Here at Critics Rant we have a passion for great content and great web sites.Anyone can launch a website these days and fill it with great copy, but conversions are far from guaranteed.
Why? Because people react to a lot more than just your writing skills. What if the content you publish online is too wordy and complex? If you make it hard for people to understand your copy, you risk losing important conversions that could have significantly improved your bottom line. Even if your content is meaningful and masterfully crafted, it won’t engage visitors if it isn’t readable.
Readability is one of the most vital elements of a site. It is the environment in which a site’s copy thrives, so you want it to be good!
In laymen’s terms, good website readability makes your copy more enticing and intrigues your visitors to explore further. Plus, since it’s a crucial part of your user experience (website UX), it has an indirect impact on a website’s SERP rankings. Every site and blog requires good readability. Otherwise, it’s easy to leak visitors.
Why Is Readability Important?
According to Nielsen Norman Group’s research, 79 percent people quickly go through any new webpage they come across while only 16 percent make the effort to read its contents word by word. The former skims words quickly, and in a non-liner manner, a behavior commonly seen in people when they read print.
The same applies today, with people reading just 28 percent of the copy present on the page on an average web visit. And if the webpage makes it difficult for them to comprehend the copy inside, they leave within a few seconds.
As a site owner you want people to read the majority of the things you’ve published. You want your content to make an impact, as well as encourage people to click the “Contact Us/Order Now/Buy Now” button. That’s only possible when the average web visitor understands your copy. Failure to improve readability can cause visitor to abandon your webpage at first sight.
Top Tips for Improving Your Website’s Readability
1) Analyze It Objectively
No matter what your existing approach to readability, it isn’t easy to figure out how readable a copy is. That said, there are standard tools that assist site owners in objectively comparing different variants of the same copy. They do this by analyzing how complicated the sentence structure and wording is, and then assigning a grade level or a numerical score to the copy.
In the US, for instance, the average grade level is 7-8, which means that most individuals are fine with reading content that can be easily understood by children between 11 to 13 years of age.
The three of the most popular readability tests for grading website copy are Gunning-Fog, Flesch-Kincaid Tests and SMOG. Blog and site owners are recommended to conduct multiple tests using these tools if they want to accurately measure content readability.
2) Utilize the Capability of Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO might be popular in SEO circles, but it does a lot more for site owners than just optimizing their webpages for search engines. It also helps internet marketers to optimize their blog posts for good readability by analyzing the copy. Then it lists certain steps that you can take to enhance readability. Other than that, you can use a writing tool like Grammarly or Hemingway to improve your grammar and formatting.
In addition, there are tools that’ll let you examine the readability of other areas of your content. For instance, you can use a plugin such as OptinMonster to test opt-in forms of emails to see if there’s an opportunity to improve your lead generation rate through A/B split testing. It will let you A/B test different font sizes, font styles, and pictures to see what works and what doesn’t.
3) Keep Sentences & Paragraphs Short
Take out your morning newspaper and give it a quick read. What do you notice? If it’s not apparent to you already, you must have seen that the majority of paragraphs are three to four sentences. It’s ideal to apply the same rule when it comes to blog copy. Stick to mentioning one key point in each paragraph and strictly avoid using more than 5 paragraphs below a sub-heading.
When it comes to sentences, stay away from using complex, long-winded. As the text on a digital screen is more challenging to read than text published in a traditional book, it’s vital that you keep those sentences as concise as you can. A good way to go about it is to limit one sentence into one thought. Also, consider breaking longer sentences into multiple short ones.
Note: To keep sentences short, use two-and-one-syllable phrases where possible. Avoid the use of long words unless they’re used in practical life and visitors are familiar with them.
4) See If Visitors Can Easily Comprehend Your Copy
Go through the following two sentences:
- Mark played the ball through the legs of his opponent
- Mark did a nutmeg
If you put both these sentences through the readability test, they’re going to return a good result. Both of these sentences are short, and make use of a few syllables. While the first understand can be easily understood by anyone, the second one has a deeper meaning that might require interest in football to completely understand. That’s why site owners should make sure that their copy isn’t only simple to read, but it’s also simple to comprehend.
You can use a Cloze Test to understand how comprehensible and familiar your content is to the average visitor. In this test, people are given with a text block and every sixth or fifth word is taken out. They then have to fill these blanks to the best of their ability. Their score is determined based on how many words they fill n correctly. If people get more than 60 percent of the blanks right, you can be certain that the content is quite comprehendible.
5) Use a Good Design & Conversational Tone
You might not be aware that your content’s design can also improve its readability. Most readability checkers don’t mention this fact. For instance, the font you use can make a significant difference in how readers go through your webpages. The best practice is to select a headline font that’s contrasting with the font of the content’s body.
Other than that, make sure all the fonts are big enough to comprehend. Likewise, the fonts’ color should contrast with the color of the background (remember the awful design choices of the 90s? Avoid doing that to your website!). Also, avoid such as scrolling text.
Fostering engagement, however, requires you to integrate something interesting and relevant for visitors. To that end, consider using analogies, smiles, and metaphors to help bring dry content to life.
In addition to taking these measures, you can read some of the top websites run by copywriting experts. An example is the Copyblogger blog by Brian Clarke. See how their blog posts are formatted and understand the references and analogies they use for engaging site visitors. At the end of the day, practice will be the thing that’ll make your readability down the road. Good readability will then improve conversions. Keep reading, tweaking, crafting, and practicing.