You might be asking why you’re seeing articles about Goldendoodles and Doodle breeds on a B2B small business writing website. I do this for two reasons. The first and most important reason is that I absolutely adore Goldendoodles. Our family Goldendoodle, Zuma, is a truly special dog. Our newest addition, Kai, is an absolute treasure.
One of the best tips for writing well is to write about something you know and love. So my reason is simple. I could write about Doodles all day log because I’m passionate about them.
The second reason I write about Doodles here on this website is this:
It’s my way to practice what I preach.
Here’s what I mean.
Writing for SEO
To put it simply, when you provide useful content on your website, people find you on the internet. Plus, it gives you a steady supply of unique content to promote across your social media.
I talk more about why creating content is so important for your business here.
While it may be tempting to constantly sell your products or services in your blog posts, it’s not the best idea.
People are not likely to read that.
Share Expert or Insider Knowledge
Instead, write articles around a topic that’s related to your business that help your customers answer a question or solve a problem. Starting a blog is one of the best ways to provide expert knowledge, and share your advice, tips, and hints.
Over time, people will view you as a resource — not just a salesperson. As people share your articles, you’ll get backlinks — which helps Google see your site as a great resource.
Include relevant keywords for SEO, and in time, your site will climb in Google in search rankings for that topic.
Put Your Website to Work For You
Your website’s job is not to just be an online brochure. It can do more than just look good. If your blog posts are easy to find, helpful, and maybe even fun to read, they will draw more people to your site and convert to more sales.
Like everything else, writing blog posts gets easier the more you do it. Eventually, it becomes more and more natural. This is especially true if you’re writing about something you’re passionate about or have expert knowledge in.
Choose a Niche You Where You Can Compete
So back to why I write about Goldendoodles here on my blog.
The topics of content writing, content marketing, and blogging are highly competitive terms to rank for in Google search. Articles from Moz or Hubspot will outrank mine every single time.
For small businesses, it’s more worthwhile to pick a niche where you can compete. Choose a topic that gets enough search volume that people will read it, but not so broad that it’s too competitive. I cover more about choosing a topic here.
The Content Writing Solution for Small Businesses
My solution as a small business is to write about Goldendoodles.
It’s not a sub-topic of my actual business, but I think it will illustrate the concept well on my own blog.
And while I do this, I’ll share everything that happens with my own SEO — the good, the bad and the ugly, so you can see firsthand what exactly happens.
My goal: to teach by example.
So don’t be confused about the Goldendoodle posts on a freelance writer’s website. Someday it will make sense.
In the meantime, you can look forward to all kinds of fun and interesting articles here about Goldendoodles and other Doodle breeds.
“I should start blogging. I want to create a podcast. I’ve thought about posting some videos on YouTube.” You’ve said this to yourself time and again.
As a small business owner, the urgent demands of the day distract you. Another day goes by, a month goes by, and you still haven’t written one word, or even thought about what you would say.
You have a business to run. Time is money.
Is blogging and creating content for your small business really worth the time? Advertising has worked well, and you’re skeptical that blogging would even work for your business. Creating free content seems like it takes more time than it’s worth.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Why? Because once you publish your own online content, it can live forever. You don’t have to pay for advertising. And in five years, you’ll wish you did.
If you do it yourself, the only cost is your time. With your own sweat equity, you can build something valuable. That’s why it’s so important to use your time efficiently.
The biggest takeaway: creating content the SINGLE most important activity a business should be doing today to build a brand. He also says the time is NOW. It’s so important he says that if you have employees with any downtime, they should be creating content for your brand.
Podcasting Packs a 1-2-3 Punch For Creating Content
He says, “Podcasts are being consumed at a remarkable rate… If you can start a podcast around the thing you do, I highly recommend you get started. Even if you have 1,000 people listening — you don’t have to be a top 100 podcast — you just need the people you’re trying to reach.”
“Podcasting is The New Blogging”
Gary Vee’s advice is backed by data from Edison Research. Their study, The Podcast Consumer 2019, uncovered that podcasts are now being adopted by the majority of Americans:
51% reported they have ever listened to a podcast
32% had listened in the past month
nearly 1/4 of Americans listen to podcasts weekly
40% of Americans age 54 or younger listen to podcasts monthly
54% of podcast listeners said they were more likely to consider the brands they hear about on podcasts
Perhaps even more telling is that these numbers are up significantly from one year ago. In 2018, Seth Godin said “Podcasting is the new blogging,” and it looks like it’s here to stay. In the past year alone, 64% more Americans have discovered podcasts. Once a majority adopts something, its popularity ramps up. Podcasting is now becoming mainstream.
