Blogging: 10 Ways To Boost Reader Appeal

How To Improve Blog Usability

Medicine Does your blog suffer from THDR (or Too Hard, Didn’t Read)? Since 94% of online readers leave content without reading 1 word due to poor readability, THDR is far more common than you’d expect.

As a blogger your work crafting each blog post is for nothing if visitors don’t stay long enough to read it. Here’s how to increase time on site by improving reader usability.

With an always connected, multi-screen audience, you must ensure that your content is accessible where, when and how your readers want it. Think dual input, content snacking and time shifting. (For a more in-depth discussion and visuals for online content usability, check these eye tracking findings by Jakob Nielsen.)

Fret not. THDR isn’t a permanent problem. It’s relatively easy to make your blog content easy-to-consume. This means guide your reader through it. If it looks like a piece of dense university research, no one’s going to look further than your headline.

10 actionable blogging tips to optimize for your blog for reader appeal.

  1. Hook readers in with a great title. As David Ogilvy, one of the original Mad Men stated – only 20% of potential readers will get past your headline. Make the most of it especially since in a social sharing world, people may decide to share your content without reading a single word!
  2. Include images. People are visual beings so that photographs are like reader magnets. We take in visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore use a photo at the top of your post to pull readers in and use images through out to make it easier and more fun to consume. Think children’s books. (Here are 7 tips for using photographs in your blog.)
  3. Write short paragraphs. Write 3 to 4 sentences max and focus each paragraph on one idea. (Of course, do as I say, not as I do!) Short paragraphs appear easier to read.  If possible, place them in narrower columns to make it easier to scan. (Evelyn Woods speed-reading anyone?)
  4. Skip the $10 words -Use your audience’s language. Stick to short easy words. If a word is too hard to pronounce or has 3 syllables, readers will leave. 
  5. Use human language. Write your content as if it’s a conversation with real living beings, not some mumbo-jumbo from a corporate entity created by a computer.
  6. Leverage the power of bolding. Highlight the words and phrases you want readers to see, even if they’re not section headings.  Realize that if you use too much bolding, it will have the opposite effect.
  7. Use lists to facilitate information consumption. The goal is to make it easier for readers to scan quickly. Alternatively, incorporate an outline format.
  8. Leverage the power of white space. It underscores the power of your short paragraphs and reduces the feeling of being dense and difficult to understand.
  9. Use type size to provide a visual information guide. Think like an outline. Of course, make sure that all potential readers find your information readable. This means take into consideration the over 40 set who need reading glasses and avoid tiny type. Pay attention to the level of color contrast as well as. This is easy to test. An alternative is to allow readers to adjust the type size.
  10. Avoid marketing hype. Cut any words or information that don’t support the objective of your content. Content marketing and blogging work because they’re jargon-free information.

Take the time to make your blog content as user-friendly as possible to facilitate reader consumption and extend time on site.

What other tips would you recommend to increase blog post consumption?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Join me & Kevin Spacey at Content Marketing World 2014 CMW14_468x60 Meet me in real life at CMW 2014 in Cleveland.

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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marybaileythomas/3336037137/

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  • Ziggy Kinsella

    Useful tips, thanks

  • http://www.annbevans.com/ Ann Bevans

    Great tips. I would underscore your point about too much bolding. Over-formatting is a huge problem that makes a page instantly overwhelming. It’s better to focus on using lots of headings and lists, short paragraphs, and white space.

  • Mary Green

    Hi Heidi, I couldn’t agree more with you about readability on some blogs. The large paragraphs are maddening for me, because I know how they turn people off. I really like lists and probably use bullets far too much on my own site, but I want it to be as fast a read as possible for visitors.

    I tend to write pretty long posts so having lists helps. It’s a good idea to add images as well just to break up the scene.

    I know you’ve mentioned it before, but the headlines throughout a post can be really helpful to skimmers- I’ve read that about half of internet visitors are skimmers, so I’ve been trying to pack more info into the headlines.

    Thanks for posting this reminder, I’ll be sure to share it the social networks. I have no idea how you can write everyday, but it’s always a good read. If you aren’t on Pinterest you should definitely go there, I have a social media site and get more traffic there than other social sites (sometimes). Have a great day!

  • Sandra Konechy

    Hey Heidi, don’t forget one of the biggest issues to avoid: line length. The wider the column the more unreadable your copy becomes. No matter how well written it is.

    As a reader of your emails, this my biggest complaint. PLEASE!!!! throw your your email posts into a fixed width table.

  • http://www.marketingforthegood.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    So if you have 100 unique visitors only 6 of them will actually read your blog? Wow. Thanks for the tips! I will keep all of these in mind and even may edit some past posts.

  • Free Success Kit

    Magnificent! Thank you for publishing your own wonderful post, I love the method that you prepare yourself your site. Thank you for showing keep it up.

    Free Success Kit

  • CSfDuk

    Really great read. I’m new to this blogging game so some very useful info here. Thanks :-)

  • Gary N. Diaz

    Building strong social network relationship is the best way to promote
    the blog.We should try to make strong strategies to get quick traffic.

    http://www.bloggingtips.com/

  • bingbingwa

    How would I do this for a cartoon blog? I mean the cartoons speak for themselves really.