Is Your Blog’s Content Easy To Understand?

Yeah, I know… back in May I wrote a post where it looked like I was picking on Neil Patel. The opposite is true; I said I realized I could never write the kind of posts he does and that I was good with that, while still admiring a lot of what he puts together.

Readability Test Tool

This leads to his latest post, titled 10 Tools that will Improve the Quality of Your Blog Content. Some of them are specific to titles while others are specific to content. There was only one that really captured my interest, that being something called the Readability Test Tool.

In essence, its purpose is to tell you what school grade level your content happens to be at. The idea behind it is to allow you to determine what age level you want your content showing up at so you can gear it towards the proper audience. It’ll test the simplicity or complexity of your articles and match it against a number of readability indices (algorithms lol) and give you the grade and earliest age level of the audience that should be able to understand what you’ve written.

You know I had to test some of my content… okay, I tested a lot of my content since I have 5 blogs. What I came out to was enlightening and pretty spot on for most of it, and pleasantly shocking for the rest.

For instance, most of the articles on this blog came out saying I was writing at a 7th grade level, which means my posts should be easily understood by 12 to 13 year olds; occasionally 13 to 14 year olds. I actually like that a lot because I hate the idea of writing down to people if I’m not forced to do it (for instance, in health care, if you accept Medicare patients anything you write for them has to be written at an 8-year old level). I also didn’t want to be consistently writing a lot of articles people didn’t understand either.

It turns out my business blog has the same ranking, and I’ll admit that I worried about those posts since the general topic is leadership. The topics on my finance blog some in between 8th and 9th grade, which makes sense as financial issues can be tougher to understand. And on my medical billing site, the health issues come in around 7th grade whereas the medical billing articles come in around 10th grade; more proof that medical billing ain’t easy! 🙂


these should be easy to understand

It’s not all about what the content is, but also how it’s written. For instance, our buddy Donna Merrill writes some long and intriguing posts, but because almost every paragraph is only one line, like her latest article titled Overcome Blogger Overwhelm and Achieve Amazing Results, her articles show up at a level that should be able to be understood by 6th graders.

Yet, I was surprised by some other rankings of people I know, some lower than I expected and others higher than expected. For instance, my friend Holly Jahangiri’s latest titled Both Sides, All Sides, Your Side, My Side is a tough expose on different points of view concerning social issues, yet it came in at a 7th grade level. Lisa Sicard’s latest post about tweetstorms (which I thought was something else entirely) came in around 6th grade level. And an article by Susan Velez running us through the process of changing our WordPress blog usernames from Admin to something more secure came in at a 5th grade level. Go figure! lol

The general goal is to have all the bars you see when you check your score to be green if that’s the audience you’re shooting for, which most of us are. As you see in that first picture above, all those bars end up being green. What you didn’t see is that before I cropped it the next bar was yellow; not bad but the more non-green you get the higher you grade level is.

This isn’t only a blogging tool though. I ran a test on my business websites and noticed that one of them is at an 11th grade level, while the other one is at a 9th grade level. This tells me I probably need to work on both of them to make them more understandable because when I created both pages I was working on proper SEO instead of readability (which works on one front but fails on another).

Go ahead, test some of your content to see where you come out on the readability scale. While you’re at it, check out Neil’s post to see if any of those other things he shares can help you out.
 

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32 comments on “Is Your Blog’s Content Easy To Understand?

  • Thanks for the mention! As a technical writer, the goal was to write for about a 5th to 8th grade reading level. (Sounds vaguely insulting if you think of it in those terms, though, as an adult. I prefer to think of it as “simple structure, straightforward language, easy to understand.” Light on rhetorical devices. Heavy on subject > verb > object. Rinse, repeat. No $50 words where a solid $5 word will do.)

    As discussed earlier, a good writer knows the rules already and considers these tools as just that – tools. They INDICATE where problems may lie, but should not be taken as absolute directives. It’s okay to be Steve Urkel and say, “I MEANT to do that!” if you understand the critique and still CHOOSE to do it your way. If you don’t understand the suggested correction, don’t just take it blindly – research the problem. Grammar checkers have trouble distinguishing things like passive voice from phrases like “She was beautiful.” Or “Given three choices, I’ll always take the one on the left.” They don’t always understand idioms or sarcasm. In short, they’re rarely wrong these days, but they’re still not always right.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…I Can See Clearly NowMy Profile

    Reply
    • You’re correct, they’re not always right. Still, the tools are intriguing if it’s something that truly interests you. The one with the titles… for some reason that irked me, but the readability tool was fascinating. I didn’t mind my medical billing articles being at a higher level because those are the types of people “we’d” want to be hiring in the first place.

