Writing for Readability
Writing fresh blog posts and adding new web pages is one way to build SEO. Simply adding content for the sake of search rankings ignores a major factor: how you engage your target audience. Every business brand has a unique voice, using tone and word choice to tempt a prospect to read on and potentially convert into a lead. Yet how do you know if your content is readable? In this post I’ll explain three different content analysis methodologies.
Why Use Content Analysis Tools?
It may seem an obvious question, however we’ve found that many brands don’t actually use a content analysis tool to evaluate if their copy is written in a way that appeals to their target audience. Also known as language analysis, content analysis is a way to grade your web copy based upon reading abilities. If you write above an audience’s reading comprehension, you’ll most likely to quickly lose them (and negatively affect your website’s bounce and conversion rate).
Flesch Reading Ease
The Flesch Reading Ease breaks up by age level. This content analysis tool uses a formula to calculate how easy the copy is to read and comprehend. Here’s the breakdown of the scoring system:
- 90 – 100: easily understood by the average 11-year-old student
- 60 – 70: easily understand by 13- to 15-year-old students
- 0 – 30: best for college graduate
Overall, the simpler the sentences and use of monosyllabic words, the higher your content analysis score.
Cliff Note: The higher the Flesch Reading Ease score, the easier it is to read.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
An alternative content analysis tool, the F-K Grade Level test, is used extensively in education. It translates a score to U.S. grade levels, making it easier for teachers, school administrators, librarians and parents to judge the reading level in books for students.
Cliff Note: Use the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level content analysis tool if you provide materials used in schools or for students.
The Gunning Fog index is another content analysis tool, one that’s used to estimate the amount of formal education required to understand copy on a first reading. Created by Robert Gunning in 1952 for business purposes, it’s a simple index. For example, a score of 12 indicates that a high-school senior could understand the content. Over the years the formula has been modified due to competing thoughts on vocabulary and clauses used in sentence structure.
Cliff Note: Gunning Fog calculates the ratio between words and sentences plus complex words vs. total words.
Content Analysis In The Real World
Each content analysis tool has it’s pros and cons. I’ve come to terms that Mr. Flesch doesn’t give me high scores. He routinely dings me on writing to college graduates. As an online marketer, I’ve made the decision to “agree to disagree” with the content analytics assessment. My rationale? Our audience are marketers and individuals responsible for managing online marketing. It’s a complex and complicated job. There are several moving parts, some of which are extraordinarily technical. Plus, I’d like to think my audience is savvy enough to appreciate my vocabulary. The Flesch score for this post was 54… perfect for high school graduates and those with a bit of college. So take that Mr. Flesch.
Do you use content analysis tools for your web copy?
How can we help?
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