reading levels

Successful Web Content: What Reading Levels Should You Aim for?

If you operate in a world in which your words are your ultimate weapons of seduction used to convert readers into buyers, then you must be fully aware of the fact that what you say is just as important as how you say it. Your tone and your writing style represent key elements that are unfortunately ignored by tons of otherwise competent writers, editors and publishers. So before we go any further, ask yourself the following question: do you and your readers speak the same language?

How Your Ad-Copy Writing Style Actually Influences Your Conversion Rates

According to Copyblogger, there are 4 levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical and syntopical. Reading is a real art. Unfortunately, not all your readers are artists.

Some writers think that they have to make the most of concepts that are difficult to grasp and explain, correlated with an abundance of technical data and pompous words to prove a point. If you are one of them, we are sorry to burst your bubble. The results of a an ample study on adult reading proficiency introduced by the US Department of Education clearly indicates that the average American people still read and assimilate information at a basic 8th (or even 7th) grade level. So if you want to improve your conversion rates, you have to present your products, brand of services in a very concise, reader-oriented manner, without relying on unnecessary explanations or adornments that couldn’t be understood by 8th or 7th graders.

The Gunning Formula, which has its fair share of critics, represents one good tool that you can rely on to keep your writing simple and effective.

Gunning formula

Run this basic mathematical formula against your own ad copy to find out how many years of study your readers would need to decode your text. Of course, if you’re not very proud of your math skills, you have to find a new method to assess the comprehension level of your text. Here are a few tips that could get you out of trouble:

1)      Practice Makes Perfect. OK, so you lack empathy and you don’t really understand the needs, desires and the intellectual capabilities of your audience. What do you do in this case? You put all your hopes in a trial-and-error process. You adopt the writing style that you find more appropriate based on your targeted audience and you measure its impact. Do you manage to interact with your public? Does your writing encourage your readers’ feedback? Do you get comments and suggestions from your visitors? Are your posts liked and shared? If you’ve only managed to come up with a whole bunch of NOs, chances are that you are not on the same page with your audience and that you may need to adjust your writing style a bit.

2)      Take a Closer Look at What Others Are Doing. Here’s an interesting exercise: compare the style adopted by so-called intellectual publications with the one embraced by reputable mainstream sources to see where you are situated and what kind of writing style you should actually opt for. For instance, take a closer look at how the same fact is presented by and After spotting the main differences you’ll manage to find your own voice and elaborate or perfect your own web content writing strategy to keep your readers on your page for the longest period of time.

3)      Create Content Tailored to Your Audience. Get to know your audience. This is the simplest method to craft stellar web content that will actually compel your readers to take action, one way or the other. If you’re trying to sell clothes for young girls, you have to talk like a teenage girl. If your goal is to sell an innovative supplement providing notable health benefits, you have to talk like an expert and include solid facts that back your claims without ignoring the fact that most of your potential buyers will most likely have the reading skills and the power of comprehension of an 8th grader. When possible, use everyday language and keep it short and simple if you have to create content pieces designed to address the needs of a large audience. 

4)      Use Online Tools to Perfect Your Writing and Make It Audience-Appropriate. Feel free to cheat a little, when it comes to conducting research to get more familiar with the demands, expectations and capabilities of your public. You can rely on a generous selection of online readability tools to measure the comprehension level (and thus, the success rate) of your web content pieces.  One of the simplest, most effective ones is According to The Daily Egg, there are several readability formulas; most of them can assess the readability of your text based on a mix of variables, including:

  • the length of your sentences
  • the number of characters comprised by your words
  • the number of words included in your text that are comprised of multiple syllables

Web Content: Simple Is the New Complicated

You may be extra proud of your clever content, but if it actually succeeds in outsmarting your readers this is a very bad sign for your business. In terms of great copy, simple doesn’t necessarily mean unremarkable. Apple copy done for the iPad landing webpage clearly indicates that less is more and suggests that a simpler writing style can be much more powerful and compelling than a complex one that could leave many of your readers in the dark. All in all, keep in mind that you don’t write for your fellow scientists or for yourself. Your website and your content strategies are probably aimed at the large masses, so you have to use your common sense and the results of your in-depth research on your targeted audience to come up with readable web content pieces delivering a crystal clear message, which actually support your optimization goals.



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