Tip Tuesday: Optimize Your Copy for SEO with Proper Use and Simple Words

Tip Tuesday: Optimize Your Copy for SEO with Proper Use and Simple Words

Writing is useless without grammar. If you don’t organize your sentences, letters, punctuation in some way, you’re going to lose clarity. That doesn’t always mean that a misplaced comma will kill you. The web is a strange place. It can be forgiving on occasion. The web will even warn you of the possible misuse of the English language (sometimes). But the web is more often a cruel, vindictive place where the tiniest misstep results in a “guns-a-blazing” backlash as if an ace just slipped from your sleeve as you collected your winnings during an Old-West poker game. Whether you’re making your copy too complicated or you’re totally missing the mark with misplaced punctuation, play it safe and don’t gamble with grammar.

Words on the Web

I would say that grammar has become more important with the rise of the internet age. There are more words than ever in the world of marketing and advertising. Print advertising has stepped aside (for now) as the top dog and made way for digital mediums to step forward. Print may have faded, but the written word is more visible than it’s ever been.

Blogging has become an important part of digital marketing. These easily accessible, informative pieces of web writing help you build your business. Long gone are the days of being looked up in the phonebook. Today, you are Googled. People don’t often call to find out about your business. They look on your website, blog or social media pages and read. They read about your business; they read about what you offer and what you believe in. People find you by reading on the internet so you need to make your copy on the internet work for you. The way you do that is through SEO.

SEO is an interesting thing. Your choice and use of words are important to the marketing machine. We know that keywords are important and that your business hinges on your web presence. One of the things that might not be as obvious about good SEO is that readability is an important, sometimes critical aspect of your web copy.

Readability

Google might not directly use the readability of your content to determine your SEO ranking, but plugins like Yoast SEO, which measure the SEO value of your content, include a readability metric. If it’s not clear that Google uses this to determine your ranking, why is it important to SEO?

Commexis - Optimize Your SEO Copy

The simple answer to that question is that people won’t read something that they cannot understand. They’ll move on to the next site with clearer copy and you’ll be left in the lurch. What it comes down to is that even if you’re site is the first on the list of Google results, if your copy is too hard to read searchers will go right on by to the next site.

Readability: Too High, Too Low

There are two ways to make your copy too difficult to read. One is overcomplicating your writing and the other is bad writing. Either way, these readability issues can hurt your SEO ranking.

Yoast SEO uses the Flesch reading ease test to analyze your content. The test uses a baseline to measure your content. By measuring the length of your sentences and the number of syllables in your words, Yoast assigns a readability score to your content. The higher the score the easier your content is to read. A perfect score is based on the reading level of the average 11-year-old student. The optimal score for web writing is based on the reading ability of a 13 to 15-year-old.

This type of metric is not perfect. The equation is very simple. A good writer can use this tool to make sure their writing is hitting the mark, but it should be used as an aid not as a rule.

The other way to lose people is with plain bad writing. If your copy is littered with grammatical errors this can make your copy hard to read or even totally change the meaning of what you said. You can bring the internet rage machine down on your head by forgetting a comma and repulse business that might totally misinterpret your meaning or struggle to make sense of your copy.

Striking the Balance

There is an easy, happy medium that can be struck between simplicity and decent grammar. Knowing your way around the English language is a necessity, but when combined with tools like the Flesch readability test by Yoast SEO, you get a perfect balance. Your content needs to have this balance between easy and proper to get you noticed. You don’t want to hurt your SEO ranking with people who leave your site after a brief glimpse at a string of mashed together letters or seventeen-syllable words.

Grammar is as important as it’s always been to writing. The internet age has not killed the need for clarity and we haven’t made the move to a total emoji-based language yet. When you combine your knowledge of proper writing with a tool like the Flesch reading test, you make sure that you’re writing the most understandable content you can.


Commexis copywriter, Ed Carr, grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from La Salle University in 2015.

Ed Carr

Copywriter

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