Your success in blogging depends on your ability to connect with your readers. We all know that most people surfing the Web have the attention span of a gnat, and we also know that the average reader doesn’t really “read” every single word, he merely scans your content for the high points. That said, it makes sense then to make your readers’ experience on your blog as enjoyable and informative as possible in the short amount of time allotted.
But there are two ways to define “Readers’ Experience.” First, is the actual experience of reading your blog. How can you improve your content so readers get your message before they attention span disintegrates? Second, is how can you improve your readers’ overall engagement with you and your blog?
Five ways to improve the actual reading experience
- Make your content scannable and easy to read: For example, use bullet points for lists instead of long sentences with lots of commas. Use H2 tags for headings and sub-headings. Use bold or italic sparingly to highlight important words or phrases. Paragraphs should be contain only three or four sentences.
- Improve your load time: Nothing is more frustrating to readers than having to wait forever for your site to load. At best, you have two to three seconds before you lose their attention.
- Put images above the fold: Use quality images the convey the essence of your content and place them above the fold where they’ll immediately capture your visitors’ attention.
- Use relevant keywords for better search results: Attracting tons of traffic with irrelevant keywords doesn’t do you any good and it just makes those searchers angry. Use relevant keywords so people aren’t surprised when they come to your blog.
- Get rid of clutter and provide clear, easy navigation: Yes, get rid of all the banners and junk you have in the sidebar. No one’s clicking on it anyway. Now, make sure your visitors can easily navigate your site. Use relevant keywords to label categories. Use anchor text links in your sidebars to point visitors to popular older content. Make sure your readers can easily find any information they’re looking for and point them to posts they might overlook.
Five ways to improve your readers’ overall experience and increase engagement
- Approve/Respond to comments quickly: When someone leaves a comment on your blog they want it to appear now, not tomorrow or two days from now when the discussion is no longer active. If you have an active blog keep a tab open so you can check comments constantly.
- Connect with one specific reader: Send one reader a personal email. Better yet, allow one reader to contact you via Skype. Connect personally with one new reader each week and soon you’ll have a network of helpful, loyal fans.
- Use videos to connect: Choose one or two questions from your readers each week and answer them with a video post. Make sure you credit the reader. If they have a blog, include a link out for them, too.
- Spotlight one of your readers in a blog post: Conduct an email interview or visit their blog to learn more about them. Let them know beforehand so they can send you images and any links they’d like you to use.
- Host a Twitter Chat: Host a Twitter Chat and just watch the Tweets start spreading. It’s easy, too. Just choose a hashtag, a date and time and promote ahead of time and you’ll have a blast. Over time, your chat attendance will explode!