So if you weren’t one of the blogging pioneers of 2002-2006, there’s still time to jump on the podcasting bandwagon.
Another benefit of podcasting: You can repurpose it to create two more types of content. You get three pieces of content for the price of one. You can film your podcast to create video content for YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Then you can transcribe your podcast to use as a blog post.
Here’s a quick and easy way to use Google Docs to transcribe your podcast into a blog post:
Open Google docs and create a new document. Turn on the voice recognition microphone. Play your recording, and it will start transcribing your podcast or video. You’ll need to go through the document and clean it up, but you’ll have a written document you can transform into a blog post.
Why Blogging, White Papers, and Ebooks Are Good For Your Business
Here are some statistics that prove a blog for your small business is a wise move, no matter what industry you’re in.
Websites that have a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages. When your website has a lot of content, search engines will recognize it as a resource.
61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post.
82% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads
Blogs influence purchase decisions even more than social media
As a small business owner, you need to decide what you could accomplish with a blog. Business building content comes in many shapes and sizes, depending on your industry. The purpose of one piece of content can be different than another.
If you sell a complex product that requires explanation, you need a white paper to explain it in a way that helps your customers make a decision. Maybe you need to help your audience understand an issue in a new way that helps them discover a solution.
Some examples of how to narrow a content topic for your small business
To illustrate, let’s look at a few examples of how to think about topic ideas around a particular business or industry.
Business Topic Example 1
Joe sells an epoxy for factory room floors. This product looks very similar to its competitors, but he has case studies that show his product is more durable than any other epoxy on the market. A white paper or blog post that explains the case studies would help Joe prove the advantages of his product over the competitors. Informative articles on topics around factory room safety would enhance his brand authority. Because his product is unique in his industry, free content would help Joe provide more information to his ideal customer.
Business Topic Example 2
Susan owns a local dog training service. She has a unique approach to training and has had very successful results. Her private service is highly personalized and is more expensive than the group classes offered at local pet stores. Blog posts would allow Susan to engage and connect with local dog owners on a more personal level, educate them on her training methods, and build her credibility. An ebook that highlights success stories from graduates of her program, and offers training advice and tips on handling common behavior problems would help her audience get to know her and what makes her unique.
Do you want more people to visit your site? Call your office, or walk through your doors? Then, yes, you should start blogging. Yes, you should have a free e-book available for download on your website.
Of course free content doesn’t convert visitors into customers by itself, but it packs a lot of value to your bottom line by driving traffic to your website, improving your authority, and building your credibility.
Yes, creating free content is worth your time.
You just need to do it efficiently.
Decide On Your Content Goals
With this in mind, you’ll want to determine both your qualitative and quantitative goals for your content. This will help you track the return on the investment of your time. Are you primarily interested in driving more traffic to your site?
Are you looking to grow an online following that’s engaged with you or your brand? Do you want to convert more customers? You can measure:
the percentage increase in web traffic
the percentage increase in social media followers
the number of leads each month
the increase in sales each month
As a result, your goals will help you determine what type of content you will create. You should always be asking, “Will it help achieve my business goals?” If the answer is no, you need to re-think the idea.
But no matter what, you need to create content.
“If you do not produce words, pictures, and videos for a mobile device, you are fundamentally irrelevant, and you’re declining in your business opportunity on a second by second basis.”
Understand What You’re Best At
It’s important to realize that doing what your most comfortable with will make the process easier. How do you communicate best? You may be a good writer, but you might be a better speaker.
Are you less comfortable on camera, but you can communicate well on audio? Once you discover the best form of communication for you, do that first and repurpose it into other forms.
Create a Content Calendar
So how do you get started planning content that helps you achieve your business goals?
It starts with a content calendar.
To put it simply, a content calendar, or editorial calendar, is just a schedule of what content you will publish and when. It’s a plan that keeps you on track so that you can actually follow through.
It’s the key to consistently creating new content, posting to your blog, and staying in touch with your ideal customers. It helps you consistently deliver a variety of content to your audience. Without a thoughtful content calendar, you create random content without purpose.
