Engagement with your blog can be measured in many ways—clicks, comments, shares, page views, and more. If you want your content to be as useful and relevant as possible, it's important to consider how to increase reader engagement with each and every piece of writing you produce.
Here are 10 ways to boost reader engagement in your blog posts.
1. Use Short Paragraphs
Keeping your paragraphs short, around three sentences long, can help you structure a post that's easy for readers to follow. That's because short paragraphs are more appealing than longer ones, and they make it easier for your brain to process information.
In fact, people also tend to skim when they see lots of text up front. The same thing happens when there's lots of copy at once on a page. Readers scan rather than read everything thoroughly. Break your content into digestible pieces, which can encourage them to slow down and interact with what you've written.
Shorter paragraphs are easier to read and retain than longer ones. While it can be difficult initially, breaking up content into short sections makes information easier on our eyes and helps us process it better. Break up long pieces of text into shorter paragraphs.
2. Start Each Paragraph With A Strong Lead Sentence
Readers need a reason to stick around for each paragraph. If it isn't immediately obvious why they should care about what you're saying, most people will skip ahead to something that seems more interesting. Start each paragraph with a strong lead sentence, and readers will be more likely to continue reading.
More importantly, limit your use of run-on sentences. Run-ons aren't just annoying to read; they're confusing as well. They make it hard for readers to know where one idea ends and another begins, which makes understanding what you're trying to say harder.
A good rule of thumb is two independent clauses make a sentence; three or more make a run-on. Whenever possible, break them down into separate sentences instead of allowing them to run together.
3. Start Each Paragraph with a Topic Sentence
Writing well is an art, but writing for a popular audience—and one that appreciates brevity—is a science.
Paragraphs are great ways to group related information together and make it easier for readers to digest. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence (which should tell your reader what they're about to read) and follow up with a sentence or two that backs up your point.
Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence or thesis statement that clearly identifies its subject matter and intent. Doing so will help you create paragraphs that are both visually pleasing and easy on your reader's brain cells.
4. Use Bullet Points and Numbered Lists
Most people have a short attention span. To keep them engaged, use lists, bullets, and bold/italic words to break up your writing. For example, instead of writing "Create irresistible titles" write "5 Tips for Creating Irresistible Titles."
Listing tips makes it easier for readers to scan through points quickly, which is perfect if they're looking for a nugget of information that they can quickly absorb before moving on. Bold or italicize items when necessary; it helps grab attention and emphasize important information or calls-to-action.
5. Include Visuals
The images and graphics you include in your posts can instantly bring visual context and clarity to your story, making it much easier for readers to follow along. Visuals also have been shown time and again to boost attention and engagement. You don't need a degree from an art school or photo-editing software—you just need some free software like Canva or PicMonkey.
Even if you're not great at design, it takes only seconds to add an image that is visually related to your topic. Don't be afraid to use stock photos either; there are many good ones available for free. Just make sure they fit with your content!
The most important thing about visuals is that they are relevant to what you are writing about. If you are writing about how to clean a fish, then find a picture of someone cleaning a fish (or better yet, take one yourself). If you are writing about how digital technology has changed our lives, then find an infographic on how digital technology has changed our lives (or better yet, create one yourself).
Take advantage of all of the easy tools available online and get creative with them. The more relevant visuals you can use in your post, the more likely people will read it.
6. Be Consistent In Your Style and Voice
Consistency is key to building trust with your readers. If you have a series of posts about a particular topic, for example, be sure that your writing style and brand voice are consistent throughout. Otherwise, readers will start to wonder whether one post represents your point of view or another.
Establishing an identity as a brand is important for establishing rapport with an audience and making them more likely to interact with you, both by leaving comments on your posts and by sharing them via social media.
7. Give Examples
Readers love examples. When you give an example or two, your readers immediately see how they can use what you're saying and get inspired by it. You can also include anecdotes or stories that paint a vivid picture of how things will be different for your reader if they implement these tips.
Research shows that people respond better to case studies and customer stories than they do to general advice. So offer a few concrete examples of what happens when readers don't follow your advice and make sure it doesn't happen again.
8. Keep It Simple
For many writers, it can be tempting to craft long, elaborate sentences and paragraphs filled with flowery language. But keep your writing as clear and simple as possible. Long sentences aren't only difficult for readers to follow; they often don't convey your message as clearly as shorter ones.
So think about ways you can cut down on longer sentences without losing meaning or sacrificing style and voice. Write in a simple style that is more direct—and easier to read.
9. Tell Stories That Are Relevant To What You're Discussing
When people talk about storytelling, it's easy to think of silly anecdotes or jokes. But not all stories are told with a punchline. A story that is relevant to your topic can be used as a way to get your readers' attention.
For example, if you're talking about technology, share a story of how you first started using technology or some technological mishap that caused you and others trouble. Showing some personality makes people feel more connected with you and lets them see how passionate you are about what you're writing about.
10. Ask Questions, Engage the Audience, Encourage Comments and Feedback
Readers love a post that makes them think. Provoking conversation and encouraging interaction is one of your best ways to boost engagement, but it's not enough. You need to keep asking questions, engaging readers, and encouraging comments. The more you can get people involved in a discussion or debate, the more they will care about what you have to say.
Take risks, be controversial, ask bold questions and voice an opinion—because brain-dead thought leadership is worse than no thought leadership at all. And if someone disagrees with you, great—maybe that means there's something for everyone to learn from each other. Remember, comments help foster relationships between writers and readers.
It's better to write a quality post that engages your readers and contains information they can use than it is to fill your posts with fluff. Readers aren't stupid; they know when you're selling them something, so be honest and make sure they can glean value from what you write.
Focus on providing helpful tips, asking questions that get people thinking and sharing stories or research that will challenge what readers think about a particular topic. This type of content is more likely to elicit a reaction from people who have an opinion on what you've written—which means more interaction for you.