Google Provides “Reading Level” Filter & Statistics

Google has added a new advanced search filter named “reading level” to the advanced search page. I reported this at the Search Engine Roundtable after spotting a thread at the Google Web Search Help forum where a Google Web Search product manager somewhat announced this feature.

The feature lets you filter or annotate the search results by reading level. The reading levels include basic, intermediate and advanced. You can either have Google label or annotate the results with those labels, only show basic results, only show intermediate results or only show advanced results.

For a searcher, this will allow them to find more tailored content for their research level. For example, if you are in an introductory course on biology, you may want to select basic or intermediate results for your specific query. But if you are a professor in biology, you may want to select advanced results.

For a webmaster, it might be fun to see how advanced or basic your site is. I performed a site command search for this site and discovered that 12% of the content here is basic, 87% is intermediate and less than 1% is advanced. Here is the break down:

Reader Level

Here is a screen shot of the labels or annotations on the search results:

Google Reading Levels Search

For more information on this feature, see this help document.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Web Savvy Marketing

    While I’m sure this feature will be helpful to some users, it truly saddens me that it is necessary. And I question if the people who need it most, will be able to locate and set the feature within their advanced settings.

  • Amy Blankenship

    I disagree that posts with a lower reading level are less informative than ones with a higher reading level.

    One of the things that add to the reading level score is passive voice. If you use the passive voice, you can have a complete sentence that doesn’t inform anyone of anything. For example: The search engine results were filtered by reading level. This leaves out exactly _who_ filtered the search engine results, an important part of what is being covered.

    Writers who use the passive voice are often either disguising the fact that they don’t _know_ critical details or are trying to sound like they are “smart” by using complicated sentence structures. Neither helps the reader.

    Another thing that raises the reading level is a dangling participle, which results in a sentence the reader has to reinterpret to understand, since it makes no sense as written.

    Other things that raise reading level are rambling sentences that often are just a sign that the writer was too lazy to organize his thoughts before writing them down.

    I’d challenge anyone who thinks that it is “sad” that we can search on reading level to pop open Word and see just how difficult it is to write anything of substance at the 7th grade level–and how much more you have to know about your subject to do it.

  • monkey1976

    Anyone who is “saddened” by this is really narrow-minded. What about people are learning English as a second language? People with cognitive issues or memory disorders? A teacher who is looking for reading material for her second graders? Searching for a lower reading level is not necessarily indicative of lower-than-average intelligence.

  • Bradd Libby

    The title of this post is misleading. This feature lets you ‘smarten up’ your results (by seeing only ‘Advanced’ -level results, too.

    Also, in response to Amy Blankenship’s critique, the use of the passive voice and dangling participles do not affect reading level score in any way.

  • Tym

    The real question is how can we make the most of this opportunity?

    Is there any way we can indicate to Google that WE think our content should be considered beginner, intermediate, or advanced?

  • Englishfeed

    As a English as a Second Language consultant focusing on internet applications, I was really excited when I saw this post. Unfortunately, after playing around a bit I’ve got to say that it doesn’t really deliver the results I had hoped for. It certainly sounds like a great idea, but ‘basic’ is anything but basic for most English as a second or foreign language learners. I guess this approach applies to what native speakers would consider basic, intermediate and advanced. Still, a good idea in theory …

  • deodiaus

    It would be good if you could search by date of last update to avoid getting really old pages

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