Picture this scenario: you spend many hours creating an amazing blog post only to discover that readers spend seconds skimming it. You know that you conducted thorough research and did everything you could to ensure the content was top-notch. You feel frustrated and wonder if writing blog posts is worth the effort. Worry not. It’s only in a perfect world where readers spend hours on a page. What you can do is ensure they spend minutes instead of seconds. Here are 10 things that make readers spend more time on page.
#1 A Simplistic Background
One thing you must never forget is that there are millions of posts published on the web every day. Therefore, you must make your content stand out if you want readers to pay attention. Your blog’s background is very important because it can make or break your site. It should accentuate your content, not act as a distraction. When choosing a background, avoid designs that look nice as they may be too much of a distraction when content is added. A boring design may be the best choice.
#2 Short Content Width
Your blog post’s width is not up to your designer; it’s up to you. When your content has the right width, visitors read the first few sentences and continue to the end without feeling overwhelmed. Obviously, the width will not make up for horrible content, but if you already write well, it will help get your content read. Keep the width approximately 80 characters or less (including space and punctuation) and your readers will stay. Be sure to pick your font before you optimize your blog width.
#3 Brief Sentences
Popular bloggers love writing one-sentence paragraphs. They know one thing you may not: short sentences are much easier to read than long ones. They are easy to understand and enhance the rhythm of your content. Short sentences can make complicated content more reader-friendly. Use line breaks to ensure your copy has a lot of white space. When writing paragraphs, keep them short and explain one idea in each. If you talk about too many ideas in one paragraph, you make it complex and confusing. Try writing one-sentence paragraphs and see if your readers won’t spend more time on page.
#4 Captivating Subheadings
No doubt about it, a compelling headline will attract readers to your blog post. However, the only thing that will keep them there is great subheadings. Readers know that it’s easy to be enticed by an enthralling headline only to find weak content when they click through. As a result, they have become skilled skimmers. They skim content in mere seconds to determine whether it piques their interest. If it doesn’t, off they go. According to research, readers decide within 10-20 seconds if a blog post is worth reading or not. Since you only have a small amount of time to ensure readers stay, don’t waste it.
#5 Bullets and Numbers
Bullets and numbers keep people reading your content. They help make your content more clear. The reader is able to understand what you are saying because blocks of text are broken up into small chunks. Bullets and numbers highlight things and present lists clearly. When using bullets, write short sentences. Long, complex bullet points complicate content and don’t encourage readers to move through your copy. Keep in mind that bullets aren’t sentences, if you want a complete sentence, use numbers or a paragraph.
#6 No Sidebar
It’s next to impossible to see a blog without a sidebar. Many bloggers don’t even think about adding a sidebar, they just do it. But the shocking truth is that a sidebar is rarely used by visitors. For new readers, it is a distraction. As mentioned before, you only have 10-20 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention. If they spend 1-2 seconds viewing your sidebar, the chances of getting them to do what you want to go down. Before you decide to use a sidebar, test its effectiveness.
#7 Great Images
Human beings are visual creatures hence using images in blog posts is a must. But any image simply won’t do, you must use the right one. You cannot use random images in your blog posts and expect readers to read your content in its entirety. Sure, finding relevant images is a time-consuming task, but it offers great rewards. Well-thought out images motivate people to read your blog content. You can add photos, charts, and graphs. Research shows that using relevant images in a blog post can increase readership by an incredible 94%!
#8 Content from Experts
When a layman gives us advice, we hardly take notice. But when a thought leader does, we sit up and pay attention. The same applies to blogging. If you want readers to spend more time on page, you must feature content from experts. However, don’t just incorporate it into the page, emphasize it so readers can notice. You can convert text into image files and place them strategically in your post. Even skimmers will slow down when they see expert advice.
#9 Rich Media
Written content has a number of limitations. For starters, it can be hard to comprehend. This is why many bloggers prefer to use rich media to show how something is done. Rich media can also help you to steer clear of writer’s block. You can add a video, an infographic, a soundbite, or a slide deck to your post. Videos add interest to text-heavy posts, infographics raise awareness on topical issues, slideshows tell a story in an orderly manner while soundbites are easy to remember.
#10 Contrasting Colors
Color is the greatest weapon you can use to capture the attention of your readers. If you visit a page that’s all white except for a blue square, where will you look first? At the square, obviously. You should pick two main colors for your blog: a background color and an action color. Train your readers to pay attention to the action color by using it in areas where you want them to take action. For instance, you can use it to highlight important links and email opt-ins. Besides those two colors, your blog should not have a lot of color.
How do you know you’ve created a killer blog post?
When it remains useful long after you’ve published it. Remember that you only get one shot to make a good impression. Use these formatting tactics to ensure your readers spend more time on page.