How to Improve Content Readability in 10 Steps

Improving content readability through font text and formatting

Though it might take you hours or days to craft a good piece of content, it takes website visitors just seconds to judge what you’ve written. It’s important then, that your content is easy to read in this short window. Take the time to improve content readability and you’ll see improvements across the board in conversions, engagement and overall traffic.

We’re going to take you through what readability is, show you why it’s so important, cover how it’s measured and, finally, end with 10 steps that will help you improve readability on your website. Let’s go!

What is readability?

Question mark in circle

Readability is exactly what it sounds like: it measures how easy or difficult it is to read your content. If you manage to achieve a high readability score, then your content is easy to read and understand. This increases the chances of your readers engaging with your brand and moving through your sales funnel.

On the surface, readability might seem like it’s all about simplifying and shortening your words or sentences. When you delve a bit deeper, however, you start to realise that it involves every element of your content—whether you’re speaking in passive/active voice, what type of font you’ve chosen, whether you’ve used images and much, much more.

Why is it important?

It improves user experience

By simplifying your content and making it easier on the eyes, you’re making it easier for visitors to scan your text to find what they’re looking for. This, in turn, allows them to achieve their goal quickly, which increases the likelihood of them converting or engaging with your brand in the near future.

It increases your chances of ranking for voice search

If your content is well-written, with short sentences, a straightforward structure and relatively simple vocabulary, it will translate well to voice search. Generally speaking, voice search answers need to be easy to understand, which would be impossible with long, clunky paragraphs.

It makes your content more effective

Once you know what makes content more readable, you’ll be able to hone your content strategy and carefully craft content that matches user intent and ensures a good user experience. This will then lead to a reduction in bounce rates and an increase in both conversions and time spent on page.

How do we measure readability?

Readability is calculated using a formula that takes into account key metrics like average syllables per word, sentence length, frequency of words and so on.

One of the most popular formulas for measuring content readability is the Flesch Reading Ease score:

Flesch Readability Ease score formula

This particular test is scored from 0 to 100. If you want to achieve the best possible score, your text must contain short words and sentences.

This formula has been integrated and combined with other readability measurements into many online tools and software programs that you may be familiar with, including Microsoft Word, Grammarly and Yoast.

Are these readability tools actually effective?

As we’ll get to shortly, there are plenty of tools that you can use to improve content readability—often in a speedier fashion than traditional proofreading. That being said, they do come with a few limitations.

They don’t always take into account…

Content topics

If you’ve got a blog that delves into the ins and outs of medicine—or any other type of technical field—you’re going to end up using rather complex or specialist jargon, not to mention long sentences. As a result, you’re unlikely to achieve a good readability score.

Writing style

Readability scores are completely objective. They don’t take into account a person’s individual writing style. All they care about is whether or not the text ticks off certain requirements, e.g., active voice, short sentences and short words. If you’re someone who prefers long sentences, or has a fondness for unique and underused words, you’re going to feel penalised when you’re met with low readability scores.


No matter how complex and thorough the readability tool is, it’s still unable to completely understand your text. Sure, it can tell you if your text makes grammatical sense and if you’ve met their requirements, but it won’t be able to tell you how well your target audience will understand it.


What this tells us is that, though readability tools can be useful, they do have limitations, depending on your writing style and chosen topics. Good readability isn’t just about shortening your words and sentences—there are countless other factors at play, which we’re going to get into now…

How to improve content readability

1. Remember who your audience is

Target audience for content

Whether you’re creating a landing page, a how-to guide or a generic blog post, you always need to keep your audience in mind. If your content is targeting an industry-specific audience, feel free to use specialist language that they’ll understand. If you’re angling your content towards a more general audience, however, you might not want to alienate them with complex jargon.

Remember, it’s not about what your preferences are. You’re writing for your target audience, not yourself. If you’re not entirely sure who your target audience is, start by creating buyer personas. Once you’ve done that, you can readjust your content strategy and start writing content that matches the needs and interests of your audience.

2. Choose your headlines with care

If you want your audience to actually click on your content, you need to make sure that you’ve created a clear headline that fully conveys what your article or landing page is actually about.

You don’t want to mislead them in any way, or they’ll bounce. And you’ll also want to avoid something that’s too clickbait, as it may end up repelling them before they even click through to your content.

So, keep it short and sweet (you don’t need to tell them everything) and try to emphasise the key benefit(s) involved with reading your content, e.g., are you offering a solution, or answering a question?

