“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
– Andrew Davis, bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker
As a business owner, the Internet demands that you create content.
You must divulge your expertise through the written word, answer questions, address problems, and convince consumers that you are credible, honest and worthy of their time and resources.
And you want Google to take notice too, obviously.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: Intent on satiating the demands of prospective customers and digitally-powered Google bots, you pour your heart and soul into forging words into an artfully crafted masterpiece. You meticulously slave over every paragraph, search for the most authoritative links, and work to leverage only the most suitable terminology that will resonate with your audience.
And then no reads it.
No shares. Zero comments. Nothing.
If you’ve been there, you are not alone. Your hardships are felt by many.
On the bright side, you don’t need to spend hours behind a keyboard becoming a master wordsmith to get people to read your work.
If you need help drawing eyeballs to your content and holding people’s attention, check out these five tips for getting more people to read your creations.
1. Choose Your Words Wisely
It’s more than likely that your English teacher taught you a lot of bad writing habits.
Paragraphs don’t need to be text walls that dive deep into the subject matter. In fact, that’s exactly how you tune people out.
It’s been noted a million times already that most people scan web copy and don’t read every word.
While crafting long-form content that covers complex topics is a necessity for SEO — because thin content can damage your rankings — you can do this without appearing long-winded and boring.
Firstly, if you are covering a considerably complex topic, break it up into several informative posts. This will make it more easily consumable for readers and keep them coming back to learn more.
Additionally, when structuring your paragraphs, discuss your conclusion first and then use the rest of your sentences to support what you have said. This will keep people who scan engaged with your content instead of moving to a different piece with answers that are easier to pick out.
2. Format Intelligently
The appearance of your content is equally as important as the content itself.
If you present readers with a massive wall of text, then you have a lot of reformatting to do.
To keep readers engaged, you need to use certain techniques that will highlight important information and make certain lessons easy to find.
Here are some formatting rules to live by:
- Leverage sub-headings: These will grab a reader’s attention and direct them to finding what they want to know.
- Use bullet points: These break up the structure of the piece and provide readers with lots of value in a small space.
- Keep sentences short: Use as few words as possible to get your point across. People don’t have time for verbosity.
- Discuss only one idea per paragraph: This will help you and your reader to stay focused on the point.
- Use bold text on key points: This helps information to stand out and engages readers. Just don’t do it too often or it loses its potency.
- Mix in images: This can add value to your content and break up the text. Be sure to caption your images because captions are the most read items on a page.
- Use paragraphs of different lengths: Three to four sentences is fine for a paragraph, but you can also use two sentences, then five, etc., to keep things interesting.
3. Leverage the Power of Lists
This one could have gone under the formatting section, however, this technique is so prevalent today that it warrants its own section.
You might even think this fad is “played out” with the 500 “listicles” that BuzzFeed publishes every day, but people still eat this content up.
Why? Because it makes content easy to scan.
Most times this will make content more compelling just because of the appealing, familiar, and east to read format.
While there are certainly a ton of list-based articles on the Internet and likely a variety of them are in your niche, the key is to ensure you content is more current and more comprehensive than your competitor’s while simultaneously applying the writing rules found here.
4. Write What People Want to Read
As a business owner, you likely have some sort of following. It might be e-mail subscribers, social media followers, blog readers, or fans of your products and services.
Capitalize on these folks by using them as a source of inspiration for your content. Ask them what they want to read about, what they want to know about, and what pain points they might have.
Build relationships with these folks by continually asking them questions and engaging them. You can even feature them in your content from time to time if it is appropriate and approved by them.
Moreover, you can use your audience as a sounding board to identify the topics and aspects of your content that aren’t resonating so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Doing this will not only help you uncover the things people actually want to read about but it will also make your community more invested in your work and the success of it.
5. Help People Find Your Materials
No one is going to read your content if no one knows it exists.
By deploying the last tactic we discussed, you’re already half way there. But in order to help more potential readers find it, you need to understand how to optimize your content for SEO.
By creating appropriate alt tags, meta descriptions, optimized URLs, and image file names (among other strategies) you are effectively amplifying your content in the SERPs. The higher you are able to rank, the more people will see your content. And this process grows exponentially. SEO is absolutely crucial for long-term success.
Breaking through the content barrier can be hard work. Sometimes it takes the help of a SEO expert while other times you just need to understand the techniques involved in reeling readers in.
Integrate these lessons into your writer’s toolkit and you are likely to get a lot more people reading your carefully structured insights.
What other writing techniques have you used to increase readership?