging: the ultimate guide »


16 Responses to 5 tips for writing readable blog posts

  1. taranpreet
    taranpreet  • 6 months ago

    You have really explained it well. One more thing. I have seen marketers try to stuff the keywords to increase the keyword density in the stating paragraphs.

    This can sometimes affect readability. The marketer must take care of this as well.

    Kindly let me know your opinion.

    -Thanks

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      Thanks for your comment! Although it’s important to use your keyword or phrase, we agree that keyword stuffing can affect readability and SEO in a negative way. It’s all about finding the right balance.

      Michiel wrote a fun article about why this topic and why we should focus more on our user instead of just writing for Google: https://yoast.com/stop-pleasing-google/

      Hope this helps!

  2. Randy Miller
    Randy Miller  • 6 months ago

    Hey!
    I’m new to SEO, but have been in the online industry for a long time. I’m optimizing a clients website, and believe I have found a stellar keyword that I can assign to the home page and as the primary keyword. I’m drawn to it because it has high search volume for that industry, and very low KD (according to SEMrush). But I’m worried the SERPs Features and the big name companies on the first page of google are red flags that it will be too difficult to land on page 1.

    My question is – do you agree this is a good keyword, or are those two red flags big ones, and I should move onto a different keyword to target? Also, I’m not sure best practices on forums for posting specifics, like the company domain I’m working on, or if that info is even needed for you all to help me out. Just lmk in comments and I can add.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      Hi Randy!

      You don’t need to share the specifics here, we’ll be able to help you with your question without them :)

      As you say, the rich results and well-known names on the first page of search results can definitely be a sign of high competition. And when the competition is high, you may have a hard time ranking with this keyword. To get a thorough understanding of how this works and what keywords to choose, I recommend reading https://yoast.com/keyword-research-ultimate-guide/

      Good luck!

  3. best blog
    best blog  • 6 months ago

    the way you explained this strategy is awesome. Great help for me. you’re offering good advice to beginners I am working on growing my own blog. Thanks for sharing it

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      You’re welcome! Lots of luck with your blog!

  4. Vassilena Valchanova
    Vassilena Valchanova  • 6 months ago

    This is so important it’s not even funny. Especially when you’re righting in English and it’s not your mother tongue, it can be difficult to write concise sentences and clear paragraphs.

    My main addition to this post is to remind people that your first draft doesn’t need to be that clearly written – you just push all your thoughts on paper (well, screen) and you worry about readability during the editing stage. I wrote about this in a piece about my blog post writing process.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      Hi Vassilena, thanks for your addition! We totally agree.

  5. Abdul Mustafa
    Abdul Mustafa  • 6 months ago

    Thank you Marieke van de Rakt and Thanks to Yoast SEO Plugin!

    I always use Yoast Readability check. Although I use Grammarly just for Plagiarism check and some grammatical issues, otherwise my first preference is Yoast SEO Plugin Readability check. Free Version of Yoast provides a lot of service to beginners like me…

    Really thanks to Joost de Valk and his whole team!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      Hi Abdul, thank you for your kind words! And great to hear that our readability check helps you with your writing. Good luck :)

  6. amzy
    amzy  • 6 months ago

    That’s exactly what I needed! Thank you!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 6 months ago

      You’re welcome Amzy! Good luck with your writing!

  7. Harby Jay
    Harby Jay  • 6 months ago

    Very helpful, i lack more of these no wonder why people wouldn’t wanna spend time on my blog

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 months ago

      Hi Harby! Good to hear you found some things to work on so people stay on your blog. Good luck!

  8. Sean Brady
    Sean Brady  • 6 months ago

    I find it interesting you bring up this quality post. Why is it, then, that your own tool makes it difficult for American and other non-British organizations to actually follow these tips?

    Consider Tip 2 of this post: Write short sentences. You’re definitely correct that short sentences are more readable. However, your tool has issues with determining what is a sentence because it uses British conventions. For example, when a sentence ends with a quotation or is a quotation, Americans put the period inside (or before) the quotation mark. This is against British style, which puts it outside/after the mark, but is NOT incorrect. However, your program only takes the British style into account, and gives out false positives on lengthy sentences if the writer follows American conventions, since it essentially combines two sentences into one. That makes it very difficult for an American writer or editor to use your tool’s Readability function, since they’re being penalized for something they did correctly.

    Usually, I would not bring this up and cause a stir. However, I’ve seen this problem unaddressed in the four years I’ve used Yoast, and it’s come to my attention that there has been an open bug report dating from August of 2016 that has this precise issue. It’s rather surprising to see this left out in the open for so long.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 months ago

      Hi Sean,

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues with the way the readability tool checks your text. Unfortunately, language can sometimes be a bit too complex for a tool to get all the subtleties, which means that there will be false positives and unjustified orange or red bullets sometimes.

      In those cases, you can safely ignore the tool’s feedback, although it can be frustrating not to get a green bullet. Hope that explains things a bit, good luck!