SEO Readability: 14 Essential Readability Tips for Better SEO Results

Are your page ranking lower than you expected? Here are 14 tips for readability that helps you improve your SEO results

Written by
SEO.AI's Content Team
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April 24, 2024

One of the most important aspects of SEO is optimizing your website's content for Google rankings.

This involves understanding the different ranking signals used by Google to assess the quality of your website's content and making sure that your content is up to their standards.

There are no official guidelines from Google on what exactly constitutes good content with millions of different audiences and more different topics, that task also seem impossible.

But we can take some inspiration from the 176-pages search rater guidelines.

"These guidelines are in place to guarantee that the content is unique and beneficial for people, and that useful information can come from different sources. The criteria are employed by search raters to help evaluate the performance of the search ranking systems, and can also be advantageous to creators who want to know how to produce helpful, user-oriented content."

The states that one of the key ranking factors is effort.

We think that demonstrating effort and making good content go hand in hand.

In this post, we will explore how to demonstrate to Google crawlers that you made an effort and, at the same time, makes your text better for your human readers.

Quality of the Main Content = Effort, Originality, and Talent

Google uses the term "Main Content" (MC) and in the Search Raters guidelines everything is centered around this when determining the page quality (PQ).

The quality of the MC is determined by evaluating the effort, originality, and talent or skill invested in creating it for the majority of pages.

General Guidelines of Google 2022

In this article, I will mainly cover the importance of human effort and how to achieve it.

How to demonstrate effort?

Effort put into a website can help improve its Google ranking in several ways. But what is effort, and does it improve the quality of the site?

The short answer is yes!

It is important to always keep in mind how the text is written and structured on the site. Is it easy to navigate and understand the content.

Having a well-structured website with a clear hierarchy, with illustrations and pictures improves readers understanding of the site and ultimately ensures the readers engagement and experience on the site.

Additionally, having high-quality content that is regularly updated and provides value to visitors can also help boost a site's ranking.

The effort you put into creating backlinks from other reputable and creditable websites can also help to increase the site's visibility and authority, which can gradually improve your sites ranking in Google's search results.

Furthermore, keep in mind the content freshness and relevance, as this will improve your Google ranking too.

"Freshness is generally less of a concern for Page Quality rating. 'Stale' pages can have high Page Quality ratings. For example, some highly reputable news websites maintain 'archival' content. However, unmaintained/abandoned 'old' websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is a reason for a low Page Quality rating." Google

Google ranks the content based on many factors, including effort, but another important thing to keep in mind, when creating content, is how the users online behavior is.

The four factors of online behavior

Scanning online is dictated by a four factors:

  1. The user’s motivation
  2. The user’s goal (what they are trying to achieve)
  3. The layout and formatting of text
  4. The page content

It can be difficult to regulate or control individuals' objectives, however, you can enhance the content and presentation so that users can efficiently locate what they seek.

Specifically, implement effective web formatting methods to highlight crucial information rather than depending on random words that users may focus on when scanning in an F-shape pattern.

What 'F-shaped scanning' reveals about readability?

A study shows readers typically read online content in a 'F-shaped' pattern.

In other words, readers tend to scan the page, focusing on headlines, first sentences, and key points in longer articles to extract the most vital and important information before making the decision – Is this worth my time?


The “F-shaped” scanning pattern is a result of bad skimmability or readability due to three main reasons:

  1. The content has little to no formatting. This includes no bolding, bullets or subheadings.
  2. The reader is trying to be as efficient as possible on the site.
  3. The reader is not committed to read each and every word.

The final two reasons or elements encapsulate basically all online behavior.

Most users on the internet prefer to complete their task with minimal effort or simply seeking a quick solution or answer.

Google is built around this insight.

Bounce rate effects your rankings

Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors/readers who enter your site and then leave (bounce) instead of continuing to view other pages on your site.

Bounce rates are a few of leading indicators used by search engines such as Google to score web page performance and the overall satisfaction.

A high bounce rate on your website indicates your landing experience is not meeting your visitor’s or readers expectations. Generally, you want your website's visitors to be captivated by your content the second they land on your site.

A high bounce rate can be a result of a four things:

  1. Your readers/visitors haven't found what they were looking for
  2. There was an error when loading your page
  3. Page was loading too slow
  4. Your on-site experience was confusing

The main goal is to have users spend more time on your site, which can lead to them learning more about your brand, services or products.

The Importance of Readable Content

When high-quality content falls short, people often fail to consider the simplest solution:

How easy the content is to skim and read.

Readability or skimmability is important because you only have a limited amount of time to captures a person’s attention.

Or in Google terms, provide helpful content to the user's query.

By overlooking the readability the content can doom itself from the get-go, even though your content is informative and interesting.

