No one’s reading your online writing.
At best, they are skimming. According to the Neilson Norman Group, users are most likely to read only 20% of your page.
So how do you communicate with readers when they don’t bother reading 80% of your content? As the Content Director of a digital marketing firm, I’ve learned some tricks that just might help you with your writing.
Compelling titles and introductions are a must
Don’t lose people at the headline. If your readers can’t make it past your headline, you’re doing something wrong. At the very least, try using attention-hogging adjectives to make your bland headlines more exciting.
Don’t waste your reader’s time. Ensure they benefit from every second they spend reading your article.
Don’t write fluff
We can all tell the difference between a substantial article and fluff. The second we decide an article is fluff—we bounce!
Write for the scanners
Since the majority of your readers are scanning, take advantage of headlines, formatting, and layout to guide those skimming eyes through the tour of your article. Bold, italicize, and underline important words so even a quick glance gives readers something to think about.
Make information bite sized
- 1 idea per sentence and paragraph
- 3 sentences or 4 lines per paragraph
- Only use paragraphs when lists won’t work
Short and simple sentences
Refrain from long sentences strung together with billions of commas. Long, overly punctuated sentences discourage readers who assume the information presented will be complicated and hard to grasp.
Utilize headings to convey your message
Skimmers reading your article will skip from header to header, so headings should give readers a good idea of what your article is about. If you have a key point that you’re trying to make, say it in a header.
Maybe not to everyone, but to the people who can recognize a misplaced comma or the wrong verb tense, your credibility will suffer.
We’re having a friendly conversation here. Leave the pompous language and prescriptivism style to the professionals. If you need help writing conversationally, find someone specific to write to. For example, right now I’m writing to people who would rather be looking at cat memes.
Congratulations! You’re one of the committed few that have made it to the end. Now, use your new knowledge to take the world of online writing by storm.