Trying to get your blog posts to rank as highly as possible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) sure is a challenge. I mean, there’s so much to think about, from keyword insertion to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) formatting.
However, one way you can increase your chances of going from page 5 to page 1 is to improve your blog post readability.
After all, the digital reader is busy, and they could be checking out your blog on a computer, iPad or phone. If your writing isn’t easy to read, they’re unlikely to stick around for long.
Consequently, this can negatively impact your blog’s bounce rate, page-views and overall SEO score. (And we don’t want that, right?)
How Do I Find My Blog Readability Score?
First things first, if you’re serious about improving your blog post SEO to rank higher on Google and boost your website traffic, you’ll probably have already downloaded the YOAST WordPress plugin.
(And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?)
For those of you who don’t know, this is a free tool that scores your blog posts against SEO best practises. Once you’ve downloaded the plugin, you’ll find the YOAST widget at the bottom of each blog post editor (under the “Posts” section of your WordPress dashboard).
As well as an “SEO” tab, there will be a “Readability” tab.
Once your blog post is written, you will find suggestions on the things you can do to improve your readability under this tab. Your aim is to score higher according to the Flesch Reading Ease test.
What is the Flesch Readability Score?
The Flesch Reading Ease test measures the readability of a text, taking into account the average number of words per sentence and syllables per word. It then calculates a score between 0 and 100.
A score of 100 means that the text contains short sentences and small words and is super easy to read. On the other hand, a score of 0 means that the text has long sentences and is wordy, which makes it rather difficult to read.
It’s important to make your blog post as easy to understand as possible so you can achieve a desirable score above 60-70. Then you can say goodbye to the red or amber light on the YOAST plugin and hello to a constant sea of green! Wahoo.
7 Ways to Improve Your Blog Post Readability
Now, if you are seeing nothing but red and amber lights via the YOAST plugin, don’t worry. You can improve your blog post readability in the following ways.
1. Use Active Voice Versus Passive Voice
First of all, write simply. And the best way to do this is by using the active voice as opposed to the passive voice.
Why? Well, because the passive voice makes sentences wordy and more complex.
As a result, it requires more cognitive effort from your reader, which means they’ll spend more working memory on making sense of the sentence. Your message then becomes distorted and unclear. (And that’s not cool!)
For instance, which sentence do you think reads better?
- The products can be ordered and shipped on Next Day Delivery.
- You can order products to be shipped on Next Day Delivery.
(Hopefully, you agree that it’s #2!)
2. Incorporate Transition Words
Transition words really help to structure your blog posts and provide direction for your readers.
Some examples include:
- Comparison/contrast — similarly, likewise, rather
- Enumeration — first of all, also, furthermore
- Conclusion — as a result, consequently, therefore
- Cause — because, due to, for the reason that
- Emphasis — above all, certainly, even more
- Fuzzy signals — seems like, probably, maybe
Sprinkle transition words where it makes sense throughout your blog post to drastically improve its flow.
In the long run, this can attract more readers to your blog, as well as contribute to its overall SEO score. Win-win.
3. Stick to Short Sentences
Needless to say, longer sentences are harder to read than shorter sentences.
In fact, the YOAST plugin recommends a 20-word maximum for each sentence if you want to make Google (and the digital reader) do a happy dance!
That said, don’t just use short sentences throughout your whole blog post. Try to vary your sentence length while sticking to the “less than 20 words” rule the best you can.
Why? Well, after a while, short sentences can sound incredibly monotonous. It can also be difficult to convey your message in just a few words per sentence.
4. Use Short Paragraphs
Speaking of all things short, blog posts with short paragraphs are much easier to read than blog posts with long paragraphs.
In fact, blog posts that are easy to scan have been proven to rank better on search engines. This is down to the fact that big walls of text aren’t exactly good for user experience. Busy digital readers don’t have time to sift through a clunky blog post to find the information that they want.
Instead, they’re likely to go elsewhere, which results in a higher website bounce rate and your blog losing a future reader, subscriber and/or customer.
To avoid this, stick to 1-2 sentences per paragraph as a general rule.
5. Avoid Filler Content
Sometimes “filler” words contribute to sentences that are longer in length. I’m talking about the following:
- Be sure to use this product — Use this product
- There are some ways you can improve your SEO — Improve your SEO
- The most important thing you can do when blogging is avoid filler content — Avoid filler content when blogging
As I mentioned previously, write as simply and concisely as possible. Your main aim is to produce direct, to-the-point content that delivers extreme value to your reader.
6. Don’t Use Consecutive Sentences Starting with the Same Word
The YOAST plugin also does a consecutive sentences check. This will determine whether you’ve used three or more sentences in a row starting with the same word (including headings).
Don’t get me wrong, we all love a bit of triplication. (You know, the technique that we were taught produced an effective piece of writing in English class at school.)
That said, starting the technique with the same word in each sentence is just not great from an SEO perspective. It won’t be nice to read. It will feel repetitive. It will lack flow.
(See what I did there?)
Therefore, make your blog posts easier to read by avoiding this at all costs.
7. Write for Humans First
Lastly, try to be personal with your tone.
I realise this can be challenging when you’re trying to remember all these other rules. But I was always taught to write blog posts for humans first and then optimise them for search engines later.
After all, it’s humans that are reading your posts thoroughly, soaking up the information and establishing a relationship with you.
Ultimately, you want them to enjoy reading your blog and keep coming back. Right?
If you need a full, detailed breakdown on how to write and optimise blog posts for search engines, the “Superstar Your Blog Post SEO” eBook has got you covered.
Boosting Blog Readability Without Sacrificing Your Writing Style
Figuring out how to improve your blog post readability can take time and effort. However, it’s worth doing to reap the rewards when it comes to a higher ranking in SERPs, more blog traffic and more readers.
Just make sure you don’t end up sacrificing your writing style in the process.
At the end of the day, it’s what makes you who you are. And people often follow a blog because they like the blogger and want to keep following their journey.
How do you like to improve your blog post readability? Have my tips helped you? Let me know in the comments!