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This is a question we often get and no, not every bullet has to be green. What you should aim for, though, is a green, happy bullet overall – the one in the tab that reads “Readability”. Having an orange bullet for one of the checks, like in the screenshot above, is totally fine. Your article will still be able to rank, even if it doesn’t pass all of the tests. This is merely an indication, not a necessity.
That being said, while the advice in the readability section is not the be-all and end-all advice, it does give you important clues to the perceived difficulty of your text. It is crucial to write with readability in mind, as we think readability ranks!
We want everyone to be able to read and understand content, but we also know that there are industries where the language used is totally different from what most people would use. That’s perfectly fine. Find out what works for you. Need help? Please read our ultimate guide to SEO copywriting.
The readability analysis in the Yoast meta box.
It has been said that Yoast SEO suggests to dumb down your writing. Of course, that’s not the case. We merely want to help people write content that’s easy to understand. Just consider the following quote by content design hero Sarah Richards about making your content as readable for humans as possible:
Should all bullets be green?
Everyone has their own writing and editing process, and this way isn’t necessarily how you should use it. For instance, you might be targeting a Flesch level of 80. If so, you have to find out what works gradually. When using the readability tool for a while, you’ll notice that you’ll automatically get a feel for the level you are aiming for. Practice makes perfect!
It’s very easy to use the analysis to improve your content. You can just start writing the article you want to write. The readability score is calculated in real-time, so you can look at it while you write. However, if you want to stay focused, you can also choose not to look at the score while you’re writing your first draft. That way you can write without being distracted and make the final tweaks afterward.
By simplifying content, you’re automatically growing your audience, as more people grasp the message of your content. Also, you’re not writing your content just for people anymore. Because virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have to be able to work with it as well. And even Google increasingly uses well-written pieces of content for rich results like featured snippets.
“You’re not dumbing down, you’re opening up.”
The readability analysis in Yoast SEO uses an algorithm to determine how readable your post is. We’ve carefully crafted this algorithm to make it as accurate as possible without being too strict. It features several checks that will give you advice when you write your post. In other words, by following this advice, you can make your text easier to read and understand.
At the moment, Yoast SEO uses the following checks:
The readability analysis is available in more than 15 languages at the moment. Check out the languages Yoast SEO supports for an overview. We’re continually working on adding new languages.
If you’re a user of Yoast SEO, then you’re probably familiar with the colored bullets (or dots, or even ‘traffic lights’) in our plugin. Two parts of Yoast SEO use this system: the content analysis and the readability analysis. The first checks whether your post is SEO-proof, while the latter checks if it’s readable for a general audience. Of course, these two are interconnected, as readable content is incredibly important if you want your site to do well in the search results. Here, we’ll show you how to use the readability analysis.
You can find the readability analysis in your Yoast sidebar and in the Yoast meta box underneath the post or page you’re editing.
The readability score helps you by giving you a green, orange or red bullet per check. If you get an orange or red bullet, just click on the eye icon to find out where improvements can be made. Easy peasy!
Current readability checks.
The readability analysis and content analysis of Yoast SEO help you to write excellent, SEO-proof articles that are easy to grasp for anyone. In doing so, you make sure that every piece of content you write is ready to start ranking in search engines while staying enjoyable for readers. Don’t have Yoast SEO yet, or want to take advantage of the awesome additional features our Premium plugin offers? What are you waiting for?
Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.
How to use the readability analysis in Yoast SEO.
If writing is not your strong suit, Grammarly is a game-changer.
Similarly, the free Hemingway app helps you improve the mechanics of your writing.
Within the content readability score, you’ll find a report that breaks down:
You can choose from academic, business, technical, creative, and casual. For most web content, you’ll probably want to choose business.
Grammarly will address issues in grammar and spelling, but also in tone and structure.
6. Readability Analyzer.
As the name suggests, Bulk SEO Tools will help you take care of formatting issues (that impact readability) in bulk.
In fact, details like these can mean the difference between a No. 1 ranking (or answer box!) vs. content that doesn’t even make it on Page 1 of the search results.
If you’re new to SEO or content strategy, this is a good tool to start with, given that no technical knowledge is required to wield this tool and create great content.
Personally, my favorite aspect of the SEO Writing Assistant is the recommended keywords – the tool will automatically show about 20 phrases that are present in the top-ranking comment.
You know what else can hurt readability (at least from a user perspective)?
Sometimes content readability isn’t an issue of keyword distribution or poor grammar.
Like most of the tools on this list, the Content Experience provides scores pertaining to your content’s word count, sentence structure, keyword coverage, phrase repetition, etc. based on your keyword target.
Competitive content writers will use every tool at their disposal as they create content.
Let’s say, for example, your entire text or large portions of your text are in all uppercase.
8. Hemingway App.
Copy your content into Hemingway’s desktop app and it will show:
That’s why we’ve rounded up the 10 best content writing tools for SEO that specifically help you improve readability.
In addition to assessing your content’s word count, sentence length and verb use, this tool will give you suggestions of words to add to your content and words to remove from your content to increase your potential to rank.
Looking for content writing tools for SEO projects? Discover 10 tools that will help you assess and improve the readability of your SEO content.
It will also show you:
This tool focuses on the mechanics of writing rather than the science of SEO content – nonetheless, it’s incredibly valuable and belongs on this list.
3. SearchMetrics Content Experience.
With the Text Optimizer, you can pop in a webpage and this content readability tool will check the health of your content.
Bulk SEO Tools also has text tools to quickly remove any duplicate lines, add or remove line breaks, and even add prefixes or suffixes if you’re working with a list.
This is one of the more robust content marketing tools on this list, and provides insights into user intent, keyword selection, and even the best time of year to publish a piece of content.
No one likes a cliché – they’ll make your writing seem contrived and contrite.
It will flag overly complex sentences and keep an eye out for clarity and conciseness.
The report will give not one but six readability scores, including:
According to Text Optimizer, 70% of their users achieve better SEO rankings within five weeks after using the tool.