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16 Best Readability Checkers To Improve SEO Content

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16 Best Readability Checkers To Improve SEO Content

Have you ever tried to read something only to be put off by its difficulty? It happens to everyone, even the best educated and well-read people.

Personally, I’ve tried to tackle “Moby-Dick” on three separate occasions, only to abandon it not long after the Pequod sets out on its ill-fated voyage. Despite being acclaimed as one of, if not the, best American novel, it’s just too dense to be an enjoyable read for me.

And it’s not just novels that put people off when they’re difficult to read and understand – webpages that are poorly written, wordy, or have other readability issues are often quickly abandoned by visitors.

And let’s not forget search engines love a well-written and well-structured copy. Quality content is still the name of the game, and it’s hard to rank highly without it.

While dwell time is not a direct Google ranking factor, alongside click-through and bounce rate, it does offer a good metric for tracking the health of a webpage.

And, of course, difficult-to-read texts will drive visitors away before they can take action on your page.

So, as an SEO professional, you need to be aware of your copy’s readability and actively take steps to increase it.

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There are a lot of factors that go into how easy it is to consume written information on a webpage, including the font, layout, and color schemes, but for this piece, we’re going to focus on just the copy.

What Makes Good Readability?

Readability is based on many factors, including words per sentence and the length and difficulty of the words used. 

Words with higher syllable counts are generally more challenging to read than their shorter synonyms. For example, “went” is considered easier to read than “progressed” or “proceeded.”

The most common measurement for readability in English is the Flesch-Kincaid test, which is two tests: one measuring reading ease and one measuring grade level. 

For reading ease, the higher the score, the easier it is to read. Grade level indicates which level of education is required to understand it. 

So, you’ve run a check, and it came back with poor scores. What do you do? 

You can go through it manually and identify places where your content gets bogged down, splitting sentences, swapping longer words for easier-to-understand synonyms, and changing passive constructions to active ones. Or you can put technology to work for you. 

16 Tools To Improve Your Readability

1. Microsoft Word Editor

If you’re already somewhat familiar with Flesch-Kincaid scores, there’s a good chance it’s because of Microsoft Word. 

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Reading ease is included in the features of the popular word processing software, and it’s a great way to get a good overview of how your piece reads.

From the Review tab, click on Spelling and Grammar. After completing the spellcheck, you’ll be able to view Document stats.

Under the Readability section, you’ll get stats for reading ease, grade level, and passive sentences.

This feature comes free with the software, so if you’re using Word, you should take advantage of it.

If you’re not using Word, don’t worry – there are still quite a few good tools you can use to check readability stats. Read on to learn about them.

2. Readable Readability Tools

Readable is “the world’s most powerful readability scoring tool.” It offers many features, including functionality specifically designed for websites.

Rather than using the Flesh-Kincaid score, it has its standards, which assign a grade (A through E) to your text. It also provides reach metrics to help you understand what percentage of your audience can understand the content.

Its website readability tool scans, scores, and continually monitors the content of your website, including headers, footers, and non-content text.

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It also allows you to check keyword density to help you avoid getting dinged by Google for keyword stuffing.

Using Readable requires a subscription. Individuals can access its tools for $4/month, while its small business and agency plans are $24/month and $69/month, respectively.

Website scoring is only available in the two higher tiers.

3. WebFX Readability Test

WebFX’s Readability Test is a quick way to check how your content scores. You can copy and paste text, enter a page’s URL, or embed code to test an entire page or a single area.

Screenshot from WebFX, August 2022

This provides a quick overview of reading ease and the age group it can be understood by, as well as several scores for your text.

You get statistics on sentences, complex words, words per sentence, and average syllables per word.

Opinions vary about which readability standard is the most accurate, so WebFX gives you five choices.

In addition to Flesch-Kincaid, it also calculates your Gunning Fog score, the SMOG index, the Coleman-Liau index, and the Automated Readability index. 

The WebFX Readability Test is free to use. 

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4. Datayze Readability Analyzer

The Datayze Readability Analyzer is a copy-and-paste means of checking content.

After entering your copy, you’ll get statistics on overall readability and scores using Flesh-Kincaid, Gunning Fog, SMOG, Dale-Chall, and Fry Readability.

It also offers paragraph-level analysis to help you identify how your readability changes throughout a document, an extraneous word finder, passive sentence detection, and a spell checker.

This online tool is free to use.

Datayze Readability AnalyzerScreenshot from Datayze Readability Analyzer, August 2022

5. Hemingway App

Considered one of the greatest American writers, Ernest Hemingway was known for employing a straightforward approach to writing.

The Hemingway App honors Papa’s spirit and helps content writers streamline their work for increased clarity.

After entering your text, it provides a grade level score and highlights areas in which it could improve.

This includes identifying adverbs, passive constructions, phrases with simpler alternatives, and difficult-to-read sentences. 

Hemmingway AppScreenshot from Hemmingway App, August 2022

You can use this tool online for free or download the desktop app for $19.99.

6. Grammarly Online Writing Assistant

Grammarly is an app, cloud-based tool, and browser extension for identifying content issues like grammar, spelling, conciseness, and tone.

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Using artificial intelligence, it suggests alternatives to difficult-to-understand words and phrases. It also checks for plagiarism.

Grammarly has a basic free plan, as well as two subscription plans that offer more expansive help for writers. 

7. ProWritingAid Writing Assistant

Another AI-powered tool for checking spelling, grammar, and readability, ProWritingAid Writing Assistant, has features designed to help you more accurately convey information.

