Do you have to dumb down your blog posts?
If you have a plugin like Yoast installed on your business blog, you will be familiar with the Flesch Reading Ease test. This test analyses your text and rates it according to how easy it is to read using the following scale:
|90 – 100||easily understood by an average 11-year-old student|
|60 – 70||easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students|
|0 – 30||best understood by university graduates|
How does it do this? The formula used to calculate the score looks at the total number of words, sentences and syllables in your text; with documents containing more syllables scoring lower on the scale. Yoast uses the Flesch Reading Ease test in their page analysis with posts that score highly getting the green light, and those that are in the low numbers getting the red light. For a blog author the message is clear: use fewer big words!
Does this really matter? Personally I hate this dumbing down culture. I like to use the English language with all its variety and complexity, and sometimes only a big word will do. But for anyone writing a business blog this is important; after all you’re not writing for your own pleasure, instead you are using your blog to convert readers into clients and customers.
Write for your customer
This is the golden rule. Not only should you be writing content that your readers / potential customers want to read, but it should be pitched at a level they can understand. If your target audience are all PHD graduates, then text that scores under 30 is perfectly acceptable, or is it? People don’t have vast amounts of time on their hands for reading, whether they are genuinely busy or just want to get back to Facebook, most visitors to your blog are likely to scan it first. If your text is clear and concise they are more likely to read it straightaway. If it is more challenging they might decide to bookmark it for later; but how many of us actually do get around to revisiting bookmarked pages?
Target the lowest common denominator
You don’t have to write your blog posts with the readability of a Peter and Jane Ladybird book, but your job as a business blogger is to persuade someone to part with their money, or pick up the phone or any other call to action: this won’t happen if they have to work hard to get through your blog. Simplicity and clarity makes it easier for everybody to read. And who’s ever complained that something is too easy to read? In fact consider the 10% of the UK population who are dyslexic, many of whom are highly intelligent, they don’t want text dumbed down; just made easier to read.
Write for other human beings
The other thing about a business blog is that it’s a form of social media. It’s a way of engaging with your audience, showing that there are real people behind your company branding, and having a conversation. Who wants to engage with a load of jargon or corporate-speak? Do you speak to your customers and clients like that face to face? Generally people are suspicious of gobbledygook, unimpressed, they either think you are covering up your own lack of knowledge or spouting bulls**t!
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Einstein
So how does this blog post score on the Flesch Reading Ease Test? 68.3 according to this readability calculator. If you’re 13-15 years (or older) I hope you enjoyed this post!
Find Jane on Google+