Yoast SEO Readability

Yoast SEO Readability
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Written by Simon

Last Updated 29/12/2023

Yoast SEO Readability

In this article, we will discuss Yoast SEO Readability and some of the essential grading factors for this metric. Many of us are familiar with the term SEO, which plays a crucial role in achieving a high Google ranking for your website. However, readability might be somewhat of an unfamiliar term. Readability assesses the quality and ease of your writing, grading how clear and accessible it is for readers.

What is Readability?

Readability is in essence a point-scoring system. Your website’s text undergoes analysis and receives a grade based on the quality of your writing and its readability. Your choice of wording, grammar and even typography can affect your Readability score! After totalling numerous factors, you’re assigned a readability score. However, considering your website as a selling tool rather than a GCSE English paper, you might wonder about its significance. Surprisingly, your readability can affect your website in ways you may not fully grasp!

Recommended Reading: Google Site Kit Installation

Is Readability Important?

Readability is important because Google considers it a key ranking factor. If we think about Google’s three key ranking criteria, readability will fall into the first criteria:

Search engines and their users must clearly understand your website and its content.

The same also applies to their users. Search engines like Google want to offer their users the best possible result to their questions so they keep coming back for more.

Poor grammar, spelling, or sentence structure on your site can lead to confusion among visitors, potentially prompting them to leave and search elsewhere. This is called bounce rate. Bounce rate is another factor that Google ranks. A high bounce rate signals to Google that your site may not align well with its users, resulting in a drop in your score.

Conversely, having an overly complex website, filled with intricate words and lengthy sentence structures, can make your content challenging to read and limit your audience. The aim is to convince Google to present your site as a solution for all demographics, irrespective of age. Using extended words or sentences might restrict your content’s reach to a smaller visitor base.

Recommended Reading: What is SEO?

What is a Good Yoast SEO Readability Score?

There are many ranking factors for Readability. The main ranking factor is the Flesch Reading Ease. This uses two variables to determine your content’s readability:

  • The average word length of your sentences (measured by the number of words)
  • The average number of syllables per word

This is totalled up and gives you an average score across your content. Here are the grade boundaries for the Flesch Kincaid Readability test:

Flesch Reading Score

SCORESCHOOL LEVEL (US)NOTES
90-1005th GradeVery easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
80-906th GradeEasy to read. Conversational English for consumers.
70-807th GradeFairly easy to read.
60-708th & 9th GradePlain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.
50-6010th to 12th gradeFairly difficult to read.
40-50CollegeDifficult to read.
10-40College graduateVery difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.
0-10ProfessionalExtremely difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.
Flesch Reading Ease Grade Table – Article source: wikipedia.org

This illustrated the point we touched upon earlier. The more complex our site’s content, the more it narrows our score down and as a result our visitors.

A good readability score is above 70 points.

How can I Check and Improve My Readability Score?

There are a lot of plugins out there that can help you assess and improve your Readability score. We always recommend Yoast SEO to our clients. Yoast is quick and easy to install and gives great pointers and advice on how to boost your Flesch score. 

Read the following article on how to correctly install Yoast SEO.

To view your page’s Readability score:

  1. Log into your website’s back office
  2. Install the Yoast SEO plugin
  3. In the left-hand side panel, click “Pages”
  4. Click “Edit” on the page you wish to optimise
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page editor and you will see Yoast SEO settings
  6. Select the “Readability Tab”

 Here is where you will see your page’s Readability score. If you don’t have text on your page, it might be blank. Your Readability dashboard will look a little like this:

Yoast SEO Readability Dash Board

Yoast has broken your Readability score into subcategories which contribute to the overall Flesch Reading Ease score. This is the top bullet point shown under “Good Results” in this screenshot.

As you improve the score in each subsection, the bullet points will change from grey to red and amber to green. As we can see from this screenshot, Transition Words could do with some improvement to increase this score.

Continue reading to get a brief overview of each of the Readability subsections.

Passive Voice

Passive voice is something you should avoid in your content. For a good score, this should not exceed 10% of your overall text. Passive voice is where you describe the action indirectly. Let’s compare an active sentence and a passive one.

  • Active Voice example – “Adam ate the apple.”
  • Passive Voice example – “The apple was eaten by Adam.”

Transition Words

Transition words can enhance your readability score by allowing your sentences to flow better into one another. Some examples of transition words:

‘And’, ‘so’ and ‘because’

Consecutive Sentences

Consecutive sentences are sentences that begin with the same word and are repeated over and over. Google views this as poor writing as it can become very repetitive for the reader. As a result, consecutive sentences will lower the quality of the content. To resolve this issue, consider LSI words (words that are related) to help create variety in your content.

Subheading Distribution

Google knows its users…considerably more than most of us think. With this in mind, when Google is crawling our content (assessing and cataloguing) it reads your web page as if you were reading a book. It needs titles, headings and paragraphs to reassure itself that the Focus KeyPhrase is correct. The more accurately you can convey this to Google, the more likely it will offer your site to its users. 

Your titles and headings are categorised by a ‘H’ value (1-6). H1 is the highest value and H6 is the lowest value of importance. Typically speaking your page name is H1 and Titles that are added to your page are H2-6. Ensure you include your Focus KeyPhrase, or synonyms in your H2 and 3. Remember to use the H tags as if you were writing an essay. Here’s an example:

Examples of Titles and Paragraphs in Yoast SEO

Key: H2 – Title. H3 – Subheading. P– Paragraph

Paragraph and Sentence Length

As the name suggests, these two criteria are to ensure that your sentences and paragraphs are short and to the point.

For a more detailed explanation of any of the grading criteria in Yoast SEO Readability, click the blue link on your Yoast SEO dashboard to read articles on these topics.

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