Skip to main content
We are Brand SEO Beijing serving international business, your marketing partner, Contact us by

Is reading level a Google ranking factor?

There are many theories about whether Reading Level is a ranking factor.Is it essential in SEO content writing?See what the experts say.

Across all ranking factors, reading levels are plagued by misunderstandings within the SEO community (as well as outside the SEO community).

Many tools integrate readability into their scoring systems, such as Yoast's SEO WordPress plugin:

seo-yoast-tool-Reading-Level-reading level j

How important is it that you edit and write to perfection to go green?

When it comes to reading levels, how many of them must be paid attention to?

Can better readability scores really help improve your rankings?

In this article, we will answer whether readability is a Google ranking factor.

Disclaimer: Reading level is a ranking factor

Those new to SEO and writing can quickly become borderline obsessed with turning their readability scores green with Yoast.

Often they don't notice a change in ranking overnight.

But the truth is that reading level has nothing to do with rankings, and eliminating the passive voice isn't going to push you to the top organic position on page 1.

Nor will writing your content at the 6th and 11th grade level.

In fact, when writing and optimizing content, it's important that you understand the intent behind the words you use and make sure it fits your target audience.


Let's start with the first question: Is reading level a ranking factor?


Reading level is not a ranking factor.

On January 2018, 1, during Google Webmaster office hours, John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed that reading level is not a ranking factor.

He was asked about readability and how Google sees this.

Mueller responded:

"From an SEO standpoint, it's probably not something you need to focus on.In a sense, as far as I know, we don't have these basic algorithms that just count words and try to figure out reading levels based on these existing algorithms.

But this is something you should figure out for your audience.

You can watch Mueller's response in the Google Webmaster Hangout below.

Portent conducted a study that analyzed the read ratings of 30 items of content from 000 desktop search queries.The study determined that there was no correlation between ranking on Google and a page's reading level.

Well, in terms of SEO,You should care about reading level?

Yes!In the same Google Webmaster Hangout, Mueller connects the dots between reading levels and search intent:

"So this is where I see a lot of problems arise because a website will outstrip their audience.

so. . .A common example is a medical website.You want to provide medical information to the public because you know they are concerned about it.All of your articles use these 20-character medical terms.Technically, this is all true.

You can calculate a reading proficiency score for that content.You come up with a number.

But it's not a matter of Google using reading proficiency scores and saying, it's good or bad.But instead, does it match what people are looking for?And if no one searches for those long words, no one will find your content.Or if they do find your content, they'll be like…I don't know what this means.

Google also released some tips on the idea of ​​reading levels being factored into search algorithms.

In December 2010, Google released a "reading level" advanced search filter, but later removed the reading level filter in May 12..

More recently, Google has been developing machine learning models, such as BERT and MUM, aimed at understanding language and content quality.

But, again, there is no evidence that reading level is a ranking factor.

Reading level is about knowing your audience and writing for them.

It's not about "full marks".

Use short sentences to keep the flow easy to read.

For example, my goal is to use the Hemingway app to keep my reading levels between grades 6-8 as a guide.

Reading Level as a Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

Writing content for an audience takes time, a little TLC and patience.

But forcing your writing to fit a specific reading level isn't necessary to improve your rankings.

There are many theories about whether reading level is a ranking factor.

You heard this directly from Mueller himself - reading level is not part of the algorithm.

Extended reading:

Is RankBrain a ranking factor in Google Search?

Is physical proximity to searchers a Google ranking factor?

Is Google's MUM a search ranking factor?

Back to Top