Readability – Nitpicker’s heaven, or is Yoast losing it?



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2I’m always fascinated by the theory of readability, the pedants, and the total lack of interest in actual content requirements. Yoast is no exception. Check out this, based on my “future of books” blog:

  1. Bad SEO score2 of the subheadings are followed by more than the recommended maximum of 300 words. Try to insert additional subheadings.
  2. Mark this result in the text Bad SEO score The text contains 3 consecutive sentences starting with the same word. Try to mix things up!
  3. Mark this result in the text OK SEO score 29% of the sentences contain a transition wordor phrase, which is less than the recommended minimum of 30%.
  4. Mark this result in the text OK SEO score5% of the sentences contain passive voice, which is more than the recommended maximum of 10%. Try to use their active counterparts.
  5. Good SEO score The copy scores 64.6 in the Flesch Reading Easetest, which is considered ok to read.
  6. Good SEO score None of the paragraphs are too long, which is great.
  7. Mark this result in the text Good SEO score3% of the sentences contain more than 20 words, which is less than or equal to the recommended maximum of 25%.

Note the minute deviations like 29% instead of 30%. No bandwidths. Not also the emphasis on “too long”, etc.

  1. …Yet the overall SEO score was “good”.
  2. 3 sentences on the same subject starting with the same word? The subject was “books”, so the subheads included books.
  3. A transition word or phrase: Transition words include “and”, “probably” and “maybe”…. So bloody what? These things are used in syntax, too. Or is syntax another subject never to be mentioned?
  4. Passive voice: Did an entire blog which scored 100% passive voice, and 98% readability. Tell you anything, pedants? Reading is about readability.
  5. Readability on Flesch is 64% but the overall rating is bad?

Do style guides have a clue?

In so many words, no. They’re a nitpicker’s heaven. The people who have nothing to do with generating content can sit there with a readout like this and pronounce judgement.

Passive voice is also usually narrative, the required, and largely unavoidable, story telling information between quotes, active voice, etc. Narrative, strangely, occurs in scientific papers, news articles, and reportage of anything. It even occurs in conversations to tell people what the bloody subject of the story is. No narrative? Gonna be some fabulous bit of communication, eh?


This is “narrative”, according to Google:

  1. 1.
    a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
    “a gripping narrative”
    synonyms: accountstorytalechroniclehistorydescriptionrecordportrayalsketchportraitstatementreportrehearsalrecitalrendering

    “a chronological narrative of Stark’s life”
  1. 1.
    in the form of or concerned with narration.
    “a narrative poem”

I won’t even begin to get in to the technical issues. Some content is written for timing, for perspective, contrast, or simply to add poise to a sentence. Written content isn’t the same thing as a bloody shopping list, clowns.

There are supposed to be a few things in any decent text:

  • Expression
  • Emphasis
  • Modes of speech
  • Syntax
  • Context

Without them, you’ve GOT a shopping list:

  • Now’s the winter of our discontent.
  • Made glorious spring.
  • 500g butter
  • Bread
  • Doritos

Try getting that delivered – Or getting someone to read it. Point made?

Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

Terminology for the Age of Stupidity


Wasp2What the world really needs now in this fabulous age when comprehension is becoming so tiresome is more terminology. The best terminology  is light, spreadable, and impossible to digest in any form. This is terminology which causes your socks to run screaming out in to the night. Terminology which shames pandemics in to greater efforts.

Better still, it can be used by total morons in conversation for no reason at all.

So here it is:

Absurd – Alleged humanity in the 21st century

Academia – Form of accountancy, previously requiring vibrators

Apathy – A method of doing business which allows the talentless to thrive.

Appease – Bother to look like you’re paying attention

Arts – The unacceptable risks of mental stimulus or expression

Antagonism – Your relationship with that thar world-thingy ‘n thtuff.

Belief – A form of proprietary hypocrisy with deductions, wars, and pedophiles

Celebrity – A method of making the non-existent look interesting

Cliché – Employment program for media gurus

Comedy – Social policy, political spin, or dire, humorless bastard in front of camera

Conversation – Method of evading issues and thereby causing conflicts

Death – Luxury item, prohibited unless you save up for it

Depraved – If not actually a lobbyist, a new kindergarten naughty word for business.

Depression – A great way of subsidizing corporate megalomaniacs on a daily basis

Disease – A blessing upon the sainted makers of pharmaceuticals

Economics – Raffle for the illiterate and the credulous with no prizes

Education – Synonym for non-existent

Employment – Excuse for not having a life and not being able to afford anything

Environment – Game of hide and seek between consenting idiots

EQ – Egalitarian way of grovelling your way through another day

Facts – Horrible things that prevent parasites from making more money

Finance – Medication for organized crime

Fulfillment – Some misspelled post-it note somewhere giving a reason for living

Hardware – Principle of including useless gadgets to assist money laundering

Health – Excuse for ridiculous prices and even more ridiculous politicians

Hollywood – An institution dedicated to finding work for millionaires

Honesty – Ancient behavior mode

Housing – Ha!

I – Irresponsibly used pronoun; very few people can actually explain what it means.

Ignorance – Franchise product, confers sexual potency on the useless

Incompetence – Compulsory learned process, skill set for everybody

Innovation – Somebody else’s ideas, someone else’s talent, monetized

Intelligence – Use only as directed by your inner moron

Interesting – Threat to global comatose state

Is – Selective verb used to describe your latest lie

Isn’t – Desperate defence of your latest lie

Life – Tacky reason for advertising

Media buying – A way of paying 10 times more for unspeakable crap

Management science – Academic way of talking the world to death for no reason

Misery – Industry based on chat shows and sleazy never-prosecuted vermin

Nepotism – Working theory and practice of incompetence at personal level

No – A valuable verbal contribution to any situation, however critical

Pabulum – Style guide

Peasant – Everybody/culture/society

Plagiarism – The only thing standing between media publishers and recognition of reality

Politics – A more efficient, much more expensive, marketable form of malaria

Poverty – Expensive hobby

Prestigious – More irritating than usual, with publicists

Psychology/psychiatry – Synonyms for “Huh?”

Putrid – Soon to be a prime time series

Relationship – A binding agreement between parties to annoy the hell out of each other

Relevance – Means of extorting half-witted commentaries

Religion – Method of preventing God or anything else from getting a word in

Ridiculous – Implying that anyone knows what they’re doing

Sincerity – Accidental event involving honesty

Social media – Contradiction in terms

Shock jock – Word association used to prevent watchers and listeners realizing they have their own lives

Student – Subject of oppressive experiments, see use-by date on head

Suicide – Implied part of most job descriptions

Terrorism – Infinitive for policies, prices, economic theories, Super PACs, some commentators

Useless – Generic description of society

Vapid – A behavior option when mindless is getting stale

World – Location for the placement of obscenities, absurdities, and idiocies. Stick to recommended dosage.

Xenophobia – Proud personal possession used to demonstrate ignorance

Yes – A word used to imply the likely evasion of action in any form

Zoology – Former academic discipline, now used to define sales figures

Yes, terminology is wonderful. Ask about the terms for a term deposit of terminology from your terminal’s termagant. With these terms, you can upgrade and be the life of the sewer, frolicking in dialogs around the world to which you don’t even have to listen.

Try it on pancakes, cars, epic commutes, or that hideous moment when getting out of bed seems to be a real possibility.

LOGO with Sydney Media Jam edit 300PPI