      Reply
    • Glad to do it Lisa. For me, things are only too complicated if I don’t care about them. I don’t have a problem with complicated; I have a problem when steps are left out or promised topics aren’t addressed. Still, I recognize there’s a level at which some things need to stop before they get out of control. When I was writing song lyrics years ago, I had one song that had 4 or 5 large words in them; my friend Scott said he’d slap me if I didn’t take them out. But they rhymed! lol

      Reply
    • Lee, I had a lot of fun playing with it the other night. It was a bit more fun than playing a video game because no one was going to get hurt. lol I think it’s funny in general that I had to learn how to write less authoritatively to communicate better while most people go in the other direction… if they care. 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Mitch,

    A big thank you for checking out my blog post. Yes, I like to follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) way of writing. I often get responses thanking me for taking a subject and making it so simple that the person can go right ahead and apply it.

    Back in the day before computers I wrote sales letters and mailed them to a list I had purchased. The first golden rule was to write like you would to a middle school child. That always stuck in my head. People are more likely to read it when it is written that way.

    There is nothing worse for me than to struggle through anything using my dictionary lol.

    Thanks again,

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Get Out Of Your Blogging BubbleMy Profile

    Reply
    • Donna, I think I started writing more simply when I started telling more stories than writing with a more technical bent. I can live with my style and the ranking seems to fit, but I’m going to have to take another look at my main business site because some of those pages (especially the first page) are considered a bit too high for my tastes.

      Reply
  • Kevin Ippisch says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for sharing such great and helpful articles! Writing posts that are easy to understand is very important and thanks for sharing the tools that help with improving the quality of content.

    Reply
  • Richard Barker says:

    Good points Mitch, i`d also add a point of is the text large enough to be read and is your font easy to read. I smaller text a struggle to read so be mindful of that also.

    Reply
  • Thank you so much for sharing this important information with us. yes i have check the content of my blog is east to learn and understandable.The Tools you have posted is good and i am already using these tools.

    Reply
  • I’m a big Neil Patel fan. I’ve used that tool before (probably from a similar article he wrote a few years ago).

    Thankfully, most of my writing is at 7th grade level, too. I know I have a few technical articles that come in higher due to the words used (as they are chemicals), but that’s what needed for those articles.

    I’ve been trying to write shorter paragraphs, too, just like Neil does. He’s a great role model, esp since he writes about more challenging topics that are harder to simplify.
    Rich Witt recently posted…11 Tips to prevent flood damage in your Long Island homeMy Profile

    Reply
    • I’m glad the reader level is proper on this blog since it’s my most popular. Three of the other blogs are for a higher level of education since they’re business related. I did start writing shorter paragraphs a few years ago because it helps readability visually, and that was a major change from how I was taught.

      Reply
  • I follow Rand Fishkin is the CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz. His posts always be orignal, to the point and authentic.

    Neil Patel writes too much but the knowledge in the content is very less, in every content he try to promote his services.

    In my point of view content should be real, knowledgeable and easy to understand by the users.
    Edward Yednik recently posted…5 Do’s When Dealing With Poor Garage DoorMy Profile

    Reply
  • You have really opened my eyes to age ranges. I’ve been creating content for a while now. I will be constructing my content more around the age range want to target. Thank you for sharing, you have been a lifesaver.

    Reply
    • Glad to help Scott. Usually I just create content and hope I’m reaching the particular audience I’m aiming for. It’s at least a bit of fun to check out some of my previous articles.

      Reply
    • I have mixed emotions on it. For instance, I was born in the south to a southern mother and I have certain phrases I like to use. Grammarly hates those phrases and certain ways that I structure my sentences. If I’m writing a book for the general populace then maybe it can help. If I’m writing blog posts, I want the words to sound like they came from me and not a machine.

      Reply
    • We have to write for the audience we’re searching for. It either means making things easy or writing for a more educated audience. I think the tool I shared will be helpful for people to see where they stand based on “expert” opinion.

      Reply
  • For sure, a content that’s hard to read would definitely affect your Blog audience.

    I would check out the tool to test some of my posts.

    Reply

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