Google has shaped content on the Web more than any other technology vendor. True, Apple has had a wide influence on the design and style of web pages. And Facebook dominates social media and messaging. And Microsoft owns the Desktop. But with its search engine leadership in all the World except China, Google shapes how content is created, subsequently used and marketed on the Web.
Google represents first access to information on the Web. And therefore Google sets the rules for accessing Web Data. First, it was meta descriptions, keywords, and backlinks that dominated Google’s webpage rankings. Then webpage response time, website security, and support for mobile devices were added to webpage rankings. Within the past few years, Google has been tuning in on webpages’ easy accessibility both to the impaired and in diverse viewports. The Chrome lens extension addresses key accessibility issues in the Chrome browser. More broadly here are key and free Google resources for assessing your website’s browsing performance:
- Google Analytics – provides comprehensive website traffic and usage measurements
- Search Console – gives feedback on Google access to your website citing any crawling impediments or sitemap shortcomings
- Keyword Planner – – provides pricing for keywords to use on a Google Pay Per Click campaign.
- Google My Business – allows local business owners to set description, events, and images used for local business search
- Structured Data – tool testing websites structured data status based on crawling, sitemap
- Google Alerts – a free service that provides opt-in notifications from Google that alert the subscribed individual of new or changed web content.
- Google Trends shows how a topic is trending over time
Currently, Google is focusing on assessing the tough cookie that is “Content is King”. Google rates website content for authority, readability, and trustworthy expertise. But how Google goes about doing this is a 167 page PDF dated September 2019 on Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Yes, Search Engine World is still digesting all the Google Wisdom – particularly as it relates to a webpage’s Authority and Measures of Expertise. However, lurking in the Google analysis of Content is a careful consideration of web page readability. It is readability and accessibility that will be the focus of this review first because authority depends on good readability But also there are pragmatic tools that can help website owners achieve both accessibility and readability.
Measures of Expertise and Authority
Perusing through the Google Guidelines and Search World sources, one can see a common set of approaches to establishing authority.
First, is clarity of statement as seen in keyword usage, meta-statements, and consistency in categories or tags used to classify the content’s topic. Next, based on Google scans of related pages, a measure of completeness in coverage of the topic can be made…
Second, authority is measured by the number of off-links from a webpage to recognized topic expert sources [Google has a copious supply of expert references through its scans worldwide of all the webpages covering the same topic].
Third, is a more subtle but telling measure of authority. How many of the web page’s off-links go to the parent website’s webpages discussing related aspects of the topic. This demonstrates an internal consistency in the flow of arguments. This covers the basic “outgoing from the website” measures of authority.
Fourth comes the incoming references to a webpage. Google knows who are the authorities on the topic. So they are looking for backlinks from these authorities and experts to the webpage and website in general.
Fifth and finally, there is a more subtle measure – confirmation of the webpage’s projections and hypotheses over time add to the webpage’s authority. Now how Google does this is “its secret sauce” but its Trends Tool gives an indication. Certainly, Google considers third party reviews of the webpage’s arguments. Now, this is an area of delicacies because of free speech, matters of artistic opinion, and recognition of how to understand and recognize completed or proven hypotheses.
Also, Google will have to be able to distinguish the opposite – “deliberate smear” campaigns. On a Web that has delivered so much misinformation and diverse “opinions”, this is at the nub of the problem – establishing not just statistically reliable authority, but also weeding out deliberate defamation. Fortunately, readability and accessibility is better understood. So we look at some of the tools and techniques available to achieve these ends on webpages.
Accessibility & Readability Tools
The bottom line is that accessibility and readability work together to provide content clarity and added authority. The table below shows how the two interact.
|Measure||Accessibility Standards||Readability Standards|
|Spelling and punctuation corrected||Clarity of text goal||Clarity of expression maximized|
|Grammar check and corrections||Minimize grammar confusion||Minimize grammar confusion|
|Readability||Follows readability guideline, tooltips for abbreviations and definitions||Shorter paragraphs, fewer complex words, less passive voice, tooltips for defining concepts|
|Predictable||Consistent navigation, context change, identity, and error handling||Consistent vocabulary plus tex styling and tone|
|Provision for typography||Here color and size are key components. – especially color blind and vision limited users||Cues using highlights, text-decoration, font-weight, style, sizing, and spacing|
|Aids to media-images, video, icons||Captions, labels, fallbacks for hearing/vision/motor-impaired users||Captioning, references to sources, and associated text guidelines to charts and media|
|Help and error handling||Consistent invocation, comprehensive error condition handling, auto backup-restore||Consistent language and styling|
|Multiple representation||Illustrative, tabular, hierarchic diagrams, charts, and graphics,||As in media case, concise captions and referencing|
|Here are suppliers||accessible – AI-powered accessibility services||BoldGrid SEO — 9 readability & SEO measures|
|Siteimprove – broad site improvement apps||Grammarly – browser-based grammar and readability tests|
|Monsido – scan and optimize website pages||YOAST– SEO and detailed text analysis|
|User way– full accessibility services||RankMath – full range SEO, readability tools|
|General Review site||G2 has 10 major provides||WordPress list of readability plugins|
Because many governments world-wide have embraced access to information and the web with supporting accessibility standards as key provision for economic and social success, these standards have been written as legal requirements in many jurisdictions. However, a counter-trend is occurring as major governments such as China’s Great Firewall, Iran’s Intermittent Curtailment of the Web, and Russia’s Unplugged Internet, seek to curb and control the free flow of information in their countries. Nonetheless. W3C WCAG 2. 1 is being adopted as a European standard. Thus, just as GDR did for privacy worldwide, accessibility will be bolstered by European adoption of WCAG 2.1 standard. Finally, if you check the list of accessibility suppliers you will see there is fierce competition among vendors for features and performance.
