Content is no Longer King, Readability is

It’s time that marketers stop claiming that content is king.

For too long this marketing chestnut has not been interrogated. The result? Reams of content that nobody reads.

Instead, you need to focus on readability to create the kind of content that your audience wants.

Content marketing 2.0

Implementing a content strategy for your business is still a smart idea.

Content reaches people in ways that advertising no longer can. That’s not to say that advertising won’t still form part of your overall marketing strategy, but consumers have numerous ways to side-step and block adverts. And they do!

However, people have shown that they love good content.

In 2017, a study was conducted with 17,000 people across three high profile brands which showed that more than 90% of consumers like custom content from brands.

So, we know with certainty that people like information and stories more than they like adverts. If your brand is using content to tell stories about how your product or service can help customers, you’re onto a winning ticket.

Too much content, though, is being created purely for the purpose of… well, content creation.

Let’s be honest, content can quickly become a beast of a machine that constantly requires feeding.

Your content output could include any or all of the following:

● Blogs
● Testimonials
● White papers
● Videos
● Podcasts
● Guest posts
● eBooks
● Infographics
● Memes
● How to guides
● Product guides
● Social media content
● The list goes on!

You may be very busy, or have a content team in your company that is highly productive, but your content may be viewed by far fewer eyeballs than you think.

Content that doesn’t speak to your targeted audience is content that costs you money.

Suffice to say that content has lost its crown and readability is the new king in town.

Uh, what is readability?

Readability describes how easy a piece of content is for a person to read.

It’s based on education levels, and a readability score will tell you how many years of education a person needs to understand the content you’ve created.

Reading ages are lower than you might think.
● In the US, the average reading age is 7th or 8th grade level.
● The average British person reads at the same age as a nine year old.

Too many of the following elements leads to content with poor readability scores:
● Using the passive voice consistently
● Too much jargon
● Too many long sentences
● A large amount of adverbs

Creating content that makes people work too hard to read and understand it results in a lost opportunity for you to showcase your brand in its best light. We’re cognitive misers and we don’t want to overload our brains to understand something.
It also results in a bounce. More on that below.

Nothing says I love you like readability

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“Content that people love and content that people can read is almost the same thing.”

This is one of Neil Patel’s core beliefs. As a columnist for Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur, he should know.

But a lot of content being created is not the stuff of love stories.

An average bounce rate is between 41% and 60%, and many brands experience figures north of that.

This means that, on average, half of all people landing on a website click right off of them straight away. More content is just a click away and your website visitors know it. If you think oh how much effort and resource you’ve placed in driving people to your website, the opportunity cost is huge.

In addition, people scan content online rather than read it in-depth.

As far back as 2008, Jakob Nielsen showed how most website visitors scan only 20% of a page.
More recent statistics aren’t easy to come by, but with an internet minute now seeing 1,440 blogs published every sixty seconds, it’s likely even less of a web page is scanned now.

Content that is optimised for readability helps visitors make sense of your content even by only scanning. This leads to further engagement, and a decreasing bounce rate.


Search spiders rate readability too

Of course, when you create content you have more than one reader to keep in mind.

Your target audience is definitely the number one reader to think about as you’re writing, but search spiders deserve a thought too.

In the distant past, many marketing professionals gamed the Google algorithm with keyword stuffing.

This is a dark part of digital marketing’s history and one that no one wants to talk about today. Nonetheless, it happened.

As long as a few of your posts were correctly (white-hat) optimised for SEO, and were ranking highly, the rest of your content could be awful. You’d still earn significant amounts of search traffic.

Then Panda happened. Thank goodness.

The Panda algorithm punishes poor quality content, and marketers who were spamming with keyword stuffing saw their search ranking drop like an anchor.

However, marketers that had been paying attention to quality and relevancy all along in their content creation remits saw no ill effects.

Readability is a great measure of quality, and spiders love readable content.

Free readability tools

There are numerous SaaS products to help ensure that you’re creating readable content, such as Readable and Readability Formulas.

We use VisibleThread’s Readability tool to find out our content score.

The interface is easy to use and shows you areas where you can optimise your content for readability.

You’ll see your engagement levels rise and your bounce rates decline once you place readability at the centre of your content creation activities.

Then you’ll fully agree that content is no longer king!

Sorry content.

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ellie_doyleAuthor: Ellie Doyle

Ellie brings a pragmatic approach to clients hiring challenges, and believes in the power of asking the right questions. She has a phenomenal network of industry contacts – if anyone knows the person for the job, its Ellie. She is famous for her ability to retain even the smallest detail.


Tel: +35316344880

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