Write to Help Your Reader
by: Amy Donald, Copywriter
Five tips to make blog posts and articles relevant and readable
“Cut the copy!” We’ve all seen the statistics – people read more when they see fewer words in front of them.
Cutting copy increases readership. But something else does too: making our copy better.
When readers engage, long-form copy (1,000+ words) actually lands higher search rankings – because it can offer unique value. Just because “nobody reads anymore” doesn’t mean they can’t. They just need a reason to, and they need to be fulfilled when they get to the end.
Here are five ways we can do that.
1: Address a real question.
Research is essential. Just like with all marketing activities, start by knowing to whom you’re speaking – and what they’re looking for. Readers find value in your piece when you answer questions they’re already asking.
2: Deliver on the promise.
How did you get the reader into your piece? Was it a snazzy headline, a thoughtfully crafted Facebook post, a compelling digital ad? How did you tap into your reader’s pain point or burning question?
Your job now is to fulfill the click. Your piece has readership because you promised something. Now deliver on it.
Think of the ad or teaser + the headline + the page content as one cohesive package. They all answer to one another, and to the reader. A disconnect leads to a negative brand experience – and Google’s SEO algorithm notices, too.
3: Carry the reader along.
Don’t make your readers work hard to understand what you’re saying. The job of each paragraph isn’t to test their comprehension abilities; it’s to take them to the next one. If they’re absorbing your content without much effort, they’re getting a good ROI. Which means they’re likely to keep going.
Practically speaking, readers skip long paragraphs, so break them up. And recognize that copywriting is not an opportunity to show off your Herculean vocabulary. If necessary, use that thesaurus to find shorter words to say the same thing.
When I write a first draft, I limit self-editing. Then I go back and optimize it. Take your writing... and make it reading.
4: Pull in “scanners” with display copy.
Ann Wylie from Wylie Communications has the facts. 79% of web visitors scan, not read. That’s because people click on links with a specific purpose in mind, and they peruse to find the information they’re looking for. When you write for the all-in reader, you’re only writing to 21% of your audience.
Make sure your main points are reflected in the display copy. That means headers, image captions, lists, bolded sentences and links – any copy that will stand out on a web page to a scanner. Display copy has the power to turn scanners into readers. And even if it doesn’t, your key messages will still get absorbed.
5: Use length responsibly.
We copywriters need to stick together and keep long-form copy alive. When you write a lot of words: write with purpose!
Each paragraph needs to contribute to the goal of your piece. Long-form content gives you the time and space to connect with readers, meet their pain points and bring them to a solution – but if your topic only calls for a few paragraphs to get your message across, cap it there. (Google is on to the writers who ramble on just to increase the word count.)
What are your top strategies for increasing readership? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s swap more copywriting tips!