Let me ask you a question: If 50 people Tweeted your latest blog post, but none of them actually read it, does it matter?
For years online marketers have stressed the importance of getting social shares for your content. Don’t get us wrong, social shares can be absolutely helpful. However, how often do we stop to think about if anyone is actually reading or engaging with the content we put out?
The assumption is that if someone Retweets, Likes or Pins your content then they read it and enjoyed it so much they wanted to share it. But the reality is that with content curation being such a huge trend in social media marketing, that’s not always the case. And there’s some proof to back it up.
A study from Moz and Buzzsumo looked at the correlation between the amount of social shares blog posts got and the number of sites linking to those articles. One of the standout findings of the research was:
“Across our total sample of 1 million posts, there was NO overall correlation of shares and links, implying people share and link for different reasons.”
Basically, people share links to content that they aren’t reading.
That’s a problem because if people don’t read the content, they aren’t really engaging with it. The solution? Start getting people to read your blog instead of just sharing it. That way your audience will be more likely to leave comments and link to your content from their own site, which is the most important search engine ranking factor.
Here’s eight tips on how to get people to read your blog:
1. Start With Why
In the insanely popular book Start With Why by Simon Sinek, the author stresses the importance of figuring out your “why.” Your why is your purpose, reason or inspiration for why you do what you do. That doesn’t just apply to your business as a whole. You need to define your why for each piece of content you publish to your blog.
If you have a chance, take a look at Simon’s TED Talk about how to inspire action and the importance of starting with why.
Taking this step is going to allow you to identify what the goal for your blog post is, so you can choose the right topics and craft content specifically for your target reader. The best content is written with purpose and with a particular reader in mind. Have you ever read an article or a book and felt like the writer was speaking directly to you? That’s the same emotion you want to give to your readers. And that starts with figuring out why you’re creating the post to begin with.
Here’s a spoiler alert: your why is not to generate leads and make money. Those things are end results. Let’s break down the why for the article you’re reading right now. It would look like something along the lines of:
Notice how we defined the problem that we noticed in the marketplace and why we felt it needed to be fixed. Then we connected that back to the focus of the article. Get in the habit of doing this for your own blog posts and you’ll set yourself up on the right path from the start.
2. Create an Amazing Introduction
We have to face the facts, most people aren’t going to read your entire blog post. Blame it on our short attention spans, busy lifestyles or general disinterest, but it’s the truth.
Slate and Chartbeat researched how people engage with their content and found most of their traffic only reads about 50% of the page.
And as you can see from this other study performed by Chartbeat on a bigger sample of websites, a large percentage of readers aren’t even scrolling down the page at all.
Luckily you can combat these numbers by starting your blog posts off strong. Your introduction will make or break you. That’s why newspapers commonly use the Inverted Pyramid model when they write stories. With this model, you put the most important information at the beginning of the article. This way, even if someone doesn’t continue to read the entire story, the reader will still get the gist.
Another option is to build your post like a story. With this approach, you’re going to lead with a compelling setup that intrigues people to keep reading. Readers will want to find out what’s going to happen next as each sentence leads into the next.
You don’t necessarily have to tell a story with each blog post you write. But using some of the different elements of storytelling like setting the stage and painting a picture makes your content a lot more compelling.
Go back and read the very first paragraph of this article. Notice how we set things up in a way to keep you wanting to read more. Asking a question, creating a situation and suspense are all things that entice people in successful storytelling.
Here’s an example from a blog post on Greatist where the writer details her experience eating organic foods. She could have easily done a blog post on the pros and cons of eating organic. But adding a storytelling theme to her article, the blog post becomes a lot more interesting and intriguing because you can’t wait to read what happens at the end.
3. Cut The Fluff
Have you ever read an article that just seemed to drag on to the point where you skip to the bottom or exit the site? This tends to frequently occur when the article contains a lot of fluff and very little substance.
Fluff is basically filler content. The article might repeat the same ideas, have unnecessarily long sentences and contain minimal value.
Writing with more substance and less fluff takes a lot of practice and it’s difficult to do. But here’s a good exercise to start building the habit.
- Write out your blog post as your normally would
- Go back and re-read it aloud
- Look for sentences that repeat and delete the excess
- Search for sentences that don’t add any value and delete
Think of your blog posts as a movie. Each paragraph or section is like a different scene. You want every scene to serve a purpose. Whether it’s helping to make a transition from one scene to the next, explaining a crucial detail or helping to paint the overall picture, you want each scene of your movie (or blog post in this case) to be a piece of the puzzle.
4. Make it Easy to Skim
If this blog post wasn’t separated with headings, would you have taken the time to get this far? Probably not.
When you write in huge blocks of text with no breaks, you’re begging people not to read it. When readers arrive to your blog post and see a big wall of text, they make assumptions like:
- This is a lot to read
- I’ll read this when I have more time
- This looks boring
Instead of being a helpful piece of content, now your blog post has become a task or chore in the reader’s eyes. You’re asking them to give up more of their most valuable asset, which is time.
