At the base of good online writing is well-written, engaging content that is created to be read on a computer screen.
Reading on a computer screen – or, more increasingly, on mobile devices – is harder than reading words in a newspaper, book or magazine. Therefore, it’s important to make it easy for your audience to read your content online. Simply put, keep it short and simple. Three elements to focus on to do this efficiently are sentences, paragraphs and subheadings.
Short Sentences: Sentences should be short and easy to follow. There’s no use in trying to impress someone by using a word that they’ll have to look up on dictionary.com. This will just drive your reader off your website.
Easy to Read Paragraphs: Paragraphs should be short. Breaking up your thoughts into short paragraphs makes it easy for your reader to follow along. It also makes web content look great. Everything is crisp, clean and in place.
Bold Subheadings: Use subheadings – larger, bolded headings – in your content. This, in addition to the paragraphs, makes it really easy for your readers to follow along. If they’re just skimming the content and they see a subheading with a topic that interests them, this is what they’ll stop and read, so it’s especially important to use these subheadings when you’re changing topics in your content.
Take Your Content to the Next Level
Now that your content is written so it is easily read on the screen, it’s time to add a few elements to make it a little more engaging for readers.
Add Relevant Links: Be sure to include links in your content. The links can be used to source your information or supplement your ideas. When linking be sure to set them to open in a new tab so that the user will still have your blog post up. You don’t want them to go to that link and never return to the content on your site. It’s also ideal to be linking to content on your websites to increase links and add depth of knowledge.
Include Pictures and Videos: Always include a picture or video in your post. This makes the content on the page look much more appealing and the reader will be more interested. Make sure that the video is viewable in the post so that the reader isn’t taken to another site to view it.
Keep the Reader on Your Page
A common theme has been to keep the reader on your page. When people read content online, it needs to be so interesting and appealing that the users are not leaving your site. If the content isn’t holding their interest or they can’t understand it, all they have to do is do another search on that topic and your content has been forgotten about forever. Use elements such as links and videos properly so that readers aren’t directed to YouTube.com, where they’ll likely spend the next 20 minutes watching related videos from competitors.
So not only is it important to give your reader an easy user experience, but it’s also important to give them an engaging one.
How to do you know that you’re writing effective web content? Check Google Analytics. See how long people are staying on your site to read it. Check the bounce rate. If you keep checking this and compare it to what you’re writing about and how you’re writing it, you’ll see a correlation and find out what works best for your audience.