A wall of text will ultimately mean the users quickly might return to the search engine to find another source for their query that will present what they are looking for in a more appealing and easier-to-digest manor.

When or if a user bounces from site back to search engine, Google will see this result as if the site does not have the given result to the user's query. This leads to a worse ranking over time on Google.

If a user do find the result or stays longer on the site, this leads Google to the result of the user's query has been found. This leads to a better ranking over time on Google.

14 Essential Readability Tips for Better SEO Results

When creating readable or skimmable content there are several practices you can utilize in order to make your content more optimized.

Some of these includes:

  1. Prioritize, state the most important point in the first two paragraphs
  2. Headlines & subheadings, clearly state what you can offer
  3. Bullets, allows the reader to skim text faster
  4. Illustrations & pictures, improves the reader's experience and visibility
  5. Source references, improves credibility, authority, and accessibility
  6. Quotes, improves the engagement and relevance
  7. Video, improves the reader's experience and improves mobile optimization
  8. Examples, improves readers' understanding
  9. Step guide, makes it easier for the reader to relate to
  10. Interactive content, improves the reader's time spend on the site
  11. Tables, makes it easier to navigate and improves understanding of the text
  12. Text structure, improves readability and UX
  13. Unnecessary content, cut irrelevant content
  14. Fact box, improves skimmability/readability and UX

1. Prioritize

When prioritizing it's necessary to list the most important ideas or point in the first two paragraphs. This helps optimizing the readers efficiency and furthermore tells the reader what your content really is about.

When reading online we tend to have a short attentions span meanwhile we are easily distracted, so it's crucial to hook them in the first few seconds. Ultimately this improves the overall UX (User Experience)

2. Headlines

Headlines are a vital component of ensuring text readability and skimmability on the web. Headlines are typically used in the form of HTML tags, such as:

H1, H2, H3 and so on. These tags are utilized to organize content and make it easier to scan and comprehend.

When writing a headline, it is important to clearly state what you have to offer in a concise and engaging manner.

This will help draw the attention of readers and improve the overall readability. Additionally, headlines should be relevant to the content they are introducing and should be formatted to be distinct from the rest of the text. The use of HTML tags can be beneficial for breaking up a text into sections and guiding readers to the desired content.

When using HTML tags remember the H1 tag should only be used for the main headline, while H2 and H3 tags should be considered as subheading.

3. Bullets

If I were to write the above text with bullets, it would be something like;

  • Bullets allow readers to quickly scan through content and get an overview of key points and ideas
  • Bullets help structure content, making it easier for readers to follow along and make connections between ideas
  • Bullets make it easier for readers to remember information and understand core concepts
  • Bullets allow readers to digest complex information quickly and easily

4. Illustrations & pictures

Adding illustrations and pictures to a blog post can greatly improve the reader's experience and visibility.

Visuals can make the blog post more engaging, making it easier for readers to scan and understand the main points quickly.

A good illustration can draw people in and keep them on the page. Illustrations can also help to break up the text, making the post easier to read, and allowing readers to identify the main points easily.

When it comes to online content, visuals are a great way to increase skimmability and readability. By including illustrations and pictures in a blog post, readers can quickly grasp the main ideas without having to spend time scrolling through large blocks of text.

Images can also act as a type of anchor, directing the reader’s attention to the key points. Additionally, visuals can help to make the blog post easier to remember, which can be invaluable in helping to increase reader retention.

5. Source references

Including source references in online content can significantly improve its credibility, authority, and accessibility. By citing credible sources, readers can trust the information being presented, and it helps to establish the author as an authoritative figure in the subject matter.

Additionally, including source references gives readers the ability to easily verify the information being presented and find additional resources if they want to learn more.


Incorporating quotes into online content can improve engagement and relevance by providing different perspectives and reinforcing key points.

Quotes also adds credibility to the content, as well as help to break up large blocks of text, and thereby making it more visually appealing for the reader.

"By using quotes to emphasize key points, the content becomes more memorable and engaging, which can improve the overall user experience and increase reader engagement."

Including quotes in online content can also help to improve its readability and skimmability.

Quotes can serve as visual markers, making it easier for the reader to quickly identify and absorb the most important information. They can also help to break up large blocks of text, making the content more visually appealing and easier to scan.

7. Video

Incorporating video into online content can significantly improve the reader's experience by providing a dynamic and engaging way to present information.
Video can help to bring abstract concepts to life, provide visual examples, and illustrate complex ideas in a more accessible and understandable way.

Including video in online content can also help with mobile optimization, as videos often are well-suited for mobile devices and can provide a better user experience on smaller screens.

Videos can help to reduce bounce rates and increase time on site, which can improve search engine rankings and overall traffic to the website.

Additionally, videos can be optimized for different devices and screen sizes, improving accessibility for a wider range of users. By incorporating video, online content becomes more dynamic, engaging, and optimized for both desktop and mobile users, improving its readability and skimmability.

