Keep the Reader Reading

Writing for the web has become increasingly important over the years. As more and more users flock to the web on a daily basis, online articles and blogs are receiving more viewership. While gazing multiple articles featuring content on how to write for digital mediums I noticed one prominent detail:  articles should be short and scannable.  According to one publication a writer should write no more than 50% of the text they would use in a hard-copy publication.  This can be attributed to web reader’s short attention span and the idea that reading content on the web is more difficult physically than reading text on traditional platforms.  Research also suggests that online readers scan text for the information they want.  Readers want their information quick and in a hurry.  If they don’t get it in a timely fashion, they are off to the next hyperlink!

There are some exceptions of course, and those exceptions are the really good web articles that people read in its entirety.  So how do you keep the reader’s attention span and keep them reading?

1)      Start with a good headline: This is the first thing readers see and if it doesn’t peak their interest initially, they are less likely to be excited about the article. In fact, they probably won’t even read it.  A good headline has key words in it, and it promises a solution or beneficial information.  For example instead of the headline “Fat Burning Foods,” one could try “5 Powerful Foods That Will Help You Burn Fat”

2)      Keep it simple: Articles for the web should be concise, only detailing the information promised in the headline.  Eliminate unnecessary words and cut out the boring parts.  Unless you are writing for personal reasons consider the audience’s attention.  Publish what is useful interesting, and most informative for them. As one author put it “Write for the web, not for your ego.”

3)      Use correct structure: Keep your reader reading with web friendly format! A simple rule to remember is use lots of white space.  Don’t overwhelm the reader with lengthy paragraphs. Embrace the line break! You could also use catchy subtitles to break the content up and bulleted lists that provides a visual break for readers.

4)      Add some or your personality: Nobody wants to read a bland, boring, lifeless article!  What makes articles unique is the author’s voice.  Try to have a light humorous tone when writing.  This will compel the reader to keep reading.  Try to use active voice and exciting verbs.   For example, which sounds more compelling (SPOILER ALERT: I vote B):

  1. You can lose weight by eating apples, strawberries, and bananas.
  2. Blast away the fat by enjoying fresh apples, ripe strawberries, and heart-healthy bananas!

Following these tips can help keep the reader reading, avoiding the fate of most web articles! For more tips, check here.


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