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readability scores

Readability Scores

Readability Scores

Choose Your Level

This week readability scores came up more than once. A few complex topics needed simplifying. My clients want to simply inform their current customers about complicated topics, without condescension. So, we discussed the concept of “Readability Scores” and what that really means.

Some of what goes into web content or blog readability is about image placement, subheadings, bullet points and other things on a page that make it easier to read. That’s not what I am talking about here.

The Flesch Readability Scores Test

People mostly scan content on the web. Posts that are easy to read and scan make sense. The Flesch Reading Ease test scores the complexity of copy and rates it on a scale of 0 to 100 (see below). Generally, a score between 60 and 70 (8th to 9th grade) is considered typical for most industries.

Then again, many industries easily support more difficult text. A government website I worked with this week scored at a 20 to 30 level. The client preferred that the information from that website be rewritten for his customers in that 60 to 70 range.

 

Score

School level

Notes

100.00-90.00

5th grade

Very easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.

90.0–80.0

6th grade

Easy to read. Conversational English for consumers.

80.0–70.0

7th grade

Fairly easy to read.

70.0–60.0

8th & 9th grade

Plain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.

60.0–50.0

10th to 12th grade

Fairly difficult to read.

50.0–30.0

College

Difficult to read.

30.0–0.0

College graduate

Very difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Why Readability Scores Matter

Your readability scores influence how much time your visitors spend on your website. It may seem counterintuitive, but the easier readability scores tend to keep website visitors for longer. Readers bore easily. (Thanks for staying with me here!)

When your visitors stay on your website longer, your SEO ranking goes up. Google watches how long people stay on your site. If your nearest competitor engages readers for longer than you do, they are ranked above you.

Deliberate Choice is the Key

If you know me at all (and if you don’t, here’s a clue) you know how strongly I believe in deliberate choice. So, just like anything else, choose your readability score to fit with your audience, your subject and who you are. It is that combination that will make for successful web content.

Melody

P.S. The Flesch Readability Score of this post is 71.1

The picture is the view out my window. The mare’s name is Paloma (Dove), and the colt is Luz (or often Lucita, which means “Little Light”). The bushes are a salak (snake fruit) and mangosteen in my tropical fruit orchard here in Ecuador. 

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