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The Importance of Readability in SEO

I always thought that the smarter I sound, the more acknowledgment I would get. Well apparently in SEO its not so. Even though I have written articles online that to academic standards are not just acceptable, but great the readability was not suitable for my target audience. And believe it or not this has  a negative effect on online ranking.

What is Readability?

Readability is making your writing understandable and easy to readers.  It may not seem important, but when you’re talking about Online Content, marketing towards your audience is fundamental. If a website’s content is clear, legible and easily understood, not only will people find it attractive, and learn about your service or product,  search engines will favor the site and help it rank as well.

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SEO specialists have become precise on their keyword content creation. Yet, the majority of content on the web is not generated for readability. This basically means they are getting their positioning but people are not reading it.

Search engines have noticed this and are now taking readability as a ranking factor. How do you know your content or articles have readability? There are tools on your computer that check spelling & grammar. Those tools can also tell you the reading ease of your document and the grade level.

How readability affects SEO

Readability is an underestimated part of SEO. Those who employ readability will have an advantage when it comes to content creation. Remember, great content isn’t great unless it gets read. Many old school managers are accustomed to have all their content precise and well written, unfortunately sometimes the readers may not be as well versed and find it hard to understand. Try to consider your clients when creating your online material.

If the document is too hard to read, users will leave the web page immediately and search for another document that is easier to read. On the contrary , if the document is written at a really low-grade level, it is probably “dumb” or childish to the reader who may see it as lack of professionalism, and will immediately leave your site.

Both circumstances will create a high “bounce rate” – which will result in negatively effecting your placement in search engines.

Does your Website and blog have a readability level?

There are tools online that can indicate the readability of your website. They can tell you if it’s basic or advanced.  The consideration on what kind of readability level your site should have is determined on who your target audience is. Not every business is the same and the level of readability could vary.

Trying to find the balance between smart and easy content is not simple. Once you know your audience, you’ll not just capture their attention, but also capture the support of the search engines.

BTW. This article has a 9th grade reading level. (This is about as high as we’re willing to go for our audience)

About Miguel Mendez

Considered a citizen of the world, SEO Miami Innovator, Social Media erudite and chronic Starbucks drinker… did I mention I make great Guacamole, currently blogging for 7 different sites and in search for more.

Google Cleans Out Spam With A Panda Update. Again!

panda-239x300Back in Feb. 2011 Google released its first Panda update to prevent duplicate content. Google started devaluating article directories and all duplicated content. The Panda update had affected many sites rankings. Google wants to show its users the best possible results by cleaning up spam. By removing syndicated content and devaluating article directories, Google predicted a cleaner SERP. Google was successful with this first update. However, there have been many other spam tactics that were not devaluated yet, Google has to determine real content from spam.

Updates are not new to Google. Google is always tweaking little things and every so often they do a major update such as the latest update to Panda. Google’s most recent Panda update targets relevancy. Every site has link juice AKA “Page Rank”, Page rank is gained from one site linking to another. Before the latest Google update, any link linking to your site would pass link juice, even if the sites were not relevant to each other. This left the SERPs vulnerable to spam, all you had to do to rank is find a few sites with high Page Rank and get them to point a link to your site. The turn out for this is loads of spam links from blogs, blog commenting, buying links, irrelevant forum signatures and other irrelevant locations. In other words many so-called SEOs were working on gaming the system, they did not care about where the link was coming from or if anyone even sees it, they only care about the link juice. They only care about the link juice, unlike Boasting BiZ.

Google is a business and they are here for profit. Keeping their SERP’s clean will ensure that they stay the top choice for search. Google had no choice, they had to clean out the junk and many sites were affected. I call it the “Google Flush” Google calls it the Panda update. Google’s most recent Panda update, in April 2012, targeted relevancy between linking sites. Google decided to only pass link juice when sites are relevant to each other (within Context). If a site for baseball links to a site for commercial real estate no link juice will pass. The more relevant the sites that are linking are to each other, the more link juice will be passed.

joker-300x223How can Google determine relevancy between two sites?

Google now looks for similarities of phrases between sites. If the site you’re linking to has the term “abc” 10 times and your page has “abc” a few times this makes sense and the link juice will pass. However, if the site you are linking to do not have “abc” in it at all, they will not pass link juice. Google is also aware of related terms. For example, if you were targeting “metal building” and you link to a site that mentions “steel building”, Google knows that these terms are similar and will still pass link juice. Many sites have been devaluated from the most recent update and many of them deserved it. In my opinion, Google is just doing their job by keeping the SERP clear of spam and time wasting results. 

What are some good practices to apply to the new Panda relevancy update?

Stay relevant! Only search place a link where it makes sense from a user point of view. If it makes sense to the reader, it should make sense to link. “Give the people what they want and Google will give you to the people.”

Make this your new mantra: I will not spam! I will not spam! I will not spam!

No matter what the case may be, always keep relevancy and your users in mind and your site will be safe from this Panda update and future ones as well.

Lost Rankings? Some tips to recover from Google Panda Update…

Google’s Panda update is looking for relevancy, if for the most part you have been relevant, and you only linked some non-relevant sites, you can go back and delete some of the links (if possible). You might have to contact some webmasters and ask them to take down these links. However, if you have been spamming and all your links are garbage, you’re better off starting from scratch! A site that has mostly non-relevant (spam) links will take too much effort to recover from this update.

Takeaway

Are you building relevant links to your site?

Are you giving your audience what they are looking for?

Are you finding your audience in the appropriate locations?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, read the article again. Read the article until all the answers are YES!

Guest Post By: Donnie Strompf.

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