Content is king. This phrase was taken literally, and now, over 4 million blog posts are published every day. How do you stand out among that content overload? You excel at the quality of the content. You make your content valuable and interesting to read. You keep the audience engaged and eager to read on. But it doesn’t start with research or stylistics. It starts with this.
Make sure the right people are reading
Any text starts with defining its audience. This may be difficult for a fiction writer, but for a business, it’s not a big deal. You already have plenty of data on your audience. You know who’s reading your blog and who are buying your products. You know their age, sex, job position, and the problems they face.
This information should serve as the basis for defining the scope and style of your content. But there’s more to it. You need to make sure your core audience can find your content. This means working on content promotion: following the latest Google guidelines, filling your content with the right keywords, and promoting it on social media and email.
There are two types of content you can produce, entertaining and informational. Regardless of the type, the main thing that keeps people reading is not your penmanship. It’s the value they get from the text they’re reading.
You probably have read every word of Peter F. Drucker’s The Effective Executive, but it wasn’t because you fancied his wording. It was because you wanted to get the insight of a professional. This is the principle you have to follow when you’re creating informational content.
Promise value in the headline and the first paragraph and deliver on it. Show research, present a different angle of looking at a certain problem, provide an example from your own practice. If you do that, your readers will keep on reading even if the writing itself is mediocre.
Apply the same principle to entertaining content. The main difference is that the reader’s goal is not getting valuable information; it’s having fun. Make your style more conversational, crack a joke, or show a funny GIF. Check out a couple of Buzzfeed’s articles for inspiration.
If you want someone to read your text to the end, you need to give them the reason to do so. If the sheer value is not enough, try evoking their interest instead.
You have to create intrigue in the headline or the first paragraph. Show the readers something that would interest them enough to care about what’s in the rest of the article. Here are the most effective ways of doing that:
- Appeal to emotions
- Appeal to the fear of missing out
- Tell a story
- Show a statistic
Your ideal way of making readers interested is showing them a click-worthy title and then writing the first paragraph that matches the headline’s promise. This ensures most people would be interested enough to keep on reading.
Reduce unnecessary content
Most content marketers know that long-form content is better in so many respects. It’s more informative for the readers, it results in more time spent on site, and Google algorithms love it.
The problem is, some people confuse form with function. This results in content over 1000 words that contains at least 400 words that mean nothing and are there to make it longer.
This type of bloated content doesn’t serve the purpose of long-form content correctly. Your readers won’t spend that much time reading it; they’ll skim it in hopes of finding the information they need. Cut down on content that is just there to take up space. Replace it with something that matters, and you’ll see more people reading it.
Make it easier to read
Often, it’s the content itself, not the form, that keeps people glued to their screens. But keeping your content readable certainly helps to keep readers engaged till the end. Especially so for long-form content that takes over 10 minutes to read. Once you’ve worked on some basic web design principles like using white space and optimising contrast and color, you should start with simplifying your texts. You don’t have to write content for four-year-olds, don’t use jargon and terms that your readers may not understand without explaining it.
This is especially important for complex concepts. Take your time explaining them and use storytelling or supporting imagery to help all readers understand that concept.
You can use editing software or ask a professional essay writer to find redundancies in the text that only make it more difficult to understand. Eliminating spelling and grammar mistakes with these apps also helps make the content better.
The next step is switching to smaller paragraphs and sentences. Again, this doesn’t mean that all paragraphs and sentences have to be small. The general rule is to have sentences that are longer than 20 words mixed with the shorter ones to make it easier for the reader.
Three to four sentences would be the perfect length of a paragraph. It’s okay to break that rule once in a while, but try to stick to it most of the time. Try to apply this rule when you’re editing your content, and you’ll find that breaking up long paragraphs is easier than you think.
Finally, break up the text with headings and subheadings. This will help people who only want to scroll through the content to get a general idea. It also structures the text, so readers will have an easier time keeping track of long-form content.
Keeping the readers engaged throughout every word of your content may seem like an impossible task. However, if you use the content promotion to attract the right people to your content and make each piece valuable for the reader, it’s going to be easy.
Make the content easy to read on top of that, and the visitors will be left wanting for more.