A Guide To The Green Light: How To Improve Readability
You’ve stumbled across this blog post because you’re looking for some tips on how to improve readability in your WordPress blog articles.
We get it, you’re stuck at the dreaded red or yellow light, frustrated about why it isn’t green – telling you to go.
Much like the rules of the road, you can’t just accelerate through without making sure there’s a clear path of travel.
This same clear path applies to content writing. You want to make sure your text flows along this same clear path of action.
Before we provide you with a list of tips on how to achieve an excellent readability score, it’s best we break down what exactly readability it is.
What Is Readability?
Readability is essentially how easy it is for the user to read and navigate through your post. Your post should be informative, while providing a good user experience.
This is based on the notion that most people don’t read the entire body of text and just skim for the most important information. The most important information should be clearly identifiable in this sense.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group the two biggest single contributors to usability when it comes to content readability are:
- Concise text – fewer words using plain language.
- Scannable layout – good use of subheadings, lists, bolding, and more.
While many of you English language lovers might be cringing at these guidelines, it’s an important practice in making sure your brand message comes across loud and clear.
How Is Readability Measured?
For those of you on WordPress, you are probably familiar with the Yoast SEO Readability plug-in. The scale analysis is shown by either a red light =needs improvement, a yellow light = OK, and a green= good.
There are 6 major factors that Yoast analyzes in order to give you a score. These 6 indicators are:
- Sentence length – 25% of your sentences can’t be are over 20 words long.
- Paragraph length – No paragraphs should be longer than 150 words.
- Subheading usage – Don’t go more than 300 words without using a subheading.
- Passive voice – Only use passive voice 10% of the time.
- Transition words – Transition words like “and”, “because”, etc., can only be used up to 30% of the time.
- Flesch Kincaid reading ease – Must score a 60% or lower.
In case you’re unfamiliar with what the Flesch Kincaid reading ease is , let me explain:
Flesch Kincaid Readability Scale
This is a formula that assesses your writing by grade level. The standard to achieve has been set at no higher than 8.0, meaning that it should be easy for an eighth grader at the lowest to understand your message.
Yoast SEO sets the standard at a metric system of 60%, which is equivalent to that of 7th and 8th grade. This means the language should be plain, and easily understood by 13-to-15 year old students.
How To Improve Your Writing
Now that you know where the grading basis for your readability score comes from, let us help you format your copy to get you the green light.
Here are 4 quick tips we’ve put together that will instantly improve your readability rating.
1.Simplify Your Words
There is no need to be fancy with your language. As mentioned in the Flesch Kincaid Readability Scale, your text should be understood by the knowledge level of majority of the population.
Shorter words are easier to understand. They’re also less intimidating in a paragraph and wouldn’t scare a user away from reading the body of the text. The goal is to keep the user on your page for the longest time possible.
2. Use Active Language
There is a time and a place for the use of passive voice, which is why it’s seen as acceptable for 10% of the time. The other 90% of your text should be active. Passive voice is seen to come across as confusing to the reader.
The importance of using active voice can be broken down into three parts:
- Uses fewer words, making the text clear and concise
- Creates a faster moving narrative.
- Improves sentence structure, avoids making grammatical errors.
The Yoast SEO plug-in has a tool that will highlight where you switched to the passive tone, making it easy to correct. This is done by maneuvering over the little eye icon in the bottom right.
3. Get Rid Of Transition Words
The use of transition words in your copy has a huge affect on your overall readability score. A simple solution to this problem is breaking up your text into shorter, simpler sentences. A tip is whenever you are faced with the decision of whether to include a transition word, end the sentence.
The main functionality of a transition word is to link two ideas together smoothly. While they’re important in certain circumstances, when writing copy people are more inclined to read shorter sentences.
It’s also important to break up your paragraphs to encourage more white space on the page. This makes your page more scannable and improves your readability score.
4. Break Up Your Text With Sub-headers
Lastly, Yoast will penalize you for going more than 300 words without inserting a sub-header. There are many different subheading choices in WordPress and it’s best to familiarize yourself with all of them. Here’s a quick breakdown of when to use each one:
- H1– Main title
- H2– A theme/main topic in your text
- H3– Contained within the H2’s. When you have a stand out point in that realm of discussion, but it isn’t stand out ish enough for its own sub-header.
Understanding how Yoast SEO works and how it measures readability may seem like a lot of information, but with practice comes perfect.
Still need more help on improving readability in your blog articles and getting the green light?
At VPDM, our team of professionals can help you in developing compelling blogs for your website, that are structured with great readability.
Contact us today to get professional help from our team.