written by
Dayana Mayfield

How to Optimize Your Blog for Readability and SEO

Search Engine Optimization 5 min read

Do you want to improve the readability of your blog posts? That’s a smart thing to do if you want to rank your posts, increase your time on page, and retain your audience.

Some of the best bloggers in the world use the shortest sentences.

People are busy. You don’t want them to have to work hard to consume your content and interact with your brand.

But improving readability isn’t something you should leave up to chance. Even great writers need help from software to ensure excellent readability.

That’s why we’re showing you what to fix and which readability tools to try.

In this post we cover:

Why blog readability is important

Does readability matter?

The answer is absolutely yes.

Readability represents the difference between someone taking the time to read your content, and ditching it right away.

Here’s a recent LinkedIn post that sums this up well:

simple and readable writing

Essentially, when something is readable, it’s easy to read. And when something is easy to read, more of your target audience will read it.

This directly translates into more conversions and sales for your business.

If no one can understand what you’re saying, why would they take the next step towards becoming a customer?

How readability and SEO connect

Creating readable content is critical if you want people to read your blog posts. Readability also helps with search traffic as well.

Of course, a variety of factors go into search engine optimization. There’s your onsite SEO to consider, such as choosing the right keyphrase and including it in the headline. Then there’s also your offsite SEO and your site’s domain rank.

Readability is important for SEO because readability increases dwell time, which is a factor that Google cares about.

Once you get your audience to visit your site, you need to keep them around for as long as possible. If Google sees that people aren’t spending much time on your website, they will think your result isn’t useful. - Marcela De Vivo, Single Grain

Readability helps people read more of your content (an entire article and other pages).

If Google ranks your blog post for a target keyphrase, but people only read it for 20 seconds, Google will think the result isn’t relevant and will knock the blog off of page of 1 of search results.

However, higher dwell time can increase the ranking of your blog posts by showing Google that people like this result.

Top readability tools for blog posts

So how can you improve the readability of your blog posts?

You could write a checklist of everything you need to watch for, and scan your article during the editing phase.

But that would be the hard way.

Instead, use one of the readability checkers:

Hemingway App

The Hemingway App checks your content for readability factors like not using too many adverbs, avoiding passive phone, writing with simpler words, and writing simpler sentences.

hemingway app to optimize blog for readability

It’s a free app that you can use before you publish a blog post. You can copy your content and paste it into the app, or you can actually draft your article in the editor.

However, this tool doesn’t include SEO or structural recommendations, such as breaking up your article with H2 and H3 subheadings.

What makes it great:

  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Covers important readability concerns


StoryChief is an all-in-one content marketing software that helps you assign, create, review, publish, and promote content.

It basically takes complex content marketing workflows and brings everything under one roof so that content marketers can publish more quality content in a lot less time.

In addition to its content collaboration and distribution features, it includes a really fun-to-use editor.

In the StoryChief editor, you can check both readability and SEO. The editor offers specific tips and shows you where your problem areas are so there’s no guesswork.

Just click “show” to see the problematic sentences and fix them.

What makes it great:

  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Covers important readability concerns
  • Includes SEO optimizations, not just readability
  • Offers one-click publishing to your blog, social media profiles, and many other content promotion channels
  • Makes it super easy to collaborate on all of your content marketing as a team


You can also check readability with Yoast, a popular SEO plugin for WordPress. While Yoast does check readability and SEO, it’s not as user friendly, because drafting posts in WordPress can be clunky and difficult.

Yoast to optimize blog for readability

Plus, Yoast doesn’t offer any features for streamlining content distribution or improving content creation or promotion. But if all you need is readability and SEO, it could be a fit for you.

What makes it great:

  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Covers important readability concerns
  • Includes SEO optimizations, not just readability

Common readability issues to fix

Now that we know some great readability checkers to help you optimize your blog, let’s dive a little deeper into what makes content readable.

What are readability tools looking for anyways?

These tools check for the following problems, which all contribute to your overall readability score:

  • Long sentences - Less than 25% of sentences should be fewer than 10 words.
  • Difficult words - You shouldn’t use too many long or uncommon words in one article or sentence.
  • Not enough transition words - Not using transition words like “plus” and “however” can make your content choppy and hard to understand.
  • Passive voice - When you use passive voice, your essentially writing backwards (For example “The ball was thrown by Maricela” instead of “Maricela threw the ball). These sorts of sentences can come across as dispassionate and confusing.
  • Similar consecutive sentences - When you have 3 or more sentences in a row that all start with the same word, your content sounds unnecessarily repetitive and uninteresting -
  • Subheading distribution - Every 250 to 300 words, you should have a new H2 or H3 subheading to give your article clarity and structure.
  • Paragraph length - Most paragraphs in a blog post shouldn’t be more than about 225 characters, preferably even shorter.

Remember: you’re right a blog post, not a novel.

Novels can have long descriptive sentences because people buy them to sit down and read them.

Your marketing content can’t claim the same priority, so it has to be simple.

StoryChief is one simple tool for all your content marketing. Learn more about StoryChief.