I’ve got a bit of a riddle, sort of a trick question for you. Sometimes the truth hurts. Brace yourself … Here goes … People are not reading your content. Actually, they aren’t reading anyone’s content. The reason? They’re scanning it. About half of those who read an online article will continue reading past the first page. And those who continue reading beyond what’s on the screen are seeing only the images or headlines in the article. If you write anything longer than the 300-word minimum for your blog posts, that can hurt.
So why is no one reading your content?
Online content is hard to read. Reading online is 25 percent slower than reading actual printed material because of the screen and its distractions.
When a visitor lands on a website, there are many things competing for their eyes’ attention: photos, headlines, colors, hyperlinks and more. It’s all necessary for creating interest, but awful for keeping it at the same time. Need an example? Someone has come to your site to learn about your products or services. As they begin reading they are distracted by an auto-loading video or anything else and their attention is gone.
Looking at materials online can be a source of pain for many. Long articles can cause eye strain. For many of us, especially those who work online, our eyes are jumping all over the screen for most of a day instead of looking at things from left to right as we would printed material. People tend to blink less when looking at a screen, which encourages headaches.
Ditch long sentences and big blocks of text
Write for scannability, not for reading. Only 16 percent of your website’s readers will read word-for-word. The overwhelming majority, 79 percent, will scan and pick out phrases and individual words.
That means you must think and write like a journalist, not an English teacher. Write scannable material.
News articles are great examples of how to get to the point. They start out with the conclusion and follow up with supporting details in descending order of importance. This allows a reader to get to the meat and potatoes of the story even when they only have time to read a few paragraphs.
English teachers taught us that good writing a good essay begins with a series of details that build to a conclusion. This is lousy for online writing.
Write Scan-Friendly Content
Ever wonder what bad content is? Anything a reader cannot easily scan and understand is bad.
Make your online content scannable and scan-friendly to boost engagement.
Keep your sentences short with only 16 words.
Long sentences make you sound long-winded and unprofessional. This is something every writer must work at on every blog post.
Write like you talk.
Write like you talk with better grammar. Your writing should sound like you’re having a conversation with your readers. It shouldn’t sound like an IRS tax form.
Use personal words such as you, we and us to create a relationship with your readers.
Write from your readers’ perspective.
Ask yourself this question as you’re writing, “Why should this matter to me?”
This question will help you focus your content on what is valuable to your audience. Share content that your readers want and need to know, rather than on what your business wants to tell them. Your content should rank high on the readers’ “this-matters-to-me” scale.
Use one main idea per paragraph
The main idea of a paragraph should be highlighted in 1-5 brief sentences. One-sentence paragraphs are okay to use! If your paragraphs are long and complicated, break them down into a few smaller ones.
Use active voice, not passive.
What’s the difference? “We provide free shipping” is active voice. It is easy to read and it is direct, because the subject of the sentence does the action.
“Free shipping is provided by us” is passive voice. It is awkward because the subject passively receives the action. It is not actively doing the action.
Check the readability grade of your content
Check your content’s readability. WordPress sites now grade the readability of blog post with a Yoast plug in. It evaluates your blog post. It gives it high marks when a 4th or 5th grade student is able to read and understand your blog post.
Break up your content with white space and micro-content
White space prevents the screen from looking crowded and makes content reader-friendly.
Micro-content is bite-sized content that grabs readers’ attention and helps their eyes scan your content. Bite-sized content includes:
- Headline: A 4 to 10-word summary of your content.
- Brief summary: A 14-20-word overview of your main points which follows the headline.
- Subheadings: Descriptive words or brief sentences that break up sections of text.
- Boldface text: Use it for headlines and subheadings and to highlight key words, ideas, deadlines, and critical steps.
- Bullet points: Use them for lists instead of many lines of text.
Do you have tips for creating great content that is scannable and readable? Please share them!
Could you use a writer to improve your website or sales and marketing content? Call Rockin’ Robin Virtual Assistance at (307) 631-1867 for your FREE consultation today!