Increase Your Web Site Traffic – Write for Today’s Readers

Note:  I apologize to the content oriented readers of FamilyMoneyValues – this post is very much off topic.  As a blogger, I visit a lot of websites and have noticed a wide discrepancy in the readability of the articles on the sites.  By publishing this post I hope to inspire bloggers to write for today’s readers!

In today’s electronic world we are bombarded with information. Weeding through the information to get what we need is a time consuming task. If you receive lengthy and disorganized information, you probably ignore it. As writers, we are responsible for satisfying our readers, so how can you write for today’s readers?

In school, most of us are taught how to write for the academic or creative world, not the fast paced business world in which we live.

Here are some tips, courtesy of a class I took in the business world (Write to the Top) on how to write documents that get read and get action.

Get Your Readers Attention
Make your subject line or title specific and informative. If there is a time deadline involved in the material, let your reader know in the title or subject line! If there is urgency involved or you need your reader to take action, say so in the title or subject line.

Instead of a topic or subject of “Increase the Debt Ceiling” write “Increase the Debt Ceiling Before August 2nd to Avoid a Market Crash”.

Introduce Your Material
Provide a short lead in or background paragraph that tells your reader why this material is important to them.

Use Headings to Organize Paragraphs
Most internet readers are ‘skimmers’ and only spend a few seconds glancing through content on any one page – unless you catch their attention.

Help them out by using bold headers in a larger font than the rest of the paragraph’s text. Describe the main idea of the paragraph in the header – let the reader decide ahead of time if they need to read the detail.

Organize subject matter into paragraphs under the appropriate heading.  Use paragraphs correctly, a paragraph should have one key idea – and a topic sentence to go along with it. Each sentence in the paragraph should be about the topic.

Use Transitions
You should tie the topic sentence of a paragraph to the paragraph preceding it.  Make sure to provide transitions between sentences in each paragraph as well.

For example, in “Use Headings to Organize Paragraphs” above, I tried to tie the second sentence to the first by using “Help them out” to link to the last phrase (“unless you catch their attention”) in the prior sentence.

Keep It Brief
Put your paragraphs and sentences on a diet – scrape off the excess adjectives and adverbs.

Paragraphs should be no more than 5-6 lines (3-4 if you are writing technical material).
Use shorter words when they convey the same meaning as longer words. Examples include: use “start” instead of “initiate” or “this is about” instead of “this is in reference to”.

Avoid repetition and use one word instead of several when possible.

Know to Whom Your Pronouns Refer
If you say “Marie wrote a guest post for Miss T’s blog and it was great!’. Does “it” refer to the post or to the blog? Instead, you could say “Marie wrote a guest post for Miss T’s great blog”, or Marie wrote a great guest post for Miss T’s blog”.

Use Active Voice
Instead of writing “the house was roofed by our contractor” use the model Who Did What and say “our contractor (Who) roofed (Did) our house (What). “

Sum It Up
Provide closure to your reader. Let the reader know what to do next. Provide the what and why of your call to action. For example, “By learning to write for today’s reader you will help your readers learn more quickly about finances AND increase traffic to your blog”.

Don’t Publish First Drafts
If possible, ask someone else to proof read your material.  If not possible, use these tips:

  • Put your material aside for at least an hour, then proof read it.
  • Read it slowly aloud, or put a blank piece of paper under each sentence as you slowly read it to yourself.
  • Use the spell check tool, but don’t depend on it – make sure the spelling it gives you is the correct one for your context.

What Do You Get By Writing for Today’s Readers?
I got good results from my emails at work using the above tips. By putting a call to action and a deadline in the subject line of my emails, I got much higher response rates.

You can catch the web surfer’s attention and hold it by using these techniques. Readers will be more likely to comment if they can skim quickly and catch the essence of your post. Readers will more likely return if they can count on organized content. Readers will more likely follow you if they are inclined to return frequently.

For my regular readers, using these writing techniques will not only help you convey your message of family legacy, wealth transfer, financial literacy and philanthrophy to your family members, but will also help you organize your thoughts on the subject at hand.

What tips do you have for writers? What irritates you as you read?