If you use our readabilty analysis in the Yoast SEO plugin, you have probably come across the Flesch reading ease score. This score tells you how easy your text is to read. But how is the Flesch reading ease score calculated? And why is this score important for SEO? In this post, I’ll explain the importance of readability for SEO and how the Flesch reading ease test works.
In the readability section of the Yoast SEO content analysis, we run all kinds of checks to help you write copy that’s easier to read. You’ll find the Flesch reading ease score there, among the other checks.
Why is readability important for SEO?
It is unclear whether readability is a specific ranking factor. Therefore, we don’t know if Google uses tools like the Flesch score (or a variation of it) as a ranking factor in its algorithm. However, we do know that, from a holistic SEO perspective, readability is very important.
If your text is very complicated, the text will be too hard to read for your audience. This might scare them off and make them search elsewhere for information. In other words, impenetrable text can result in a high bounce rate, leading to lower rankings in the long run. So, you should make sure your articles are well written and not too difficult to read.
What does the Flesch reading ease test measure?
Flesch reading ease measures how complex a text is. The lower the score, the more difficult the text is to read. The Flesch readability score uses the average length of your sentences (measured by the number of words) and the average number of syllables per word in an equation to calculate the reading ease. Text with a very high Flesch reading ease score (about 100) is straightforward and easy to read, with short sentences and no words of more than two syllables. Usually, a reading ease score of 60-70 is considered acceptable/normal for web copy.
|90 – 100||easily understood by an average 11-year old student|
|60 – 70||easily understood by 13-15-year-old students|
|0 – 30||best understood by university graduates|
The Flesch reading ease Score of this blog post is 73.4.
Flesch reading ease was developed to measure the complexity of an English text. But, in the Yoast plugin, we also calculate reliable scores for several other languages. Not every language has an official formula to calculate the Flesch reading ease, so, unfortunately, we can’t calculate this score for all languages.
How to improve your Flesch reading ease Score
Before you start editing your text, decide how easy to read your text should be for your audience. Do you sell clothes or photography workshops? Write for a mom blog or make step-by-step DIYs? Then your content should be relatively easy to read, for a broad group of readers. Do you write about complex, specialist topics or are you an academic blogging about your research? In that case, you can decide to aim at a specific audience and write text with a lower Flesch reading ease score. You know your audience best, after all.
In any case, your text always benefits from clear use of language. So, if you want to get a higher Flesch reading ease score, focus on two things:
1. Shorten your sentences
Too many long sentences make your text difficult to read. Using short sentences keeps the subject clear. It allows your readers to absorb the information in your text, instead of using all their attention trying to grasp what you want to say. So, try to break down long sentences and your text will be much easier to read.
2. Limit your use of difficult words
If you use too many difficult words, you could lose your readers. Words with four or more syllables are considered difficult to read, so try to avoid them where possible. Also, try to avoid insider language when you can. If you can’t find a good alternative for a specific term, make sure to provide an explanation for users who might not know the word.
Conclusion: Use the Flesch score to write readable texts
In short, readable text is important for SEO, as it helps keep readers on your site. The Flesch reading ease score lets you keep an eye on how easy (or hard) your text is to read. So, think about your audience and change long sentences and difficult words if needed. It’ll pay off in the end.
Read more: SEO copywriting: the Ultimate guide »