It’s no secret that quality online content is important for driving website traffic, finding new customers and asserting your company as an industry leader. The business value of great content has driven a lot of thought leaders across industries to wonder: How can I write something that people actually want to read?
The challenge is clear: There is an enormous supply of content on the internet, and people seem to have less free time to read than ever. So how can your writing compel even the weariest readers to stop and take in new information?
Here are seven ways to create content that captures attention and rewards your readers for clicking:
Focus your topic
The first step to writing engaging content is selecting a focused topic that’s relevant and interesting to your audience. Specificity is compelling, while generalities are easily ignored. For example, a post about the effect of unconscious bias on AI technology would draw in more readers than a broad take on AI. Would you be interested in reading about the topic and your specific angle? Your answer likely mirrors that of your intended audience.
Fulfill the promise of your headline
Flashy titles or big promises may catch site visitors’ attention, but 94 percent of people share content because they found it useful. To keep your post relevant, stick to your topic and cover it thoroughly. Clickbait headlines may prompt a brief rush to the page, but they quickly frustrate people and drive them away — especially business leaders looking for trustworthy, informative articles. In order to write pieces that intrigue readers and inspire action, focus on specific subjects that they will find thought-provoking or insightful, without misleading them in the title.
Write simply and clearly
A big part of relating to site visitors is ensuring your content is appealing and easy to comprehend for anyone reading. Write as simply and vividly as possible, avoiding cliché phrases and technical language. Overuse of jargon can alienate people not well versed in your industry’s lingo. It also makes for a stale reading experience, increasing the likelihood that visitors will jump ship.
If you want readers to stick around, you need to get to the point. Remember, they’re reading your content to learn more about a topic; unfortunately, the beauty and vibrance of your prose is a secondary concern. Convoluted sentences also signal cloudy thinking and often indicates that the writer would rather sound smart than help the reader learn. With users spending just 5.59 seconds on written content, it’s crucial that your writing is clear and concise.
Your readers’ time is limited. Here’s how you can keep things to the point:
- Stick to one specific topic (break larger subjects into a series of posts)
- Use short, descriptive headings for easy scanning and comprehension
- Be clear about your article’s topic and major takeaways
Break it up
Most people won’t have time to read your content. Instead, they’ll scan it. To help them glean the info they need, break up the content using headings and bulleted or numbered lists. (As a bonus, these techniques can also boost search engine rankings.) Even long-form content can be made more digestible by weaving in bullet points, pull quotes, infographics and other small bites of information throughout the text.
When you give your copy more room to breathe, it also makes your message more memorable. Adding white space around content increases comprehension by nearly 20 percent. Visitors to your site are likely reading only 20-28 percent of the page. Clear headings, short lists and well-defined sections can help you reach those who are quickly scanning your content for relevant information.
While the information you provide is ultimately what attracts or pushes away readers, aesthetic factors also play a big role in capturing and maintaining their attention. Poorly designed or unattractive websites cause 38 percent of users to stop engaging and 35 percent to switch devices. Failing to consider your page’s design can be the difference between a new prospect and a swift click on the browser’s back button.
Incorporating strong design elements may lengthen your content creation process, but it also makes your posts more effective. Blogs that include relevant images get 94% more views than those without. Strong design paired with valuable content can sway people to read your post over others on the same subject.
Make it accessible
Perhaps the most important step for engaging your audience is making sure your content is easy to find. Ensure users can easily navigate to your blog or resource center from your home page, and link to the content where appropriate on high-traffic pages. Share it on your personal and corporate social media accounts, and encourage other employees to share it as well. And if you have the budget, promote your content through paid search advertising and paid social.
In addition, keep SEO best practices in mind when creating content. You should still focus on writing for your intended audience, but adding relevant keywords to headings and body copy will help both users and search engines quickly understand what your content is about.
When executed properly, a helpful blog post can become more than just a one-time investment, compounding over time and gaining traffic through organic search results. Put the time in to make sure your blogs and articles resonate, and you’ll see positive results. If you follow the tips above, your next blog post will captivate readers and draw more high-value traffic to your company’s website.