Improve readability? Write at the B1 level

Improve readability? Write at the B1 level

You write the most beautiful content. You make sure it’s shared on social media. And you have an excellent website. Even so, the likes, shares, and engagement from your target audience are lacking. Sounds familiar? You’re likely making readability too tricky. The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) can help make your content more readable. Helping you boost those likes, shares, and engagements! The CEFR recognizes six language proficiency levels, from breakthrough (beginners) to mastery (the level that closely matches native speakers and writers). The European Parliament reached an agreement about a new law. This law intends to make government websites more accessible by writing all text at the B1 level. A great idea. Not only for those likes, shares, and engagements, but also for your search engine optimization (SEO). Implement it on your company website and discover the difference it makes! But what does the CEFR recommend exactly and how should you put it into practice? Webtexttool explains it all in this article.

The various language levels

The CEFT distinguishes six levels of language command: from beginner to near-native. It describes a person’s language skill level in terms of language scope and complexity. Once you can link these standards to the language proficiency of your key audience, you’ll find it easier to level with them. Leading to better engagement results and even increased revenue. The language proficiency is organized into three broad categories:

  • A1 and A2: the basic user.
  • A1: the language is very simple. The sentences are often separated by breaks.
  • A2: the language is simple. The words are highly frequent, known from one’s own language or belonging to international vocabulary. The sentences are often separated by breaks.

  • B1 and B2: the independent user.
  • B1: this involves straightforward standard language. Within one’s own area of expertise or interest. More complex language use is generally understood.
  • B2: the use of language is more complex.
  • C1 and C2: the proficient user.
  • C1: vocabulary and grammatical construction are complex. Idioms and implicit meanings are understood.
  • C2: the language is complex. Idioms and unclear sentence structures without explicit signal words are effortlessly understood.

Writing for readability

Of course, everyone has a different opinion about easy-to-understand language. But how do you put that to work in your company’s blog posts and articles? Writing at a B1 level will allow you to reach an audience that’s as broad as possible. There are naturally certain exceptions to the guidelines. If you’re writing explicitly for readers with a higher education level. Or producing a piece aimed at an audience of legal professionals. Then you’ll need to write with more complexity. If you don’t have a doctorate or a legal degree, it’s best to aim for a wider audience by writing at a B1 level. The larger the group of people able grasp your content, the greater the chance that they’ll purchase your products or services. In order to write at an understandable level for your target audience, the most straightforward way to test your content is to let members of your audience read it first. Ask them whether they understand what you’re communicating and which areas might need clarification or rewriting. Once you’ve done that a few times, any future content will be much easier to write at the appropriate reading level.

Practical tools

You really don’t need to reinvent the wheel or spend all your time doing research on this topic. Webtexttool has implemented a new module for readability/language, which allows you to check your texts at a B1 level. You’ll also get suggestions to simplify certain words. And if you need your content to be even less complex (A1 level) or you’d like to create an article at a higher level, like C2, this tool will do that work for you. Handy, right? More tools to simplify your content:

You can also make use of:

  • lists (particularly using bullet points, just like we did here);
  • short paragraphs (three to five sentences);
  • whitespace;
  • easy-to-scan subtitles;
  • short sentences;
  • readable fonts.

Google also uses B1

In the first place, you’re writing for your target audience. But it’s also important that Google understands you. So the search engine can scan your content and include it in relevant search results. Google understands the B1 level, simply because about 80% of users have at least that level of language proficiency. That means that many search queries are entered at a B1 level. When you offer up a B1 answer for a B1 question, it’s clear to Google: you understand your target audience. When you write copy in webtexttool, you’ll get instant tips to optimize your content for Google. That means you don’t need any prior knowledge of SEO, we’ll simply sort that part out for you. Live! Wonder what webtexttool can do for your content at a B1 level (as well as all other levels)? Try it for free for 30 days!

What is the ROI of content design and how do you measure success?

What is the ROI of content design and how do you measure success?

