Gerard O’Neill recently pointed us to the ‘reading level’ feature in Google’s advanced search.

You can now use Google’s Advanced Search option to determine whether the content of a given blog or site has a reading level that is basic, intermediate or advanced. In the Reading Level menu select ‘annotate results with reading level’ and then enter the url of your preferred site in the ‘search within a site or domain’ box.

His post, titled “Where The Smart People Go,” showed a comparison of some of the reading levels of various Irish websites and the results were obvious – the more “high brow” or “niche intellectual” sites had a more advanced reading level than the sites with a more “mass market” audience.

Gerard found this search tool from Christopher Mims, who reviewed even more sites with varying reading levels. is “decidedly middlebrow”, but is the “Smartest” of the lot.

The consensus seemed to be that an Advanced reading level made for a “smarter” blog.

I think the opposite is true. If you want to write posts that spread, surely a simpler writing style is better.

I did a few quick searches and the results for Seth Godin confirmed my hunch.

His blog is one of the most popular on the web. He riffs on very intelligent concepts and shares groundbreaking ideas, but less than 1% is at an “advanced” reading level.

He packages powerful ideas in simple, readable and share-able posts.

The lesson from Seth is that simpler content spreads.

And, as we all know – ideas that spread, win.