Reading age test

What is it?

This test measures how easy the text within a website is to comprehend.

“Reading age” estimates the years of education needed to understand a piece of writing. For example, a reading age of 14 would suggest a person would need full time education to age 14 to comprehend the text.

In practice, average adult reading ages may be lower than this might suggest – developed countries typically average around 13 years old. For example, in the UK, around 16% of adults have a reading age at or below 11 years of age.

Why it matters

When text is easier to understand, it is more engaging and persuasive. Regardless of how well educated your audience may be; no one enjoys text that is difficult to read.

Reading age is considered a minor ranking factor by Google, meaning that harder to understand websites will, on average, rank lower than easier ones.

Understanding results

Insites uses the SMOG formula to calculate readability. SMOG yields a 0.985 correlation with the grades of readers who had 100% comprehension of test materials.

Our own proprietary technology is used to consider which parts of each webpage should be analyzed. Insites ignores the readability of navigation, footers, etc. automatically.

Support for different languages

Reading age is only supported for English languages (all variations, i.e. US English, UK English etc). If a website mixes languages with English, it cannot be tested.

This is a limitation of any readability test: the reading age must be calculated by a formula calibrated to the specific language used.

How to use it

Insites lists the hardest to understand pages first, in a table:

For each page, you can click on:

  • Magnifying glass – this opens the Inspector, which shows you the page as Insites saw it.
  • Reading age – this shows you the reading age of the page as a whole.
  • Excerpt – an example sentence, intended to be representative of the page’s text

If you open the Inspector, you will see specific sentences which warrant particular attention.

Setting reading age targets

If you are a Manager for the website, you can customize what defines an easy or hard to read page. Click on Settings > Reading age settings.

You will need to retest the website for changes to take effect.