Why Readable Content for Your Self Storage Website is Critical
To understand the importance of easy to read content, read the following paragraphs. Paragraph 1 is taken directly from a self-storage website. The readability score is exactly where it should be for the average U.S. reader.
Paragraph 2 is the same information in a clumsy, unreadable form. The vocabulary is difficult, sentences are too long, word choice is awkward, and there are very few logical connections. The readability level of both paragraphs is based on 7 different reading formulas from Readability Formulas.
When you’re trying to sell your home, make it more appealing to potential buyers. Store that furniture that looks like a combination of early depression era and Art Deco gone wrong. We know. Buyers should be able to look past the décor that obviously isn’t included in the sale of the home, but they don’t seem to be able to wrap their brains around that concept. And, insulting the homeowner is their favorite sport. HGTV is their world, and they want to live in it. In the interest of selling your beautiful home quickly (and we know it really is beautiful), store the stuff and hire a stager to make it look like Pottery Barn.
Readability Based on (7) readability formulas
Grade Level: 8
Reading Level: fairly easy to read.
Reader’s Age: 12-14 yrs. old (Seventh and Eighth graders)
Selling a home is a toilsome process, and it is made more arduous by trying to market a home that looks like a cross between Chinoiserie and Corinthian order architecture. Prospective purchasers’ cognitive abilities seem to inhibit their brains from the realization that they do not own the furnishings and can embellish the home in their own idiosyncratic style, albeit contemporary or Bohemian. Their favorite endeavor is to disparage the homeowner’s taste because they revere HGTV and that is where, in their imaginations, they want to live. The ultimate concession you, as the owner of the home, can accomplish is to store your accouterments in the epitome of self-storage facilities, and make your home look like a luxury furniture establishment that houses a celebrity.
Readability Based on (7) readability formulas
Grade Level: 17
Reading Level: difficult to read
Reader’s Age: College graduate
What is Readable Content?
Paragraph 2 may be a little overblown, but it gets the point across. Keep in mind that The average American adult reading level is that of a 9th grader. Mass market novels are written at a 7th grade level, and even the New York Times is written at a 9th grade level. You’d be surprised at the number of C-Suite executives that have difficulty reading. It is a fact, that most adults, no matter what level of education and intelligence, enjoy reading at a seventh grade level.
Simply put, if your audience can’t gain meaning from your content, they may start reading it, but they won’t finish.
How to Write Readable Content
Make a strong first impression
Talk about what the reader will learn and why it’s important. For example, a how-to piece could begin with a definition to help the reader learn and understand the topic’s importance. A case study could start with a conflict and show the challenge and resulting solution. People with the same frustrations will relate and continue to read.
Talk to your audience, not at them.
Think about your content. Is it genuinely useful to your audience? This isn’t about you, it’s about them. Talking about “me” is easy to do; talking in a way that focuses on them, not so much. Stick to clear messaging that’s easy to understand and keeps the focus on what you can provide to the customer. This guides the customer, helping them to see why they need you.
Use a Conversational Tone
Write for people, not search engines, and type like you talk. If you use a conversational tone, you’ll attract a wider range of readers. Establish a relationship by using the pronouns “I” and “you.”
Be Conscious of Word Choice
Communicate clearly with natural language. Don’t load your content with jargon and buzzwords.This isn’t a college report. Don’t confuse the reader with acronyms without explaining the meaning. Use more active and less passive voice. Active voice, where the subject of the sentence performs the action, is stronger and less confusing. For example, “Lily ate the cookie” is active. “The cookie was eaten by Lily” is passive.
Make it skimmable
When you were in elementary school, your teachers taught you to skim chapters in your textbooks so that it would be easier to find the information you’re looking for. The same holds true for your website content. Use headings, bullet points, numbered lists, hyperlinks, and bold and italicized text. And don’t forget the visuals. Photos, videos, memes, and other graphics make your content more engaging, encouraging your audience to keep reading and learn a little more about your business.
Readability and SEO
I’m going to touch briefly on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There is a link between readability and SEO. Readable content means a longer dwell time, a better bounce rate, and better rankings. For more information read Why Creating Relevant Content is Related to SEO Success.
Use these tips to consciously work on making your content readable. It will save you time on editing and make your audience happier.