As we all know, there are hundreds of different factors that Google looks at both on and off your site to determine how relevant it is to a certain search phrase. One interesting idea that is very hard to actually test and prove is the readability of a piece of text and its relation to search engine ranking. As many SEO gurus have pointed out, it just makes sense that Google and other leading search engines would include this process in their crawling as a tool of both checking validity and determining if the text is appropriate for a search audience.
So what are readability tests? Well, there are plenty of them out there and they all work on the same principle. Basically, they take a look at two main characteristics, namely how long sentences are and the average number of syllables per word. From this, they calculate a number that should reflect, on a certain scale, how hard reading your text actually is. While this may sound complicated at first, the whole idea is rather simple and can dramatically influence what you ask of a writer and indeed, critique how he actually creates relevant text.
The most common document readability analysis tool used today is the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. There are actually two tests that go by this name though Flesch Reading Ease is used more often than the Grade Level analysis as the latter is only really applicable when you’re creating educational texts for students. The Flesch Reading Ease test gives a score between 0 and 100 with 90-100 being understandable by 11 year olds, 60-70 being understandable by 13 year olds and the low scoring 0-30 being the bracket used for readability within higher education and university graduates.
Naturally, if you want text created for a site that is selling advanced English lessons, a higher readability score is going to be attractive both to a search engine and a reader. Though on the flip side, you definitely want a 90+ readability score for a piece of text that you might want to put on the homepage of a kid’s game community.
Even if reading ease isn’t a factor used by search engines (which I would contend) it’s still important for a copywriter to understand the exact demographic you’re attacking as to help them aim for a better piece of text that is easily understandable by your target audience. This alone should be enough for any outsourcing webmaster to understand the power of natural, unique and flowing content with relation to target audiences and indeed, the possible implications that it has on SEO.