Higher rankings in Google - illustration of a clock

Willam Shakespeare may have been born more than 400 years ago, but his advice is as true as ever:

Since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.

Brevity also lies at the heart of getting higher rankings in Google. How? Through shorter sentences that attract customers and Google.

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid

The longer your sentences, the less your readers will understand. A study by the American Press Institute showed:

  • When the average sentence length was fewer than eight words long, readers understood 100% of the story.
  • At 14 words, there was a 10% drop in comprehension.
  • For a 43-word sentences, only a tenth of the article was understood.

People buy from people they like, trust and know. If you make them feel stupid, they won’t buy from you.

“Don’t make your audience feel stupid.” – Drew Westen

No room

Shorter sentences are even more vital after the advent of the smartphone. Words are now squeezed into the equivalent of a newspaper column.

Shorter sentences = higher rankings in Google

Still not convinced? Google is forever tweaking how they rank web pages. You can take a look at the latest updates. However they’re always pretty vague as to what they’ve changed. So Search Engine Optimisation experts try to work it out.

For the Google Penguin 2.1 update, MathSight worked out that Google added a readability index “to evaluate both linking and onsite content.” – source: Responsesource

One readability index is the Flesch Kincaid reading index. This analyses the number of words in a sentence. Shorter sentences lead to a higher Flesch Kincaid rating and a higher Google rank. The scale is from 0 (difficult) to 100 (easy).  High-ranking Google pages have an average score of 73.5 which should be understood by a 13 year old.

How do you find out your score?

Is your website written in WordPress? Do you have the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plug-in Yoast? Then your Flesch Kincaid score is listed in Page Analysis.

Otherwise, you can copy and paste your web page text into the Readability Test Tool.

Tick, tock: some examples

The clock upbraids me with the waste of time – Shakespeare Vintage clock

Just for fun, and the chance to look at some beautifully-designed websites, I checked out the websites of some leading luxury watch brands. I had a play with their words to see if I could improve their Flesch Kincaid score. This would lead to higher rankings in Google.

To really boost them, I would need to use shorter words. However I wanted to keep the spirit of the original, so just concentrated on sentence length.

Patek Philippe

As the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, it enjoys total creative freedom to entirely design, produce and assemble what experts agree to be the finest timepieces in the world – following the vision of its founders Antoine Norbert de Patek (1839) and Adrien Philippe (1845).

Original score: 13.6 That sentence on the Patek Philippe site contained a whopping 46 words which is bad news for reading ease.

My alternative:

We are Geneva’s last family-owned independent watch manufacturer. We’re therefore free to design, produce and assemble our watches exactly how we wish. Experts agree we produce the finest timepieces in the world. This stays true to the vision of our founders Antoine Norbert de Patek (1839) and Adrien Philippe (1845).

New score: 61.9

Rotary Watches

In 1925 the now famous winged Rotary logo was introduced and after the war, under the leadership of Teddy Dreyfuss, the brand developed further, with innovative watches, sophisticated marketing and powerful advertising campaigns.

Original score: at 14.4 Rotary Watches isn’t much better than Patek Philippe with a sentence that is 33 words long.

An alternative:

The famous winged Rotary logo was introduced in 1925. After the war, Teddy Dreyfuss took charge. Innovative watches helped develop the brand. Our marketing became more sophisticated. And we ran some powerful advertising campaigns.

New score: 48.2


The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative brings artistic masters from seven disciplines together with highly promising young artists for a year of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship.

Original score: a dismal 18.4

My alternative:

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative runs for a year. It covers seven disciplines. Artistic masters mentor highly promising young artists one-to-one.

New score: 56.2 Hats off to Rolex for running such a wonderful initiative.

So what’s your score?

If it’s under 50 then you won’t do well on Google. Please get in touch for a chat about how I can help. I love a good word prune or I can write from scratch too!