Loads of studies have shown that web users are an impatient bunch. (Here’s a link to the seminal study on how people read on the internet.)
The findings: internet users don’t read — they scan.
How does this little fact impact how web content should be written? A whole bunch! If you’ve been writing your articles the same way you’d write for a magazine or whitepaper, you may want to check out the tips below.
Here are 7 tried-and-true ways to spruce up your style and get more readers:
1. Include bulleted lists.
- Readers can’t resist bullets. Often, they are one of the first parts of a post that gets read
- Bullets look different from the rest of the article, and make the article seem easier to read
- Bullets are a simple way to present a bunch of diverse points on a subject
2. Press enter often.
Line breaks are your best friend, so keep your paragraphs as short as possible. Four sentences or less is a sound goal. Believe it or not, even one-sentence paragraphs are a good idea when writing for the internet.
3. Break things up with subheads.
Compelling subheadings make the content seem easier to consume and allow the reader to find what they are looking for more quickly. Posting an article that is comprised of one giant block of text is a sure-fire way to make readers bounce.
4. Make important concepts bold.
Bolding key topics and ideas also helps the reader find the info they seek more easily. I probably don’t need to tell you that you shouldn’t go crazy with the bolding. Just pick a few.
5. Include nice long captions with your images.
This isn’t just great for search engine optimization, it’s also an excellent way to engage readers. Captions are one of the first elements of an article that users read, so creating 3-4 sentence descriptions for each picture might just be enough to pique their interest.
6. Linky, linky, linky.
Include internal links to the best content on your site and external links to reputable sources on the web. This is great for SEO and allows readers to delve deeper if your article has interested them. This type of positive “customer service” experience will also make them more likely to return to your site.
7. About those numbered list articles . . .
You know, 7 Ways to Lose Weight Quickly. The 5 Worst Movies Ever Made. Improve Your Career in 9 Easy Steps.
They’re everywhere. And there’s a good reason for it: people read them.
Breaking things down into a set number of steps or pieces of information seems manageable for the reader. They know exactly what they’re getting into. Traffic studies consistently show that these types of lists achieve strong readership.
Additional fun-fact: lists with an odd number of items achieve higher readership.
If you want your content to be successful under Google Hummingbird and in the future, it is so important to make your posts as user-friendly as possible. Luckily, there are tons of ways to achieve this.
If you’re part of an in-house team that is considering using a freelancer to help with content development, give me a call at (315)264-8514 or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to discuss your goals, help you out with writing, and brainstorm ways to make your content more engaging for your target audience.
If you’re an ad agency that needs help delivering content, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve helped many agencies provide great content for their clients and would love to help you, too.