We have written about content design before. In short, it is a method to make your website more user-friendly. While that is a great goal in and of itself, you want to know how much time and effort it will cost you and what the results will be. In this blog, you’ll read more about the Return on Investment (ROI) of content design.

What is content design?

Let’s start with a quick recap. What is content design exactly?

The term was introduced a few years ago by Sarah Richards. She and her team were responsible for the overhaul of the British government portal www.Gov.uk.

For each page she asked herself:

  • Is the goal clear?
  • Which task do users want to complete here?
  • Is this actually a task for the government?

The result was a website that won multiple prizes. Even more impressive: she reduced the number of pages from 75,000 to 3,000.

Content design is all about creating user-friendly content by putting yourself in the user’s mindset.

How much time and effort goes into user-friendly design?

Of course, it makes a huge difference whether you want to redesign a whole website, or just a few new or existing pages.

An important pillar of content design (and of UX or SEO) is to first form a picture of the needs your users have.

You can do that through:

  • Keyword research (which questions is your audience asking?).
  • An analysis of surfing behavior (using a tool like Hotjar).
  • A survey of and interviews with your target audience.
  • Brainstorming with employees and partners who interact with clients.

Are you already using these methods of measurement? Then it shouldn’t take you too much time to generate input for new user-friendly content.

If not, set-up will take at least a few hours, if not a few days, of work. Note that you can use these same tools for SEO and SEA as well.

Once you’ve outlined the user stories, you can get started with content production. Usually, that involves a writer and a designer. Estimate how much time each of them will spend creating the new pages, then put that in an outline.

TIP: You’ll make the process significantly quicker if you add an automatic check for the SEO of your content.

A simple estimate might look like this:

What Who Time estimate
Distill data from user behavior (from Hotjar, Google Analytics, etc.) Marketer 4 hrs
Formulate user stories Marketer 4 hrs
(Re)write 8 pages Copywriter 16 hrs
Design 8 pages Designer 8 hrs

In this example, it will cost you 32 hours to create 8 pages aimed at eight important user stories.

How do you measure the returns of content design?

The main question is: what are the returns of those new pages? There are multiple ways to measure that, like:

  • How many visitors are drawn to a page?
  • How many leads are generated from that page?
  • What is the quality of the leads from that page?
  • How many existing leads are visiting the page?
  • How long do visitors stay on the page?
  • How high does this page score for specific keywords?

When you’re replacing an existing page, you’re able to compare. Both on the metrics listed above, but also:

  • What is the increase/decrease percentage of client service contacts?

Many entrepreneurs also want to make a different comparison. What does the ROI of content design + SEO deliver in terms of search engine advertising (SEA)?

This is where the comparison gets a bit more complicated.

Again, you can use multiple metrics (engagement, visitors, leads, ranking) to make the comparison in returns.

But a short-term analysis will skew the picture a bit.

A Google ad campaign of $1,000 might bring you $2,000 worth of new customers after a month’s time.

In turn, your $3,000 content design + SEO might only bring you $1,000 worth of new customers after the first month.

One year later, though, you might see that $3000 of SEA has brought in $6,000 of customers and that content design + SEO has resulted in $9,000 — the initial investment in relevant content will continue to generate new leads.

That’s why you should always measure in the long term!

Conclusion: this is how to measure the ROI of your content design

Content design is a method for creating user-friendly content by placing yourself in the user’s mindset.

That starts with research to determine what your user’s needs are. Then you go on to create user stories, which you can translate into content for your site.

A simple table can help you calculate how much time your marketer, copywriter, and designer will need to create the content.

Next, it’s time to calculate how many leads, visits, and improved rankings this new content will deliver. Offset those costs against the initial investment.

Always measure the long-term results (a minimum of 6 months).

Webtexttool update

Webtexttool update

We update webtexttool regularly to add new features and improve existing ones. Does a feature in webtexttool looks different from the last time you used it? In our release notes you’ll find a high-level overview of what we’ve done in each update. In this short blog I’ll give you a quick overview of the main updates we did in the past months. If you have any suggestions and idea’s, don’t hesitate to share them with us at support@webtexttool.com Thank you!

