What’s the Reading Age for Your Blog?

My blog's reading level: 8th grade"“You Should Aim for Grade 8 Reading Level.”  “Are You Serious?”

I still remember being quite shocked, some years ago, when a blogging expert said something to the effect that if you wanted to attract and keep readers for your blog you should make the language simple enough for someone with a reading age of Grade 7 or 8. So that’s around 12-14, right?

I was shocked because I felt a bit annoyed at the implication that I should be ready to “talk down” to my readership, rather than expressing myself in the language and sentence structure I would normally use.

But I also thought that if I wanted to communicate my ideas and especially if I wanted to generate some discussion it might make sense to get down off my linguistic high horse and write more plainly, more simply.

However, since then – say about 5 years ago – I’ve not really bothered about the level of language or complexity of sentence structure I’ve used. Just hoped that you and others reading this blog would get what I was writing about, clearly enough for it to be interesting and maybe helpful for you.

So all this came up for me today when I was participating in the weekly Twitter hashtag conversation #blogchat where we were discussing the topic of “speaking the language of our readers”. The transcript of this week’s #blogchat is here.

While the chat was proceeding, I ran a little test on a couple of blog posts from my other blog at Des Walsh dot Com. I used the free testing tool at Gift Rocket. Results? One was assessed at Grade 7, the other at Grade 8.

For the one at Grade 8, the testing page declared:

Your blog reads at Grade 8!

Well done. You write better than most bloggers do. Your blog reads at the level of your local city newspaper. Your blog is well-liked for its easy-to-understand flow.

Hmmm. Had I been subconsciously making myself keep the language and sentence structure at that level? Is that appropriately high enough for the professional audience I see myself blogging for?

And what about this Thinking Home Business blog – what was the reading level here?

Much higher, it seems. A test just now on one of the posts here produced this result:

Blog reading age test Grade 11
Your blog reads at grade 11!

You write like you just aced your AP literature class. Your writing is up there with USA Today and other national publications. You’re showing signs of promise to be a professional blogger!

 

If that is typical it would indicate I write with a bit more complexity for this blog than for the other.

Might be interesting to test from time to time.

Question. Do you have a blog and if so what do you think is the average reading age of your readership and does that work for you?

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