How to Encourage People to Read Your Content

Boosting the readability of your content

As an internet marketer you are spending hour upon hour producing content to promote your business and help build links.

You have a list of topics as long as your arm and every spare minute you have is spent producing blog posts, articles and website copy.

Your dedication is admirable.

Once you’ve uploaded your fantastic value-laden information and hit publish…

…absolutely nothing happens.

No tweets (not even a re-tweet), no comments, no nothing.

Immediately you think “Argh! My writing must really suck.”

But before you enrol in a writing class, just stop and think for a moment. Your writing style is probably perfectly fine, but what about the structure?

You may look at your work and think how proud your old English Teacher would be—stop right there. That’s your problem. When writing for the web and an online audience, you can forget just about everything learnt during your school days.

You need to spend less time writing and more time thinking about how you structure your work.

Writing for an online audience

There is a peculiarity about writing for the web—most people will only scan a web page rather than read every word.

That’s because they are searching for information and if they can’t find it quickly, they’ll move on to another website.

So the trick is engaging your readers and getting them to stay with you until the bitter end.

How do you do that?

1. Snappy

Your writing should be relatively short (long enough to cover your subject). So if you’re writing about a very complex issue it may be worth breaking it down into several posts. Not only will that make it much easier for your reader to follow, it will also encourage them to return to your site for your subsequent posts.

Also when you’re writing start with your conclusion—sounds odd, but by doing that you are immediately giving your readers what they want.  Once you’ve done that, follow up with supporting evidence point by point.

2. White space

Does your finished article, blog post or web copy look like a page from a novel?

If your text is in one long, or several long paragraphs it won’t look very inviting.

Lighten it by increasing the amount of white space on your page. Break it down into small paragraphs (no more than 3 or 4 sentences each).

Or go really mad and use a single sentence paragraph.

3. Sub headings

While you’re following step 2, insert some informative sub headings between your paragraphs. This will help your reader get the gist of your post while they are scanning the page.

4. Bullets

  • Using bullet points creates interest
  • Highlights important points
  • Are instantly scan-able
  • Draw the reader’s eye as they break up the rest of the text

5. Links

Don’t only use your post to generate links to your own website. If you have researched your content well you’ll probably have an external source to link to. This will show your reader that your information is well considered (and it may also generate a link from your source too).

6. Bold

Use the bold function to pick out important concepts within your post. These, coupled with the sub headings, should help your reader fully understand the topic you are covering and whether it will be of interest to them.

But don’t go mad—you don’t want to confuse your reader.

7. Numbers

Some people have said that the days of the numbered posts—such as “8 Top Tips to Improve Your Copywriting” are gone. But reader’s still love them.

They help to grab attention and, once reading, retain your reader because they’ll want to make sure they learn everything.

8. Check and check again

Before hitting the publish button, read through your work and make sure it makes sense. Do the headings and bolded words make sense and convey the overall concept of your work?

Of course this read-through should also pick up any typos and other errors.

So there you have it—writing informative posts is one thing, but if you want people to read them they must be presented in a way that:

  • Gets your concept over immediately
  • Looks attractive and readable
  • Gets to the point
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#1 Zahra Brown on 12.28.10 at 4:28 pm

I just started a blog and had been told in the past about 10 Top Tips sort of posts are the way to go. I didn’t realise it was out of fashion. Oh well. I still gravitate towards those sorts of posts because every point is clearly laid out, so I know I’m getting everything and what I’ve missed.

I’ll also keep the white space in mind. I thought I had enough, but yours does look nice. I just thought too much white space would make the article look longer, which puts of some lazy online readers like me.

#2 admin on 12.29.10 at 10:42 am

Hi Zahra – the ‘top tips’ type of post (as I mentioned) are still popular posts with readers, mainly because the reader knows they are going to learn something from them. They are also a great way to get information across quickly. With regards to the white space issue, I think you’ll find readers put off more by a solid block of text – I know I am. If a post looks good and is broken up into short paragraphs it looks more accessible and therefore is more likely to be read.

Good luck with your blog.


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