We, people, are visual creatures.
Give us the info, and we’ll remember only 10% of it three days after reading. Add pictures to it, and we’ll remember 65%. Any visual content helps us process the information 60,000 times faster and memorize it better.
In this post, you’ll learn how to craft content to get the most out of this special nature. The seven tricks below will help you engage users, hold them, and make them read your content to the end.
1. Start With a Hook
A headline of your content makes users click, while its introduction paragraph lets them see if the content meets their search intent and decide if they want to stay and continue reading.
How to write effective intros for your content?
Source: How to Promote Your Blog
Above is an example of engaging introductions that motivate users to keep reading and learn more.
First, it’s short:
Remember that reading online is 25% slower than print, let alone the fact page visitors read only 20-28% of the words on your page. They won’t spend time reading your text sheets, so you need to hook them right away.
Second, it’s eye-grabbing and relevant:
The author, Brian Dean, used impressive numbers to surprise a reader and evoke curiosity to keep investigating to learn how to reach such results.
Use writing hooks like questions, surprising facts, or pain points to engage readers. You might also want to add a content preview to your introduction for readers to understand they are in the right place.
Brian Dean is a well-known SEO expert and creator of many writing techniques for engaging users and making them stay on a web page, thus influencing its ranking factors (dwell time and bounce rate). In particular, Mr. Dean crafted two formulas for writing introductory paragraphs that bring results:
- APP method, also known as “Agree, Promise, Preview.”
- PPB method, also known as “Preview, Promise, Bridge.”
Both help you keep introductions short, appealing, and straightforward to the reader. APP and PPB intros aren’t time-consuming or challenging for visitors to read, and both are clear for people to understand if the content is worth finishing.
2. Organize Content in Blocks
According to a study from Nielsen Norman Group, people scan a page before reading it. Scientists confirmed that well-formatted texts (those with subheads, images, and lists) are more engaging, while sheets of texts get ignored.
Another study reveals how people process web content: They read by zigzags, beginning in the top-left, moving to the right until the row end, then moving to the left again, and so on.
Source: How People Read Online
That said, the article’s readability depends on three factors:
- Level of motivation
- Search intent
- Content organization
Organize your web content in blocks for a more comfortable read. Put the core information in headings and subheads. And don’t be afraid of repeating the already said information through lists: Readers are more likely to pay attention to a list than a citation of facts via commas.
3. Use Custom Images
Imagine that you are planning a vacation.
Friends recommend you to visit Iceland.
You go to Google and ask, “Why to travel to Iceland?” You click the first two links from SERP and see identical texts, but one goes with illustrations and another — without.
Two identical articles. The first has nothing to grab attention: Sheets of info, but it’s too formal and boring to read. The second one offers less content but provides high-quality, bright images of Iceland’s nature, roads, and people. It’s easier to read and engaging to study to the end.
Illustrations work in the article’s context. They help create an image of what you are writing about and tell a story.
Tip: Create custom images for your content assets instead of publishing those from stocks other bloggers have already used thousands of times. Not only will your audience get original content (think of user experience), but custom images are also great for SEO:
- Google will see them as unique content, which (when optimized right) increases your chances of getting into Google Images and Snippets.
- Custom images can bring you tons of natural backlinks: If informative, high-quality, and super relevant, they get many shares and mentions at third-party resources.
4. Explain Complex Concepts via Graphics
There is no need to write long sentences, use abstruse language patterns, or describe the principle of some concept or mechanism with words. You have a solution: Visualize them with graphics!
Here goes the abstract describing the mechanism of compound interest calculation:
“Compound interest allows you to earn money not only from the initial investment but also from the interest accrued earlier. Thus, at the end of each period, interest is accrued on the entire capital — the initial investment plus the accumulated interest income.”
It’s not that difficult to understand if you read it several times. Alas, users don’t have time for that: YouTube videos, Instagram feeds, and Tik Tok trends are waiting.
For a user to understand your content about complex concepts, use graphics to explain them. Like this:
To help readers better get the concept, remember to support a graphic with some informative caption explaining it.
You don’t have to be a designer to craft graphics, schemes, or infographics for your content assets: Tools like Canva, VistaCreate, and others are free to use, sharing dozens of customizable templates for creating compelling visuals.
5. “Play” With Text
Say you can’t craft graphics or choose illustrations for your content. Don’t give up and don’t publish a text sheet for users to scramble through it in search of meanings. You have alternative instruments to piggyback on its short, structured paragraphs:
- Use emojis and icons. They make text content more visually attractive and grab a reader’s attention, whether you write a blog post, thank you notes, or promo content on social media.
- Consider bold and italic formatting. It helps a reader “catch” fundamental principles while scanning and then stop to learn more details.
- Add examples. They allow you to communicate a message and diversify content to make it more substantial yet digestible.
Source: Employer Branding
6. Add Audio and Video If Applicable
Users don’t have to read the article word by word. If the article is long, they’ll get tired, and neither pictures nor emojis or illustrations will be able to hold their attention.
Will you read that whole article at once? We don’t think so. You’ll get tired after 15 minutes because it’s a definite guide sharing tons of content types by categories: for sales, building brand reputation, handling customer objections, promoting a personal brand, building a network, and so on.
When writing such long reads, use audio and video clips to redirect the user’s attention and give them a break.
7. Format Like a Boss
Proper content formatting leads to better visibility, readability, and overall user experience of your web page. Your writing tricks to crafting scannable content that’s easy (read: comfortable) for users to read are as follows:
- Always left-align your texts to avoid random spacing between words in the content.
- Consider the color combination between your page’s text and background for better readability: Black texts on white backgrounds work best; however, a good practice would be to adjust no less than a 5:1 color-contrast ratio to your website.
- Use proper spacing around subheads: Make spacing before a subhead wider than spacing after it. Such a formatting trick helps readers understand what paragraph a subhead belongs to.
- Avoid complex text structure: The simpler, the better. Title-H2-H2 works best, though Title-H2-H3-H3-H2 is also fine. Avoid 4+ levels structure because it’s hard for users to grasp.
- Leverage a font size for better readability: Use a 14px minimum and avoid using more than three different font sizes on a page.
Another stellar writing trick to “glue” readers to your page and make them stay with you longer is using linking words through writing.
Web writers know linking words like bucket brigades, using them to link ideas and arguments in content, evoke curiosity, and get the audience to read the next paragraph.
Now that you know how critical content formatting is for user experience and your overall content marketing success, it’s time to apply this knowledge in practice.
Not only should your content be comprehensive and valuable for the target audience, but it also needs to follow the rules of web writing you’ve learned in this article. So, do your best to avoid formatting blunders, optimize content for better readability, and organize it in blocks for users to get hooked and process your info to the end.
All these tricks, when done right, are your one-way ticket to stellar SEO and lead generation.