7 ways to improve content experience for readers
It isn’t enough to simply write words on a page – you need to be able to create content that’s going to engage readers and pull them in. Even if you’ve carefully crafted each phrase, it’s still not enough, particularly as we live in an age where there is an overwhelming amount of content being created every day. As consumers, we’re always connected to the media in some shape or form, so it’s harder to capture attention.
In 1997, Jakob Nielsen conducted a seminal web usability study, which revealed that 79% of people who use the internet scan rather than read. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about how you use the internet. You’re in search of information. And if you don’t find it on the page you’re on, you’ll click off it and look elsewhere. Therefore, brands need to adjust and focus on creating content that gives their audience what they want, keeps them engaged, and carries them through the buyer journey.
Whilst there is no silver bullet, there are a number of ways you can better engage readers, and as a result increase the time they spend reading your content. Let’s dive in.
1. Get visual
If you’re writing a long-form piece of content that perhaps has 2,000+ words, whilst it’s valuable, that’s a lot of words! With this in mind, you need to find ways to keep your reader’s attention as it’s possible that you may lose them off your page, if all they can essentially see is a big block of text.
Break text up
By adding images into your content, you can improve everything from the time readers spend on a page to social shares to conversion rate. The key to making sure that you’re using the right imagery for your content consists of the following:
- Select images relevant to the user experience – generic pictures are exactly that – generic. Use an image that sets out to connect your readers to the piece of content you’re writing.
- Tell a story – images hold a lot of power as they can tell a story in a way that words can’t. Use pictures that support the content that you’re writing about.
- Support your brand – if your brand is based on humour, using the latest meme makes sense. But if your brand’s tone is more on the formal side, then it most likely would benefit negatively from something like a meme. As we’ve discussed above, images can help tell a story. They can also help connect consumers to your brand so it’s important that you’re picking pictures appropriately to represent what you stand for.
- Provide information – we process pictures much quicker than we do words. You can use this to your advantage and use images to communicate information, whether it be a process, a study, or statistic.
Just like the fact that images play a role in readers engaging with your content, so do videos. In fact, on average, people spend 2.6x more time on pages that have videos than those without. Adding a video into a blog will help boost the page’s click-through rate (CTR) as search engines will often show a thumbnail of the clip in the SERP. This thumbnail will stand out against competing blogs with text-only meta descriptions, and it’ll also attract people to click on your link.
2. Embrace line breaks
Making your copy readable is one of the most important elements of the content experience. Even the most complex content can be made much more reader-friendly just by introducing white space. You can do this by including one idea per paragraph. And make sure to keep them short — three or four sentences at most.
3. Use compelling headings
Your main heading / title of a blog (H1) is vital in getting your audience to even look at your page in the first place. Learning how to craft subheadings (H2) is important for keeping readers engaged and on the page. They’re almost like “mini headlines” to keep your readers moving through the rest of your content seamlessly. Make your subheadings both captivating and informative. Consumers can spot when you’re trying to deceive them – never exaggerate or you’ll lose your authority and credibility.
Once you’ve written your subheadings, review them to see what your audience will understand if they only read that part of your blog. Ask yourself – is there a compelling story? Will they get the gist of what you’re trying to say?
4. Make content scannable with bulleted and numbered lists
Lists take scannability to another level. If you’re going to write a list as a sentence, you should use bullet points or numbered lists instead. Their benefits include the following:
- Easier to read
- Easier to digest
- Pique the curiosity of your audience
- Look different from the rest of your text so provide a visual break for readers
See what we mean? Bulleted lists are much easier to take in.
As well as benefitting the reader, bulleted and numbered lists can also be helpful for how you appear in search engines. It’s possible that it could provide a positive signal to Google for ranking purposes, and it can also help your content get put in a featured snippet.
5. Include relevant and helpful links
Adding internal links back to your own ‘cornerstone content’ will keep people on your site and reading your best material.
External links show to consumers that you’ve researched the topic that you’re writing about and want to cite other experts.
Good content uses both internal and external links to expand the reader’s understanding and therefore add value.
6. Make content stand out
When you highlight important concepts in bold, your target audience will be able to scan through and pick out the most important information at a glance. But remember – don’t highlight everything as this would essentially have the same effect as highlighting absolutely nothing. All you need to do is emphasise the key points so that the person reading your content can quickly pick them out.
7. Write inclusively
There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves. Check your copy to see how often you write the words “I, me, we, and us.” Then, count how often you use the word “you”. If your use of first person is inconsistent when compared to your use of phrases in the second person, edit more of the first-person references out and add in “you” more. You want to let your audience know that they’re included in the conversation – never exclude the people you’re trying to reach out to and keep on your page.
By incorporating the tips above into your content strategy, they will eventually become second nature and a part of the regular process. Trust us – your readers will thank you.
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