Get with the conversation

I’ve often mentioned the technique of taking your written material and reading it out loud. Actually, your PC will probably read it back to you. If it sounds stilted when read out loud (and close your eyes, do not “read along”), then it’s probably in need of improvement.

This is more than just a readability suggestion. Earlier in the year, Gary Illyes of Google said: “If you read out loud the text on your page and it doesn’t sound natural, that piece of text may weigh much less during ranking”. Now, Google doesn’t give a lot away about ranking – most of what we know has been worked out by SEO experts through testing. But here was a clear – if throwaway – statement which says you’ll rank more highly if you write intelligibly.

Google is now able to detect conversational writing, and its data shows that people are more likely to find such pages relevant and interesting. Listings and brief paragraphs of management-speak are no longer going to get you decent search engine traffic.