3. Be concise

Short sentences and paragraphs

If you prefer using longer sentences, that’s your prerogative, but at the very least, you should try to be concise. If you can explain something in a couple of sentences, rather than an entire paragraph, do so. It’s more important to ensure that your readers understand your content than it is to needlessly bulk up your word count.

Once you finish writing a section under a heading or subheading, read over it to see if you’ve repeated or overcomplicated anything.

4. Be smart with formatting

One thing that readability tools don’t consider when calculating your readability score is the actual design of your content. The way that your content is formatted and appears to your readers can have a huge impact on how well they are able to read it.

You should use headings and subheadings to break up your text. This will make it easier for readers to scan and scroll to whatever’s relevant to them. You should also try to keep your paragraphs relatively short so that you’re not overloading your readers with too much information.

Careful use of bold and italicised text can also call your readers’ attention towards key points. Be sure to not overdo it though, as it can backfire and cause confusion.

You can also implement:

  • Bullet points
  • Tables
  • Coloured boxes
  • Numbered lists

5. Leave some space

Space around text

Your website should never look cluttered. You do not need to fill up your webpages with as much information as possible in the hopes of catching your audience’s attention. If there’s too much going on, it will only serve to confuse or annoy your readers.

By making use of white space (note: it’s not necessarily ‘white’; it just refers to the absence of text), you can draw your audience’s attention towards your content. This means leaving spaces on either side of your text, between paragraphs, and between images and text.

These blank spaces not only encourage readers to focus on the text, but also allow them to take breaks if need be.

6. Think about your font

The font that you pick will have a huge impact on how easily a visitor is able to read your content. Though there are hundreds of interesting font types to choose from, you’ll want to stick to something simple, like Arial, Calibri or even the controversial Times New Roman! If you pick something outlandish, it’s likely to have a detrimental effect on the readability of your content.

You’ll also want to think about the size of your font. If your readers need to zoom in to read your content, it’s much too small.

7. Don’t forget to use images

Seven blank photographs

You don’t want your webpages to be chock full of text and nothing else—mix things up with some relevant images. It will help break up the text and, as a result, make it much easier for your audience to read.

Stay away from cheesy stock photos and instead try to use original, or at the very least high-quality and relevant images.

8. Don’t resort to keyword stuffing

For starters, keyword stuffing should be a no-go zone for any website. It’s an outdated SEO tactic that does more harm than good. It also happens to be extremely bad for readability.

If you’re jamming the same keyword, or close variations, into every bit of text on a webpage, it’s going to be very obvious and very jarring to your readers. Keyword stuffing rarely ever sounds natural, so it’s automatically going to have a detrimental effect on readability.

9. Use readability tools

How to fix

As we’ve said, readability tools do come with some limitations, which is why they should be used in conjunction with the tips we’ve discussed above and your own general judgement (which we’ll get into below).

There is a wide variety available, depending on how much you’re willing to pay and what kind of capabilities you’re interested in…

Yoast’s WordPress Plugin

Yoast’s WordPress plugin is a freemium tool that offers users help with their content’s SEO and overall readability. It measures factors such as paragraph length, subheading distribution, passive voice, Flesch reading ease and so on.

SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant

Part of the SEMrush suite, SEO Writing Assistant is a tool that will help you focus and improve on readability, originality, tone of voice and SEO. You’ll be able to look at readability scores, reading times and specific content issues so that you can optimise your text.

WebFX Readability Test

By entering the URL or pasting your text directly into WebFX’s tool, you can receive the readability score for your content. It will give you six different readability scores in total that make use of varying formulae:

  • Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease
  • Flesch Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Score
  • SMOG Index
  • Coleman Liau Index
  • Automated Readability Index

Text Optimizer

With this tool, you can enter a URL or paste text in to help optimise both your content and writing style. It will factor in word count, sentence length and even offer up word suggestions to increase readability and your likelihood of ranking well.


Whilst Grammarly won’t give you any help in regards to SEO, it is especially handy in helping you improve your grammar, spelling, tone and content structure. It will help you eliminate errors and hone in on the perfect words to suit your target audience.

10. Proofread your content

It might seem like overkill to proofread your content after making use of one (or more) of the readability tools listed above, but it’s completely necessary. Remember, these tools do have limitations!

By this point, your content should be free from typos and grammatical errors, but be on the lookout for them anyway. Your main focus, however, should be on the readability of your content from your audience’s perspective. Even if you get full marks across the board for readability, it’s completely redundant if your target audience ends up struggling with your content.

So, return to your buyer personas and try to read your content using these mindsets.

And that’s all we’ve got for you folks! You now know how to improve content readability and reap the rewards. For more content tips, tricks and advice, head on over to the Supersede Blog!