Reading from a screen can be hard. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure your post is easy to read. Posts that are nice and easy to read will result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. In this post, I’ll give five tips on how to improve the readability of your articles.
To help you improve the readability of your post, Yoast SEO now offers a readability check! At this moment it’s fully available for English and German, and partly available for all other languages.
Focus on your audience!
The most important advice I would give you is to make sure your text isn’t too difficult for the audience you’re writing for. If you write about LEGO and focus on kids, your text should be easy to read. But, if your audience consists of scientists with a Ph.D., your text could be much more challenging and still be suitable. The five tips I present below should thus be seen as general rules. For some audiences, a text could be made even simpler, while for other audiences the rules will be a bit too strict. If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the art of copywriting, please check our SEO copywriting course.
Tip 1: Clear paragraphs
Make sure to write clear paragraphs. For a blog post, we would advise you always to start your paragraph with the most important sentence. Then explain or elaborate on that sentence. This way a reader will be able to grasp the most relevant content from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. Make sure paragraphs aren’t too long (7 or 8 sentences is quite long already).
Tip 2: Short sentences
Try to write short sentences. Short sentences are easier to read and understand than long sentences. Above that, you will be less likely to make mistakes in grammar as your sentences are rather short. We consider sentences containing more than 20 words as lengthy. Try to limit these long sentences. If you’re writing in English, make sure you only have a few sentences in a blog post that count more than 20 words. Every language has its own limits. Also, make sure a paragraph doesn’t contain more than one long sentence.
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 that contain four or more syllables are considered difficult to read. Make sure to limit the use of such difficult words.
Of course, in some cases, your blog post just is about something that’s hard to explain or requires a more advanced vocabulary. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about illustrations. Illustrations is a word containing four syllables and can, therefore, be seen as a difficult word. Still, I had to use that word (and quite often too). In such cases, 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. Keep in mind that the most important thing is that your focus keyword has to fit the subject of the post. Proper keyword research will give you the right alternatives for a difficult focus keyword.
Tip 4: Use transition words
You can make a text much more readable by using proper transition words (or signal words, same thing). Transition words are words like ‘most important’, ‘because’, ‘thus’, 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 contrast you’ll write same, less, rather, while or either. If you want to conclude, you’ll use hence, consequently or therefore.
Using transition words will be like putting cement between your sentences. The relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of transition words. Readers will understand your content much better if you make proper use of these kinds of words.
Tip 5: Mix it up!
For a text to be attractive to a reader, it should be very varied. This means that you should try to mix it up a little! Alternate longer paragraphs and sentences with short ones and attempt to use synonyms if you tend to use a word very often. Some people use the word ‘and’ or ‘too’ very often. Mixing it up with ‘also’ or ‘moreover’ could make a text more attractive and much more readable too.
Use Yoast SEO
To assist you in writing readable copy we added a readability check in Yoast SEO. It checks the length of your sentences and paragraphs, and whether you use transition words or subheadings. Moreover, it assesses if you don’t use passive voice too often. On top of that, it calculates the Flesch Reading Ease score, a score that indicates how easy to understand your text is. Check out the readability score of this text:
At this moment it’s fully available for English and German, and partly available for all other languages.
If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make a text more difficult than necessary. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway can help you to write a readable text. And, if you use our Yoast SEO plugin you’ll get a readability check on your content as well. That way, you’ll be able to check whether your text is SEO friendly and readable at the same time!
Another way to make sure a text is readable is by choosing the right typography. You shouldn’t use a small font and make sure the spacing between lines is wide enough. I’ll write a post about typography in a few weeks, so stay tuned, or read our eBook about user experience in the meantime!