How to Increase the Readability of Your Content
Content marketing is an essential part of growing your brand. Whether you’re using blog posts, tutorials, email newsletters, or instructional articles in order to reach your target audience, this content will not have the impact that you’d like if people have trouble reading it.
The average person has an attention span of 8 seconds. So, after reading an intro paragraph, if the quality of the content isn’t up to par, they’ll start skimming the rest of the article or close the tab in their browser. This can be avoided by improving the readability of your content.
You should always write for a human audience first and search engines last. If you plan on adding keywords into your content, do so afterwards.
It’s easier to work in this order. You can easily work keywords into your content, without affecting the overall readability of your content.
Sometimes Short Really Is Sweet
Keep it short. This applies to just about everything. You should use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Imagine that you’re explaining your topic to a middle school student and not an educated adult.
You should try to limit your paragraphs to two or three sentences. The sentences should be kept to less than 14 words, on average. Though, some may be shorter or longer. In fact, including a mixture of short, medium, and long sentences can help with the flow of your content.
Plain English Actually Helps
Also, cut down on the use of big words. If you have trouble getting rid of lengthy words, use a thesaurus.
Avoid the use of jargon. You never want to assume that your readers will know what this jargon means. The same applies to slang.
We live in a world where people from all over can read your posts. Not everyone that is going to read your content will speak English as their first language. Translation software may not always get the use of slang or jargon. So, avoid the use of these words in your content.
Along with jargon, the use acronyms should also be avoided. Again, you don’t want to make assumptions. If the acronym is essential to your content, then make sure that you define it the first time it is used. You want to make sure that your readers understand what you’re talking about.
For example, if you are going to use the term SEO, even though it is widely known, actually write out the phrase search engine optimization. You can then place the acronym in parentheses. Later in your content, readers will know what SEO stands for when it appears.
Get A Spell Checker
(Yes, I know the US and UK don't agree ;0)
Don’t forget to check spelling and grammar. Almost every word processing program includes a spell checker. You can also download and install additional grammar checkers.
It’s also a good idea to proofread your content. Spelling and grammar checkers don’t always catch every little mistake. The best way to proofread is to read your content out loud, otherwise, you’re likely to miss the same mistakes as your grammar checker.
As a final tip, you should check the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Scale. In Microsoft Word, this is included as a part of the spell checker. It’s also found in several SEO plugins for WordPress.
This scale will tell you the average length of your sentences and paragraphs, along with an average number of characters per word. Use this to determine which areas need tweaking.
Readability can have a big impact on whether or not people actually enjoy your content. You can post several blog posts per day, but if people can’t read them, they won’t get shared.
We'd all like to create great pros and go into detail about our chosen subject. But it can be tricky. Typing it out like an SMS is off limits, but then again so is Shakespeare.
Try find a happy balance that fits well with your customers and can be absorbed easily by potential customers who may be completely new to your scene.