Your Content Calendar Is Your Brand’s Programming
Think of your content calendar as your brand’s programming. If you think of it as a broadcasting network thinks of their programming, it will force you to plan ahead. It will help you focus on quality, not quantity. It will give you an overview of everything you’re producing, so you can stay relevant to the needs of your audience.
Most importantly, it will save you time, keep you organized, and is the vehicle that keeps your team on the same page.
To that end, you can set up your content calendar in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as a paper calendar, Google Doc, or spreadsheet, or you can use tools such as:
If you take the time to develop your calendar for 6-12 months in advance, you can plan your podcasts, write articles, create guides, or any other content ahead of time, so that you’re maximizing your time. Once it’s published, the cost of your content is zero, and it works for you 24/7.
How to Innovate Your Message and Find Relevant Content Ideas
In effect, the most valuable content fills a vacuum that’s missing in the market. You can cover a topic that nobody else has written about, or you can cover it more thoroughly than anything else that’s already out there.
So don’t focus on what your competitors are talking about; focus on what they’re not talking about. Bring your brand to life with its own, unique personality. Build trust by staying in front of your ideal customers. People are willing to support smaller brands as long as they feel they can trust them.
Step 1: Brainstorm a List of Customer Questions
To get started, think about the questions that your customer may be asking and how you can answer those questions. You may have a great idea in mind, but if nobody wants to know about the topic, it doesn’t make sense to add it to your calendar.
What is your audience most interested in? What is their most acute pain point? What are the most frequently asked questions? Make a list of everything you can think of.
Write down these topics and build your content calendar around these ideas. Think about rotating the subjects around different products or services.
For example, a Med Spa may cover topics such as:
Is Botox safe? Is Coolsculpting painful?
How long do the results of Microneedling last? How much do Hydrafacials cost?
Step 2: Ask for Input From Sales and Customer Service Staff
In addition, there may be some questions your customers are asking that nobody is answering. Sales and customer service team members are interacting with your clients regularly. They may be coming across repeated problems or answering the same questions all the time. They hear customer concerns and fears. What are the biggest sales obstacles they encounter? What is the most common reason potential clients hesitate on purchasing the product or service?
Listening to your customer is one of the most important content-generating tools you can use. More importantly, it’s just good business.
Step 3: Ask Your Customers
Along those same lines, foster community among your clients. Whether it’s through social media, or on your blog, ask them what they would like to see you write about next. People love to be a part of the process, and involving them along the way ensures they will be interested when you publish it.
By connecting with them in a new way, they’ll be more enthusiastic about your blog and will be more likely to share it. This can help attract new customers and generate interest in working with you.
Step 4: Do a Google Crosscheck
Next, do a Google search to discover what might already be out there on the topic. How are others currently addressing an issue? How might you answer it differently? How can you cover it in a more complete way?
Step 5: Let Your Competitors Inspire You
Frequently, a competitor may discuss an idea that could be elaborated on more fully. You could then talk about that same topic in a more in-depth way. Visit your competitors’ YouTube channels and look for videos that had a lot of views or comments. Read the viewers’ comments.
Again, what are they not talking about?
Were there any questions you could answer? What other discussion topics emerged?
Step 6: Cover Many Perspectives of One Topic
Similarly, you can look for topics that have varying perspectives. By addressing several sub-topics in addition to the original topic, you increase your level of expertise and improve your credibility.
At the same time, it’s useful to research articles from your industry that people share the most. There are several tools to help you do this. You can use:
Using these tools, you enter a search term and they show you what content was shared the most around this topic. You can see the popularity of a given topic before you ever write one word. Knowing what topics already have an audience makes the time you spend creating content worth your time.
There’s no benefit in writing to an audience that doesn’t exist.
One of my favorite tools is Answer the Public. You type in a keyword and it gives you the questions most people are asking around popular search topics. You can come up with countless articles just by answering these questions.
Step 8: Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of your first activities for SEO. Investing the time to find the best keywords will help make your blog more likely to appear in Google search results which in turn helps generate more traffic to your website.
You want to identify keywords that have the best opportunity without being too competitive. They are usually specific topics within a larger topic and are known as “longtail” keywords.
Here is an example of a long-tail keyword for a Nutritionist: If you were to write about “Healthy Eating,” you would be competing with authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control, or Healthline.
However, you can aim to rank for long-tail keywords such as, “Healthy Eating for Single Moms” or “Healthy Eating for Single Moms on a Budget.”