Best Readability Tools
Readability tools split into two camps. First are tools that work across most web applications with text input, form fields, comment blocks and other writing inputfields. Second are plugins that work with CMS-Content Management Systems like Drupal and WordPress helping to add readability checs to their post, page and other text input. Given that the top 5 CMS are used on 43% of all the world’s website [with WordPress 35.3%], CMS have managed to attract a dozen or more plugins that offer readability corrections.
Online Web Grammar and Readability Tools
Online Readability tools cluster around three attributes: checking features supported, OS & app platforms integration, and pricing. Here are some of the most popular tools:
Ginger – Features are very good
Basic Plan includes, grammar, spelling, punctuation, translations, vocabulary definitions and synonyms
Premium Plan offers text reading, sentence rephrasing, error analysis, plus practice exercises
Integrations are fairly wide
Browser extensions for Chrome, Safari
MS Word support – includes export to Word
Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, Twitter, Zoho
Stand alone app has best combo of free and Pro editing featuress
Ease of Use
Over all platforms an easy install. Free Basic App has simple hover to see correction options. But translate and word definition/synonym options are clumsy – user must cut and paste instead of just highlighting to get options.
Scribens – Features are good but mixed in ease of use
For direct use there is spellchecking. then the Scribens popupeditr brings punctuation, definitions, synonyms, plus advanced style checks:
However, Scribens does not have multilingual transaltions, detail reporting, nor any plagiarism checking. There is no Premium version in English.
Scribens integrates with a broad range of tools including Word, Outlook, Open Office, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Chrome and Firefox. Each has separate download, and slight feature differences.
For example, here is how the vocabulary feature works in Word – a cut and paste interface.
Ease of Use
Each interface requiresa separate download with different feature. Also many oerations require custand paste extra step
ProWritingAid – Features are top notch
Free basic plan offers grammar, spelling and simple styling but in 500 word increments, Pro version has unlimited words, 25 reports and tracks such styling and grammar areas as basic grammar rules, overused words, clichés and redundancies, sticky sentences, repeats, sentence length, pronouns, transitions, consistency, pacing, dialogue tags, readability, vague and abstract words, thesaurus, diction, alliteration, homonyms, corporate wording, acronyms, complex words, eloquence, combo, house style, other writing styles, and plagiarism. Missing – translations; use the free MS Translator app.
Ease of Use
Like others, Prowriter uses color coded highlighting to signal grammar, spelling and style errors with hover and click being the fast way to make corrections. However, also like other tools the many integrations require separate downloads and installs which are not uniform – making for start-up and update issues.
WhiteSmoke – Features are remarkably broad
Basic plan has grammar, spelling, style, translator, plagiarism text. Pro plan adds style reports, and broader integrations
WhiteSmaoke boasts Windows and MacOS support plus wide online browser support: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari. Also links to Gmail, OutLook, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MS Word, MS Office, Google Docs, plus others.
Ease of Use
Like many tools WhiteSmoke uses color coding to signal grammar vs spelling vs style errors. Hover and click allows for fast corrections.
Grammarly – Features are good but not superior
Basic Plan includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, conciseness and tone
Premium Plan adds consistency, fluency, readability suggestions, politeness and confidence measure, synonym suggestions and plagiarism tests.
Missing Features: definitions, full synonyms, language translations, sentence rephrasing
Integrations are broad
Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefiox, Edge, Safari
Grammarly has a solid det of integrations with writing tools and the install and usage is fast and easy to do. Color coded alers which users hover over and click to make corrections. In the lower right corner is red icn with the number of error alerts still to be corrected. Right next to that is a styles icon with a click reveals the overall assessment of the text’s styling. This is similar to ProWriter but not as flexible
Chrome and Firefox browsers; Wndows and MacOS operating systems; MS Word, Libre Office, GoogleDocs, plus a wide number of Open API connections
Ease of Use
LanguageTool has a number of diferent dowloads some of which are complicated. The Online App is color coded and point+click is easy; but other tools are mixed in their interface
There are over a dozen freemium Grammar, spelling and Style check tools,. The six tools above have very closely matched features, integrations with writing tools, plus speed and ease of use. Other tools failed to make the list primarily due to missing major features and/or poor writing tool interfaces. Also speed of operation and the clutter of advertisements disqualified other tools.
Bottom line – Users looking to improve the grammar and style of their writing have a strong choice of relatively low-cost tools to use. However, the top tools vary enough in features and writing tool instigation, so users should be prepared to match their specific needs for features and integration requirements from among the above list of tools.
Alternatively, users may want to supplement their readability choice with specialized tools that met specific needs. For example:
Hemingway – provides top notch style and readability recommendations for $16/year.
Dupli Chek – has not only very good free plagiarism tests but a broad set of pother free services
Paper Rater – one of the more popular free plagiarism testers with added grammar checks
Free Tool Collection – a huge set of excellent free apps for readability and beyond – outstanding!
This review has examined the external web cosmetics required to secure engaged interest, and persuasive authority for your web content. But accessibility and readability are just the dressing, not the substance. The Web provides a cornucopia of creative tools from animations thru multimedia, to interactive infographics to make your stories and ideas not just interesting but embraceable.