When it comes to writing high-quality website copy, it’s important to make sure that your writing is accessible to a variety of audiences. If your audience doesn’t understand what they’re reading, they’re likely to leave your website and look for the information they need somewhere else. That’s where the Flesch Reading Ease test and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level come into play. These readability scores let you know how easy your text is to read. Let’s discuss what the Flesch Reading Ease test and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are, how they work, why they’re important, and how you can use them to improve your SEO.
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What is the Flesch Reading Ease test?
In the 1940s, Rudolf Flesch, a consultant with the Associated Press, created a formula to develop methods for improving the readability of newspapers. Today, marketers, journalists, and other writers use the Flesch Reading Ease test to determine how easily a piece of text can be understood.
The Flesch Reading Ease test measures the readability of a passage. The equation that is used to determine the score is based on the average word count and the number of syllables per word. The Flesch Reading Ease test allows writers to optimize their text’s readability toward a target audience.
On the Flesch Reading Ease test, scores range from 0 to 100. The easier the passage is to understand, the higher it is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. For example, a score between 70 and 80 is equivalent to an eighth-grade reading level. This means the text should be fairly easy for the average adult to read.
What is the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level?
The Flesh Reading Ease test and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are often used interchangeably. But don’t confuse these two metrics. While they are often used together, they are separate tools with different scores.
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is a modification of Flesch’s original equation for text readability. In 1975, J. Peter Kincaid developed a system for assessing the readability of technical manuals for the U.S. Navy. His changes to Flesch’s original equation included a score shown as a U.S. grade level. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level indicates how many years of education are needed to understand the text.
When using the Flesch-Kincaid grade level, a higher score means the text is more difficult to read. With the Flesch Reading Ease test, however, a lower score indicates reading difficulty.
Understanding the Flesch Reading Ease score
The Flesch Reading Ease test evaluates readability under the assumption that shorter sentences that include shorter words are easier to understand. The Flesch Reading Ease test is one of the most popular readability measurements available today. It has produced reliable results to greatly improve the readability of news articles and copywriting.
So how do you understand the Flesch Reading Ease score? What do the results mean? Well, Flesch provided a table to use for interpreting the scores. Take a look!
Sure, a score on a scale of 0 to 100 is fine, but how do you take that information and apply it to a real-world situation? That’s where the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level can help.
Understanding the Flesch-Kincade Grade Level
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level puts the Flesch Reading Ease score into context. Each score bracket gets a corresponding grade level. Typically, the scale ranges from 0 to 12 to represent school grade levels in the United States. Ideally, you should aim for grade 8 to make sure your content can be ready by 80% of Americans.
Remember, to improve the readability of text, you want the Flesch Reading Ease score to be higher and the Flesch-Kincade Grade Level to be lower.
Here is a chart that includes the corresponding grade level of each score bracket.
Why should you use readability scores?
Using the Flesch Reading Ease test and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level in conjunction can give you valuable insight into how easy your text is to understand. These readability scores can be applied to a variety of writing tasks. They’re ideal for:
- Editing novels
- Writing website copy
- Advertising and marketing
- Communicating research
- Improving your SEO performance
When your content is easy to read, your audience will be more engaged. Benefits of higher engagement include:
- Decreased bounce rates on your website
- Increased time spent on your website
- Content that delivers what readers want
- Content that readers will share with others
When your audience is engaged with your content, they’re more likely to click on your call-to-action buttons, add products to their shopping cart, spend more money on your website, and keep returning to your website in the future.
Using the Flesch-Kincaide Grade Level for SEO
While improving the readability of your text doesn’t directly relate to search engine rankings, it is a key factor in determining the user experience. As mentioned above, if users enjoy your content, they’ll stay on your website, spend more time reading your content, and they’ll potentially share it on social media.
User behavior on websites is definitely related to ranking, so it’s always a good idea to adjust the readability of your content to suit your specific audience.
Improve your writing and your SEO
Once you’ve determined your audience’s needs and have a general understanding of the reading level you want to achieve, you can use the Flesch Reading Ease score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level to improve your writing and your SEO.
Since the test results are open to interpretation, you’ve got to set your own goals. However, there are tips you can use to improve the readability of your writing.
If your text consistently uses long sentences, your readers may struggle to figure out what you’re trying to say. Using short sentences lets your readers absorb the information without struggling to understand the content.
Using shorter sentences doesn’t mean you have to “dumb down” your content. You can provide the same information as in longer sentences, but the content will be clear and easy to understand.
When writing, your goal should be to reach as wide an audience as possible. First and foremost, your text should clearly communicate what you are trying to say. Therefore, you should consider using shorter words because multisyllabic words can obscure the overall meaning.
Generally, words with four or more syllables are difficult to read. Additionally, you should avoid using jargon and specialize language that only certain groups of people understand. If you cannot find a better word to explain the concept, be sure to explain the meaning of the word to your readers who might be unfamiliar with the term.
Make your writing more readable
When writing, it is important to remember that you can’t reduce the readability of a text to a simple formula. Readability depends on other factors besides the length of your words and sentences. Use the scores as a guideline, but remember to take your writing style and your audience into account.
For more tips on creating high-quality copy or for content creation services, contact SEO Design Chicago today.
- What does the Flesch Reading Ease test measure?
- What does the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level show?
- How are the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scores different?
- Why are readability scores important for SEO?
- How can you improve your writing for SEO?