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Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Google is constantly updating its algorithms to assess how relevant a given web page is to a given search query and how easy it is for a human user to find the required information on the page. Of course, “easy” is a subjective term, and not only do search engine bots lack human empathy, but it only takes them a few milliseconds to read the amount of text that would take a human reader, even one who had taken a speed-reading class, a whole day to read. Therefore, they can only use mathematical formulas as a proxy for the reaction a human reader is likely to have to the content. Readability checkers are available on downloadable apps and free websites, but they can only give you a numerical perspective on how likely readers are to get all the way to the end of your blog post and on what features might cause them to give up and click away before they finish reading. In the end, it takes human expertise to compose and evaluate legal blog content.

What Readability Checkers Do, and What They Don’t Do

Kristi Hines of Search Engine Land lists various readability checkers that can help content writers identify aspects of their writing that might yield them a lower SEO ranking. These are some of the most popular readability checkers she lists:

· WebFX Readability Test – This free website lets you paste your content into its readability checker. It then assigns a score based on five widely used metrics for assessing the difficulty of a text, such as Flesh-Kincaid, Gunning-Fog, the SMOG index, the Coleman-Liau index, and the Automated Readability index.

· Datayze Readability Analyzer- This is also a free website where you paste your content. In addition to the well-known readability metrics, it lets you know the average length of your sentences and the percentage of words it considers difficult.

· Hemingway App – This tool has a free online version and a downloadable desktop app for $19.99. It highlights difficult sentences, very difficult sentences, passive voice, unnecessary modifiers, and unnecessarily difficult vocabulary.

· Readable – This app is available by subscription. In addition to assigning a letter grade corresponding to the difficulty of the reading level of your content, it also checks keyword density, thereby helping you avoid keyword stuffing.

Formatting Affects Readability, Too

Word choice and sentence length are not the only factors that make content easy or difficult to read. Layout counts for a lot, too. This is why SEO experts recommend keeping sentences and paragraphs to a manageable length and using subheadings. You should also ensure that your web pages format correctly on mobile devices, where most searches for law firm websites take place.

Readability Checkers Are No Match for Human Intuition

The professional legal content writers at Law Blog Writers base their choice about paragraph length and level of diction on their professional experience writing law firm blog content that keeps readers coming back for more.

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Natural language processing (NLP) bots are adept at remixing human speech into utterances that are grammatical enough to be understandable, but their efforts to make sense of human emotions range from laughable to terrifying. Barry Schwartz recently posted a dispatch on the SEO Roundtable website about Google’s inability to rank sites accurately for search queries that require the search engine to interpret poems. In other words, Google knows which words are in the poem, but it does not know why they are there. If you ask Google to find a poem about nostalgia, for example, it will miss the most relevant pages, because most poems about nostalgia do not include the word “nostalgia.” In other words, Google is not very good at making inferences, although it is always striving to develop this and other skills related to understanding human language. When it comes to composing legal blog content, you need to meet Google where it is and write posts that search engines can understand, but it does not mean that there is no room for your poetic flair on your law firm’s blog.

State the Obvious for Google, but Show Your Human Side to Your Human Readers

Google reads web pages at lightning speed to find out whether they contain the search query and phrases that it knows to be related to the search query. Therefore, showing Google that your blog post addresses the user’s question appears to be straightforward; all you have to do to convince Google that your blog post is about uncontested divorce in Alabama is to include the phrase “uncontested divorce in Alabama” somewhere in the content, preferably in a prominent location such as a title or subheading. Once is enough; Google’s bots have been around the block enough times to recognize keyword stuffing when they see it.

Human appeal also counts for search engine optimization (SEO). Google might not appreciate the wit in your blog posts, but it can tell when readers appreciate it. In other words, Google takes note of how users respond to your content. Time on page shows Google the frequency with which readers keep reading your content all the way to the end. It also takes note of user behaviors such as shares, backlinks (when someone else links to your site) and repeat visits by the same user. Meanwhile, Google has some ability to understand what makes your content readable; it might not know that your content is enjoyable, but it knows that you are not alienating readers after Google directs them to your site. For example, it appreciates grammatically correct sentence structure, sentences and paragraphs of manageable length, and formatting that does not require fancy finger work on the user’s part in order to read entire sentences.

It Takes More Than SEO to Write a Good Blog Post

The professional legal content writers at Law Blog Writers will compose blog content with appeal that search engines can understand, as well as appeal that goes over their algorithmic heads.

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

One of the more benign forms of entertainment one can find on the Internet these days is to peruse old web pages that the Wayback Machine has archived. If you follow the bibliographic references of Wikipedia articles, you can find online news reports and film reviews that predate the 21st century, and careful readers (including everyone who has graduated from law school) will notice how the journalistic style of 2022 differs from the way that people used to write in the early days of the Internet. Law firms that had websites in the 1990s congratulated themselves on how forward thinking they were, but if you read their web page content now, it would probably sound antiquated. One can argue that the whole practice of businesses posting blogs on their websites has been meretricious from the beginning, but the quality of business blog posts has improved over time. One of the reasons for the improvement in writing quality on business blogs, including legal blog content, is that professional content writers have learned to stop worrying so much about keywords and enjoy communicating with human audiences.

Keyword Density Is an Outdated Metric

Search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms change all the time to reflect users’ responses, but regularly updating the blog on your law firm’s website remains one of the best things you can do to keep your law firm’s website on the first page of Google search results. It’s fine to do keyword research to help you get ideas for blog post topics, but focus on quality instead of quantity. Just choose one keyword, and start writing; focus on what prospective clients want to read, because that is what Google’s constantly changing algorithms are trying to do, too.

The days when keyword density, which is the number of times a keyword appears in a piece of content, relative to the total word count of the content, are in the distant past. Revising a blog post to increase its keyword density almost always makes it worse. At best, adding your target keyword to one sentence in every paragraph has the same effect as tacking the phrase “with a Grand Rapids personal injury lawyer” onto the end of a fortune cookie fortune. At worst, Google will interpret it as keyword stuffing and penalize your site.

Avoid Keywords That Have No Audience Except Search Engines

Once you choose a keyword, use it once in the title, once in a subheading, and once in the body text; other than that, just write what you think prospective clients want to know about the topic. A good keyword is one that could plausibly occur in a natural sentence. A human being might say, “Branwell Bloggins is the best personal injury lawyer in Grand Rapids,” but no one would utter the sentence, “Branwell Bloggins is the best personal injury lawyer Grand Rapids MI.” When someone types “personal injury lawyer Grand Rapids MI” into a Google search box, Google is smart enough to know which websites will be the most useful to them. Write for the human reader, not the search term.

You Choose the Keywords and Leave the Writing to Law Blog Writers

The professional legal content writers at Law Blog Writers will compose readable, custom-written content that addresses your target audience’s questions.

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