Making copy easier to read benefits every level of reader. I don’t mean dumbing it down. I mean writing that increases understanding and the number of people who will actually invest time in reading it. Easy to understand text is key. It’s good for your audience and company. Readers perceive it and who your writing represents as transparent.
There are a number of advantage of clear writing. It takes less effort to decipher. It contains words that people use which gets you more search results. If you think clearly you’ll write clearly.
How do you ensure readability. Use short words. Avoid fancy words and made up terms. Avoid compound sentences. Use active voice. Write on an 8th grade level if you are targeting a broad consumer base. Use sentences and words that correspond with the education level or your target.
You can increase the comprehension of your article and help drive readers to perform an intended action by including user-centric language – terms they are familiar with. Only use specialized words if the audience is specialized and will understand it.
Always start with the conclusion or a main point. People relate better if they know where you are going with your story.
Since most readers are scanners, you’ve got to grab them quickly. Headlines are particularly important. What can you do to make yours more attention grabbing?
1. Make sure the headline works out of context. Make them strong and descriptive. In searches or on mobile devices they often appear alone, stripped of content for make sure they make sense if read alone.
2. Treat them like micro content. They need to be phrases that can be scanned and still give clear ideas.
3. Tell readers something useful. Do they provide value? Are they specific? Avoid broad generic headings. Tell your reader something they don’t know.
4. Don’t succumb to faddish vocabulary.
5. Omit nonessential words. Avoid punctuation. Avoid tangled messages.
6. Front load with strong keywords. The first few words get noticed. Don’t count on people reading to the end of a line. Web visitors spend less than one second on headlines and make the decision to read more.
In digital formats, it’s especially important to communicate immediately at the top of the page that content will be of interest to a reader.
Bloggers need to consider word count when growing a following. Invest your time and people will respond. Did you know blog posts climbs in search results in direct correlation to word count? Google ignores pages with less than 200 words of text. Short text is considered a sign of thin content. Longer posts get more likes and shares. Google also penalizes pages with poor grammar, spelling issues and vague writing.
Becoming a better communicator doesn’t happen overnight. But if you keep practicing and tweaking your skills, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.