The average attention span of a person in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000.
That is that three quarters of a second less than the average goldfish, who clocks an average of 9 seconds. (Source)
Go human race!
Meanwhile “how long” people stay and interact with your website is playing an increasing role in how well your website ranks in Google.
Bit of a pickle if you ask me.
So how do you write good blog posts for your website that have the highest likelihood of capturing the attention of your ADD audience?
Well, there’s always cute kitten videos…
See? It never fails ;)
Unfortunately, cute kitten videos don’t build your credibility as an expert in your niche so here are four tips you can use to create blog posts that people will read…
Tip #1: Use Headlines With Specific, Measurable Benefits
If your headline sucks no one will read your blog post. Plain and simple.
The sole purpose of a headline is to convince visitors that your blog post contains information that will benefit them… and I want to emphasize the word “benefit”.
For a headline to be effective you need to ensure that it communicates “What’s in it for me?” because if there’s no obvious benefit they will not take the time to read what you wrote.
Here are some examples of good and bad headlines:
BAD: Puppy Training Secrets
GOOD: Discover A Simple Training Tool That Will House Train Your Puppy In 3 Simple Steps Using ONLY Positive Reinforcement
BAD: Learn To Play Guitar
GOOD: Discover How An Average 37 Year Old Guy, With ZERO Musical Training Learned 43 Different Guitar Songs In LESS THAN 30 Days Practicing Only 15 Minutes Per Day!
BAD: How To Decrease Your Bounce Rate
GOOD: This Single Fastest Way To Reduce Your Bounce Rate By 50% Overnight
Now let’s dissect what is happening with these headlines…
The bad headlines are generic and unspecific.
The good headlines are:
- Exciting and intriguing.
- There is a specific and measurable benefit conveyed in each headline.
Now let me be clear, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive course in writing headlines. This is the basics. There are many different ways you can write headlines. What I’ve just given you is a simple format that works well in most business website scenarios.
And my final headline writing tip is this: Keep a swipe file!
A swipe file is a file (Word Doc, Evernote, Text files, etc.) where you keep a list of headlines that you like. If you land on a page and it has a headline that grabs your attention, copy and paste it into your swipe file.
Then in the future, when you are writing a headline, reference your swipe file for ideas.
Every great writer has one… at least they should.
Tip #2: Make Your Blog Post LOOK Easy To Read!
If something looks long and laborious to read then people won’t read it.
The solution? Make it ‘look’ easy by doing the following:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. My general rule is to never have a paragraph longer than 5 lines.
- Mix up paragraph length. Never have multiple long paragraphs in a row. If you have a long paragraph, follow it with a short one.
- Make sure you have adequate whitespace between lines and paragraphs.
- Use sub-headlines to break up longer articles into sections.
(Note: This article is a great example of everything I am talking about)
If you’re a grammar Nazi or an academic writer you will need to unlearn much of what you know. If you want people to read your stuff it needs to be short, punchy, conversational and will violate the basic rules of good grammar.
Tip #3: Make Your Blog Post Scannable
Most people do not read articles word for word. In fact, studies have show that the average web user only reads 28% of the actual words on a web page because they are scanning it rather than reading it word-for-word. (Source)
So knowing this you need to make sure that the key points you want to convey stand out on the web page and here’s a few ways to do that:
- Use lists wherever possible (like I am doing right now) because lists are easy to scan… and for whatever reason human beings love lists.
- Use rich text formatting like bold, italics, underline and highlight to emphasize key points but make sure you use them sparingly. If you overuse them in your blog post they will loses their effectiveness.
- Use images to help better communicate your message. With tools like Canva.com even the artistically challenged can create awesome graphics for blog posts.
- Use whitespace effectively. This means making sure there is adequate space between your lines of text and your paragraphs. This is something you can change in your style sheet (or ask your web designer if you don’t know what a style sheet is).
Tip #4: Make It Easy To Read
If someone doesn’t understand what they’re reading, you will lose them.
In the USA the average reading level sits around grade 7-8.
This means if you are writing at a grade 9 level or higher, you need to dumb things down a little.
Fortunately there are simple tools that will tell you what level you are writing at while at the same time giving you instructions to improve readability.
My favorite tool is the Hemingway App which you can download for less than $10 here.
In addition to using a tool like the Hemingway App, here are a few more tips to make your articles easier to read:
- Get to the point! Give people the information they want in the shortest time possible.
- Don’t make too many points. When you write a blog post keep it focused. Make one point and make it well. If you have a couple of points to make, consider writing a couple of articles.
- Present your information in a logical format. If I had written this entire article without breaking it down into tips and sub-tips it would have been difficult to follow.
So before you start writing sit down and map out your article, identify the logical sections and sub sections and then fill it in from there.
In summary, don’t think people will read your content because the “information is good”. It’s up to you to…
- Convince people to read it.
- Make it as easy to read as possible.
And remember, don’t just apply what I just taught you to the new content you are producing. Pump some new blood into your old content by applying this new found knowledge to the older posts and articles on your website.
To your success…