Some tools you can use for keyword research are:
Create Cornerstone Content
By creating various forms of content around related, long-tail keywords, Google will see that your website offers high-quality, specialized knowledge on a given subject. Eventually, you can combine all of these specialized pieces of content into one larger piece of content, such as one long blog post.
This is called “cornerstone content.” When you consistently focus on a large number of highly specialized topics, it becomes more likely to rank on Google’s page one for the larger, more competitive keyword. So, fill your editorial calendar with content around similar long-tail keywords!
Keyword research tools will help you identify long-tail keywords. You can also use Google Related Searches for clues. If you type in a keyword in the Google search bar, you’ll notice related searches below. Google Trends will also show you if a topic is increasing or decreasing in search volume.
You’ll want to set up an area on your content calendar that includes your chosen topic and the keywords you’ll be targeting.
Step 9: Set Your Schedule and Stick To It!
One of the most important pieces of your content calendar is setting a regular schedule for publishing your content. Even if it’s only once a month, publishing needs to be consistent. You can “batch” the work by creating each form of content ahead of time and schedule them to publish on a regular day.
It can be every week, twice a month, or once a month. Your content calendar will help keep you on track. Choose what is realistic for you to do consistently. Quality is more important than quantity.
Step 10: Decide Where You’ll Share Your Content
Once you publish your content, it’s time to share it. On which social media account should you share? It depends on where your customers are. Here are some examples:
If you offer a B2B Service, share your articles on LinkedIn. You can syndicate your articles on your LinkedIn profile and gain a subscriber base there. (Key tip: In this video, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how LinkedIn is like Facebook was in 2011 — it’s no longer just for business content. So don’t miss out on the rewards that exist on LinkedIn today.)
Join Facebook groups related to your business or industry and contribute to the group whenever you can. In order for your articles to be well-received, you need to be an active member of the group. That means you answer questions and contribute to discussions in a genuine way. Otherwise, you’ll come across as self-serving and spammy.
Serve Your Audience Instead of Yourself
Don’t forget your email list. You can send your blog posts as a newsletter to your email list, send a link to your latest video tutorial. The main point is to serve your audience, rather than focus on serving yourself.
Also, remember some of your content can be short and simple. It can be as simple as sharing your thoughts and observations on Twitter or replying to comments on your Instagram posts. Interacting on social media enhances and builds your brand.
Creating Content Is All About Efficiency
Time and money. Yes, they are limited resources for small businesses. That’s why you must use every resource at your disposal to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing economy.
As with every other aspect of running a small business, creating content is all about being efficient. That means you should have a plan, delegate where you need to, outsource where you need to, and use the right tools.
Many people are confused about the ideal length of a blog post. To learn more about that, you can read more about that subject here.
Create Content Now: In 3 Years, Your Future Self Will Thank You
In summary, while you may think of creating content as a non-core business activity, it creates enormous value in building a brand. Content rewards you on a compound basis and is one of the most powerful assets you can create.
“The answer to your biggest upside or ambition is to make content. As much of it as humanly possible. And make it where people actually pay attention so they become aware of what you want them to know.”
You can discover more about content writing fundamentals for small businesses here.
When it comes to the ideal blog post length for SEO, there are many answers. That’s the $100,000 question marketers ask themselves all the time. The truth is the answer depends on two things: what you’re trying to accomplish and who your audience is.
PR daily gathered some helpful research things to consider when deciding on the ideal blog post length for SEO.
Here’s what they learned:
Determine the goal of your blog post before you write one word.
The ideal blog post length is not your first goal. Instead, think about the purpose of your blog post before you start writing. If you’re more focused on the length than its porpose, you’ll miss the mark. You have to start with step one before moving on to step two.
Are you looking for social media shares? Are you looking to rank well on Google? Do you want to promote conversation from your audience?
Know your audience.
Does your business have technical information that needs explaining? Does your niche require high quality pictures? Study successful blogs in your industry and notice what they’re doing. Are they publishing long, in-depth content? Or are they focused on sharing imagery?
Look at the data for determining the ideal blog post length.
When it comes to determining the ideal blog post length for your content, take a look at the research from the experts. Here is the data shared by PR Daily:
If you want more comments, your blog post should be about 275 words.
If you’re looking for shares on social medai, you should aim for 600 and 1500 words.
If you’re trying to rank highly on Google, strive for at least 2,500 words.
