An often-overlooked component of developing websites is creating the content for them.
It seems easy enough on the surface:
- To start, throw a few words together to create some sentences
- Secondly, repeat the above step a few times to create some paragraphs
- And lastly, repeat steps 1 and 2
Clearly those steps are bit tongue in cheek, but the reality remains that if you want good content you need to think about it a bit more.
One of the ways of doing that is by taking a look at your content’s readability.
What is readability?
Readability is a measure of how easy a piece of text is to read.
But we can often lose sight of this, instead focusing on cramming keywords and the like into our content. The result is content that is hard to read and even harder to understand.
Don’t get me wrong – keywords are a great way to improve your website’s SEO. But so too is making your content readable.
How to improve readability
Improving readability is not as hard as you may think. Sure – some of us are not naturally gifted writers, but regardless of your ability there are some simple guidelines you can follow.
1. Shorter sentences and words
Shorter sentences are easier to read and help prevent reader fatigue. In addition, shorter words can help readers understand your content more easily.
2. Spelling and grammar
This one should be obvious. Bad spelling and grammar turn readers away faster than you can imagine. Don’t make these silly mistakes. Enough said.
3. Use the active voice more
According to Grammarly “When the subject of a sentence performs the verb’s action, we say that the sentence is in the active voice”. A sentence in the active voice is clear, direct, and easy to understand.
The opposite of this is the passive voice which produces overcomplicated sentences that are harder to understand.
Readability analysis tools
The above guidelines may not leave you feeling confident enough to tackle your own content’s readability. No problem – others have had the same struggles and thankfully have created tools to do the work for us.
Below I will take you through how to use one of these tools, the All In One SEO plugin. But bear in mind there are others that can accomplish the task too.
How to use All In One SEO’s Page Analysis tool
All in One SEO (AIOSEO) is a WordPress plugin that does all things SEO. What we are particularly interested in here is the Readability Analysis section of the tool.
This tool gives us insights into how to improve our content and get the most SEO benefits.
Assuming you have already installed the AIOSEO plugin the first step is to populate a page with some content to be analysed.
Upon saving a page you will be presented with an AIOSEO Score. For example…
It is worth noting that this score takes into account other factors aside from readability. You can find out more by reading the documentation. Today we are just focusing on the readability factors.
2. Analysing the score
Now that we have a base score we can start to analyse where this grade comes from by scrolling down your page and finding the “Readability” tab of the “Page Analysis” section.
In here you will find a couple of things.
- Any issues the page previously had that you have fixed already. For example this page at one point in time did not contain any images and therefore the “Images/Videos in content” warning was displayed.
- Any current issues.
3. Fixing any issues
Lastly, we need to tackle any issues listed.
In the above example I have been using passive voice a bit too much (14.7% of the time!). The target is 10% passive. Since this issue is quite common let’s go over it in more detail.
Passive vs Active Voice
According to Grammarly
Passive voice means that a subject is a recipient of a verb’s action
An example of the passive voice is the following sentence: Bananas are adored by monkeys.
The subject (monkeys) is a recipient of the verb’s (adored) action.
You should not completely remove passive voice. But you should utilise an active counterpart where possible.
Reconstructing the above sentence to be active gives the following: Monkeys adore bananas. In this case the subject (monkeys) performs the action described (adore).
If we apply the same rules to our own content we can bring the passive voice occurrences down and improve our readability scores.
Content is King
In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King“. He wasn’t wrong. But to summarise this article I’d like to leave you with the following amendment.
“Readable Content is King”
Readable content is a start but you may be asking yourself, is it time for a content clean? If that is the case, or if you have further questions please get in touch with us. We would love to help you out.