Wordlists

A new cool feature is added to the content quality analysis: wordlists. You can set up 3 types of word lists: blacklists, mandatory lists and whitelists. You can create and manage these lists on the Wordlists tab on the My Account Page. A blacklist contains the words that may not be used in your text. Eg. to make sure that you avoid specific jargon. The mandatory list contains the words that must appear in your text. You can use a must-have list to make sure you address mandatory topics. The whitelist contains the words that will be ignored in the analysis. In some cases you can’t avoid using certain words but don’t want them to influence the checks and scores. Check our knowledgebase for more information about the wordlists.

Smart Keyword Technology

When optimizing a text for a keyword or keyword phrase, it’s important that you actually make sure that these words are properly used in your content. Webtexttool of course helps you with that, with the realtime SEO suggestions. So far, webtexttool was quite strict in evaluating your content on this; your keyword / phrase had to be used in the exact way. In some cases this restricted the freedom of writing the text and invoked unnatural phrases.

Recently we have added the Smart Keyword Technology (SKT). This will give the writer more freedom in using variations of the keyword/phrase. Webtexttool looks “smarter” at the keywords used in the text and if they match the keyword that you set up. This includes singular / plural, ignoring stop words and more freedom in the order of words when using a keyword phrase. To give you an example: bicycle and bicycles can now be both used and will be considered a keyword match.

Project settings

Projects and Team projects are now merged into one integrated Projects list. Besides that editing  Team projects has been made easier. You don’t have to follow the whole team project process anymore, but instead you can directly change project settings and/or manage teammembers. The projects and page lists have a new and improved design.

Various updates in webtexttool

  • Notifications, eg. page saved, keyword set, etc, now appear in top middle of page so they don’t block important actions anymore.
  • Improved language detection for Content Quality analysis.
  • Updates of the Word, WordPress and Craft plugin including support for the content analysis
  • Update of Drupal 7 plugin to support content analysis and support for server environments running proxies
  • GDPR Stuff e.g. you can download your personal info that is stored in your webtexttool account simply from your Account page. And we made changes in our backend lick anonymize data and a delete option to delete all personal information on request.

New user interface

We worked very hard on a new interface which gives you an even better experience of creating content! In the past years we have been adding a lot of functionality to webtexttool. The time came to declutter the users interface and reorganize where you can access all functionalities on the editor page. We made a lot of preparations to completely switch to the new user interface in a couple of weeks.

Don’t ignore these SEO trends!

Don’t ignore these SEO trends!

Rank higher on Google. That’s a line we hear all the time. It’s to be expected since everyone wants to boost their Google ranking, especially to help generate higher conversion rates. In this post, you’ll find a handy overview of technical SEO trends. If you use them wisely, you should witness a jump in your Google score. Bring on those conversions!

Mobile first

People have been preaching it for years, but mobile first should be top of mind in your SEO strategy. With increasing frequency, folks are doing quick searches for a local restaurant, group activity, cute boutique, etc. That means your website should be mobile-ready:

  • Install Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is focused on improving user experience, showing pages with a quick load speed by leaving out any unnecessary content. You can spot pages with an AMP-version in mobile search results by the letters AMP and a small circle with a lightning bolt. Multiple website plug-ins are available for download, or you can simply ask your website builder for help.
  • Link building is still an important factor in Google ranking. The links should be high-quality, so we don’t recommend purchasing your links. Tip: focus on the quality of your content, use social media appropriately, and ask clients/customers for reviews.
  • Voice Search. It’s impossible to ignore. Voice Search is becoming ever more significant, especially since it’s so popular with younger generations. Make sure your content is up to the challenge by using primarily long tail keywords and phrases. Imagine how you would search for something by speaking a query out loud (or use Google’s keyword tool) and use those phrases in your content. Do the same for your metadata. We’ll dig into that in more detail later on in this blog post.
  • Improved User Experience (UX). This is a huge player in the field of search engine optimization. By conducting user experience research, you can find out if your website is offering the ultimate experience or whether you still have ground to gain in that area. Make sure your visitors feel catered to and that they enjoy navigating your website. That means they’ll stick around longer and return more frequently.

