9 Ways to Get Your Audience to Read Your Full Blog Post

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.

image blog

image – “Blog Button For Blogger Or Blogging Web Sites” by Stuart Miles (freedigitalphotos.net)

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.

headings

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.

image bored or amazed

You want your reader to be Amazed not Bored by your content
image – “Bored Amazed Buttons Displays Surprised Or Tedious Reaction” by Stuart Miles (freedigitalphotos.net)

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.

graph link between social shares and reading

 

Conclusion

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.

  1. Have strong headings
  2. Keep posts shorter
  3. Break up text
  4. Optimise font size
  5. Use images
  6. Know Your Audience
  7. Use the same language and tone as your audience
  8. Add a conclusion
  9. Add comments

And remember social media shares don’t mean the article was actually read.

Further Reading

If you are interested in other ways to optimise your content, here are some other articles that many be of interest to you.

16 thoughts on “9 Ways to Get Your Audience to Read Your Full Blog Post

  1. Rob S.

    These are absolutely awesome tips about getting people to read your entire posts. I agree with posts being shorter than 2000 words. I keep mine around 1,500 or so. I break up my paragraphs with white space and images. Headers are extremely important because they grab the reader’s attention. I use images but not too many as you suggest. Great information for your readers!

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi thanks Rob, I think post length is very important and not too short either. I have been doing some research on a new topic and using blog sites to get some of the information, but there is nothing more frustrating than just starting to get into a topic and suddenly the post finishes. So not too long but definitely not too short either!

  2. Glen

    Interesting that you said Neil Patel recommends post lengths of 1500 words. His are usually 4,000 words. Another tip is to write upside down. Start with the conclusion on top and then work down explaining how you got to the conclusion. In the military, we use the BLUF concept. Bottom Line Up Front. The conclusion and recommendation is stated first. This allows for rapid decision making.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Glen I like that term BLUF its very true people don’t want to have to crawl all the way through an article looking for your min point. Another thing is to make sure your opening sentence clearly states what you will be discussing in the article because this is often used by Google as the descriptor text that goes with along with your search result.

  3. Owain

    As I have just starting writing blogs I am beginning to find my way. Every so often I find a way to tweak my posts to make them look more attractive. To me I feel that they do read well and presented in a nice looking way. I do wonder though that this is what anyone visiting the site thinks.

    It’s good to know that I am doing most of what you said. I do think though that I could use bullet points to break things up a little more. I on lye use internal links at the start of the post, if it calls for it. So I will need to think of this while writing posts and stick them within the main content.

    Thank you for a great post. It’s good to know that I am on the right path.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Owain it sounds like you are doing great and definitely on the right path. The other thing I often do is when I’m reading other people’s posts is I try and notice when I leave the post or stop reading it and/or why I read it all the way through. Sometimes there are tricks from other bloggers that I can use in my own writing. Thanks Marie

  4. Henning

    This is a difficult subject and you did very well with your article. I think all the points you mentioned are valid.

    The research about sharing on SM also indicates that people are more likely to share longer articles.

    Why? I think a long aricle of 1500 words and more forces you to research the subject very well, to put in more effort. Then it becomes a great article and when people see it, they perceive the value and share it even if they don’t have the time to read it. I tend to bookmark aricles like this and go back when I need the info.

    So, I would suggest point number 10 should be to provide a huge amount of value – more than expected, and to write the best article on the subject.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi I agree, statistically longer articles tend to be shared on social media, it can also be another way of bookmarking content.

      And I agree with your point I think valuable content is the key to getting noticed, if everything you produce is the same as what is already out there then why would people be interested in reading it.

  5. Sam

    Sound and strong advice for bloggers. One of the things I find so interesting about online business are the rules that are wise for us to follow, and the psychology behind “being read”. You give great tips that all online writers should heed. Optimize headers, keep posts short, just for example. Very inspiring!

    Reply
  6. Jovo

    Hi, thank you for these very useful tips. I realize that some of them I skip in my sites, so have to do something about it. For example I miss to add a summary/conclusions. I do add a fee concluding lines but not as a subsection, not a good practice clearly.

    I agree with you about the length of texts. I feel people have no time to read 4000 words. I guess such texts can be bookmarked but bot actually read.

    Know you audience is something that remains elusive to me. I see this pointed out all the time. But I fail to completely understand the meaning of it.

    You say ‘use comments’, but this is not so much in your hands, is it? You cannot force people to leave comments. But you are suggesting to summarize article in comments as well. This is quite unusual and new to me. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Jovo thanks for your comments and questions it’s great to see someone else dedicated to their craft of blogging.

      I’ll start with comments, you are right you can’t force someone to leave comments but many bloggers are switching off the enable comments section and missing potential opportunities. However there are cons on using website comments as well, which you can read more of here The Pros and Cons of Website Comments

      Know your audience is tricky I tend to use a couple of industry forums such as Quora or Wealthy Affiliate, where people I am writing for (i.e. bloggers and internet marketeers) are hanging out and asking questions. By knowing the questions they are asking I can gear my content towards their needs and know that there is a requirement for my content and answers. If the questions are being asked on these sites they will probably be typed into search engines as well. This article covers some other methods as well How to Get Ideas for Blog Content

  7. Palanquator

    Hey thanks for the nice post !

    Actually it is very very helpful ! I’m building my website, and i am trying to improve the time people are spending on my website to get better ranking !
    I did not add conclusion, so i guess i will !
    And, about your graphic at the end of the post, wow !
    I was thinking the opposite, i mean i thought that we shared something we totally read ! I was like “wtf ?”

    Thanks for your post again, really, really helpful ! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi thanks and yes I share your amazement that people would share content not having read it themselves.

      Having said that I confess that sometimes I will retweet content that I’ve only started reading, because then it’s stored on my tweet list and I can find it again easier. So there may be some people that are effectively bookmarking material.

  8. Curt

    These tips are great Marie.

    There’s nothing worse than reading a bland post that looks like it’s been sanitized in a medical surgery.

    The posts on a lot of specialized websites, although their information is good there’s no excitability or creativeness to the page.

    I do have a question about images. Do you have a rule of thumb on how many, or how little images to use? Or is it dependent on the size of the article and/or other variables?

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Curt thanks for your questions, I agree about the sanitised material I do a lot of research for my other niche site on horses and many of the sites I’m visiting are very difficult to read because they are just long blocks of text.

      I don’t have a rule about images, except I like to look at a screen view of my post and make sure there is always one image visible as I’m scrolling down, i.e. the gaps between images are not too great, but I don’t like a cluttered screen either.

      It’s about preferences and seeing what keeps readers engaged for longer and what you are writing about. Try to pick good images that can be shared on social media, this post explores this issue a bit more Using images in your blogs and online writing

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