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How to Keep a Reader Engaged with Your Blog Post, from Start to Finish

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A high bounce rate is a common problem for many websites, often indicating a lack of interest in your content or a bad user experience. If the bounce rate for your website is 60 percent, that means that 60 percent of your Web traffic leaves after only viewing the page that they originally landed on.

Blogging is one of the most widely used approaches to engage your traffic with content that educates your audience. This also increases the amount of time they spend on your website—thus decreasing your bounce rate.

According to eMarketer, the average adult in the United States spends more than five hours a day reading digital media. This presents a major opportunity to reach your audience with quality content that captures their attention and gets them to read your content for longer periods.

It’s important to note that a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing, such as when you’re driving traffic to a landing page that is meant to drive a conversion. The bounce rate on a conversion-focused page might be high, but that is because traffic is being driven to covert elsewhere. The bounce rate and the average time on site are most important when you are reviewing the success of your content marketing efforts.

Use the following tips to make your blog content more readable and reduce content fatigue:

Review Your Analytics

First and foremost, visit your Google Analytics account or whatever analytics software you use, and check your most-visited content from the past six months. For example, in Google Analytics, visit the Behavior report, then Site Content, then the All Pages report to see your most-viewed content and which of this content had the highest average time on page and the lowest bounce rate.

Reviewing your blog’s analytics will help highlight your most-readable content and give your writers a guide to which approaches are most successful.

This is a really important step because it allows your team to see what your readers are interested in. If your analytics don’t provide enough insight into what content a reader actually wants to see, then ask them with a survey, incentivize them to leave feedback via email, or ask them about their content interests on social media.

Create a One-to-One Conversation

Engage your reader from the very beginning of a blog post with personal language that you would use in a real conversation, such as second-person point of view. This makes the blog post easier to read, less academic, and provides a better user experience.

This language frames the blog as a conversation that provides value to the reader. Ask questions throughout each section of your blog posts, providing a moment of input and dialogue between the content and the reader.

This is why it is always important to end your blog posts with some form of conclusion. It doesn’t have to be a formal conclusion, like you were taught in English class, but it should prompt readers with one final question about the topic that hopefully leads them to leave feedback.

I often ask a question at the end of my blog posts to make sure I’m really stressing that I want to hear from readers and get their perspective on the topic.

This approach can increase the amount of comments throughout your blog, because readers are far more interested in having an ongoing conversation about the particular topic.

Break Your Content into Short Paragraphs and Craft Concise Sentences

This is a well-known piece of advice, but it’s worth repeating: Keep each paragraph to two to three sentences. Concise sentences make each section easy to read and to-the-point to ensure readers make it through your content.

Snackable blog content is also easier to consume on mobile. Since the average attention span of adults online is about eight seconds, these small sections of text throughout your articles can help deliver moments of value to a reader, even when they are viewing your content from a mobile device.

Include Estimated Read Time

Many websites, publishers, blogs, and platforms today have started to include an estimated read time at the top of their articles to give readers a quick sense of what to expect before they dive into a piece of content.

Blogging platform Medium is known for including the estimated read time at the top right-hand side of all its article to give readers a better understanding of how long it will take them to consume a piece.

According to The New Yorker, in 2011, psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke researched the steps that could be taken to eliminate the “paradox of choice,” a phenomenon that links having more information and options to negative feelings. The pair concluded that people who make decisions faster tend to be happier.

“The more we know about something—including precisely how much time it will consume—the greater the chance we will commit to it,” the article states.

With this information in mind, start experimenting by including the estimated read time feature at the beginning of your article manually or with the use of a widget, plugin, or custom hard-coded feature on your website to give readers an understanding of what they are about to commit to.

Increase Font Size

To make it easier for readers to get through your blog posts, increase the font size anywhere from 12 to 16 points. According to ProBlogger, many websites have a smaller font size (anywhere from nine to 12 points), which can often be difficult for people to read and prevent them from finishing your blog posts.

Take a look at the size of the font on a few popular and highly trafficked blogs, such as Social Triggers, Help Scout’s blog, and Michael Hyatt’s blog, to see how easy it is to read through their content.

Ideal Post Length

Medium—the blogging platform that I mentioned before—researched which article lengths got the most attention from readers, as opposed to the most views. The research found that the ideal length of a blog post on its platform is approximately seven minutes, or 1,600 words.

In its recent post, the company shares data on what posts get the most attention and how your blog can emulate this approach to produce content that is actually read. It’s important to take this advice, run it through your own filter, and apply it to the specific needs of your audience. Use the ideal word length as benchmark for your content, but experiment to see what works best for your blog and its unique audience.

What techniques and tips have helped your blog posts become more readable? Have you been able to reduce your bounce rate with these tips, while increasing time on site? How does your blog gather data from readers to find out what they actually want to read? Share your experiences with making content more readable in the comments below.

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