In addition, keep paragraphs should be short. Aim for two to three sentence paragraphs for SEO purposes.
Serve Your Audience First
Don’t get distracted by how many words your writing at the expense of what will help your audience. The most important goal is that they see you as a resource they come to over and over again. Bottom line: If you focus on serving your audience first, your efforts will reward you.
Write and design your own ebook with a customizable template
An informative ebook is a powerful tool for your brand. Not only does your own ebook position you as an industry authority, but it also helps people understand what you do and why you do it.
Purposes of An Ebook
You can write an e-book as a free opt-in to build your email list, or you can use an ebook as a content upgrade to sell as a digital product. Whatever the purpose, a quality e-book helps you gain the trust of potential clients and builds your brand. Also, when they read your ebook, they’re more likely to read your blog or visit your website.
Maybe you’ve thought about writing an e-book but you:
struggle to find the right words or get your ideas organized
feel the task is somewhat daunting
can’t seem to get started
If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional writer, it’s not as hard as you might think to write your own ebook. That’s why I’ve compiled some simple steps to help you get started.
Identify A Great Ebook Topic
The first thing to remember is that the trick to finding the best topic is understanding your customer. Think about your customers’ most common problem. If your ebook answers their most pressing question or solves their most persistent problem, they’ll want to read it.
With this in mind, do some market research to make sure you have a great topic to write about. What questions do your customers ask you the most? Join some Facebook groups in your niche. What are people talking about? What questions are they frequently asking? What are their struggles?
Write An Outline and Table of Contents
To that end, investing in some planning time will help you write your book quickly and efficiently. To get started, create an outline to stay organized and on track. It’s important to remember that the outline is not set in stone. It simply gives you a plan to follow and helps organize your ideas. Eventually, you’ll convert your outline into your Table of Contents.
Describe Your Ideal Audience
Next, use your earlier research to describe your ideal audience. The more details you include, the better. After you’ve identified your ideal audience, you can create a high-level view of what you want to teach in your book.
Determine The Ideal Length for Your Ebook
Generally speaking, it helps to set a goal for the number of words you’d like to write. When you have a goal to work towards, it helps you make progress towards finishing your book. I recommend setting a daily goal on how many words you would like to write each day. Set aside a specific time each day to accomplish that goal.
Just Start Writing
Start by working on one chapter at a time. It helps to use a simple question and answer system for each chapter. Ask why, what, when, where, and how questions on your topic. Continually refine your writing until you’re sure that you’ve clearly and effectively answered those questions.
I’ve created some resources to help you write and design an ebook in a fraction of the time. It’s as easy as downloading one of my e-book templates, following my Irresistible Writing Formula and dropping in your text.
My ebook writing and design templates make publishing an ebook fast and easy.
Proofread and Review
Finally, review your work with a critical eye. Look for typos and misspellings. Replace all uses of the passive voice with the active voice. To illustrate, “The dog was brought to the vet by its owner” becomes “The owner took her dog to the vet.”
Reading your work aloud also helps you catch grammar and usage errors. And don’t forget to install Grammarly, your personal grammar coach to help you along the way. The last thing you want is for your readers to point out grammar and spelling errors! For more tips on what to look for when proofreading, check out my previous article here.
Format Your Ebook
Once you’ve finalized your text, you can begin thinking about laying out your pages and adding some graphics. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to do this. As long as you remember some basic page design principles, you can create a presentable ebook without breaking the bank. When laying out your pages, you want to:
Break up text with plenty of white space
Add quality images without cluttering the page
Use headings and call-out boxes for emphasis
It’s important to realize there’s no need to invest in expensive software. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Apple Pages or Keynote can work well for basic page layout. Free tools such as Canva can help you create your own designs, while photo sites such as Unsplash offer quick access to beautiful images. Once you’re finished with your design, simply export your document as a PDF, and you’re done!
Don’t bore your students. Use the right instructional design techniques to write a killer course.
Online learning is more popular than ever. If you want to learn about something, chances are pretty good you can take a course on it – on your own schedule and at your own pace. Online courses are perfect for training remote employees, teaching customers about your products and gaining new customers. They’re convenient and cost-effective. With the right instructional design techniques, online courses can be transformative.
First, it’s important to remember that adults learn differently than children. Usually, adults make a voluntary choice to take a course. Even if they’re required to complete a course for their job, they’re willing because they know it benefits.
Second, when taking an online course, the potential distractions are endless. From social media to emails, to online shopping – just about anything could lead them away.
