Do Visitors Actually Read the Content You’ve Put on Your Website?
In short, NO they don’t. Spending extra time on your website content to make sure you explain everything about your product or service in great detail has proven to be ineffective.
It hurts, I know, but the studies conducted by Nielson Norman Group have long established that readers prefer short, concise bits of information that they’re able to scan in order to immediately consume the content they feel is most relevant to them.
But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you should throw in the content towel. In fact, employing these 6 simple practices will dramatically increase the usability of your content and actually help you get your point across more efficiently.
If your article is about widgets, then you’ll want to highlight some relevant keywords about widgets throughout the article. This can be accomplished in various ways:
- A Text Link: Perhaps to a page that goes into more depth about widgets.
- Different Typeface: Such as bold or italics.
- A Different Color: Preferably colors that draw the eye to the words you want emphasized.
Highlighting the relevant keywords throughout your article allows the reader to scan the article and pick out relevant points of interest.
When creating sub-headings don’t try and be sly about it. Just write sub-headings that are purposeful and actually organize the content of your article into sections surrounding a single thought. If you can fit a keyword in one or two of the sub-headings do so but don’t craft your sub-headings around your keywords.
When you have a list of items in a paragraph, break them up by incorporating bulleted list. Bulleted lists make it easier for the reader to scan the content which in turn actually gets them to consume more of it. Some examples of things you might represent as a bulleted list would be:
Whenever you find yourself writing a series of items separated by commas, consider displaying it as a bulleted list. It will serve you article better.
Single Thought Paragraphs
You literally have two to three words worth of time to get your reader decide to keep reading a paragraph before glossing over the content and moving on. If you have more than one thought in your paragraph you increase the users cognitive load and they have to decide what to focus on. The result is that they often lose focus and move on. Therefore it’s important that each paragraph of web content be reduced to a single thought to help keep the readers attention.
Start Your Content With the Conclusion First
Better known as the inverted pyramid, when you start with the conclusion you give the reader what they want/need to know first. Then you support that information in the following paragraphs and end the article with some background information.
Most articles, research papers and reports start off with some background information, follow up with supporting information and then give the results or conclusion at the end. It’s the way most of us have been taught to write but it’s often an exhausting journey to reach the small pot of gold at the end. By using the inverted pyramid you allow the reader to stop at any time while still retaining the most important information of the article.
Reduce Your Word Count by Half
Writing just enough to make your point is always a great way to increase the chance that your reader will consume more of your website content. Long winded articles without the use of the tactics above are far less likely to be read all the way through. In fact, the studies conducted by Nielson Norman Group concluded that 79 percent of the their test users always scanned web content they came across while only 16 percent read the article word-for-word.