10 essentials to keep Web readers engaged

Stop fighting for your audience’s attention online. Follow these tips, and they’ll find your content irresistible.


Writing for the Web is tough. Your audience is distracted, and you need to make your story stand out. Here are 10 Web-writing guidelines to keep your audience engaged:

1. Keep it short.

Most people on the Web scan your page. They don’t read it. Usability expert Steve Krug says you should write your Web copy, then cut it in half. Once you cut it in half, cut it in half again.

Get to the point, because every extra 100 words only gets 4.4 seconds of attention. Make those words count!

2. Put keywords at the beginning of your headline.

Your keyword should be the thing people came to the site to read about. Make sure people can spot it quickly so they’ll stay on the page. This is a common mistake bloggers make.

3. Break information into sections.

You’re not writing a thesis or literary novel. Break information into sections to make it easier to digest. Break up long paragraphs by keeping them to just a few sentences each.

4. Write direct sub-headlines.

People scan your content. Use direct sub-headlines to grab your audience’s attention at a glance.

5. Incorporate relevant facts and figures.

Quick facts are easy to digest and share with others. They add a level of engagement to your content and give the audience something to remember. By the way, people read 25 percent slower on a screen compared to print.

6. Break up content with visuals.

A visual can convey a lot more than just words. Use visuals to clarify points and break up blocks of content.

7. Use lists.

Lists:

  • Are easy to scan and digest.
  • Give order to the content.
  • Are easier to read if you use bullets rather than commas.
  • Call out important details.

8. Get to the point.

Think inverted pyramid. Hook your audience in the first paragraph by telling them what the page is about.

9. Lose the jargon.

Use terms your customers and prospects will know. Jargon confuses people and can quickly lose their attention.

10. Link to your other content.

Do you reference an old article on how to write an optimized press release? Link to it.

Brandon Andersen is the manager of global SEO/social media product development at Cision. A version of this article originally appeared on CisionBlog.

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