The readability checks in Yoast SEO: a closer look with our linguists

The readability checks in Yoast SEO: a closer look with our linguists • Yoast

Willemien Hallebeek

Willemien is the Manager Content of She loves creating user-friendly content and making it easy to find for people and search engines.

This month we are commemorating 5 years since the Yoast SEO readability check was first released! Since then, we’ve continued making improvements. We sat down with our Linguistics team lead, Manuel Augustin, and researcher-developer, Hanna Worku, to get a deeper view of how the readability check works and how they adapt the tool to add support for more languages.

The Yoast linguistics team

Could you first tell us a bit more about the team? For instance, what are your backgrounds, are you all linguists?
Manuel: “Our team is one of the most international teams and all of us are linguists. While most of us are big language nerds, our other interests include hiking, dancing, playing music, and gardening. We also keep learning coding to grow as developers, which has been a bit challenging, but a very rewarding experience.”

How many languages do you speak together?
Hanna: “While knowing many languages isn’t crucial for linguistic research, it is definitely helpful! For example, it makes working with less familiar grammatical systems much easier. Our team speaks 14 languages overall.”

The ins-and-outs of readability checking

Can you shortly explain what Yoast SEO’s readability analysis does?
Hanna: “The Yoast SEO readability check analyzes the user’s post and tells them what can be done to make it more readable. The analysis shows the user where the text’s readability can be improved, for example, which sentences to rewrite. This input helps users create posts that are SEO-friendly, engaging, accessible to a wider audience and rank higher.”

How do you know what makes a text readable? How do you measure this?
Manuel: “A text is considered readable when it is easy to read and understand. There are multiple main qualities of a readable text. For example, short sentences are easier to understand than long sentences. Using connecting words (e.g. ‘however’, ‘moreover’, ‘in conclusion’) and subheadings make the content more engaging and easy to follow. Depending on the language, using active voice (‘They built the house’) is preferred over passive voice (‘The house is built by them’).”

Hanna: “Our initial research helped to estimate ratios that make the text analysis more consistent. For example, if at least 30% of the sentences in your text contain a transition word, the bullet for the transition words check will be green. If they are used in more than



This article was written by Willemien Hallebeek and originally published on SEO blog • Yoast.

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