By now you’ve heard the “high-quality content” spiel so many times you probably recite it in your sleep. But one man’s “quality” is another man’s confusing jumble of claptrap. If you’re giving it all you’ve got and you still aren’t hearing applause, maybe you just need to lighten up. Let’s talk about K.I.S.M.E.T. (Keeping It Simple Means Everyone Triumphs)
Maybe You’re Just Trying Too Hard
It’s important to remember that the average visitor reads at an 8th grade level. That means more than most bloggers think.
Reading skills are evaluated based on your ability to recognize and define words, as well as your ability to understand the meaning of those words in the context in which they’re used. It also includes your ability to comprehend and retain the content you read.
The average Internet reader only comprehends and retains 60 percent of what he reads, no matter how concisely it’s written. So, no matter how well you write, the average person is only going to retain a little over half of what you say. And that’s assuming you write for someone who reads at an 8th grade level. This is one reason those mile-long posts aren’t always the best type of content.
Now, we all know how important it is to present yourself as an expert in your niche. And most people think the best way to do that is to throw in a lot of 10 dollar words mixed up with some fancy-schmancy industry jargon. That’s fine if the audience you’re addressing can understand and comprehend those words. But, in general, the people reading your blog can’t.
You need to remember that a lot of the people who come to your blog are going to be first-time visitors. For many of them, this will also be their first introduction to the topic you’re blogging about. These people will not only automatically miss more than 40 percent of your message, they’re going to miss even more if they don’t know the meaning of the 10 dollar words and jargon you’re using.
The very definition of “jargon” should give you a hint about where I’m going next.
Jargon: Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.
Simplifying your language makes it easier for everyone to understand your message, even beginners and first-time visitors. And when your readers understand and retain more of your message, that’s when you really look like an expert. They’ve actually learned something from you. This is how you earn your readers’ trust.
You may have award-winning flowery prose and a command of the language that would put Webster to shame, but if your readers don’t understand what you’re saying, you’re not helping anyone, including yourself.
Should you completely eliminate those 10 dollar words and industry jargon? Of course not. Especially if that’s your actual voice. Using your own voice always brings you closer to your readers, unless you use a lot of offensive language.
But when you do use those words, use it as another opportunity to educate your readers and make sure you somehow include a definition. You can be as blatant as I’ve been where I showed you the definition of “jargon” or you can word your sentences so the reader can more easily get the meaning of those words from the context.
Either way, when you keep your message simple, everyone wins. Your readers get value from your blog and you get more traffic. It’s K.I.S.M.E.T!