Eight seconds. That’s how long the average human’s attention span lasts these days, according to Time Magazine. This means that you probably have a shorter attention span than even a goldfish.
People being unable to focus for very long creates a unique problem for content writers today. You likely put a lot of time into the content you are producing, whether it is for your website or your social media profiles. So you might be asking yourself, are people actually reading my content? Then your next question might be, how do I get more people to read my content?
This article will discuss considerations you should make even before you begin writing your content. This way you can create a strategy for how to start putting your piece together. It will also share hook techniques that go beyond attention grabbing headlines to keep people interested. These tactics will help you build your content marketing strategy to be the most effective.
How Do Visitors Read My Content?
The first consideration you should make well before you begin writing is how visitors actually read your content. Some important research was done in 2006 by Jakob Nielsen, showing how visitors actually read websites. He found that 79% of web visitors scan web pages instead of thoroughly reading them. Some other important findings were:
- Our eyes move FAST across websites
- We typically read in an F-shaped pattern, putting the emphasis on the headline and the first few paragraphs
- As readers scroll down the page, the left side gets emphasized, skimming it instead of reading it
Other research has shown that only about 10-20% of readers actually get all the way to the bottom of the page.
Where Do Visitors Read My Content?
A similar consideration is where visitors are reading their content. Meaning, is it on their desktop? A phone? A tablet? You can analyze your website to find out from which kind of device people are generally reading your content. If a substantial portion are using a mobile device or tablet, it is extremely important to make your website mobile-friendly. Your website design should automatically scale down (or up) to fit the screen size of any visitor’s device. Many businesses prefer using WordPress to host their website as this capability is built-in to their platform.
What Are Visitors Doing When They Read My Content?
When was the last time you sat down and read something with no distractions? No TV or music in the background, not while you were cooking dinner, or not while riding the bus to work? It was probably a long time ago, and you are not alone. Remember that the vast majority of people reading my content are probably also doing something else. You should always keep this in mind when you are writing your content. People are probably not going to give your content their undivided attention. So your goal should be to capture their attention long enough to get the most important information.
To grab a reader’s attention right from the beginning, you need a good hook. A hook is the opening statement of your content. These first few words are essential as this is where your reader will decide whether they want to continue reading.
A good hook will do some great things for your content and the reader. It will create anticipation, motivating the reader to keep reading to find out what comes next. The hook is also a great place to immediately show off your personality. You can show off your unique tone in the hook, creating even more interest. Your hook will also set the tone of your piece. Whether your content is serious or lighthearted, your hook will give the reader the first indication. Finally, the hook explains the purpose of your piece. It will inform your reader what exactly your piece is about, so they can decide if they want to keep reading.
Make a Bold Statement
The first hook technique is to make a bold statement as your attention grabbing headline. Making a big claim immediately draws peoples’ attention. When you make a big claim, you have to explain yourself and your thought process. This will encourage your reader to continue reading.
To grab someone’s attention on a page of your website, you could highlight a specific problem you solve for your customers. For a blog post, you could state a fact or statistic that would shock people. With either of these tactics, your reader will be intrigued to get an explanation of the statement.
Show Off Your Wit
This tactic is not for everyone and cannot be used for every kind of post. However, that doesn’t mean that it can never be used. Being witty is especially useful when the authors of the post get credit or for a small business when it’s clear the owner is writing it. When the writers are able to show off their unique personality, it immediately sets them apart from the competition. You could open a blog post with a cheesy joke or clever turn of phrase to immediately lighten up the mood.
Use A New Spin
Sometimes you might be sharing complicated or boring information. In other cases, you might be sharing something that is common knowledge. How can I get people to read my content if it is complicated or boring? The best way to captivate your audience is to put a different spin on the information. Use a metaphor or analogy so that people can understand the difficult information. You could also try incorporating a pop culture event or trend to illustrate your point. Give them a fresh take on it instead of simply regurgitating the information.
Tell a Story
There are different ways to tell a story with your hook. You could start by sharing a story about a client who was helped by your product or service. You could also start by sharing a common problem scenario that many people would be able to relate to. This is another way to personalize the information.
How Do I Make My Content Interesting?
So, you’re wondering how to create engaging content for your readers. Below are five strategies you can use to make your content interesting for readers. This will ensure that people continue reading even past your headline.
If you are wondering how do I get more people to read my content, the most basic way to keep is to make sure every sentence compels them to go to the next sentence. For example, think about why writers use attention grabbing headlines. They use them so that the reader feels like they need to continue reading. Then your first sentence should get them to go to the second and so on.
A common writing tool is the inverted pyramid. This is a way to structure your content so that readers will appreciate it and consume the whole thing. Newspaper writers have been using this structure for their content for years. Your entire article should be structured this way, but you can also utilize it for every individual paragraph.
Essentially, it involves putting the most important information at the beginning. This acknowledges the fact that almost 60% of your readers won’t make it to the end of the article. The beginning of the blog or content should have the most important information you want readers to take away. After that you can include additional information that is helpful, but not essential. Finally, finish with information that would just be nice if people knew it.
People are naturally drawn to images. It is also a great way to break up your content and give people a break from a sea of text. Images are an effective way to illustrate the concepts you are talking about in a more visual way. Visual content is becoming more important than ever in content marketing.
Easily Scannable Text
Another way to keep your readers from getting overwhelmed by a sea of text is to create easily scannable text. Some of the ways to do this are:
- Highlight keywords (hyperlinks are one example)
- Use meaningful subheadings, not “clever” ones
- Bulleted or numbered lists
- Keep it to one idea per paragraph
- Inverted pyramid style of writing
- Half the word count vs conventional writing
Break It Up
When I read my content, I like it to be in smaller sections. Another way to make the scanning of your content easier is to break it up into smaller chunks. Using subheadings and bulleted lists are a way to do this. (Added bonus: these techniques can also boost search engine rankings!) Since people are most likely scanning your content instead of reading it, make it snappy. If you want to cover a complex topic, try breaking it into a series of posts instead of doing one long, overwhelming post.
Even long form content like this blog post can be broken up into easily digestible pieces. Incorporating bullet points, quotations, and infographics throughout the text can help.
Another one of the best ways to make your content easier to read is by giving it room to breathe. Adding white space around content has been shown to improve comprehension by almost 20 percent! Since visitors to your site are probably reading less than 30% of your content, breaking it up into smaller sections can make it easier for them to scan for the most important information.
If you still need help creating content, consider hiring a content creation agency like SEO Design Chicago to help you.