Readability ranks!

Does it pay off to write a text that is nice and easy to read? Will readable content lead to higher rankings and more traffic? Is readability a ‘ranking factor’? At Yoast, we are strong believers in writing texts that are nice and easy to read. We’ve developed an entire tool to help people write readable texts. We truly believe that readability ranks. Writing readable texts will lead to higher rankings and more traffic.

So why is readability becoming more important? I’ll discuss two reasons why we believe readability is of increasing importance for SEO. In our view, it’ll become essential for every copywriter. The first reason why readability will gain importance is because of the growth of and focus on voice search. The second reason is because of the fact the algorithm of Google is getting better and more ‘human-like’.

Voice search becomes more dominant

Although few people use voice search, Google (and other search engines) are focused on voice. They present their results in a voice-like matter; they rank their results in a voice-like matter. The very fact that search engines want voice search to be the next big thing, makes readability so important. To understand the importance for readability in voice search, look at this video:

People searching for information with voice search could end up listening to a rather long piece of information. In the example in the video above, the search result consists of an entire paragraph. Imagine such a paragraph consisting of long sentences and containing lots of difficult words. The voice result will become impossible to understand. Google will never rank such an impossible result. Neither in the voice results, nor in the normal results.

Google will prefer understandable content, because Google is focused on voice search. Google wants voice search to become the next big thing. Whether that will happen or not, doesn’t matter for the importance of understandable, readable content. Google simply dictates the search results and the algorithm. We just have to go with it. And in this case, it’s a good thing. Writing readable content is a blessing for the reader.

Read more: ‘How to prepare for voice search’ »

Google’s algorithm becomes more human-like

Google has become much better at predicting what people want to read. The algorithm of Google is mimicking a human. It tries to read texts like a human being. As Google becomes more capable of understanding and scanning texts in a human-like way, the demands on the readability of texts also rise.

Google will, increasingly, assess the topic of a text the way humans assess the topic of a text. People scan through texts, read subheadings and the first sentences of paragraphs. People look for transition words in order to quickly abstract what the main conclusion of an article will be. All the things humans do while reading a text, are things Google will do. That means that the structure of your text, the way you write your paragraphs, will become increasingly important. Core sentences (the first sentence of every paragraph) will gain importance. Having a clear and logical structure in your text will be invaluable.

What will be the demands on readable content?

Understandable, readable content contains lots of transition words, as these words help people understand the connection between sentences. Content that’s easy to understand has short sentences and few difficult and long words. The structure of a text is very important. Core sentences will be the most important sentences in assessing the topic of an article or blog post. These will be demands copywriters will have to deal with. It might sound scary, but if you simply write a good text, you’ll please your readers and Google.

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to content SEO’ »