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It’s important to come up with a strong headline and back it up with great copy. But if readers find your content hard to read, they could leave your site. To avoid this, you should optimize your content for ease of reading. Use of simple words along with visual aids such as images, charts, graphs, videos, and proper heading structure should help you achieve this.
In this article, we’ll show you some tips on how to write easy-to-read content. We will also recommend a few tools that can help you write simple content.
Why Should Content Be Easy to Read?
A web usability study showed that 79% of web users are ‘scanners’, not readers. This means a typical user will scan the article, picking out individual words and sentences. If the scan deems the page as not very useful, the user won’t bother reading it and promptly skip to the next search result. Users can afford to be picky because of the abundance of good content on the web. With an estimated 3 million new blog posts every day, there’s a lot of competition.
Published content is meant to be read. For this to happen, you need to satisfy the user’s needs in the first 10 seconds as they scan your post. The web user clicked that link to your article because its headline promises an answer to the web user’s question or it has piqued his interest. With content optimized for ease of reading, the user will find more value in reading your content in its entirety.
Maintaining a blog on your WooCommerce store with great, easy-to-read content is an effective way to build traffic and convert visitors to customers. In fact, a survey showed that 57% of companies with a blog acquire customers from their blog.
How to Write Easy-to-Read Content?
Forget about complex sentences, long paragraphs, and difficult words. Keep the message clear. Avoid confusing your readers by trying to sound good. Here’s a list of the things that you can do to ensure your content is easy to read.
- Break up your post with subheadings. Subheadings make the structure of your content clearer and easier to dissect. This is invaluable when writing long articles. Scanners will naturally be guided to the important points that they are searching for.
- Introduce more white space. Adding just enough white space in between paragraphs makes content easier to read. Without line breaks, your article will look like a big block of content that is unreadable.
- Use bulleted and/or numbered lists. Bullet lists are best used when enumerating. Numbered lists, on the other hand, are best used when mentioning steps that need to follow a certain order.
- Structure your paragraphs in the inverted pyramid style. This means you include the most important information at the start of the article and the least important information at the end. This is the structure of most news reports. However, this kind of structure does not work for all audiences so take this with a grain of salt.
- Avoid long paragraphs. If possible, a paragraph should be made up of 3-4 sentences at most and only deal with one idea. Neil Patel actually uses one-sentence paragraphs throughout his blog and it makes his content easier to read.
- Avoid passive voice. Using passive voice is not necessarily wrong but it weakens the clarity of your writing.
- Avoid using adverbs. Adverbs are unnecessary and most of the time is just overly descriptive to the point that it is insulting to the readers. For example, one can say “scream loudly” when in fact screaming is done loudly.
- A complex topic can be broken into a series of posts. While long articles are good in their own right, short articles are easier to read. If you are looking to write a 2000-word article, you can consider writing a series of short articles instead. This can also help you gain a loyal following on your blog as the readers look forward to the next part of the series.
- Add relevant links where needed. When you reference something, it is important to link to it. If your reader wants to learn more about that topic, they can simply click on the link. Linking to your sources also adds to your site’s credibility. Not to mention it can be an opportunity to reach out and network with other people in your niche.
- Use images and other visual content. Images make your post less boring. Choose relevant images and make use of charts and graph as needed. Charts and graphs are especially useful when you are presenting data.
- Use deep captions. These are captions that are two to three sentences long. Along with the image itself, deep captions can catch your reader’s interest, enough for them to read on.
- Proofread before publishing. It is important to get a new set of eyes to review your content before publishing. Proofreading your own content is okay but a fresh set of eyes can spot errors that you may miss.
Tools to Help You Write Easy to Read Content
Here are some online tools that read easy-to-read content.
Hemingway Editor checks if your content is easy to read by identifying hard-to-read sentences. In ‘Edit’ mode, you can make changes and see real-time Hemingway feedback to the right of the editor. Adverbs, use of passive voice, difficult words/phrases and hard to read sentences are highlighted so you can fix them on the fly.
This style checker includes a readability grade level based on the Automated Readability Index. Readability is the ease with which your reader can understand your writing. A good target is 7 to 8, but don’t go over tenth-grade level.
Grammarly offers free contextual spellchecker, grammar, punctation, sentence structure and style checks. With a premium account you also get plagiarism checks, vocabulary enhancement and professional proofreading.
If you choose to install its Chrome extension, you can use this to edit content in Gmail, WordPress, pretty much anywhere you write on the web.
After the Deadline
You can use the After the Deadline (AtD) Demo page to check your content online. After you click ‘Check Writing’, click each underlined word to see the suggestion to select or just ignore.
You can also download AtD and use it as a WordPress plugin and extensions to web browsers. This is free for personal use, and they have free server software for commercial needs.
Expresso can help you analyze and edit content by helping you choose simpler words and identifying weak verbs, filler words, etc. An extensive list of general and editing metrics are found to the right of the editor. Click on one to highlight the associated words. Note that this is still in its beta phase.
Always aim for great content that is easy to read. This will keep readers on your site for longer periods. If you apply the above tips and make use of the online tools, you’re well on your way to writing easy-to-read content. You can even use these tools to optimize your current content and product copy. Soon enough you will see the payoffs in longer session times and probably an increase in conversion.
We hope the tools and formatting techniques here can help you create easy-to-read content. Do you have any other tips to share for writing easy-to-read content? Maybe you know of some other tools that can help. Let us know in the comments.