It offers style suggestions and a contextual thesaurus, as well as 20 writing reports that identify everything from cliches and overused words to sentence length and consistency.

ProWritingAid also has browser extensions and integrates into several programs, including Word, Outlook, Google Docs, and Scrivener.

Pricing ranges from $20/month for a monthly subscription to a one-time $399 payment for lifetime access.

8. LanguageTool Writing Assistant

LanguageTool is a proofreading tool that checks for grammar and style mistakes. Available in 22 languages, it is available online, as an app or as a plugin.

It highlights writing issues in your content, helping you identify areas that could use improvement. It also gives you approximate reading time for a piece.

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LanguageTool Writing AssistantScreenshot from LanguageTool, August 2022

The free version checks grammar, punctuation, and style.

Meanwhile, premium versions ($4.99/month for individuals or $9.48/month for teams of up to 20) provide suggestions for improving style and tone, as well as identifying incorrect names, titles, and numbers.

9. Ginger Writing Assistant

Ginger Writing Assistant uses artificial intelligence to identify and correct mistakes and improve the style of your copy. It suggests context-based corrections, including rephrasing alternatives. It can also offer synonyms, not just for single words but for entire phrases.

Ginger Writing Assistant is available as a browser plugin and desktop or mobile app. It also integrates directly into Microsoft Word.

Pricing ranges from $7.49/month for an annual plan to $13.99/month for monthly ones. Ginger also offers discounts for teachers and students, as well as customizable plans for organizations with more than 2000 users.

10. Yoast SEO Readability Analysis

A popular SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast also includes a readability feature. Explicitly designed for search engine optimization, it checks your writing’s readability and highlights issues.

Your content’s readability is scored on a green-yellow-red scale, where green is good, yellow could be improved, and red needs work.

It checks for passive voice, transition words, subheading distribution, paragraph length, sentence length, and consecutive sentences. It provides your Flesch reading score, as well as allows you to analyze multiple keywords.

This feature is included in Yoast SEO premium, which costs $99/year.

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11. Character Calculator Readability Scores

Character Calculator is an online tool for counting characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. It also includes a Dale-Chall Readability Calculator to score your content.

Using this formula, it allows you to copy and paste text, which is then scored. Unlike Flesch-Kincaid, the lower your content scores on the Dale-Chall scale, the easier it is to read.

Character Calculator Readability ScoresScreenshot from Character Calculator, August 2022

Character Calculator provides your score, the reading grade level required, and a short note about reading difficulty. It is free to use. 

12. Copywritely Readability Checker

Copywritely is content software designed for search engine optimizers. In addition to scoring your content’s readability, it also checks for SEO issues to help ensure your copy works for both humans and search engines.

The SEO features detect content problems that impact your search rankings and recommend rewriting, replacing, or deleting content as needed.

The readability checker uses the Flesch-Kincaid formula to help you identify and fix dense content.

CopywritelyScreenshot from Copywritely, August 2022

The cost of Copywritely ranges from $18/month for individuals to $67/month for enterprise organizations. 

13. Semrush Writing Assistant

Designed to help you optimize your content for both human readers and search engines, Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant measures readability and consistency while checking for plagiarism.

It uses copy-and-paste or import from the web functionality to score your content and offer recommendations. You can select your target audience by country and region, all the way down to a city level, and specify desktop or mobile users.

You can specify keywords for comparison with competitor content and are presented with visual information on readability, SEO, originality, and tone.

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The SEO Writing Assistant is included in Semrush, with plans ranging from $119.95/month to $449/95/month.

14. Searchmetrics Content Experience

Another tool for search engine optimization professionals, Searchmetrics Content Experience, uses machine learning to help identify which content is most relevant to your audience.

It provides real-time feedback on a copy as you type and scores your content based on factors like word count, sentence structure, keyword coverage, and repetition.

You can also compare your website with competitors and discover which keywords you can add to increase your ranking.

Searchmetrics offers custom pricing.

15. Link Assistant SEO Content Editor

Link Assistant SEO Content Editor is a comprehensive tool for website content. In addition to keyword tools, it provides insights into optimizing copy for search engines and lets you create and track tasks for your team.

You can also analyze competing websites or use its built-in tools to generate new content ideas. Content Editor lets you download SEO guidelines and write tips for pages while reporting keyword usage.

A limited free version is available, as well as a professional edition ($299/year) and an enterprise version ($499/year).

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16. Review Tools Content Analysis

SEO Review offers 60 free search engine optimization tools, including Content Analysis. It allows you to enter primary and secondary keywords and offers suggestions for other keywords and SEO optimization.

Items including page title and meta description are scored using red and green. It measures keyword density, headers and subheads, links, and other factors that come into play in search engine optimization.

Review Tools Content AnalysisScreenshot from SEO Review Tools, August 2022

Content Analysis is web-based and free to use.

Content Is Still King

Sometimes search engine professionals get so caught up in algorithms and keywords and metrics and forget the most important thing about any webpage: It should provide value for visitors.

And to do this, your content has to be easily digested. Good readability helps you attract attention to your site and communicate your message more effectively and drive action.

Making your webpages easier to read and understand helps keep your visitors engaged, which in turn helps your quality score with search engines.

But it’s hard to craft content that’s easy to read; even the most experienced writers struggle with it at times.

Luckily, all sorts of useful tools are available to help you punch up your copy, minimize confusion, and more accurately convey information, all of which will reap benefits for SEO.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Sharomka/Shutterstock

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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