For this reason, if your course doesn’t serve their purpose, you’ll lose your students.
That’s why if you’re creating online courses, you must avoid common pitfalls that could steal them away or make them lose interest.
With this in mind, let’s look at a few proven instructional design techniques that will keep your students actively engaged in your course. If you’re writing your first course or If you already have courses online, check them to make sure they include these elements.
Instructional Design Technique #1 – Understand Your Audience
Who is your ideal student? Who exactly are you teaching? You must thoroughly understand your ideal customer’s struggles and desires. What does this person want most?
It’s important to realize adults have a lot of life experience and past knowledge. When learning something new, they draw upon their backgrounds. This can be both good and bad. As a result, students will bring different perceptions, different expectations, and their own biases to your course. That’s why your course needs to allow for these differences. For example, some people may tend to avoid traditional classroom learning. With this in mind, they may need more time to learn by doing. That’s why defining your audience or ideal student is key. When you completely understand your audience, you can consider differences in educational levels, socioeconomic levels, culture and other important factors. Therefore, you’ll employ the right instructional design techniques with specific needs in mind. As a result, you’ll avoid student frustration and those unwanted negative reviews.
Instructional Design Technique #2 – Involve The Left Side Of The Brain
One of the best instructional design techniques is to involve both sides of the brain. Each side of the brain serves a different purpose:
The left side of the brain is logical. It uses analytical thinking and step by step instructions. Make sure to provide:
A logical and sequential organization of your topics
Information that is broken down into step by step processes
Statistics, facts, and quotes
Topics in a lecture format
Instructional Design Technique #3 – Involve The Right Side Of The Brain
In contrast, the right side of the brain is more visual. It uses creative and conceptual processes. Make sure to include elements that allow students to use this type of thinking. Here are some instructional design techniques that will help:
Encourage thinking outside the boundaries of your course.
Provide ways for students to apply the concepts to other areas of their lives.
Facilitate creative ideas and innovation.
Present a variety of perspectives.
Include visual images, color, and shapes.
Involve the senses. Allow them to read, write, listen and think at the same time.
Provide a handout with an area for note taking.
Create opportunities for open discussion and group projects.
Include creative problem-solving activities.
In essence, when you engage both sides of the brain, you’re far less likely to have students turn off your course and far more likely to receive rave reviews.
Ultimately, the right instructional design techniques help your course become a transforming experience that leads to true change for your students.
Online Courses As Part of a Content Marketing Strategy
Online courses can be a perfect addition to your content marketing mix. If you’re a subject matter authority, or if you have experience in a subject area, chances are you’re further along on that journey than many other people. Think about the expertise you offer or a skill that others may want to learn. An online course can help you get your message out to the market and establish you as an authority in your industry. If you have a special talent or skill, you can share it with the world. If you have mastery or knowledge of a subject, you can teach it.
Once your course is complete, you’ll need to decide how students will access your course. There are a number of choices available today. You could choose to launch your course on a learning marketplace platform such as Udemy, or you could choose to market it on your own website. In either case, an online course can go a long way toward helping you establish your brand’s online reputation.
Need help writing an online course? Let us help you get your course out into the world. We have professional copywriters who specialize in instructional design. Shop our online course writing service here.
Understanding the Flesch Reading Ease formula can help you learn if inefficient writing is costing you. Why? Because complex writing can kill your sales. It can cost you potential customers. It can hurt your website’s traffic.
The truth is, most people like to read plain English – they don’t want to read cliches or technical jargon unless absolutely necessary.
Google understands this too. Even if you sell complex products or services, you need to especially careful of mind-numbing, complicated writing.
Here are the signs:
Using ten words to say something that could be said in three
Using perplexing language for common ideas
Becoming redundant in an effort to be precise
Becoming verbose when trying to be accurate
Sounding pretentious in an attempt to be interesting
your readers’ eyes glaze over,
or worse –
they leave your page,
delete your email
They never read your message.
Not one word.
When writing web content, blog posts or emails, plain English is a necessity. It must be easy to read, understand and use.
How To Write Content People Will Actually Read
Reading ease is important no matter the subject – even when writing technical information. If you’re explaining a technical subject, use simple sentences and keep plenty of white space on the page. When possible, replace complicated words with simplified words and avoid unnecessary jargon or acronyms.
