You probably already know that having a blog is important, but you may secretly be dubious about how often people actually read to the end of any post you publish.
No doubt you’ve crunched some data and noticed that the amount of time people spend on certain web pages doesn’t exactly correspond with in-depth reading habits.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.
Optimizing your content for text consumption can significantly increase the amount of time users spend on your website. This can be a real game-changer when it comes to boosting your content within the first pages of Google’s search results.
While blogging obviously entails writing, search engine optimization is also incredibly important. When you optimize your blog posts to create deeper user engagement with your content, you will automatically achieve a lot of your conversion goals by making your website more visible to users looking for certain keywords associated with your brand or service.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s look at some of the best and most efficient ways to get people to actually read the content you publish and drive traffic to your website at scale.
1. Use bold formatting to break up text
If your bounce rate and time on site are being tracked properly, you will know that there are a lot of visitors who bounce off your content within the first 10 seconds of their visit.
Most of these people will not have read a single paragraph from your latest post. They might have scrolled down a bit but ultimately decided that they weren’t that interested. Pretty frustrating, to say the least.
The solution here is to change how you are formatting your posts so they look more scannable and ‘snackable’. A study conducted by Poynter Institute has revealed that when people stumble upon an article with a boldface introductory paragraph, 95% of visitors browse all or at least some part of it.
In fact, in many instances, the introductory paragraph is being read before the headline!
Research also shows that emphasizing visuals in your introductory paragraph may increase the amount of text consumption by readers. So ensure there’s some visual variety at a glance in your post.
2. Use bulleted points and listicle formats
What if I told you that making your writing more streamlined and applying a few formatting changes could significantly increase the amount of information your readers would take in?
A study conducted by Nielsen/Norman group looked at an article describing New York restaurants. The researchers found that by reducing the amount of information in the article, shortening paragraphs and ultimately increasing whitespace, they boosted text comprehension by a whopping 34% while reducing reading time by half.
Pretty impressive, right? Take a look below.
The lesson here is that ‘more text’ does not necessarily equal ‘more informative’. Even if you’re a capable writer, you can always tighten the direction and structure of your pieces. It’s not about how many words you include in a blog post – it’s about whether you offer something worth sticking around for.
When researching a different New York Times article, the same researchers concluded that subheadings and more concise writing could improve the overall comprehensiveness of an article by 12%.
What’s more, writing in a bulleted or listicle style can really help sharpen the focus of your content as well as leave users feeling more satisfied with their reading experience.
3. Use subheadings strategically
The careful placement of subheadings is critical to user engagement. Subheadings can not only increase the amount of text consumption for skim-readers but help maintain the attention of those whose attention spans may be short.
Unsurprisingly, a study by NN group shows that people pay a lot of attention to subheadings.
Research suggests that marketers and copywriters should prioritize the first two words in their subheadings, as they tend to get the most eye fixation from ‘skimming’ users.
Try to map out a rough structure for your blog posts by writing your subheadings out ahead of time – then combine them with strategic formatting choices like bolding or block quotes to make the most important text stand out.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that your subheadings should effectively convey the ‘big picture’ of your post and all its content. Make them easy to understand and ensure they connect with your introductory paragraph.
4. Use ads next to your best content
The idea is simple and as old as digital marketing itself – if you want to squeeze the value out of your ads to the last drop, you need to beat banner blindness among your website visitors.
This eye-tracking test showed that ads integrated and placed closer to your most valuable content were spotted 47% quicker than banner ads tossed at random around the page.
Furthermore, the actual area containing the integrated ads was viewed by 451% more people when compared to an area with banner ads. Impressive, right?
Well, that’s not all:
The test showed that banner blindness can be overcome by non-traditional ad placement. Users spend 4000% more time in areas with actual content, rather than in those with banner ads. This can significantly increase brand recall.
Users tend to spot more content at the top of a page, but often skim over leaderboards or skyscraper ads.
According to the study, ads placed in unconventional page locations – at the edges or in between text content – were actually more effective than ads located in more traditional areas.
It’s worth noting that one of the most effective ways to fight banner blindness is to make your ads or offerings look less like… well… ads. Eliminate contrasting colors or fixed frames around your promotional material.
Eye-tracking research has made significant progress over the past few years. When it comes to marketing, following your gut feeling is not always the best idea – instead, pay attention to the latest data to boost your text consumption levels.
In the long run, it will help you increase the number of your conversions in addition to the time your visitors spend on your website.
So go bigger: use boldface and increased font sizes in introductory paragraphs to make readers notice key info; be concise and switch to bulleted point or listicles; introduce subheadings to break up text; and beat banner blindness by placing your marketing material next to the things your readers actually want to read.
Do these four things alone, and you’ll be 4x closer to having super optimized content that web visitors can’t help but take time out to read.
Writer: Krzysztof Gilowski