“Readability” measures how easy it is for people to recognize words, sentences, and phrases. When your site’s readability is high, users will be able to efficiently scan your site and take in the information in the text without much effort.
In plain words, overly technical, or overly complex, writing can be a big turn-off for readers. All that corporate jargon is an easy way to tune people out, and Google knows it. All those buzz words that make peoples eyes roll can have a huge impact on your business insights. And this is why I love the readability scoring – I can’t stand corporate jargon. If I visit a website site or see a post written with overly stuffed corporate buzz words I immediately leave, and this is a trend that even Google is aware of. I’m not talking about stop words here, I’m talking about readability, and this is an important difference.
The point isn’t to dumb down your content in an inauthentic manner. It’s your company or brand and if you’re smart, and want to sound smart, you should! The real importance of readability scores is reader engagement. Can you engage your audience—and get them to understand what you’re trying to communicate in a simpler way? Because if they’re zoning out or skimming over your big, fancy, scientific words, then you’ve lost that battle.
Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scoring
Developed by Rudolf Flesch and J. Peter Kincaid, the Flesch-Kincaid readability scores are the most widely used measures of readability. And they are used by the United States military to evaluate the readability of their manuals.
The first number, Flesch-Kincaid reading ease, is based on a ranking scale of 0-100, and the higher your score, the better. Low scores indicate text that is complicated to understand. So if your website receives a low Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score, you will likely need to simplify your text.
For most business writing, a score of 65 is a good target, and scores between 60 and 80 should generally be understood by 12 to 15 year olds.
Some Best-Practices for Writing for the Web
If your website isn’t scoring between 65-80 then here are a few tips:
- You should use white space. Keep paragraphs short, no more than six lines, and ensure there is clear white space between each.
- Use shorter words and sentences, depending on your target audience.
- Use language that is easy to understand for the target audience, jargon might be necessary, but usually isn’t.
I do not think it means what you think it means anymore…
Just because you’ve been using a phrase or writing a certain way since the early 80’s doesn’t mean any normal person your trying to pitch your brand or services to knows what it means in this day and age.
Most millennial’s will make a decision not to buy or even use your services within a few minutes of the face to face corporate jargon pitch. 80% of visitors to your site will leave within a few minutes of reading too corporate sounding or confusing copy. So your not only dealing with taking a a hit on Google insights, but annoying your potential client base too.
Here’s a funny list of flagged words and phrases to avoid:
Grow the business, Multi-Channel, Content is king, Actionable, Above-board, Baked in, Touch base offline, It’s on my radar, Gain traction, Low-hanging fruit, Ninth inning, Upshot, Bandwidth, Think outside the box, Buy-in, Core competencies, Deliverable, Guesstimate, Valued partner, Value-added, Utilize, Unpack, Traction, Push the envelope, Proactive, Pain point, Vertical Market, Out of pocket, Optimize, Move the needle, Mission-critical, Methodology, Maximize, Leverage, Level playing field, Key takeaways, Incentivize, Impact, Ideation, Pivot, Synergy… and so many more.