That doesn’t mean you should use simple words at the expense of being accurate. It also doesn’t mean you should delete important information just for the sake of making it easier to read. Don’t sacrifice what’s necessary for your audience.
It’s about writing for your readers. Not too complex, yet not so simplistic that it fails to answer their questions.
That’s why your content should be direct and straightforward, yet streamlined. Is there an everyday word to replace that fancy word? Can you eliminate unnecessary clauses in your sentences?
That’s where the Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests come in. They give you an objective assessment of your content. They are the most commonly used formulas and generally considered to be the most accurate tests available.
First developed in 1948 by Rudolph Flesch, the Flesch Reading Ease test estimates the reading difficulty of any written material. In 1975, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to evaluate the difficulty level of its technical manuals, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test was created to make it more useful for the military.
Fletch-Kincaid Readability Tests eventually became standardly used in the United States Military. In most of the United States, it is now commonly required that reading material such as insurance policies and other legal documents use plain English (8th or 9th-grade level).
Here’s how the tests calculate readability:
Flesch Reading Ease Formula
206.835 – (1.015 x Total Words / Total Sentences) – (84.6 x Total Syllables / Total Words)
Here’s how the results are interpreted:
0 to 30 – College graduate level. Very difficult.
30 to 50 – College student level. Difficult.
50 to 60 – 10th grade to 12th-grade level. Relatively difficult.
60 to 70 – 8th grade to 9th-grade level. Plain English.
70 to 80 – 7th-grade level. Relatively easy.
80 to 90 – 6th-grade level. Easy. Conversational.
90 to 100 – 5th-grade level. Very easy.
The lower the score, the more complex the writing. The higher the score, the easier it is to read. Word length and sentence length determine complexity. For example, Dr. Suess books would have a score of at least 100. Their short sentences and one syllable words create some of the easiest reading.
Generally, a score of 60-70 is considered to be the standard level for most web content.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test
Widely used in education, this test expresses results in terms of grade level. This helps when trying to estimate the best educational materials for certain groups of people, such as students.
0.39 (Total Words / Total Sentences) + 11.8 (Total Syllables / Total Words) – 15.59
The results are converted into an American school grade level – a score of 9 would be understandable by readers who have a reached a 9th grade level of education.
How Flesch Readability Impacts SEO
While we don’t know exactly how Google evaluates readability, the Flesch Reading Ease Score can help you clearly know if your text is too difficult or too easy. Reading ease impacts your SEO either directly or indirectly. Bottom line – if people leave your page because they’re bored or find it to be a waste of time, it will lower your ranking.
Tools That Measure Your Content’s Readability
The good news is you don’t need to worry about doing the math to measure your content’s readability. There are several tools that will do the job quickly and easily.
If you use Microsoft Word, you can enable readability statisticsto see a snapshot of your content’s statistics. Click the File tab. Then click on Options. Select Proofing. In the area that says, When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, select the box that says, Check grammar with spelling. Finally, select Show Readability Statistics.
Once you’ve enabled this feature, Word will display your readability statistics after each spell check.
How to use Microsoft Word’s readability statistics
Yoast SEO Plugin
If you’re using WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to measure your content’s readability.
There are also free online readability checkers, such as this onefrom webpagefx. You simply enter your site’s URL, and you’ll receive a readability report for your website.
How To Improve Your Flesch Reading Ease Score
To ensure your content is readable and understandable, always keep your target audience in mind. Each audience has its own needs. What problem are you solving? What information do they need to know? This will help you evaluate what to include and how you will write it.
It’s important to stay organized and keep your paragraphs concise. Your writing should flow easily from one topic to the next. Use familiar, appropriate vocabulary. Strike a balance between overly complicated and overly simplified language. Avoid using acronyms or industry jargon.
Thoughtful page design is also important. Avoid large blocks of heavy text. Keep plenty of white space and use headings to break up each topic. Use easy to read fonts in a large enough size. Avoid using all capital letters.
Keep in mind the Flesch Reading Ease Tests have their limitations. No readability measure takes into account the subject you’re writing about. It can’t tell you if you’ve done a good job conveying the information clearly. Only a human being can tell you that. If you’ve successfully explained a technical or complicated subject, your Flesch Reading Ease score won’t necessarily reflect that you took a complex subject and made sense out of it.
Readability tools should be used as guidelines rather than rules. You also need to use some judgment.
Use the checklist below to improve the readability score of your blog posts, emails, manuals and other content.