Voice Search

In recent years, the number of spoken search queries has grown by 20% and naturally that number is only set to increase. Typing a search takes more time and effort than simply asking Siri a question. On top of that, visitors keep their hands free to do more important things — like making sandwiches. So practical! But how do you use Voice Search as an asset in your Google ranking?

  • Use long tail keywords. As you can imagine, a spoken question often contains more words than a typed query. That’s why you need to use long tail keywords. For a question like, “Where do I find a house painter near Amsterdam who is flexible and affordable?”, you would use the words ‘house painter Amsterdam flexible affordable’ instead of just ‘house painter Amsterdam’.
  • Make sure you have reviews. Local reviews are a great way to score — and they’re the best kind of online word-of-mouth marketing. It’s Google’s goal to offer relevant and solid answers to any search query. If your painting company has the best (authentic) reviews, Google will recommend you more highly than a different company with few to no reviews. Additionally, reviews help out with link building, which is another priority for Google.
  • Your FAQs are relevant for Voice Search since their grammatical structure is in line with spoken search queries. Aim to make your FAQ section as robust as possible.
  • Relevance and readability are important for your score. Use short sentences and don’t misuse keywords. (Using a search term three times in one sentence is a no-no that gets punished by Google, but of course, you’re already aware of that.)
  • Avoid formal written language. Any time you’re writing content, write as though you’re having a conversation with a customer. Spoken language style is easier to read than more formal written language, and it aligns more closely with spoken search queries.

Content robots

Content bots are artificial intelligence (AI) apps that create coherent text based on pre-entered data. Slowly but surely, these bots are gaining ground. They’re able to create recaps of sports matches, or they can whip up reports about a company’s stock exchange performance. The robots can turn standardized data into stories that are pretty easy to read. Of course, creativity is not really a factor, since that’s still very much the work of humans. But the technology is evolving quickly!

You can call on these bots for your own content marketing. They can quickly and easily write SEO-focused articles to help give your Google ranking a boost. Keep in mind that it’s a bit of a shortcut since the robots write content based on existing information and following a fixed format. Knowing Google, they’ll likely create an algorithm to penalize that kind of thing. But why not use the bots as a basis for your own creativity? Put the robots to work, then add some of your own flavor. That way you’ll have quick and easy access to new content, but it will still be valuable and unique. Which will, in turn, improve your Google ranking.

Future plans or get started today?

The latest SEO trend, content creation robots, are still a bit of a futuristic concept. However, the future is closer than it seems, so keep an eye on the trend if you want to quickly and easily boost your ranking. The rest of the SEO tips in this blog post are not future plans at all. You should implement them today (or really, yesterday), in order to stay friendly with Google and generate higher conversion rates.

Want to make sure you’re putting these SEO trends to good use? Give webtexttool a try! Our editor offers automated hints to help you optimize your pages for search.

9 lesser-known tips to improve your ranking in search results

9 lesser-known tips to improve your ranking in search results

You probably know a thing or two about search engine optimization (SEO). You’ve also surely read quite a few blog posts right here about the basics of SEO.

For example, how to use keyword research to identify relevant search terms or how your blog’s readability can help you achieve a higher ranking.

It’s very likely that your competition has also mastered those SEO basics. That means it’s time to step up your game! In this article, you’ll discover some lesser-known SEO tips that will help you make a notable difference.

We’ll share both direct remedies to improve your search ranking, as well as tips to increase reading time or click-through rates (CTR), which will both affect your Google ranking.

#1 Don’t force your SEO – the rise of RankBrain

SEO has evolved a lot over the past years. In the early days you could simply get away with the strategic placement of keywords, whereas now, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence algorithms (like RankBrain) will look at your website the same way a human would.

What does that mean, concretely?

