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Are You Ranking Higher Than a 5th Grader? - Driving Traffic

Are You Ranking Higher Than a 5th Grader?

By on December 13, 2012
are you ranking higher than a 5th grader

A common phrase and rule of thumb in the SEO community has been “Content is King”, and it has been that way for a long time. So, lets explore that for a moment. The phrase suggests that the act of creating unique and high quality content will propel you to the top of google.

If it was only that easy…  In my humble opinion good or “high-quality” content is a subjective concept. What may be great content in my (or my outsourcer’s) eyes, might be terrible in the eyes of google. That is where the challenge lies…

While no one has had the stones to just break into to google’s headquarters to crack the algorithm’s code, we do have the ability to deduce what is considered “high-quality” by their standards.

After countless days & months of writing, testing, and tracking, we have begun to see the importance of the quality of the writing. Now, what does this mean? Maybe that run on sentences and the wrong use of “there” or “you’re” can affect your rank?

Yes, It can! The reason this is such a big deal is that many online marketers outsource the writing of their blog posts and articles. Does that mean you have to stop doing that? No, but your 15 cents per word articles might not be cutting it anymore.

Depending on where you are at in your business, content creation can range from; you writing your content, outsourced writing, or having dedicated in-house writers.

Even if you have a professional writer on your team, there are some simple things you can do to verify google thinks the content is as good as you do..

Let’s talk writing.

Readability is defined as the ease in which text can be read and understood. There are a number of ways to describe this concept, but it really comes down to how well you convey your ideas and how easy the content is to understand by the general public. This can be a challenge depending on how technical or niche your content is. The idea of making your content as accessible as possible makes sense, and you would be silly to write it any other way.

Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. This is especially true with any sort of teaching and online content writing.

Grade Level is more or less related to the level of education required to read your content.

Rudolf Flesch and Peter Kincaid combined these two concepts to create the appropriately named Flesch–Kincaid readability test. The formulas and explanation behind it is far beyond my understanding, but lucky for us there are some online tools to do the heavy lifting for us.

Another concept to keep in mind when trying to create quality content is uniqueness. Just like how teachers and professors have tools to see how much of a Wikipedia article you stole, google will also use tools similar to that to test for uniqueness of your content. If all of your content is plagiarized it will affect your rank in a negative way. However there is such a thing as curation and in some cases it is ok if you are adding to (or quoting) the piece of content.

Here is a tool that you can use to test for plagiarism and grammar:


Here is a tool that will test for the readability of your site:


Hopefully, these tools and suggestions will aide you in your future article creation.

Let me know if you found my hidden errors in the comments below

About Kevin Clanton

Kevin Clanton is part of the new generation of Internet marketers, originally starting his career as a programmer obsessed with all things information / technology. Online Marketing has quickly become his primary focus; where he is able to leverage his background in development to implement his dreams & ideas in order to quickly produce data on their effectiveness. Google Kevin has an intense drive to be as well rounded as possible in his business pursuits. He isn’t satisfied until he has a firm understanding of all aspects of a given business strategy.


  1. Elizabeth Conley

    January 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Interesting but you don’t say what the readability score should be. HomeforBusiness got a 6th grade. Is this good or bad from Google’s perspective?

    • Kevin Clanton

      January 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      A 6th Grade level is great. That will make the content very accessible to a large volume of readers.
      I think that 6th grade is pretty close to the sweet spot. However this can change based on the type of information you are writing about, and your demographic.
      Thanks for commenting

  2. Paul Warner

    December 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I must say that I am amazed at all the grammatical experts here. I usually read comments to get people’s thoughts on the post that was written and perhaps additional ideas to complement those suggested in the post, and for me it is a good way of learning additional information. To nit pick this article to death feels a bit redundant considering he said he was going to be a lot more anal grammatically in his future writing. Just one man’s opinion.

  3. Ian

    December 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Just to be pedantic – how about the ‘split infinitive’ at “to just break into google”. Just sayin …

  4. Percy

    December 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Great article exposing bare truths uncompromisingly. Yet too little is said about the real name of the game : we all face time shortage. Then what are the tools and strategies to produce quality content. with increasingly limited time budgets ?

