This is great advice from Marieke van de Rakt, a PhD in Social Sciences and the better half of that king of SEO, Joost de Valk, creator of Yoast SEO.
Search Engine Optimization helps take interesting and readable content farther across online and digital. The keyword is readable. If the premise or core thought of your content is interesting but it isn’t readable, the audiences who come to your site will likely quit sooner than you think possible. And mentally bookmark your site as obtuse, boring, uninteresting. Damned.
So however smart and strategic your SEO, writing readable content is critical to success. And who better to advise bloggers aspiring to expressing their thoughts in a smarter, more readable fashion than Marieke?
Read Hemingway, Steinbeck or Orwell, and you will marvel at their brevity, simplicity and brilliant vocabulary. The simplest, most direct English is also the most difficult to write. Now we aren’t trying to write Orwellian prose or content; merely trying to emulate the simplicity and evocative impactfulness. You must, of course, retain your own, personal, conversational style when you write. But you must try to make your content both, readable, and impactful.
So here’re five tips for writing readable content, taken from Marieke van de Rakt, from www.yoast.com. Over to Marieke. – Pavan R Chawla
Reading from a screen can be hard. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure your blog post is easy to read. Posts that are nice and easy to read will result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. In this blog post, I’ll give five tips on how to improve the readability of your blog post!
Focus on your audience!
The most important advice I would give you, is to make sure your text isn’t too difficult for the audience you’re writing for. If you write about LEGO and focus on kids, your text should be easy to read. But, if your audience consists of scientists with a Ph.D., your text could be much more difficult and still be suitable. The five tips I present below should thus be seen as general rules. For some audiences, a text should be made even more simple, while for other audiences the rules will be a bit too strict.
Tip 1: Clear paragraphs
Make sure to write clear paragraphs. For a blog post, we would advise you to always start your paragraph with the most important sentence. Then explain or elaborate on that sentence. This way a reader will be able to grasp the most relevant content from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. Make sure paragraphs aren’t too long (7 or 8 sentences is quite long already).
Tip 2: Short sentences
Try to write short sentences. Short sentences are easier to read and understand than long sentences. Above that, you will be less likely to make mistakes in grammar as your sentences are rather short. We consider sentences containing more than 20 words as lengthy. Try to limit these lengthy sentences. Make sure you only have a few sentences in a blog post that count more than 20 words. Also, make sure a paragraph doesn’t contain more than one long sentence.
Tip 3: Limit difficult words
Limit the use of words that are difficult to read. Remember that reading from a screen is harder for everyone. Words that contain four or more syllables are considered difficult to read. Make sure to limit the use of such difficult words.
Of course, in some cases, your blog post just is about something that is difficult to explain or requires a more advanced vocabulary. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about illustrations. Illustrations is a word containing four syllables and can therefore be seen as a difficult word. Still, I had to use that word (and quite often too). In such cases, make sure your sentences and paragraphs aren’t too long and your readers will still be fine!
Tip 4: Use transition words
A text can be made much more readable with the use of proper transition words (or signal words, same thing). Transition words are words like ‘most important’, ‘because’, ‘thus’, or ‘besides that’. They give direction to your readers. These words give a signal that something is coming up: if you’re summarizing, you’ll use first, second, third etc. If you want to contrast you’ll write same, less, rather, while or either. If you want to conclude, you’ll use hence, consequently or therefore.
Using transition words will be like putting cement between your sentences. The relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of transition words. Readers will understand your content much better if you make proper use of these kinds of words.
Tip 5: Mix it up!
For a text to be attractive to a reader, it should be very varied. This means that you should try to mix it up a little! Alternate longer paragraphs and sentences with short ones and attempt to use synonyms if you tend to use a word very often. Some people use the word ‘and’ or ‘too’ very often. Mixing it up with ‘also’ or ‘moreover’ could make a text more attractive and much more readable too.
If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make a text more difficult than necessary. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway can help you to write a readable text. At Yoast, we’re currently developing new checks to be added to our content analysis. We aim to include several readability checks as well. That way, you’ll be able to check whether your text is SEO friendly and readable at the same time.
Another way to make sure a text is readable is by choosing the right typography. You shouldn’t use a small font and make sure the spacing between lines is wide enough.