Article writers using content marketing often overlook content readability when composing their articles. Writing articles online for money must not only consider motivating readers to buy a product. To make money writing online, authors must also provide readable quality content.
With the advent of Google’s stated goal to improve a user’s search experience, many websites and articles lost their coveted positions in Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs). It is now, more than ever, that quality website content writing is king. Writing online for money as a means of ‘gaming’ the search engines through keyword stuffing, article blasts to thousands of article directories, and weak, poorly structured website content writing are gone.
Readability measures the grade level needed to understand any document. There are several schemes that are used to determine readability. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is one of better known and most used measurements. Your content writing can be much improved if you incorporate this measure into your article writing.
Although it has come under criticism for its simplicity, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale is still widely used and can give you an idea of your article’s readability.
You can determine your article’s readability with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale which assigns a grade level to the written material. MS Word provides a readability statistics feature found under the spell check tab that determines your article’s grade level reading score.
There are free utilities on the web that allow you to copy and paste your document and the utility will return the grade level score. There are others. Online-Utitility.org is one. You can find them with a ‘free readability tools’ search on the internet.
You can also use the Google ‘more search tools’ feature found at the bottom of the left navigation bar when doing a Google search and choosing ‘reading level’. The organic results will show ‘basic’, ‘intermediate’, or ‘advanced’ reading levels for each of the page results.
Although, the results may not be 100% accurate, they do give you an idea of the grade level that your article or page is written at. It may seem that I am putting much emphasis on readability and quality content. It is important to note when writing for the web that the content be easily understandable by your targeted reader. You make make money writing articles online by targeting your reader.
Ideal Reading Level
If you dumb down your website content writing, the reader may feel insulted and dismiss your words. If your words are too pedantic, readers may accuse you of flaunting your knowledge. You may have quality content, but not readable by your targeted audience.
What is the ideal reading grade level? The answer eludes me. Many claim that the national average reading level is eighth grade and that article writers should write at that level or lower when writing for the web. I have yet to find any evidence to substantiate that claim or that you will make money writing to that grade level.
Studies have been conducted by various governmental agencies under the U.S. Department of Education and by independent private agencies on various aspects of literacy throughout the United States, but I have yet to find any authoritative data that specifically identifies the national reading average to be at the eighth grade level.
Adult Literacy in America
The study most often cited as the source of the eighth grade reading level claim is a 1993 study, Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey, by Irwin S. Kirsch, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. You can review the results yourself at the National Center for Education Statistics.
However, the study does not specifically state that the national reading level average is at the eighth grade level. In fact, the study’s committee “… agreed that expressing the literacy proficiencies of adults in school-based terms or grade-level scores is inappropriate.”
The study did survey levels of literacy skills ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 5 being the most difficult or the highest skill level. The survey did show that about half the population performed at levels 3-5 and half performed within the lower levels 1 and 2.
SERPs and Readability
Nevertheless, if we accept the various reading level scales like, Flesch-Kincaid, article writers can improve their content marketing to more closely match the acceptance of targeted readers. In addition, Google and other search engines may or may not look favorably on the webpage or article and rank it higher than one that Google deems to be written at an inappropriate level as evidenced by the Official Google Blog
For instance, an article written at the twelfth grade level about building a tool shed may not be looked upon as worthy of Google’s definition of maximizing the user search experience. An article on the same subject written at the sixth or seventh grade level might well fair much better in the SERPs.
On the other hand, writing an article on the Literacy Statistics of Migrant Workers at the fourth or fifth grade level would not fare well with academic readers and probably not with the search engines.
The point is that article writers should consider readability when writing articles. The effort does not need to be an all consuming effort. Readability can easily be checked with one of the tools I mentioned earlier.
Be aware of the end user. The more you comply with Google’s goal of “providing the best user experience possible,” the more favorably the search engine will rank your writing for money efforts.