Optimizing Your Content for Better Readability

Research suggests that if you want to stand a better chance at increasing your organic rankings, then optimizing your content for better readability is one way to go about it. Search engines like Google do not consider your content’s readability score when they decide where to rank you. But improving your content’s readability does affect how the user engages with the page, which is one thing Google does consider – user behavior.

Readability is about making your content clear and easy to understand. It’s also about using simple everyday language and structuring your sentences in a manner that flows and connects.

It’s said that the average reader spends roughly 37 seconds scanning through content online. That’s how long you have to grab their attention, get them reading more, and hopefully convince them to click “play” or “purchase”. Or at least get them interested in reading all the information on your page.

Readability scores

Know the Reading Ability of Your Target Audience

US illiteracy statistics from the Literacy Project Foundation says that the average reading age for your target market is often lower than you think. It states that the average American has a reading ability equivalent to a 7th or 8th grader, which is around 12 to 14 years old in the US.  The SEO Writing Assistant tool on SEMrush somewhat agrees with this. This tool recommends you optimize your content to meet the educational level of an 8th or 9th grader.

How to Make Your Content Read Better

There are various ways to go about creating content that’s easy to read. Below we discuss a few of those options.

Quality Content

You are wasting time and energy if your writing isn’t of good quality. This is the starting point. So if you don’t have this under control first, then the points that follow don’t matter. You must have interesting information delivered in a compelling way and it must be free of silly mistakes and grammatical errors.

Short Paragraphs

short paragraphs

We know that a paragraph is a group of related sentences that speak about the main idea. It is advisable to limit your paragraphs to 3 or 4 lines. The SEO Writing Assistant tool recommends between 2 and 4 line sentences per paragraph. Also, be particular about where you split your paragraph. The next paragraph should have a new point or at least have a different angle to the first to avoid fragmenting your idea and losing the point you are trying to make.

Mixed Length Sentences

different sentence lengths

Long sentences are hard to follow on mobile and desktop. But you can get away with it if your paragraph consists of sentences with varying lengths. This adds tempo to your paragraphs and helps the text sound better. Short sentences that are the same length tend to sound robotic. We don’t want that. When you write, try to voice out your sentences and pay attention to the way they sound. If that’s not how you would speak to a friend, then rephrase the sentence to make it sound more natural.

Headings and Subheadings


H2’s can increase the amount of time users spend on your page. By skimming the page, users get a brief indication of the kind of content they can expect. And if it’s the information they are looking for, then there is a good chance that they’ll stay on the page and engage further.


Bullet points

The rule of thumb is that if you are stating three or more items or facts, make them bullet points. This greatly enhances readability.

Use Transition Words

We mentioned previously that sentences must flow and connect with one another. Transition words help to achieve that. Examples of transition words include ‘but’, ‘however’, and ‘in addition to’.

Use Images

You might think that images can’t make content read better when in fact they can. Using appropriate images can help break the monotony of text only pages. This makes your information look more appealing and does a good job at separating sections.


Flow and Connectivity is Key

We mentioned in one of the points above that your paragraphs need to connect and flow. Up next is how to do that by means of a “bucket brigade”.

A bucket brigade describes a chain of people who pass buckets of water to one another to extinguish a fire. In SEO it refers to a series of words that bridges one idea to the next in order to keep the flow. Transition words have their own function but you will find that they can also help with creating flow.

The table below offers a few bucket brigade options that you can use in your content:

Introductory ContentConclusion
Imagine what it would be likeLet me show you howLet’s recap
Do you want to learn how toLet me explainIn conclusion
Have you wondered whyLet’s get startedIn summary
Have you ever found yourselfLet’s dig a little deeperIn a nutshell

In a nutshell…

Content readability may not have a direct impact on the ranking of your page or website, but it does affect how users interact with your page. It’s a good idea to ensure that your content is of high quality and reads well to avoid users bouncing off your page or site in search of something better. Optimizing your content for better readability will enhance user experience, and may be beneficial to your overall SEO as well.