Is content still important? Are you kidding?
Think about this. Google ranks your online presence according to keywords. The operative word is, well, “word”. Without a steady infusion of quality content, there’s nothing to help you show up in search engines, to increase your Google authority.
So how to increase your readability? Keep it simple
Explain things as clearly as possible. Shockingly, the average American reads at an eighth-grade level. It’s time to start dummying down our delivery. Long sentences, long words, buzzwords, acronyms and industry jargon are going to confuse some readers, so they quickly move on.
Here are some guidelines for increasing your readability
1. Create a customer focus that:
- Is genuinely useful to the reader. Provide information that helps readers do their jobs.
- Has a practical application. This isn’t just about you. Think about how your readers can benefit. People should be able to relate to this.
- Answers aquestion or solves a problem.
- Informs, entertains or educates.
2. Revise to determine readability level
- For maximum comprehension, think of your target audience reading at an eighth-grade level.
- If you haven’t created a persona, this is a good time to do it. Identify your target audience by developing comprehensive demographic information—not necessarily your existing audience, but those clients with whom you’d liketo be working.
3. Shorten sentences
Break ‘em up. It’s easy for readers to get lost in a sea of phrases, clauses and complex punctuation. Digital devices have created new usage standards.
4. Reduce the number of long words
Unless you’re in a highly technical industry or have a very sophisticated audience, avoid/limit multisyllabic words. Edit your content and find words that are more accessible.
5. Scrub your copy of buzzwords, geekspeak, jargon and acronyms
While these words may be old hat to you, they can be totally foreign to an industry outsider. If you must use challenging terms, carefully explain them.
6. Avoid overusing adverbs
We all overwork adverbs, leaving a swath of muddled sentences. Not sure what an adverb is? They’re words like reallyand very. They answer questions of how, what, when, where and why. (My mom was an English teacher.) These words frequently don’t add value.
7. Create a balance between formal and conversational
Create your own style, but a conversational approach makes the experience more personal, even for B2B audiences. Don’t be afraid to interject your own personality and opinions—those who love and agree with you will love you more. Those who don’t? Well . . .
8. Get feedback and proofread
As writers, we become too close to our work. If you have the luxury of another person who will check for mistakes and areas of improvement, you’re lucky. Alternately, I’ve found it helpful to write an article one day, then come back to it at a later time—it gives me a new perspective. This requires planning ahead, but it helps me streamline my writing and correct mistakes.