In this article, we're going to talk about the Flesch-Reading-Ease test then how it affects content marketing, search engine optimization and pretty much everything you do online. If you have not heard of The Flesch-Reading-Ease test before now, this will be a great introduction. We will cover how the test is performed, what it measures and how you can use it to get rank higher in the search engines.
What Is The Flesch-Reading-Ease Test?
The Flesch-Reading-Ease test is a measurement of how easy or difficult it is to read a particular piece of content. The test assigns a number to a piece of content from 0 to 100 with 100 being the easiest to read and 0 being the most difficult. There's a specific formula that is used to calculate this which we will get into shortly.
Why Is The Flesch-Reading-Ease Important?
The reason that the Flesch-Reading-Ease test is so important when it comes to content marketing is that Google actually checks your content for this score and ranks contents higher that is within a certain range.
Google wants content that
- is easy to read and understandable by the majority of the audience browsing the web,
- but they also want it to be complex enough to fully explain the subject matter.
That's why websites with the Flesch-Reading-Ease test score between 30 and 70 are going to rank higher than a comparable site with a higher or lower score
The Flesch-Reading-Ease Index Explained
Very easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
Easy to read. Conversational English for consumers.
Fairly easy to read.
8th & 9th grade
Plain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.
10th to 12th grade
Fairly difficult to read.
Difficult to read.
Very difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.
The History of the Flesch-Reading-Ease Test
The Flesch-Reading-Ease test has been around for a while and like so many things, it was a military invention. It was developed by the Navy via a researcher named J. Peter Kincaid. He was working on getting computers to perform functions like the Flesch-Reading-Ease test as well as developing systems for teaching. The way that this test was first used was to measure how difficult technical manuals were to read. Just a few years later, U.S. states begin testing important documents like car insurance policies with the Flesch-Reading-Ease test to ensure that they weren't too complicated for the people getting the policy.
Other Related Factors That You Should Be Looking At
There are a few other things that you should be looking at in addition to the Flesch-Reading-Ease index because they will combine with having a score between 30 and 70 to make your content rank even higher.
For example, you should have
- short sentences
- whenever possible sentences should have no more than 15 words
- and you should use short words whenever you can
- and especially avoid words that are more than three syllables.
The Flesch-Reading-Ease Test Formula
The formula to calculate Flesch-Reading-Ease is the total words divided by total sentences subtracted from: the total syllables divided by the total words. However, because there are so many calculators online that will provide you with your Flesch-Reading-Ease results, there is no reason to use the formula yourself, because humans are prone to calculation errors. You should also ensure that you are not confusing this test with the Flesch-Kinkaid grade level test which is used in educational environments for scoring text books and the like.
Rather than a score from 0 to 100, this test will give you a score that is based on the United States school grading system, telling you what grade level the material is appropriate for.
Examples of Flesch-Reading-Ease Results in Popular and Well-Known Content
Below is list of well-known and popular books or materials, but keep in mind that just because the scoring system only runs from 0 to 100, that does not mean that material cannot give a result that is outside of the table. For example, there is a passage in the classic novel Moby Dick that has a score of 146.77 while a passage in Proust’s Swann's Way scored a -515.1. Let's take a look at some longer examples.
- The average score of a Harry Potter novel 72.83
- The average score of a Wikipedia entry is around 42
- Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss is -1.3
- Harvard Law Review is around 32
As you can see, there is a great deal to know about the Flesch-Reading-Ease test. Luckily, you don't have to worry about it too much because most people are going to be writing within the 30 to 70 average anyway. However, if you are outsourcing and you notice that your writers are using a lot of words longer than three syllables or creating long sentences, then you may want to let them know to keep the score between 30 and 70 because that will give you your best chance for ranking high with content marketing.
One of the nice features about this test is that you could actually have one of the services is out there check over your site and give you an average so that you don't have to check every single piece of content. Also, keep in mind that depending upon the type of website you have, you may want to get closer to the 30 or the 70 and in some cases maybe even exceed it. An example would be a website that was targeted to really young children, something that is almost never a problem because content marketing is not ever targeted to children. However the opposite holds true as well. You want to speak the same language as your reader, so if you're writing a science blog then your score may be higher.