How to Develop Content That Works
“My website is a beast that must be fed,” a real estate broker recently lamented. And the website’s favorite food is content. Your website, email campaigns, and social media channels can’t get enough of it. But is more content better if your audience doesn’t read what you’re writing? If content is the food, readability is the tasty topping that makes anyone want to eat it.
Readability—how easy it is to read and comprehend a document—not only makes your message clear, the search engines will rank you for it. What does “readable” look like? It is well structured, concise, and clear. It uses simple language free of industry jargon, short sentences, and short paragraphs. It’s easy to skim and comprehend.
To determine how readable your content is, put it to the test with the Flesh-Kincaid reading ease score (FRES). The higher the score, the easier it is to read and understand. A score of 0-30 is understandable to college students and a score of 60-70 is understandable to 13-15 year olds. For most businesses, a score of 60-70 is what you’re aiming for. Check out your content’s readability on Read-Able.com.
Does this mean you have to dumb down your message so a teenager can understand it? Not at all. You need to keep your audience’s needs in mind, and that includes their familiarity with your subject. What is does mean, however, is that you should write keeping the following in mind:
Be clear and concise.
Your writing should be direct, avoiding long sentences and rambling thoughts. Using shorter, clear words also helps. Your final article should be logical, clear, and free of redundancy.
Be reader focused.
Who is your audience, what are their needs, how much do they know about the subject? Never assume that someone who is interested in your product or service knows as much about it as you do. And definitely don’t assume that fancy words and jargon will impress them. By knowing your specific audience, you can assess how much knowledge they have to keep your article at the appropriate technical level.
Write short sentences and paragraphs.
Reading long blocks of text interferes with reader comprehension. This is especially true when someone is reading on a screen. Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short breaks up the text and makes the reader more likely to absorb your message.
Most writers will tend to repeat themselves in their first draft. Don’t be in a rush to post your content. Let the article sit for a day, then go back and read it—or better yet, have someone else read it. And then don’t be afraid to cut. Anything that doesn’t directly advance your point, delete. A little bit of ruthless editing will help you draft those clear and concise articles you’re going for.
Check out this article’s score, then run some of your content through a readability test and see where it lands on the scale.