Don’t Blindly Use Yoast’s Flesch Reading Ease Score!

Don’t Blindly Use Yoast’s Flesch Reading Ease Score!

Flesch Reading Ease In Yoast Can Often Be Ignored

Unfortunately, I see so many SEO specialists that want all the content they publish to have a Flesh Reading Ease in Yoast that is as the plugin dictates. This can be a huge mistake.

In SEO, just as in anything we do in life, we need to think about quality first. In marketing, we also need to think about the target audience. Blindly trusting automated tools can often lead to problems.

What Is The Flesch Reading Ease Test?

Simply put, The Flesch Readability test is a readability test that aims to show you how difficult it is for an English text to be understood. In Yoast SEO, in the Readability section, there is such a test added.

In the plugin, in order to get a favorable score, the content has to get a score of 60 or more. If the score is under 50, the test is considered failed.

Unfortunately, many SEO “specialists” blindly trust everything that these SEO plugins say. Even if Yoast says that the test is just guidance, for many it is considered to be a very important thing.

A Little Bit Of SEO History

During my years doing SEO work for sites, there always was this constant obsession with making content as simple as possible.

Initially, it was said that content needs to be really short in order to produce as much content as possible. Then, a lot of linkbuilding was done. Then, the standard was to create 500 words articles. (This is still the case with way too many projects).

Eventually, people started to prove the fact that longer content is better. Most of the best ranking articles you find online these days have over 2,000 words.

Unfortunately, this was not enough to stop this perception that people want really simple content. People started to move towards a lot of images, bullet points and so on. Then, this Flesch Reading Ease test appeared and people started to obsessively aim towards really scores.

The premise is that people want content that is really simple to understand in the shortest time frame possible. This is simply false.

Scanning Content

People that browse sites do scan content. This cannot be denied. Most people do prefer the posts that are really easy to read. However, this does not mean that this test actually tells us how easy it is to read something. It is just an estimate that focuses on things like:

  • Average number of syllables in a word.
  • Average number of words in a sentence.

Basically, long words and long sentences are penalized by this score.

Always remember these 2 things:

  • Long words and long sentences does not mean that content is hard to read/understand.
  • Google does not use Flesch in order to determine text readability and ranking.

The Real Value Of Readability

Search engines do not look at readability scores. They do not rank content based on this. However, this does not mean readability is not important.

There is a hidden value of having high readability in your articles. It can affect rankings but not in the way that you think. There is no magical number that you have to reach in order to have an article that is easy to read and that can rank fast.

The way in which text readability affects SEO ranking is based on how it affects visitor behavior. When the content that you create is amazing and is easy to read FOR THE AUDIENCE YOU HAVE, some SEO scores increase, like:

  • Exit rate
  • Time on page
  • Social sharing rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Total sessions number
  • Conversion rate

The key here is “for the audience you have”.

The Education Of Your Visitor – An Overlooked Part Of SEO Content Creation

Who is your target audience?

This is the question I always ask when I start a project. It is really important to take this into account when you create content.

Is your audience highly educated?

If this is the case, you need better content. You need to use longer, more complicated words and you have to basically respect the fact that the audience is educated. At the same time, you want to use words that are common in the industry. Based on the industry, these words can be pretty long. Using long words and long sentences automatically reduces Flesch Reading Ease.

When your audience expects a specific type of content and you deliver something that is much simpler, he/she will not stick around. Your bounce rate will go up and time spend on site will go down. As a result, your rankings will end up dropping.

What Makes An Article Bad?

At the end of the day, this is a question you have to ask yourself. I am sure you read many articles that had a great title and then you figured out that everything is poorly written. Did you stick around?

There are countless things that can make an article bad, like unnatural flow, grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes and much more. The problem is that most people just focus on these when there are many others that have to be considered.

The truth is that an article is really bad when it does not offer the information that the visitor expects. In so many cases there are visitors that will be willing to deal with minor spelling and grammar mistakes, improper formatting and even a very hard to read text in order to get that desired information.

Basically, even if the article is bad, the information offered in it is so good that the visitor actually sticks around and works through the text to find the data desired.

Your audience always looks for the best possible quality. This does not mean that the article has to be difficult to read or very easy to read.

Final Thoughts

Instead of blindly trusting Yoast’s Flesch Reading Ease score, it is much better to focus on giving the best possible answer to the question the visitor has. If you manage to do this, a large part of your work is good.

There is always a thin balance between easy to read content and very valuable content that uses industry terms and slang. This is where the best writers excel.

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