You have spent hours researching keywords and writing content. You have promoted on social media and ranked well in search engines and finally you have readers on your post. So how do you ensure that readers actually read the content …. all of the content.
According to some leading experts many readers do not scroll all the way down the page (and therefore can’t have read everything), so what does that mean for business?
In this article I have collected tips and tricks from some of the leading SEO and content marketers, to see what they recommend for keeping your readers attention.
You can read the full post (or skip to the end where I have summarised all the key points).
Do People Read Everything on Your Blog?
Neil Patel in his article about the amount of time readers spent on his site, noticed that only 40% of readers actually scrolled all the way down to the bottom of his articles. As he began to analyse his site using heat mapping he also began to experiment with changes to his site. In particular he noticed that several things affected how people interacted or stayed on his page.
I was interested to read some of his suggestions and see what else other experts had to say on this topic. So here are 9 things that I discovered can have an impact on whether readers are likely to read all the way to the end of your post.
1 – Have Strong Headings
Many people don’t read all the writing in articles, instead they skim over the content looking for key ideas and getting a sense of what the article is about.
One option is to use subheadings to break up the content, as it allows skim readers to follow the progression of the article, and then hone in on areas that are of particular interest.
This works well if the article is very long, over 2,000 words or so. However the other option is to keep content shorter.
2 – Keep posts shorter approximately 1,500 words
Surprisingly for Neil he recommended keeping blog posts to a medium length of 1,500 words. Now for an SEO and content marketing guru who regularly advocates writing 4,000 posts this came as a surprise.
His article was written in 2014 but his point is this. Blog articles will have enough material in them to rank at 1,500 words, whilst at the same time the content won’t be too long and should ensure that readers complete the post.
This could mean splitting some longer 3,000 word posts into two smaller ones at 1,500 each.
3 – Break up text with bullets, numbers, spaces
The layout of your material is important, if readers aren’t going to be put off before they even start. Ann Smarty writing for smart engine journal suggests that sentences shouldn’t be any longer than 40 words. This equates to two lines of web text.
As for paragraphs Ann suggests, these should be no longer than 5 lines long. Sentences should contain no more than one comma (i.e. two sub topics) otherwise they become too complicated and less reader friendly.
It has been suggested that Google likes bullets and numbers, possibly because they make the content easier to read or skim over. They can also act as a way to break up text and can make it easier to find pieces of content, when going back over the text.
4 – Optimise your text font size
This point is similar to the spacing and layout issue. If font size is too small, especially if someone is trying to read it on a mobile device, then the readers are likely to leave as it becomes too hard to concentrate.
Anything below a size 11 font will generally see a reduction in readers, that stay with the article all the way to the end.
5 – Use images, but not too much
Images are a strong attraction for visual readers, and for this reason they can often help retain the interest of certain readers and break up blocks of text.
Images can also reinforce a point or message easier than text sometimes – well they do say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Too many images or having unrelated images can however be counterproductive.
They distract readers away from the text, or worse again away from your post completely.
6 – Know Your Audience
Another expert writing on Jeffbullas.com mentions the need to know your audience and to be able to provide content that they will want to read.
Your content doesn’t always have to be about your product or a sales pitch. Many people want to read information that is interesting and linked to their chosen topic of interest. So focus on providing that and keep your readers and potential customers wanting and expecting more.
One way is to know the types of question that your readers are seeking to get answered and then use these questions as the basis for an article or include them in sub headings. This is good SEO practice and also readers can relate to the content straight away, especially if you articulate the very questions that they have been asking.
7 – Match Your Writing Tone to Your Audience
As well as the content, the style of writing is also important. The tone of your blog site needs to match the audience group. Neil Patel claims that a conversational tone works best for him and that is what his readers like.
Other bloggers prefer a more professional tone and feel that this is what their audience would expect when researching a new product, or seeking advice on certain topics.
8 – Add a Conclusion
A conclusion is a great way to sum up the content of the article. Many writers encourage readers to look at the conclusion and then head back to the article to read through properly.
Again this is focused for skim readers who reach your article. They know they can skim down to the bottom and read your conclusion, and in doing so it means a couple of things will have happened.
- Readers will have to scroll all the way down the article, and will often skim over the content on the way.
- A conclusion can sum up all the main points so the reader still leaves with a full sense of what topics the article has covered, in case they ever want to re-read it again.
- In the conclusion you can place links to other articles on your site, which the reader may find even more relevant to their search.
9 – Use Comments,
Website comments are a useful way in which to add content, and many people will scroll down just to see what other people have said or asked about the topic. This is a pattern of behaviour that is emerging more on social media news sites, as people often summarise the article in the comments section as well.
Another possible way to avoid people leaving completely half way through your article is to use internal links so that if their attention is side-tracked, it might as well be distracted onto other areas of your site as anyone else’s.
Social Media Shares
This was originally my point number 10, since sharing content on social media might seem like a good way to get more readers. Unfortunately statistics show that most people who share articles on social media have not actually read them.
I was actually a bit surprised when I first read that figure, because personally I have always felt obliged to have read something before sending it on to someone else, but apparently I’m in small minority.
The following graph shows how priceeconomics drew their conclusion, as you can see very few people who read the whole of an article share it on social media.
So to conclude this article (or give you the summary if you haven’t read it all), here are the 9 ways in which you can encourage readers to stay with you all the way to the end.
- Have strong headings
- Keep posts shorter
- Break up text
- Optimise font size
- Use images
- Know Your Audience
- Use the same language and tone as your audience
- Add a conclusion
- Add comments
And remember social media shares don’t mean the article was actually read.
If you are interested in other ways to optimise your content, here are some other articles that many be of interest to you.