Latest posts by Laura Cyples
- How to Win More Business in 2020 - 18th December 2019
- How to Write Faster (and Better) - 14th September 2019
- Design Your Digital Content: Using the F Pattern to Boost Engagement - 12th August 2019
How to write online content that gets read
Let’s face it, it’s soul destroying when you write informative online content and no one reads past the first few paragraphs.
Feel like packing in? Wondering why you bother?
If you’re starting to get fed up, maybe it’s time to think about how can you make your content more readable?
In an era of ever decreasing attention spans, you’ve only got a measly 10 seconds to engage your reader before they’re off searching for a more riveting read or tweeting Terry from the local takeaway.
But with so little time, how can you increase the chances of your reader continuing to read?
The good news is, it’s easy.
It all comes down to keeping it concise and thinking about your content visually. How does it look on screen? How have you presented your messages? Is it easy to read?
So, before you lob your laptop out of the window in a fit of frustration, here are 3 simple steps you can take to help your online content get read.
Shorten your sentences
Just in case you were wondering, you’re not a 19th century novelist. So stick to short sentences.
Long, meandering sentences are wonderful when curling up with Tess of the d’Urbervilles, but the average internet browser doesn’t have time for endless adjectives and puzzling punctuation.
Using mainly simple and compound sentences in your content, rather than lots of complex ones, makes your writing less confusing. And ultimately more readable.
Keeping your sentences concise, helps your messages to be clearer too. And shorter sentences have more impact.
Creating impact is great because it puts a sense of urgency into your writing. And it’s this urgency that will compel your reader to take notice of what you’re saying and read on.
By keeping your sentences short, you’re also less likely to make grammatical errors. And nothing is a greater turn off for a any reader than bad grammar. So, sticking with short, punchy sentences reduces the risk of making a grammatical gaffe too. Phew!
Shorten your paragraphs
Writing long paragraphs is a common mistake. But remember: scanning is the new black.
Everyone who’s anyone scan reads these days, particularly on the web. This means we don’t read every word written, instead we run our eyes over the text and zoom in on parts that look juicy. Come on, you know you do it too!
So don’t be afraid to make your paragraphs super short.
Feel free to start a new paragraph every time you make a new statement. It’s okay, really! You won’t lose marks! No one wants to be faced with big blocks of text to plough through when they’re reading online content.
That’s why short paragraphs are more effective.
Making paragraphs smaller, makes them less intimidating to readers. And makes it easier for your reader to move through your content, reducing the stop/start motion that longer paragraphs cause. Your reader will also feel like they’ve got less information to filter through to get to the important parts.
Shorter paragraphs have a much more dramatic effect too, creating a sense of urgency and drama that compels your reader to read on. This makes them highly persuasive.
Single sentence paragraphs are particularly dramatic.
The use of lots of short paragraphs creates more white space on the screen. This not only makes your content clearer and more pleasurable to read, but also creates a cleaner, calmer impression.
Remember: give your content some room to breathe.
Simplify your words
In the same way that shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to read and have greater impact, the same is true of words. Bigger isn’t always better.
Don’t get sucked into choosing a long, fancy word when you’re writing because you think it’ll make you sound intelligent. You’re not creating content in order to show off your vast vocabulary; you’re doing it in order to communicate your messages.
Think about writing online content as a conversation, rather than a dictation.
By choosing a less complicated word over a more complex one, you’ve got a greater chance of your reader staying with you. It ensures you’re understood and ensures your meanings are clear.
Simple words are often more emotive too.
That’s because shorter, simpler words are more often used in everyday language, so the reader has more of an emotional connection with them.
So, for example, if you’re tempted to use the word appropriate when writing, just go for the word steal or even take instead.
Both steal and take have a greater emotional impact as they carry more everyday meaning. Both of these words are only one syllable too, so are easier to read than the four syllable appropriate.
Always choose words with fewer syllables.
When a shorter word is chosen, your reader will feel more of its essence. The word becomes stronger, more potent, more powerful.
Simplify your words and shorten the sentences and paragraphs you use and there’s a good chance your reader will stick with you. And maybe all the way to the end. It really is that easy to make your content more readable.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful and if you have any comments, please feel free to pop them in the box below.
Or, if you’d like us to write engaging, original content for your business blog or any other online content, get in touch — we’d love to hear from you.