Will People Read That Much Writing on the Web?
Your reaction is most likely, “Whoa! No one is going to read that much on the web!”
Quite possibly that’s true. Research indicates that people tend to scan on the web rather than read every word verbatim. At the same time, web visitors will also slow down and actually read paragraphs that interest them.
The more depth with which you cover a topic, the more likely Google will find that your content matches the user’s intent. As we discussed in our recent blog, 25 Worst SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2019, understanding the user’s intent is key to Google search return pages.
How to Make Your Web Writing Digestible
How do you cover a topic and not waste your time or money on a long diatribe that people will neither read nor scan? Again, web research points to the answer.
Most often, people read or scan on the internet in an F-pattern. In other words, they tend to read across the top for a few lines and then scan down the left-hand column.
You can help your readers scan the content by applying the following website techniques:
Use relevant headers and subheads.
Your heads and subheads should include one H1 and as many H2s as you need. Subheads under your H2s would be H3s, and so forth. Use them as you would use an outline to your content. Do not use these as design elements. Instead, use them to structure your information.
Place your most important information first.
Visitors are most likely to see and READ this content.
It’s easier to scan down the left-hand side of the page
Keep sentences short.
Sentences of no more than 10-12 words are sufficient. But vary sentence length for interest.
Write brief paragraphs.
Just 2-4 sentences per paragraph will suffice.
Bold or italicize key concepts.
This accentuation will make key ideas pop.
Use capitalization sparingly.
Once a go-to solution for emphasis, capitalization may scream at readers. Minimize the use of all uppercase letters. Use them sparingly or when you want to wake up, shock, or even yell at your visitors.
Add links that go to other pages within your website.
These links are called internal links.
Create links that direct to other pages outside your website.
Outside links are called external links.
Include imagery to break up the words.
People love visual content, and it can create more interest. Plus, you can re-use the imagery in social media posts.
Insert page breaks, so copy looks less daunting.
Breaking content into chunks keeps it from being overwhelming.
Don’t start your bullets or sentences with the same word.
Vary your content so readers don’t gloss over the words.
(By the way, many of these web best practices can also help with long emails where you need to provide written documentation. Otherwise, good old-fashioned conversations work, too!)
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