How a Formula Can Help Rank Your Content and Create a Better User Experience
What is the Flesch Reading Ease Score?
The Flesch Reading Ease score is a formula that measures the readability of a piece of writing and outputs a number between 0 and 100. With this formula, the higher the score, the easier the piece is to read.
What Do Flesch Reading Score Numbers Mean?
The numbers output by the Flesch Reading Ease formula indicate the following:
90-100: Very easy to read
80-89: Easy to read
70-79: Fairly easy to read
60-69: Standard reading difficulty
50-59: Fairly difficult to read
30-49: Difficult to read
0-29: Very Confusing
This score chart typically indicates that anywhere from 0-30 is meant for those with a college-graduate reading level, while the higher scores indicate a text that is simplified for the average reader.
Keep in mind that a 7th or 8th grade reading level is thought to be the average among US adults, so roughly around the ages of 12-14.
What is a Good Flesch Reading Ease Score?
If you are writing web content for a general internet audience, a good Flesch reading Ease Score somewhere between 60-70.
How Do You Write for a Lower Grade Level?
Most copywriting is written for the broadest possible audience, meaning that you need to tailor your content to the average reader. If your text is too complex, retention rates will plummet.
To write for a lower grade level, write in short, succinct sentences and choose common language over industry jargon
What Makes a Text Difficult to Read?
Word choice and sentence length aren’t the only components of a piece of content that can contribute to its readability.
The entire structure of your content matters.
Content that is laid out in big, unorganized blocks of text or pieces with too much passive voice are difficult to read for any reading level.
To improve your content readability, utilize headings, subheadings, include bulleted or numbered lists where appropriate, and write in an active voice as much as possible.
What Percentage of Passive Sentences is Acceptable for the Flesch Reading Ease Score?
Another component of readability as determined with the Flesch Reading Ease Score is the amount of passive vs. active sentences within your content.
Active voice is always preferred. Not only does it make writing more interesting and engaging, active voice is far easier to comprehend than passive.
When writing for a good Flesch Reading Ease Score, aim to use passive voice in 15% or less of your sentences.
Is Readability Important for SEO?
The readability of a piece of content is definitely a factor in how Google and other search engines rank content.
The objective of search engines has always been to deliver the most relevant content to their users. Considering the average reading level of an internet user is around the 8th grade, search engines favor content that earns a 60-70 Flesch Reading Ease Score.
A 60-70 Flesch Reading Ease Score, however, doesn’t apply for every type of content. If you are writing a scholarly article meant for an academic audience, your Flesch Reading Ease Score should be lower.
How Can I Check the Readability of My Content?
There are a variety of free online tools you can use to check your text readability, but perhaps the most useful one is within the Yoast WordPress plugin, which highlights issues within your text and suggestions on how to fix them.
How is the Flesch Reading Ease Score Determined?
The Flesch Reading Score is an actual mathematical formula:
Readability Score = 206.835 – (1.015 x Average Sentence Length) – (84.6 x Average Number of Syllables per Word)
While you could theoretically do all of this by hand, it would take a ridiculous amount of time. It’s way more efficient to run it through a software program.
Who Should Care About the Flesch Reading Ease Score
If you want to write content that ranks higher in search engines and that a wider audience finds appealing, then yes, you should care about how high your Flesch Reading Ease Score is.
If you’re writing for a highly-specialized audience that is well-versed in industry terminology or if you’re writing a paper intended for academics, your Flesch Reading Ease Score should reflect that.
In short, if you care about the experience of their readers, you should care about your Flesch Reading Ease Score.