Readability measures how easy it is to understand the content and how long it takes for an average person to read it.
To check the readability of a text, you need to analyse the style, the grammar, the structure of the text, and more. While it seems like a big feat, using the right tools will quickly teach you how to write a readable copy.
As a starting point, we would recommend using one of these tools to test the readability of a website:
If you’re on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin gives you the readability score in its free version. And if you’re less of a “cloud person”, Microsoft Word has a built-in readability checker that most people aren’t aware of.
People always want to find the right information as fast as possible. When using the Internet, they have short attention spans. Pair that with the fact that written language is more complex than spoken and that reading from a screen usually takes longer than reading a print text, and we have a deadly combination.
There’s a common misconception that a readable text is “basic”, or that it’s aimed at young people of school age. A readability score is not a benchmark of your knowledge or sophistication. The purpose is simplify the user experience. Even if your highly educated audience can read a harder piece of content, it will take longer for them to do so. Regardless of your niche, improving readability is crucial.
We gave you the tools and the reasoning – so now when is your text considered “readable”? Our rule of thumb for web copy is a Flesch Reading Ease of 60 or more, on a scale of up to 100. As a fun fact, the Flesch scale has no lower limit. Yes, we’ve seen text go into negative values!
To give you a general idea of how easy it is to read the text based on its score, here’s how each style is described:
For context, an 11-year old will easily understand text that scores over 90. People aged 13 to 15 can usually understand anything above 60, and scores under 30 are best understood by university graduates.
Have you seen this alert before and wondered what to do to improve readability?
The copy scores [X] in the test, which is considered very difficult to read. Try to write shorter sentences, using less difficult words to improve readability.
The best part about readability is its simple formula. You don’t need any tools to improve your copy. We’d still advise using the aforementioned readability checkers to verify, but here’s everything you need to know about the formula:
So in essence, you only need to do two things to create readable content:
Readability is important, but it’s not the ultimate solution to your problems. Here are other tips that will improve your writing:
Does your content pass the 60+ Flesch Reading Ease rule? Let us know in the comments.
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In our article about the top accessibility tips for website editors, readability is one of the key points. Making the content easier to read benefits people with various disabilities. It even goes as far as benefiting the vision-impaired members of your audience. Copy that is easier to read will also be read out faster by screen readers. When you cut the fluff, everyone wins.
We’ve mentioned that written language takes more effort to understand than spoken. In short, it’s more natural. As you may know, SEO has long evolved from being an algorithm obsessed with keyword stuffing. It’s all about the users now. And the thing is – people don’t search like machines. They use natural phrases and in 2017 Google confirmed that 15% of daily searches have never been seen before.
So the bottom line is to keep it natural. People search using simple, readable queries and they will appreciate it if the answers follow suit. Of course, there is time and place for everything – but aligning your content with the user expectations is the best direction you can take. It can also future-proof your business, as natural language will help you rank for the keywords frequently asked via voice search. That’s a rather nice side effect, don’t you think?
So what’s the average readability score on your website? Drop the number in the comments and let’s work from there.
Yoast SEO, the plugin that helps you set up SEO settings in WordPress and measures the readability of your pages, is one of the essential plugins we recommend for every WordPress website.
“How To Write Your Website Content” is a 92-page ebook that aims to help you hit the ground running. We’ve compiled our 20+ years of content and copywriting experience and included our bespoke Website Messaging Workshop framework as a bonus.
The target for website readability is more than 60.0 points on the Flesch Reading Ease scale.
You can use the following free tools to test the readability of your website:
ProWritingAid (run the “Readability” report; the tool is free for text up to 500 words)
Web FX readability test tool
Yes, but not directly. It’s important to understand that User Experience is an important SEO factor. Websites that are easier and faster to read will improve your engagement metrics, which can potentially boost your rankings in search engines.
To improve the readability of your content: use fewer adverbs, avoid passive voice, forget long subordinate clauses, don’t use sticky sentences, and improve the variety of sentence lengths. Above everything else, be natural and don’t flatter your audience. A copy that is easier to read is better for everyone, even the geniuses that you might be targeting.
Following the guidelines from this article, you’ll be able to improve the readability score on WordPress. The score is provided by the Yoast SEO plugin and uses the Flesch Reading Ease algorithm described in the blog post.
The readability score in WordPress uses the Flesch Reading Ease scale. The scale takes into account the average word count per sentence and the average syllables per word. Readability measures how easy it is to understand the content and how long it takes for an average person to read it.
Originally published Aug 13, 2021 4:20:40 PM, updated October 21 2023.