Why is sentence length so important for readability and SEO? How can you write the best and most effective sentences to keep searchers reading? 

Why is sentence length important? 

Sentence length and readability are vital for SEO because they have a direct impact on time on page. 

Google loves showing content which is of high quality and which is concise and easy to understand. 

Searchers are goal-oriented and want to find the answer to their question as efficiently as possible. If your sentences are long and rambling, they’ll soon exit and look elsewhere. 

This will affect your bounce rate, pushing the brilliant content you worked hard on further down on a SERP. Of course, this means it’s harder to find you next time. 

On the other hand, if you aid their mental filter by being straightforward in your content, you’ll help them reach their goal. 

So, help your user out. Short and concise sentences perform the best.

  • Short sentences are easier to digest.
  • Easier-to-digest content helps the user find the answer to their query.
  • If your content has good readability, the user will spend more time on your site.

What is the best sentence length for SEO?

A concise sentence ideal for SEO is below 20 syllables. You don’t have to make all your sentences short - this would sound robotic - but it’s a good rule of thumb to follow. If a lot of your sentences are above 20 syllables, your content is hard to read. 

Luckily, you don’t have to sit there and count your syllables. Readable highlights every long sentence for you so that you don’t have to. 

How to use Readable’s sentence length checker

Readable highlights all your long sentences - over 20 syllables - in yellow. It highlights any sentence over 30 syllables in red. This way, it’s easy to see where your content needs tightening. 

Under our handy ‘issues’ tab, Readable will also tell you what percentage of long and very long sentences you have in your text. 

When you score any text with Readable, you’ll see the following to the right of your project: 

Readable results | Readable, free readability test

Obviously, sentence length isn’t the only factor in readability. Readable is the most comprehensive readability tool which gives you a plethora of content insights. 

Your faves tab allows you to pick out a few metrics you like to track so you can view them quickly when scoring your content. The grade tab shows you your bespoke Readable rating - we recommend aiming for a grade A or B. 

Your sentence statistics will be under the ‘issues’ tab. 

When you’ve clicked the tab, you’ll see a list of issues to get to work on, including your sentence lengths: 

Readability issues, sentence length checker | Readable, free readability test

To turn that frown upside down, here are a few tips for shortening your sentences: 

  • Have a look at your commas. Commas are great for listing. But what about when you’re not listing? In a sentence that’s not a list, it’s a good idea to see if you’re using more than a couple. Chances are if you have a lot of commas in your sentence, it can easily be split into more than one sentence. 
  • Beware of wordiness. Are you using more words than necessary? This sounds like basic stuff, but it’s actually an easy mistake to make. This could be seriously harming your content. For example, you could be using redundant expressions - read our blog on verbosity to see what we mean. 
  • Read it aloud. Are you running out of breath? Sometimes reading a sentence aloud helps put things into perspective - especially as voice search is having an ever-increasing influence on Google.

Finally, check the infographic below and let us know which of these you struggle with the most. We’re here to help!

readability checklist | Readable, free readability test for content reach and SEO

Laura Kelly

Laura is a freelance writer and worked at Readable for a number of years. Laura is well-versed in optimising content for readability and Readable's suite of tools. She aims to write guides that help you make the most out of Readable.