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Are Ecommerce Blogs Too Hard To Read?

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5 minute read

Found this fun tool* the other day where you can check your blog (or any other web page)’s reading level. Get Elastic happens to be a College/Undergrad level.

*Link removed, tool no longer exists.

Blog Readability Badges

Readability algorithms work by analyzing word and sentence length to assess difficulty. While I’d say this is for entertainment purposes only, if your audience is consumers it is important to take a look at your blog and website content and make sure it’s accessible to the general public.

The average adult reads at an 8th or 9th grade level, and 20% read below the 5th grade level. Would you want to create a usability problem for 20% of your customers? Not only that, but many English-as-a-second-language (or third, or fourth) may not comprehend above the Elementary level.

How could your conversion rates increase simply by using simpler language and shorter sentences on product pages, shipping information pages and email marketing? Jakob Nielsen has a good article on making your site more accessible to lower literacy visitors.

Because blogs are intended to pre-sell product and/or engage in 2-way conversation with customers and retailers, it’s important to write for readability. I ran the readability test on the top 50 online retailer blogs based on subscribers and here’s what I found:

Blog NameReading Level
The Avenue (United Retail Group, Inc.)Elementary School
Backcountry BlogElementary School
Auntie’s Beads Inc.Elementary School
BlueflyElementary School
Ask.com (IAC/Interactive Corp.)Elementary School
Ice.comElementary School
Just Ask Leslie (Ice.com)Elementary School
Sparkle Like the Stars (Ice.com)Elementary School
MooseJaw Daily MadnessElementary School
Organize.com Inc.Elementary School
Mr. Paper’s Blog (Paper.com)Elementary School
ToolBarn.com Inc.Elementary School
Urban OutfittersElementary School
Apple Students BlogJunior High
CafePressJunior High
Crutchfield Corp.Junior High
Dell Inc.Junior High
Figleaves.com Inc.Junior High
Musicnotes Inc.Junior High
National Hockey LeagueJunior High
Powell’s BooksJunior High
Replacements Ltd. (Ebay Blog)Junior High
Sierra Trading Post Inc.Junior High
Life at WalMartJunior High
Zazzle Tech BlogJunior High
Amazon Book BlogHigh School
AppleHigh School
Bidz.com Inc.High School
Communications.com (Perfume.com)High School
DataBazaar.comHigh School
Design Within ReachHigh School
Directron.comHigh School
DrJays (DJ Networks)High School
Ecampus.com (A Book Co.)High School
Mountain Equipment Co-OpHigh School
NetflixHigh School
RealPlayer Music Store (RealNetworks Inc.)High School
Rugs Direct (Winchester Carpet & Rugs)High School
ZazzleHigh School
Alibris Book BlogCollege – Undergrad
Nike Inc.College – Undergrad
Online Stores Inc.College – Undergrad
Palm.comCollege – Undergrad
Hewlett PackardGenius
iGourmet LLCGenius
K & L WinesGenius
Scentiments.comGenius
Sephora USA Inc.Genius
Vitacost.comGenius
Linda Bustos
Linda Bustoshttp://www.getelastic.com
Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.
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