In this post, I’m going to provide five ways to improve your content which, in turn, will improve its algorithmic readability too. They include:
1, Lose the clickbait titles
2, Don’t keyword stuff (even if subtle)
3, Quit the over-paragraphing
4, Nix the bulking out of how-to posts for no reason
5, Link with mercy
Why HUMAN readability is important
As mentioned above, readability ranks. They say greater reading ease:
Increases the chances of your post ranking well for voice search.
Appeals to search engines that are increasingly attuned to what human beings perceive as worthwhile writing.
How to improve your content readability for SEO
On that note, for the sake of your readers’ sanity, here are a few steps you can take to improve the human readability of your content.
1, Lose the clickbait titles
We’re all pretty used to the internet by now. Maybe a dramatic blog post title like [X number] of Content Marketing Mistakes that Will Blow Your Mind’” would’ve worked in 2010, but now we just roll our eyes and keep scrolling.
The same goes for any highly exaggerated anticipation of the reader’s reaction: If I see a headline that promises to be “ultimate,” “revealed,” or “revolutionary,” I skip right over it. (Ditto for titles that guarantee unimaginable success as a result of reading that post.)
Make sure you fulfill your promise
My point is that you shouldn’t create expectations you aren’t going to meet. Be thoughtful about how you choose your headlines—much like the process of titling a book, what you pick seriously affects the reception of a text.
Others have looked extensively into what makes a good headline: Danny Goodwin previously shared his findings after running A/B tests on headlines for 31 days in an insightful post I recommend. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of the fact that quantifiable metrics and headline analyzers aside, your instincts (informed by your uniquely human understanding of language) most likely still know better.
2.Stop the keyword stuffing (even the subtle kind)
When keyword stuffing occurs, you’ll be sure keyword stuffing is taking place, because every other phrase will contain the same word, in classic keyword stuffing fashion.
Google’s enigmatic algorithm supposedly now knows better than to take keyword density as an indicator of information quality and relevance, and yet we’ve all searched for things and met with a wall of repeated keywords. So what if there’s useful information amongst all the keywords? I need to be able to find it, and keyword stuffing is an obstacle.
Just aim to be more mindful of when you press ‘enter’—and if, after a second glance, it seems there’s no reason for you to change lines, just don’t do it. Second-guessing yourself is a key step towards becoming a better writer, so feel free to have a full-blown existential crisis over every minor decision. Congrats, you’re a writer now!
4.Nix bulking out how-to posts for no reason
People Google all sorts of things, so as an SEO writer, you’ll often have to do some intellectual gymnastics to come up with effective answers to everyone’s queries: You might be working on “how to be happy” one day, and “how to use chopsticks” the next.
You could come off as condescending
If anything, over-explaining simple tasks come across as patronizing (not to mention boring) and achieves the opposite of user-friendliness. Keep it simple, and respect your reader’s time, as well as your own.
Skimmable content should not be busy content
There’s a reason typography is usually left to the experts (at least in print): because they know how to establish a sense of visual hierarchy, so your attention goes exactly where it should. For those of us sadly not blessed with professional typographic skills, overcompensating with loads of formatting is not the way to go. Make the most of your headers and bullets, but if more of your text is more formatted than not, you need to reevaluate.
5.Link with mercy
One last thing: Yes, internal and external linking is important, but try not to abuse the number of links you include in a piece of writing. Ideally, aim to never exceed two links in a single paragraph—otherwise, you risk distracting the reader. If you do have a lot of important resources to share, consider listing them at the bottom of an article as recommended reading.
But more than that, be careful with the kind of links you include in a post. You might not be entirely in control of what you have to link to as part of your job, but you are in control of how you employ links within the text.
In this post, for example, all links point to
a) The definition of a term it’s attached to, in case clarification is needed,
b) The source for a specific claim, or
c) There’s a more in-depth guide to a related topic I mention in passing. I didn’t link a random chopsticks post when I mentioned noodles, awkwardly ignoring it and continuing, allowing the unacknowledged irrelevant link to silently glare at us both.
You might be thinking that I’d have no choice but to link to a random chopsticks brand if that was who I worked for—but I wouldn’t then be writing a post about marketing. I’d be writing about chopsticks, and the link would be relevant.
SEO readability is not formulaic anymore
I hope it’s clear by now that readability is far more than a formulaic plugin box to check! As one of the main pillars of good content, it’s about mindset as much as it is about individual writing choices. Some websites might currently be getting away with prioritizing the algorithm needs, but as the algorithm, itself becomes more sophisticated and (yikes!) human-like in its preferences, writing that factors in human readability will rise to the top. And it’ll do that because people simply won’t hate to read it.
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This content was originally published here.