Everybody has an opinion on what constitutes good content writing, and it usually comes down to how we define readability. The debate rages on: should blogs be as accessible as possible so you can reach the widest audience, or are readers more likely to tune out content that isn’t rich in details they can’t find elsewhere?
The problem is, too many content creators trust their instincts on this one, but don’t actually test their theory. They start with an assumption about what kind of content their readers are more likely to respond to, then run with it. After all, Readability is crucial and the rule of thumb has been that your content will attract a diverse audience if it’s written in a way they can easily understand, and doesn’t alienate readers by being so overly complex that they quickly move on. But is that always the right approach? Couldn’t there sometimes be room for blogs that don’t make a distinction between the two, and instead provide a mix of both?
We were wondering the same thing. But rather than go with guesswork, we decided to test the theory.
How Should Businesses Define Readability?
A golden rule in content writing is: don’t alienate anyone if you don’t have to. That’s usually translated to mean you shouldn’t go overboard sounding like your main audience just got their Ph.d. In other words, don’t get overly technical if you don’t have to. But that decision should also depend on the type of business you run. As the only saying goes, know your audience. It’s possible you’ll attract more readers by giving them detailed, comprehensive information they’re searching for but have trouble finding.
So we did our own case study on Content Readability, courtesy of a survey that asked whether readers generally felt blogs and articles were more engaging when they’re easier to read and more conversational in tone, or when they’re expertly technical in nature, loaded with facts and statistics on the subject matter.
The results, with one interesting exception, show that the majority of readers would prefer content that’s readable over blogs that sound more technical in nature. But don’t say case closed just yet. Our survey also suggests that a mix of readability and technical expertise could actually work quite well for some businesses.
How Market My Market Tested this Theory
Using two recent blogs written by the Market My Market content team, the results indicate that readability — a key aspect of content creation and SEO — is still a major factor when it comes to posting content online and aiming for a high Google ranking.
When readers were asked what kind of content kept their attention the most, 75% chose readable content, while 25% said they preferred technical pieces.
We got a similar result asking which one was easier to read: 65% chose the readable content, and 33% opted for the more technical ones.
Another key aspect of readability is which articles have better flow and structure. Again, 61% favored the readable content compared to 37% who rated the technical pieces more highly. Sounds like a clear preference for one over the other, right? But … the overall numbers got a bit more skewed on one account: asked which article was the most authentic, readers were split right down the middle, an even 50-50% divide.
One way of interpreting that is that technical blogging, demonstrating expertise in a particular subject, may be what a significant percentage of your readers are looking for. They’re eager to be informed, educated, and enlightened. They don’t want a blog on that subject to sound like fluff, no matter how much it’s designed to be pleasant or enjoyable to scroll through.
In the chart below, Link 1 is the Readable Content and Link 2 is the technical blogs.
Can a Mix of Readable and Technical Work?
The reason readability is so important to SEO is you’re trying to get a message across and you can’t do that if your writing drives readers away. Readers have short attention spans, so you don’t want to give anyone an excuse to leave your page. And you don’t want your content to be too boring, ponderous, or complicated for the average reader.
On the other hand ….
Part of your message should be that you’ve got a solution to their problem; and sometimes the reader wants you to demonstrate that. Up until now, we’ve all assumed that readability alone keeps your target audience on your website, but there’s nothing wrong with providing technical examples that show you know your stuff. Technical blogging can help you build a valuable readership by providing them with guidance, and it can help you document the success of your work and ongoing projects.
One of the basic rules of readability is your writing should always be done with a clear audience in mind. If you think your readers are looking for answers that they can’t find someplace else, by all means make your content readable, enjoyable, conversational in tone. Try demonstrating your command over the subject and proficiency in your field; they may actually be looking for that as well. When putting technical or detail-rich material in your blog, try to also use examples that people can relate to. That’s another good tool for boosting engagement.
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At Market My Market, our digital marketing gurus work hand-in-hand with law firms and other businesses across the country to ensure their websites are set up to gain the most leads and provide the most helpful information to visitors. If you want us to assess and revitalize your content from top-to-bottom, we’re only a click away. Visit us at marketmymarket.com or schedule a free marketing consultation by completing our contact form.