  5. Harry Canary

    December 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    This is great stuff and cleverly put together as well. It also makes me realize I have more to do in my own work as well as what we outsource. Thanks for the great tools too!

  6. Lauren

    December 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Considering the fact that Ryan Deiss and the “Driving Traffic/ Digital Marketer” team are usually TERRIBLE with their grammar (just the “you’re/ your” and the pluralizing apostrophes alone are enough to make me hit delete on every message), this is something that Ryan is going to need to really take to heart.

    • Kevin Clanton

      December 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      We have definitely had our issues with that in the past. And I obviously have mine..
      Recently, i feel like this has subsided a little.
      I know it isn’t much of an excuse, but it is often due to the volume of work and editorial going out.
      Sometimes writers forget to use spellcheck.
      Ridiculous? Yes.
      I will make a point to be more anal about it.

      • David Guion

        December 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

        The spell checker can only do so much. It won’t straighten out there/their/they’re or other sets of homonyms. i’ll bet you can find a good copy editor on oDesk or some place and just add his or her services near the end of your work flow. That is, nothing gets published until the copy editor has been anal about spelling and grammar, which includes selecting the right word. As Mark Twain observed, the difference between the right word and almost the right word is like the difference between lightning bolt and lightning bug.

  7. Maurice Bernier

    December 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for this great article Kevin. I will especially make good use of those two links which I thank you for as well. I don’t outsource my articles and never copy other writer’s content unless I give full credit with all links in place back to where I found the information.

    I seriously feel that all writers should do the same as it just gives them more credibility in the long run.

    As far as Google goes for ranking my content, I do keyword research in advance and do not try to shy away from high competition. I try to use a good balance of all three – Low, Med. & High competition words in my articles.

    Thanks again for the tips and best wishes for a Merry Christmas to you and yours!


    • Kevin Clanton

      December 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Great strategy there. Thank you for sharing.

  8. samax

    December 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Yeah. Lots of errors. I almost didn’t make it to the end! :P

  9. Jean

    December 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Nice article, and thank you for the links. I do have a couple of questions I hope you can answer. At what grade level should most content be written? Should ease of reading always be one hundred percent?

  10. Sylvia

    December 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Another great article. Here are your hidden errors.
    1. 2nd paragraph: maybe should be two words, ‘may be’
    2. 4th paragraph: left out the word ‘what’ in your question
    3. 7th paragraph: their should be ‘the’
    4. In the sentence starting with “Grade Level”, you left out the word ‘to’
    5. In the sentence “Here is a tool that test for readibility of your site”, test should be ‘tests’. Or you could of said “Here is a tool that will test THE readibility of your site”.

    • Mark

      December 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Sylvia, “could ‘of’ said” – surely you mean “could ‘have’ said”!

    • Richard

      December 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      “Or you could of said,” should be “Or you could have said.” Ain’t nit-picken fun ?!!!

  11. Lyn

    December 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    You rock! What a neat couple of tools … would love to know where you dig these beauties up from! The image of the strange 5th grader host aside, the rest is brilliant.

    Thanks A Bunch


    • Joseph-mary

      December 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Dear Lyn, how are u? I will liketo be part of the convention pls can u give me ur mobile number? I am Joseph-mary

  12. Beth

    December 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Corrected phrase:

    What may be great content in my (or my outsourcer’s) eyes, might be terrible in the eyes of Google.

  13. Beth

    December 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

    What maybe great content in my (or my outsourcer’s) eyes, might be terrible in the eyes of Google.

  14. avril

    December 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Here is a mistake in the post = since in this sentence ought to be sense.

    I copied and pasted the statement here below

    The idea of making your content as accessible as possible makes since, and you would be silly to write it any other way.

    correct should read as posted here below

    The idea of making your content as accessible as possible makes sense, and you would be silly to write it any other way.

  15. Karyn Cortez

    December 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Wow! Where do I start? Glad I read through to the end before sending a laughing reply back to the person that sent this to me!

    “Content is King”,
    google ( every time)
    that easy…
    What maybe
    Now, does this mean?
    that run on sentences
    Yes, It can
    you are at in
    from; you
    makes since
    related the level
    behind it is far
    that test for readability
    suggestions will aide
    comments below


    How’d I do?

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