Want to find only the most advanced information on a topic? Well, Google is no longer the place to go. The search engine has dropped a long time search filter that lets you find content by reading level.
The feature has been around for nearly five years, and allowed you to choose “basic,” “intermediate” or “advanced” content. For 2010 it was quite cutting edge, and was built much the same way Google Translate was built: experts were hired to evaluate specific pieces of content, until the search engine learned from their patterns how to evaluate on its own. In this case the experts were teachers.
The feature worked well, but was presumably removed because not enough people used it. Admittedly, there couldn’t be that many people who relied on the filter, and most users probably didn’t know it was there (or didn’t care what reading level they got).
Still, it’s a shame that it’s gone. Even if very few people used the filter, it was useful to those few; and I for one love having extra options to tailor my search results (I tend to use a lot of quote marks and minus signs in my searches). There’s no reason it couldn’t just hang out in a list of advanced options for power searchers. Google has a bad habit of giving us toys only to take them away again.
Reading Level Matters
Just because the filter is gone, however, doesn’t mean reading level doesn’t matter. In fact, I would say it’s one of the most important factors in getting your message heard—even though Google does not and never has factored it into their ranking algorithm, as far as we know.
That’s because users have a much easier time dealing with simpler writing, even smart people. Most newspapers in the US are written at anywhere from a 6th to 8th grade level and most college freshmen read at a 7th grade level. For your business, that means that your writing needs to be in plain language or you risk losing some visitors.
(Fun fact: it’s not that adults can’t read at a higher level, it’s just that it takes more mental effort to do so, and when someone wants information online they want it with the least effort possible. So make it easy for them.)
To make sure you’re writing at a 7th grade level, drop your copy into Word and check readability. Alternately, work with a good writer who knows how to write in plain language.
Want help with your copy? At EverSpark Interactive we craft copy that sells. Contact us for your free consultation today.