If you have your blog or website analyzed, either with a free tool, or a professional, you will see some interesting metrics. You will receive a website grade and one of these measurements is readability level. So what is the optimal reading level for a blog? Meaning, what is the level of schooling one would need to comprehend your content? Let’s find out.
Are Your Readers Dumb?
Don’t be ridiculous. Of course your readers are not dumb. Content on your blog however, needs to be easily consumed and therefore have a readability level of elementary/primary school.
This is for the sole purpose of allowing content to be understood across several realms. For instance, if your blog is in English and you have traffic from other countries, you need to ensure information is presented so everyone can easily understand.
It’s necessary to think outside the box in terms of your audience. Yes, you can consider whether they are male/female, where they are from, age…blah blah blah.
You need to also consider that some of your readers will have cognitive learning disabilities, some may be audio learners and have the information read to them, some may even be blind. Blind visitors need to understand the words being spoken to them which is another damn good reason to have the “alt” attribute for photos.
Remember, we write for humans first and search engines second. Now, I am not dumb or stupid or ignorant by any stretch of the imagination. But I have left some blogs because I couldn’t understand what the heck they were talking about! It was an explosion of words that I needed a dictionary or Alex Trebec to understand.
Did you know that there are actual web rules or rather, guidelines for websites? It’s actually called the Web Content Accessability Guidelines. Guideline #14 is to ensure that documents are clear and simple.
If the world wide web says you should make content easy to understand, then don’t you think you should do it?! There are actually a couple different readability tests that can determine your blog/website levels.
The main readability tests used for these purposes are; Gunning-Fog Index, Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid. All three are based on different algorithms and the results returned are somewhat different.
To give you an idea of how one of these tests displays results, I have included below a graph which includes some materials along with a number. The number in the Gunning-Fog index represents how many years of schooling one would need to digest the information.
|6||TV guides, The Bible, Mark Twain|
|8 – 10||Most popular novels|
|11||Wall Street Journal|
|14||The Times, The Guardian|
|15 – 20||Academic papers|
|Over 20||Only government sites can get away with this, because you can’t ignore them.|
|Over 30||The government is covering something up|
You can see from the above chart that if your site returns a 30 or higher, you better check your phone for FBI taps!
The Bottom Line
I continue to say that running a blog is not rocket science. So you better not be presenting your content as such either. Break up your paragraphs into easy chunks of information. Don’t make me “phone a friend” to figure out what you mean.
Think about every possible person that could be reading your blog. Like Denzel Washington said in the movie Philadelphia, ‘explain it to me like I’m a 4 year old.” Write as if your explaining something to someone who has never heard one word of your topic.
Okay, your turn now. Use this free tool to find your blog readability level. This tool will give you results for several readability tests. Were you surprised at your results?
Let me know your thoughts and NO my readers are not dumb. I am thrilled to be a grade 4 blog!