In the 1980’s, Siegfried Vögele, dean of the Institute of Direct Mail in Munich, Germany, conducted research in eye motion. Vögele looked at how people’s eyes traveled during the first few seconds of seeing an unfamiliar piece of text.
His research found that people look at:
- Photographs or images first
- Big text like headlines
- Short paragraphs
- Stand-out text like captions and bullet lists
That research was specifically for printed text, but it’s even more relevant for the Web.
Readers should be able to easily find what they’re looking for within your blog post. With this post for example, you can scroll through and see what the 8 different tips are even if you don’t feel like reading the entire article. Once you find a tip that interests you the most, you can go more in depth.
Switching to this format makes your content a lot less intimidating to readers, so they’re likely to read more of it. Always go through and read your blog posts as if you were a random reader and ask yourself if the layout is easy for you to read.
5. Get Visual
Like you saw in the tip above, the first thing people look for when they see a new piece of text is images. Including pictures in your blog posts is an absolute necessity. Articles with images get 94% more views than articles without them.
Using images also makes your content easier to understand in some cases. For example, remember the inverted pyramid method we talked about in the second tip? The written description may have made sense to you, but for other people the visual representation makes it a lot more clear. Any time you’re discussing a concept that can be explained visually, it’s a good idea to put in a graphic.
This post by Mike Parkinson shows a great example of how much easier it is to interpret visual information than text. Compare the written description of a circle to the visual.
There are plenty of ways to add visuals to your content.
- Custom graphics (like the featured images you see in all of our posts)
- Product photos
Images make your blog more visually appealing, which entices people to stick around longer.
6. Make Your Content Responsive
Responsive websites are sites that adapt to different screen sizes. So whether you’re viewing it from your laptop, smartphone or tablet, the proportions change to fit your screen size.
Have you ever tried reading a blog post on a non-responsive site from your phone? There’s a lot of zooming and scrolling from left to right involved and it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable user experience.
Despite the growing number of people that consume content from their phones, a study by Guy Podjarny showed only about 10% to 12% of websites are responsive!
Having a responsive site helps ensure you’re not losing out on readers just because your site doesn’t show up correctly on their phone. The good thing is that a lot of popular content management systems like WordPress have plenty of website templates that are responsive. Or if you already have an existing website, you can talk to a Web developer about making your site responsive.
Having a responsive site goes beyond resizing text to fit the screen. If there are any functionalities like email subscribe boxes on your blog, those should be responsive too.
Not only is it bad for the user experience, but Google has flat out stated they now use mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. So you could be harming your search engine optimization with a non-responsive site.
7. Post at The Right Time
We’ve talked about the importance of publishing social media posts at the right time. But timing is also important when it comes to your blog.
Kissmetrics published an infographic with detailed information about the best time to publish blog posts. Some of the key findings were:
- Most people read blogs in the morning
- The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday
- The average blog gets the most traffic around 11 a.m.
- The average blog gets the most blog comments on Saturday
Obviously this is going to be different depending on your site, but it gives a good place to start. Monitor your blog’s analytics over time so that you can see which days are the most active. If you notice spikes early on in the week for instance, you can take advantage by putting new content out then. Find out when people are the most active on your blog and try to adjust your publishing schedule around that.
8. Create a Conversation on Social Media
Last year Copyblogger shook their readers up by making the decision to stop allowing blog comments on their site. It seemed like an insane move at the time because they were completely closing off a major line of communication between the site and readers. There were several reasons for closing the comments, but one that stuck out the most was they realized conversations were taking place more on social than in the comments section.
Here’s what Copyblogger puts at the end of each post now instead of a comments section.
Pushing people to leave their thoughts and comments on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ helps eliminate the issue of your audience just sharing a link to without reading the article. This action makes it so comments aren’t only found on your blog, but posted on social media for other people to see who may not know about your site.
On top of that, it increases the social chatter for your brand. When people People @mention your company, you increase the overall interest in your brand.
You don’t have to go to the same lengths as Copyblogger and close the comment section of your blog. You can start with something as simple as ending posts by asking readers to continue the conversation on Twitter or Facebook. Once their followers and friends start to see their comments, they’ll be more likely to check out your blog post too and actually read it so they can join in on the discussion.
Did You Read it All?
Congratulations and a big thanks for making it to the end of this post. From the data we showed you in the beginning, you now realize how much of a big deal this is! So here’s one last bonus tip for you. Focus on making the best blog posts possible. If your content is weak, people wont read it.
Getting people to read your blog might seem difficult at first. But if you follow all of the tips we laid out, you’ll be much more likely to get your audience to stick around to the end and engage with the content you’re working so hard to create.
Do you have any tips on how to get people to read your blog? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us!