Any time that you are creating content that is designed for people to read, the content’s overall readability will need to be one of your top priorities. By creating content that is actually readable, you will be able to keep your audience’s attention for longer and also be more likely to achieve your content goals.
The principle of readability is quite simple. If your content is designed for a general audience, then you will want to assure that this content can be absorbed by a reasonable person as easily as possible. Though you do not want to sound condescending with your tone, alienating your audience will rarely be beneficial.
But while the principle of readability might be somewhat straightforward, the strategies for making readable content can be considerably more complex. Even if your content sounds good to you as you are reading over it, that does not necessarily mean that it will effectively resonate with your audience.
Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to make your content more readable and ultimately more accessible. Improved readability is one of the surest ways that your website can eventually be featured on the front page of various search engines. Unsurprisingly, readability is the center point of many businesses’ digital marketing campaigns.
In this article, we will discuss five of the most common strategies for making digital content more readable. Whether you are looking for content marketing in Denver, or anywhere else in the world, it is important to work with someone you can trust.
When comparing these strategies, it will be important to remember that this content is not being made for you, but for the people you are hoping will read (or at least click on) it. Making an effort to increase readability and search engine optimization (SEO) can have a profound effect on your website’s success.
Written language is an art that involves carefully expressing some idea to some group (or individual) who is on the receiving end. For example, by simply including the phrase “red elephant”, this article has clearly created an image in your head. It has also created a common bond through our ability to mutually experience an idea.
However, while some ideas (such as a red elephant) may have universal definitions, the way that these ideas are received will not always be the same. This is why it is very important for you to clearly identify who you are trying to reach before developing a specific content strategy.
There are many different ways that you can potentially define your target market.
- Demographics (age, income, race, gender, etc.)
- Geographic location
- Hobbies, interests, and profession
- Sites visited, publications read, sources trusted, etc.
Only by knowing who you are attempting to speak to will you be able to effectively deliver a message.
As you probably already know from your own experience as a reader, one of the surest ways that you can turn someone away online is by including large, dense paragraphs without any subheadings. Even if what you have written is brilliant, these sorts of paragraphs tend to needlessly overwhelm the reader and will likely never be read in their entirety.
Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to make your paragraphs more manageable:
- Include ample headings throughout the body of the text (at least every 10-20 sentences)
- Incorporate various bullet point lists in order to minimize visual clutter (such as this list you are reading right now)
- Minimize your paragraph length to 3-5 sentences—if an idea requires more than this, consider revising the form you are presenting it in
- Keep your sentences simple. Excessive amounts of run-on sentences will likely be unappealing
Naturally, if you are catering your content to a sophisticated audience (such as medical SEO, financial copywriting, etc.), then larger paragraphs may be more acceptable. However, even in highly specialized fields, breaking down information in a way that is easy to digest will be very beneficial.
The term “world wide web” is used so often that many people have begun to forget its original meaning. However, the web component of this phrase is actually very important. Instead of viewing the internet as a series of isolated sites, it is important to recognize that most of these sites are carefully linked together (in a very “web”-like format).
One of the best ways to increase the general readability of your website is to actively include a variety of in-text links. These links can help your readers find more information about the components of your content that interests them the most—instead of explaining each new concept that is being mentioned, you can save time by providing a link to a place where that information is already available.
However, using an excessive amount of links can negate their general impact. When incorporating links into your content, relevance, authority (trustworthiness), and overall usefulness should all be actively accounted for.
As you approach the end of an article, it can be very tempting to claim your work as good and call it a day. While you may be able to get away with occasionally skimming over your content, there are seemingly countless articles in circulation that could have been incredible were it not for poor editing.
The first things you should check for while editing are spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and various formatting issues. But even once something seems “good” according to Microsoft Word, that doesn’t mean your work is complete. Using readability tools can also help improve your content. Though these (non-human) tools should be interpreted with a grain of salt, they certainly provide a useful way for you to get started with editing.
Even if you consider yourself to be a writer or someone who is good at communicating, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all writing and communication activities will come naturally. Creating search engine optimized content is a highly specialized skill that requires years of experience within the industry. As is the case with most components of running a business, there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help.
The best content marketing & SEO companies will be able to make your content readable, useful, factually accurate, and capable of reaching out to a very wide audience.
There is no doubt that creating content that is objectively readable is an underrated art. But by paying attention to some important details and reaching out for help when necessary, you will be able to significantly improve your content and also improve your website as a whole.