Does legibility have a rank? About readability and search engine optimization • Yoast

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Marieke van de Rakt

Marieke van de Rakt is the CEO of Yoast. Her main focus is on growing the company. She attaches great importance to maintaining an open and friendly corporate culture. Marieke is also heavily involved in the marketing of Yoast and with the Yoast SEO Academy, the online course platform.

Is it worth making your text easy to read? Will it lead to higher rankings and more traffic? To put it more simply: does legibility have a rank? At Yoast, we believe that writing in simple and understandable language can and will bring you more visitors. We even developed a tool to help people write readable text. In this post we explain why search engines love easy-to-understand texts and give tips on creating them.

Tip: Take part in our free readability workshop on September 23rd!

You leave the workshop with a new or improved blog. Together with our CEO Marieke, you will work in a 30-minute session to make your content legible. Also, prepare all of your questions for the Q&A!

Well-written texts improve the user experience

At the risk of saying the obvious: Incomprehensible copies create a poor user experience. Nobody likes to read something that is difficult to understand, boring or crammed with keywords. All of your online copy should be targeted and focused on your audience. It should give them the information they need, a solution to their problem, or an answer to their question.

To get your pages high on Google, you can instinctively write text that search engines can easily understand. Which is not necessarily wrong. But first and foremost, you should create pages that will give your visitors a great copy (and experience). That fits well with our vision of holistic SEO. If you write a text that is difficult to understand, people will not find what they need. In addition, you will have dissatisfied visitors who will return straight to Google when they visit your website. Google analyzes such user signals to determine how visitors experience your website.

Search engines imitate people

There was a time when keyword filling worked in your copy. If you mentioned your keywords enough times in your text, Google would rate it highly for those keywords. Those days are long gone. Nowadays you have to pay attention to the keyword density of your text.

Google has gotten a lot better at recognizing quality content. For example, Google now recognizes synonyms. It also understands which words, entities and content are related to each other. In addition, search engines are getting better at predicting what people want to read. They can use the keywords in a person’s search query to estimate their search intent.

Overall, Google’s algorithm tries to imitate a human. It tries to read text like a human. Since Google is able to understand and scan texts in a human-like manner, legibility becomes more important for your rankings.

Voice search and accessibility

Lots of people use voice search, so Google and other search engines also focus heavily on language. Imagine a long paragraph made up of meandering sentences with lots of difficult words. Now imagine that this paragraph is read aloud. The speech result would be incomprehensible. Google wouldn’t want to use such an answer. Neither in the voice search nor in the normal results. This is another reason why readability helps your rankings. Google prefers texts that are easy to understand, even if they are read aloud using voice search.

But readability is also important when it comes to accessibility. You have to keep in mind that not everyone who visits your page experiences it the same way. Some visually impaired people may use a screen reader to go through your content. You don’t want them to leave your page because your text is just way too long. But that’s not all. Much like Google itself, they rely on the correct use of headings to understand what your text is about. Remember, accessibility is important, and not just for SEO.

What makes a text easy to read?

How do people read online texts? Of course, we all want to write this text that website visitors love to read from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Most of the time, people skim text, read subheadings, and the first few sentences of paragraphs they deem relevant. You’re looking for transitional words to quickly abstract what will be the main conclusion of an article.

Everything people do while reading your text is done by Google. This means that the structure of your text, the way you write your paragraphs, becomes more and more important. Core sentences – the first sentence of each paragraph – must contain the most important message in that paragraph. And a clear and logical structure in your text is invaluable.

Tips to keep your text readable

Let’s talk about how we can create simple reads. Before you start writing your text, think about the structure. What do you want to convey to your audience and in what order? Is that a logical order of the topics? Will your audience be able to follow your arguments, your examples, and your key message? Perhaps you should try to write content using the inverted pyramid style?

Try to use sentences that are as short as possible, as long sentences are much more difficult to process. Avoid or limit the number of difficult words in a text. Try not to use complicated sentences and try to avoid the passive voice. Also, be sure to write in an engaging style. This can be really difficult; Not everyone has a talent for creative writing. It helps to mix it up a little! Try alternating long sentences with shorter ones. Use synonyms. Avoid starting sentences with the same word. And check out our 5 tips for writing a readable blog post.

We know it’s hard to make a readable copy. Writing illegible text is a mistake that we see quite a bit. That’s why we developed a readability analysis in Yoast SEO. For example, it checks whether your sentences are not too long, whether you are not using the passive voice too often and whether the length of your paragraphs is correct. The analysis gives you tips on what to improve, and you can even see which sentences need a second look. We’re constantly tweaking it, adding new reviews, and translating it into as many different languages ​​as possible. We are currently up to 18 languages! The analysis is available in our free and premium Yoast SEO plugin.

One last tip: read aloud!

Google’s Gary Illyes once tweeted that you should read your text aloud. If it doesn’t read well or sounds strange, it probably won’t rank either.

To be clear: your rankings don’t go up immediately when you improve the readability of your texts. However, writing a readable blog post is an essential part of any SEO strategy. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post or page, your copy should be easy to read. Readable posts definitely lead to more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. In the long run: readability is ranked.

Read on: SEO Texts: The Complete Guide »

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