8. Examples

Examples are good in online content because they make the information more relatable and easier to understand. By providing real-life scenarios, the reader can better grasp the concept being presented. Examples helps to keep the reader engaged.

In addition, examples can also improve the readability and skimmability of an online text. By breaking up dense blocks of text with relevant examples, the reader is given a visual break which can help to maintain their focus.

This can also help to make the text more visually appealing and makes it easier for the reader to skim through the content and pick out the key points.

9. Step guide

A step-by-step guide makes it easier for the reader to relate to the information being presented and helps to break down complex concepts into manageable chunks.

  1. Provide simple and clear instructions
  2. Then the reader is able to understand and follow along the process
  3. It is especially helpful for technical information
  4. It simply ensures the reader has a clear understanding of each step.

In addition, a step-by-step guide can greatly improve the readability and skimmability of an online text. The step-by-step format also makes it easier for the reader to quickly scan the content and determine if the guide is relevant to their needs.

By breaking the information into smaller, manageable pieces, the reader is less likely to become overwhelmed or discouraged, making it more likely that they will engage with the content.

10. Interactive content

Interactive content can greatly improve the reader's time spent on the site, as it provides a more engaging and dynamic experience.

This can be in the form of quizzes, polls, games, and other types of interactive media that require the reader to actively participate. This type of content can hold the reader's attention for longer periods of time and can help to keep them engaged with the site.

In addition, interactive content can also improve the readability and skimmability of online text. By breaking up blocks of text with interactive elements, the reader is given a visual break that can help to maintain their focus. This can also help to make the text more visually appealing, making it easier for the reader to skim through the content and pick out the key points.

Furthermore, interactive content can also help to make the information more memorable, as the reader is actively participating in the learning process. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the information and a higher likelihood of retaining the information.

11. Tables

Tables can greatly improve the navigation and understanding of online text by presenting information in a structured, organized format. By placing data into columns and rows, the reader can easily compare and contrast information, making it easier to explain and understand complex concepts.

If you are wondering what a table really is, take a quick look here

In addition, tables can also improve the readability and skimmability of an online text. The use of tables can also help to reduce the overall length of the text, making it less intimidating for the reader to engage with the content.

12. Text structure

Text structure refers to the way in which an online text is organized. This includes the use of headings, subheadings, bullet points, and other elements, presented above, that help to break up the content into manageable chunks. A well-structured text makes it easier for the reader to quickly scan the content and locate the information they are looking for, improving the overall skimmability of the text.

In addition to improving skimmability, text structure can also improve the user experience (UX) of an online text. The use of text structure can help to improve the visual appeal of the text, making it more inviting for the reader to engage with the content.

Overall, a well-structured text and site can greatly improve the readability and UX of an online text, making it easier for the reader to find and understand the information they are looking for.

13. Unnecessary content

It might seem obvious to cut unnecessary content your website but make sure it keep it in mind. A website shouldn't be filled with unnecessary text. This will only confuse your reader and the increase your bounce rate.

You can cut the unnecessary content on your website for several reasons:

  • Improved User Experience (UX): Excessive content can be overwhelming and confusing for the reader, making it difficult for them to find the information they need. By removing unnecessary content, the site becomes easier to navigate and the information is presented in a clear and concise manner, improving the overall UX.
  • Increased Page Load Speed: A website with excessive content can take longer to load, which can negatively impact the user's experience. By cutting unnecessary content, the page load speed is improved, providing a better experience for the reader.
  • Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engines favor websites with clear, concise content that is relevant to the user's search query. By cutting unnecessary content, the site becomes more focused and relevant, improving its chances of ranking higher in search engine results.
  • Better Focus on Key Messages: By cutting unnecessary content, the website is able to focus on delivering its key messages to the reader.
  • Increased Engagement: This can help to increase conversions and build trust with the reader.

14. Fact box

A fact box is a condensed, informational summary of key points or data that is presented in a visually appealing format. This format can improve the readability and skimmability of an online text by presenting complex information in an easily digestible format. By using graphics, icons, and other visual aids, the fact box can help to make the information more memorable and engaging for the reader.

Fact about SEO:

The use of a fact box can also make the text more visually appealing, making it more inviting for the reader to engage with the content. By improving the readability and skimmability of the text, the fact box can help to increase engagement and drive better results for the business.

In addition, fact boxes can also improve the user experience (UX) of an online text by breaking up dense blocks of text and providing quick access to key information. The use of concise language and simple graphics helps to ensure that the information is easily understood, even by readers who are simply skimming the content.

SEO Readability: 14 Essential Readability Tips for Better SEO Results

This is an article written by:

The Content Team is comprised of several SEO.AI staff members, augmented by AI. We share a deep passion for all things AI, with a particular emphasis on SEO-related topics