It’s not enough to regularly update your blog. That’s a good first step for your small business, but it’s also necessary to make sure each post is easily readable. So, what does that mean exactly?
Think of readability as a measure of how easy it is for people of all knowledge levels to understand what you’ve written. Your visitors may read at a lower grade level than you think. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your content more readable, plus free tools to enhance the process.
- Use simple words when possible.
It’s tempting to choose advanced words when crafting a post, especially when trying to build credibility. However, lofty language can become intimidating. It’s best to strive for simplicity in your posts without dumbing down the content.
Taking that approach could help your business sell more because it tends to result in a highly relatable tone. Simple words could also make it easier to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question audiences usually ask.
Try Hemingway to see if most of the words in your blog posts have more straightforward alternatives. Simply paste your content into the text field after clicking the “Write” tab. Then go to the “Edit” tab and review the color-coded suggestions. Find out if different words would boost simplicity, and get warnings when sentences are difficult to read.
- Write relevant headlines.
Think of your blog’s headline, or title, as something that sets expectations about the deeper sections of content and grabs attention. A misleading headline not only negatively impacts readability but could also make readers feel they shouldn’t trust what you write.
Depending on your blog goals, you may also want to write a headline that evokes specific emotions, especially if the blog talks about what your business did for a good cause in the community, or how you are shifting strategies to become more environmentally friendly. The headline is a relatively small part of an overall post, but it’s crucial.
Use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to determine whether your blog’s headlines need improvement. Just paste your headline into the box, fill out a short signup form and get results about word choices, length and whether the headline facilitates content skimming. Also, get actionable tips for making changes, if necessary.
- Get to the point quickly.
Perhaps you tend to get a bit long-winded when writing blog posts. That could be OK if you’re trying to explain something complicated, but it might also cause your readers to get bored. If that happens, they probably won’t buy things from your site or take part in other desired actions. They may get so fed up that they don’t come back to the website again.
The VisibleThread Clarity Grader is a free tool that illuminates whether you’re taking too long to say what readers need to know. Among other things, it checks for long sentences and even tells you the number of words used in each one. Paste a block of text into the Text Analysis section on the right side, then click the orange “Score My Text” button.
- Make the text accessible.
In the introduction, we talked about how readability is partially a measure of how easy it is to understand the text. If the content comes across as too highbrow, people might quickly decide, “This is out of my league” and look elsewhere to get their needs met.
Several readability indices indicate whether your text is universally understandable or only at the reading comprehension level of a highly educated person. Instead of relying on several tools to check those indices, you can use just one. It’s called Readable.
The tool tells you the average grade level for the text then offers more specific insights. Even better, corresponding descriptions say what your score means, along with measurements of syllables used and sentence length. The colored bars representing the readability indices show at a glance whether you’re meeting readability goals or still have a long way to go before reaching your ideal levels.
Having trouble fitting everything into one post? It might be better to split a long post into several blog entries. Doing so makes the content easier to digest.
- Write to spark curiosity.
Readability also relates to your post’s structure. Keep paragraphs short and organize them, so you draw readers in. They’ll scan the content and pull out the most important bits. Research suggests people only read about 18 percent of what’s on a page, so you’ve got to make a big impact quickly.
If you’re selling something and using the blog as a platform, don’t forget to mention the things that make your product stand out from the rest. Bullet points could help your points stick in your readers’ minds.
You may have heard about the importance of posting content regularly. That is a smart move, but only if it’s interesting stuff. Feeling stuck about what to write? Work with the Blogabout By Impact Title Generator and get ideas.
Insert a keyword, then follow the prompts. This tool could help you come up with subjects that capture attention. It’s up to you to craft good-quality content beyond the topics, thereby making people linger on your website for longer.
- Don’t let readability suffer while also focusing on SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimization, could make a big difference in where your website falls on search result lists. However, it’s important not to get so caught up in keyword usage that your content comes across as stilted and bland.
The Yoast SEO Free tool helps you remain mindful of good SEO practices while still making your blog posts engaging and maximally readable. As a result, you can anticipate higher traffic levels and more frequent visits from people who are truly interested in what you offer.
Hopefully, it’s now clear why readability is so important for your business blog. Thanks to these six tools, you can write more confidently and with greater clarity. Those characteristics could make your company seem more reputable and well-informed.
Kayla Matthews is a digital branding and marketing writer. Her work has appeared on Fast Company, Business Insider, VICE and Marketing Dive. To read more articles by Kayla, follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her productivity blog.