To save your copy from the curse of knowledge, there are four practical ways you can make your content readable. Here are they are.
#1. Use simple words
Big words have two big problems:
Most people can’t read big words.
Most people don’t want to read big words.
If you’re writing for the general public, then your words shouldn’t exceed the 9th-grade level. If they do, then you run the risk of losing your readers attention.
Besides, most people don’t want to read what you write online.
People read online much like animals’ forage for food.
They’re hungry and in search for something to eat.
The key to satisfying your readers is to use simple words.
What makes a word “simple” depends upon the context.
But here are three guiding principles:
Use short words
Use familiar words
Use words with 1-2 syllables
By using simple words, your copy will be easy-to-understand.
#2. Begin sentences with subjects
Grab your readers attention with right-branching sentences.
These magical sentences are easy to read, minimize passivity, and they fuel your writing with action.
To write a right-branching sentence, you need to describe your main subject first and then modify it afterward with additional information.
Jordan Loftis, a ghostwriter and the former marketing automation lead at CoSchedule, suggests placing the subject and verb as close together as possible to create more movement in your writing.
To see what I’m talking about, here are several right-branching sentence examples from Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools:
“A writer composes a sentence with subject and verb at the beginning, followed by other subordinate elements, creating what scholars call a right-branching sentence.”
“Rebels seized control of Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, on Sunday, meeting little resistance as hundreds of residents cheered, burned the police station, plundered food from port warehouses and looted the airport, which was quickly closed” (Lydia Polgreen).
“He didn’t need a clock. He had been working in a tidal partner so long that he could fee a tide change in his sleep” (John Steinbeck).
#3. Write to be scanned
Focus on your readers by making your copy easy to scan.
People frequently read online in an F-shaped pattern. They scan the page horizontally from left-to-right, and then they scan the left side of the page in a downward vertical movement.
Here’s a visual illustration to show you what I mean:
Help your readers by accommodating to their reading habits. Here are some easy ways how:
Bold or italicize content
The key to writing scannable content is to use short sentences.
In this post, my average sentence length is 9.7 words.
Some people recommend 20-25 words per sentence. I don’t have a hard rule I follow. Honestly, I just eye the format to see if my sentences are short. If I see a long sentence, then I make it shorter.
As you write, be sure to format your content with your readers in mind.
Writing readable content
Readability is about focusing on your readers.
Your goal as a copywriter is to connect with your audience and move them to action. The best way you can accomplish both of these goals is to write readable content.
These tips will help you to get started.
Apply these lessons.
See what resonates with your readers.
Observe your results.
If you’re like me, you’ll need to continually revisit these lessons and improve upon.
Writing for the web is different from writing for newspapers, magazines, or books.
The difference is not in the words you write. But in the way people read, which makes all the difference in the world.
When it comes to reading online, most people will not read what you write word-for-word. They will scan your post in search of what they are looking for. If you don’t satisfy their appetite—quickly—then they’ll move on.
For bloggers, this means that you cannot be like an abstract artist who splashes paint on a canvas in the hope of creating something compelling. There is an art and science to using words to communicate, engage, and persuade readers online.
What follows are nine tips to writing a blog post people will actually read. Use these principals as proverbial bumper pads for your writing to help you stay on course and hit your goal.
But if you’re like many business owners or marketing leaders, your blog is probably lifeless. It no longer accomplishes the big goals I just mentioned. It’s just sitting there dormant on your website, haphazardly groaning for attention.
It’s a tactic that’s often overlooked and rarely discussed, and it could quickly and legitimately boost your blog traffic.
What is this magical tactic?
It’s republishing your old blog posts.
I know this doesn’t sound promising on the surface. But I’ve used this tactic on several different sites with similar positive results.
And this is the tactic I used to increase my blog traffic to one post month-over-month by 1,548%.
Let me show you:
This screenshot, which compares monthly traffic in March 2018 versus August 2018, shows the increase in monthly traffic before and after I made changes (no, this post did not receive a boost from social media or elsewhere in August).
This increase in blog traffic didn’t happen overnight.
After optimizing this post, it took a couple of months for it to begin ranking for a variety of keywords.
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of how this post started to increase in traffic after I implemented the changes:
This post was republished at the beginning of May, which led to the short spike that month. You can see a small dip in traffic in June, a slight increase in July, and a big leap in August as the post began to rank higher for additional keywords.
As you can see from this example, the traffic had previously plateaued and remained relatively the same month after month. After optimizing and republishing this postl, it went from receiving around 200 pageviews per month to nearly 3,300 pageviews per month!
Before you get too excited and start republishing everything on your site, I have some good news and bad news to share.
Here’s the good news:
Optimizing old posts on your site can increase your blog traffic.
But here’s the bad news:
This tactic doesn’t produce the same results for every post on your site.
Since I don’t want to end on a negative note, I’m going to walk you through the process I used to identify this post (and many others) to republish, and the steps I took to optimize it to increase its ranking and traffic.
Click here to read the entire post at Stillhouse Marketing.