A solid article is always the best place to start. Write your content in a way that’s enjoyable to read. Don’t make any concessions, like oddly structured sentences or unnecessary keyword additions that would make your blog post or product page harder to read.

Tip: Reasons to improve the readability of your SEO content

#2 Infographics will help with backlinks

The internet is becoming more and more visual. Google takes that into account in search results. That means that a blog with lots of (relevant) images, videos, and infographics will score higher in search rankings.

Infographics come with an additional advantage: they are often shared by other websites. That leads to valuable inbound links, which will help with your ranking. Tools like Canva and Design Pickle provide easy and user-friendly ways to create your own infographics.

#3 Make sure you create qualitative outbound links

Outbound links can also help you earn a higher ranking in search results, although that process is far from perfect.

The goal is to find a balance between being of service to your visitors and extending their session duration on your site.

That’s why it’s best to link to qualitative sources with a high page authority and/or domain authority. Both Google and your visitors will appreciate it.

To do:

  • link to a particular tax form;
  • link to an official government service page.

To avoid:

  • linking to a blog that covers the same topic as yours, but with more valuable content;
  • simply linking to a company’s general homepage.

#4 Aim for variety in your internal links

Of course, you’ve read about the importance of internal links before. They help guide visitors through your website and allow Google to better understand your site structure.

Beware, though, of ‘internal link spam.’ Basically that means linking as many keywords as possible to your own landing pages.

In short blog posts (up to 400 words), aim for a maximum of three internal links. Avoid more than five links in longer posts.

And be sure to switch up the wording of your internal links to keep things interesting.

#5 Request links whenever you are mentioned

Once in a while, a mention of your company name, product, or service will pop up on external websites.

But not every mention contains a link. That’s a shame since these potential backlinks have the power to drive more direct visitors, as well as a better position in search results.

In these cases, it’s perfectly fair to ask those website owners to include a link to your website. Not everyone will agree to do so (traditional journalistic media are wary of this practice), but many will be happy to help.

#6 You deserve this super effective tip about SEO titles!

A blog title or page title is where you include your most important keywords. That is a well-known guideline in the basics of search engine optimization.

But once you’ve done that – for example, ‘SEO titles’ – it’s still smart to tinker with the title a bit more.

Try adding some emotion: ‘you deserve this tip.’

CoSchedule research suggests that articles with an emotional title get shared much more often than those with more neutral phrasing.

People also click on those titles more often from their search results (CTR). That sends the message to Google that those articles hold value, provided they’re not just clickbait, and the visitor sticks around for a while.

Of course, you need to keep your target audience in mind. An intellectual audience will be turned off by superlatives more than the average person would.

When in doubt about the right level of emotion in a title (for example ‘you have earned’ versus ‘this will change your life’), you can try running some A/B tests.

#7 Use brackets [podcast]

Using words in brackets to clarify a title can also have a positive impact on click-through ratio.

Are you publishing research results in your blog, for example? Try adding that information in brackets at the end of a compelling title:

‘Addiction to gaming has increased in American teens [research]’

You can also use it to point out multimedia content: [podcast]/ /[infographic]. It’s a positive way to stand out in a list of search results that (seem to) exclusively consist of text content.

#8 Numbers are always a good idea (70% increase in conversions)

Aside from emotion and brackets, adding numbers to your titles is also a great move.

Oddly enough, odd numbers seem to perform better than even numbers. That’s why you’ll see more ‘7 tips’ articles, rather than equivalent blog posts with 4 or 6 in the title.

Even better is when the numbers in your title are a part of a promise:

‘These adjustments to our software led to 70% more payments’

#9 Automate your SEO

In this article, we shared some smart SEO-hacks which can make a huge difference in search result ranking.

Applying these tips in a smart way does take some time and practice. It also requires human input: today’s artificial intelligence is not quite at the level of creating a title catered to a specific audience and with a specific purpose.

Much of the work of search engine optimization can be left to smart online solutions. Webtexttool will offer you real-time tips while you write, covering everything from your writing style to the frequency of keywords and the way you structure your article.