Last updated on August 24th, 2011 at 03:05 pm
It’s normal for bloggers to have varying post lengths. Sometimes we can go for a quick 300-word post (just the specifics) or a lengthy 1,000-word post (really detailed ones). Whatever the post length is, there’s one sure challenge- to make sure that your readers would actually read it from start to finish. Or at least most of it.
In reality, with the large multi-tasking involved in the internet, people rarely have the time to fully focus on a post and read it from the first to the last words. Even if you manage to draw their attention, you’d have to realize that your content will be skimmed just to get to the main essence.
What does this have to do with SEO?
Well, on-site optimization does not only limit itself to the search engines but to the users as well. You have to realize that you’re first and foremost writing for people (and you should) don’t write for search engines alone!
The Goal of Increasing Post Readability
There are two main goals here. The first, and probably the most important, is to retain a reader’s interest in whatever it is you’re writing. And the second is to be able to highlight your key points or message (because that’s the thing you want to be remembered for). It’s also possible that you want a reader to do an action, based on a post (i.e. visit a site/product, click a link etc.) but the bottom line is, for you to be able to invoke a certain action, you must make sure that it’s readable enough in the first place.
And how do we do that? Here are 4 simple tips that shows you how:
TIP # 1: Place images
Aside from it being eye-catching and inviting, post images also help break down large chunks of texts into much more digestible parts for the eye. Remember that we human beings are very visual in nature (hence that explains why most people would rather go to the movie theaters than spend a day reading their books).
I honestly forgot the real stats but to further reinforce this, studies (and analytics shows) that readers are 4x most likely to engage and comment in a post with an image on it than that which only consists of plain black and white texts. Now you know why SEO-Hacker always have an image for every post
TIP #2: Use a light grey background for your post section and dark grey for the text
Do you know why most themes out there are more grey-based than just plain white? Well, aside from aesthetic purposes- there’s actually a useful reason for this. In terms of texts, having a light grey background makes less strenuous for the eyes.
Likewise, same for the texts, it’s much better to use a dark grey color close to black (and not plain black itself. This is because grey (both light and dark) is a relatively cool and relaxing color unlike white background placed in a black text or vise versa. This helps to facilitate easy reading and I’m pretty sure you’ll do your readers a favor even if they don’t realize it.
TIP # 3: Use post formatting to your advantage
Some bloggers are too lazy to do this simple step. It’s relatively easy and it boosts readability a lot. If I were you (and if it suites the post), then go ahead and format headings and subtitles well with <h3>, <h2>, and <h1> tags.
By using this, you can aide the reader from absorbing your main points faster. Instead of the usual numbering, why not use bullets (if you can, customize your bullets!) and even using <blockquote> to emphasize an important paragraph or a line you borrowed from someone else.
TIP #4: It pays to have a steady post length
Readability can also be improved in the long term. Aside from having a good writing style (e.g. funny, engaging, informative, quality etc.), it also pays to have a steady post length to let your readers familiarize well with your entries. For example, DoshDosh dot com may update rarely but this is compensated because he writes long, in-depth entries. Hence, DoshDosh readers are always waiting, eager to read his lengthy posts. On the other hand, there are bloggers like Seth Godin who would update frequently but usually with a very short post length.
While it doesn’t mean you have to forever stick to one regular post length, having a sense of tradition within the way you write (or publish) your posts makes it easier for readers to sync with you (like expecting how much time to devote to your posts or when to wait for the next one).
Basically, making your posts readable involves the simple concept of avoiding to be a black and white newspaper-styled blog. Our brains are trained to be more responsive and engaging to colors (for images) and absorbs information well when you guide it to the most important parts (formatting and highlighting).
Of course, above all, and probably quite cliché now, people read because they want to extract value from it like learning new information or even getting a sense entertainment. You just have to give to them what they want and make sure they don’t lose interest in the process.