Content Readability and Its Effect On SEO
When improving the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your website, it’s all good and well optimizing your content with keywords and meta tags. However, if your content doesn’t read well then chances are that it won’t stay on page one of Google for very long.
SEO is an important marketing strategy for businesses looking to reach potential customers online. However, when trying to optimize content for Search Engines, it can be easy to forget that the primary audience should always be the user. If your optimized article doesn’t read well, then users will quickly leave your website and this will have a negative effect on your SEO in the long run. Here’s why.
How SEO works
The key priority for Search Engines is that they match users with the information and websites that are most relevant to their query. This involves matching users with websites that contain the content they are looking for (via keywords), but it also takes into account other factors like the authenticity of the site (established via external links) and looks at website bounce rates.
Google’s algorithms examine a range of factors that help them to determine the relevance and credibility of a website. These include bounce rate (visitors that enter and leave a website without going on to any other pages) and the length of time that the user spends reading the content.
Readability is not directly referenced as one of the many ranking factors for SEO, however, the importance of quality of content is constantly referenced. It seems that writing for search engines, over the user, has detrimental effects on rankings in the long term.
If you are familiar with SEO, then you are probably aware of the importance of writing longer content. This is because Search Engines favor longer content because quite simply, it is more likely to answer the users’ query.
In fact, a recent study found that the average Google first page result contained 1,447 words.
That’s a considerable amount more than the 600 words that most marketers aim for.
Furthermore, the volume of information that longer content provides means that it is more likely to enquire quality backlinks from other sites, as well as more social shares.
Incorporating your target keywords into your headlines and content is important, however overusing or keyword stuffing, can have negative impacts on your SEO. Search Engines are clever and well versed with marketing tactics, so overusing keywords will raise red flags and just look spammy. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to use your keywords more than five times in a standard blog post.
Grammar and spelling
Grammar and spelling also impact the readability of your content. Although using the wrong there and they’re isn’t directly penalized by Google, a badly written copy is likely to be deemed untrustworthy by users.
This may result in users losing interest in the website, leading to a high bounce rate and subsequently, poor SEO.
Reading level is quite simply, how sophisticated the content is that you are publishing. When writing for SEO purposes, it is important that the information you are presenting is clear and straight to the point. Most of us have short attention spans these days, so it’s important to break up longer content with subheadings and images so that users can scroll through the copy to find the information that they need.
Like with all marketing tactics, it’s important to know who your target audience is. This enables you to write for the reading level of those users and excludes those who are not. This will help to improve the likelihood that users who reach your article will actually engage with it.
These days, more and more people are switching to voice search as a means to find information. In fact, global smart speaker sales reached a high of 150 million units in 2020.
Voice search is becoming a part of day-to-day routines and Search Engines are working to accommodate for this, presenting and ranking results in a voice-like manner.
This means that when ranking websites, Search Engines have a preference towards concise and easily understandable content. Ultimately, this works out well in the long run, as readable information is also better for users too.
Improve your website’s readability
If you are looking to improve the SEO of your website, then improving the readability of your content is a good place to start. There are numerous tools out there that can help you improve your writing, such as Grammarly and the Yoast Plugin for WordPress.
Remember, when trying to improve your SEO, the key is to write for your target audience and not just for Google.
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