Want to know the truth about what makes content engaging? Let’s assume that you want to get attention for a company’s products or services, or your project or activity. You have about one second to attract a user to your content.
- Headlines matter. Not only do your headlines help with Google ranking, they pull attention to the facts or concepts you are going to present. Spammy (keyword stuffed) headlines don’t work, and never create interest. Craft an original headline that describes the content you are presenting. Make sure there are subheads for each section of your blog or article. Users scan and skip around on webpages. Your subheads will keep them reading.
- Carefully craft the first sentence of your content. That first sentence is more important than any other, as it is what will pull in the reader. Keep it short, to the point, and interesting. Don’t start your blog or article with a long, complex sentence – it’s a deterrent!
- Avoid generalities. If you do not offer relevant information that answers the question asked by the user, you will lose them. Get specific. Give examples, statistics and citations, and above all – answer the question with correct information from trusted sources.
- Do your research. You must offer a fresh viewpoint. The more you have researched a subject, the more you are able to “think with it.” Study up if you are writing about a subject with which you are unfamiliar rather than just “spinning” existing content – it is obvious, stilted and boring.
- Take on the viewpoint of the reader. Your content is FOR the reader, and should be crafted that way, rather than being a place where you show your knowledge by using ten-dollar words. If you use unfamiliar words and terms, readers will leave your page. That does NOT mean to “dumb it down,” but to be aware of the general level of knowledge of a potential client/customer rather than using industry lingo, unless it is correct for the audience you are trying to engage.
- Get a second pair of eyes. All writers needs editors. It is difficult for a writer to edit their own work, and having another (qualified) person read your content is essential.
- Avoid fluff. Sadly, many writers learned to “pad” their content while in school (or college). For online writing, this is a “fail.” Added words and phrases that are unnecessary deter readers. Get to the point.
- Write in declarative sentences. State the facts simply and clearly. Assume the reader wants to get an answer to a question. The more clearly you can give the answer, the better.
- Ask questions. Your reader has questions, and you can present these questions as part of your content, or ask a question within the article, page or blog – it helps the flow.
- Keep a rhythm. Your sentences should be paced for easy reading, with several short sentences before a longer more complex sentence. Keep your paragraphs short. A big block of text will not be read – break it up.
You have created your article, page or blog – now what do you do? It is essential that you add some graphic elements, whether photos, infographics or other visual interest. Video content is excellent if it is relevant and doesn’t drag on forever before hitting the point of interest.
Web users are sophisticated. They know what they are looking for. Present it right, and keep at it. The more relevant content you post, the longer readers will stay on (and return to) your site.