Have you ever wondered whether people are actually reading your blog posts? You know, going through the whole post? And not just skimming through parts of it?
I got curious myself, so I ran a Crazy Egg test to see how far down the page people scroll.
Can you guess what I learned? Only 40% of you actually read each blog post.
With a bit of testing, I’ve been able to get the number to 65%. Here’s what I learned through the process, and here is how you can get similar results:
Lesson #1: Use lots of headings, bullets, lists, and block quotes
Why are books easy to read? Because their content is broken down into bite-size bits through the use of chapters, headings, and bullets. Your blog posts will benefit from the same use of content guides and dividers.
I had my developer run A/B tests on a few of my Quick Sprout blog posts. The original used no headings, while the variation used headings, bullets, lists, and block quotes.
Can you guess what the difference was? By using headings, bullets, lists, and block quotes, I was able to increase the average time you spend reading each blog post by 31 seconds. That small tweak increased your time on site by 17.8%.
As you know, the more time people spend reading each of your blog posts, the higher the chance that they read through the whole post.
Lesson #2: Try to keep your posts under 1,500 words
I’ve tested a lot of different post lengths. I’ve written 500-word posts, 1,000-word posts and even 5,000-word blog posts. To top it off, I’ve written guides that are over 40,000 words.
I learned that you don’t want to read really long posts. The guides are an exception, however. When I write posts that are in excess of 1,500 words, the average time you spend on site doesn’t go up by more than 20 seconds. And I know it’s impossible for you to read an extra 3,500 words in 20 seconds.
Keeping your posts relatively short and to the point will increase the likelihood of them being read in full. What I recommend you do is write more shorter posts instead of fewer longer ones. For example, you are better off writing two blog posts that are 1,500 words each than writing one post that is 3,000 words long.
Lesson #3: Pictures can be distracting
Pictures can help explain your point, so you should use as many of them as possible, right? Although that is true, using too many pictures can actually hurt the readability of your blog posts. It can distract your readers from reading your content.
By running a few scrollmap tests on Crazy Egg, I found that posts containing more than three images tended to get read less by roughly 15% than those with fewer than three images. Interestingly enough, the time on site for posts with three or more images was also shorter by 26 seconds, which is roughly 15% of the average time you spend on my site.
Use images when it makes sense. Just make sure you don’t get carried away with using distracting ones because your goal should be to get people to read your content, not to stare at images, unless you are running an image blog.
Lesson #4: Create a conversation
Have you noticed that I use the words “you” and “I” a lot within my blog posts? I do this because I am trying to create a conversation with you. The last thing I want you to feel is that you are reading an essay because that would be boring. I know that because it would be boring for me.
I’ve been writing blog posts – trying to make them as personable and relatable as possible – for years, which is why I get so many comments on each of my blog posts.
I’ve never A/B-tested essay-style vs conversation-style posts because I would never want to publish a blog post that was written like an essay.
Even without the test, there is one thing I’m confident about when it comes to using a conversational style in blog posts: it helps with readability.
Evidently, you prefer this as well because I get emails like this one every week:
Neil, I just wanted to say thanks for all of the blog posts you have written. They are insightful and have helped me learn online marketing. Your blog is really easy to read and digest the information.
No need for a response.
By creating a conversation, you will see that your blog posts are read more and people are more likely to comment.
Lesson #5: Don’t forget to include a conclusion
Have you noticed that I have a conclusion at the bottom of each of my blog posts? I do this for one specific reason: if you don’t have the time to read my blog post, you can scroll down to the conclusion and get a quick synopsis of it.
I didn’t always write conclusions or clearly label them. What I learned from scroll tests is that by adding a conclusion and clearly labeling it, you can train your readers to scroll further down the page because that one section will explain what your blog post is all about.
By adding a conclusion section to my posts, I was able to get 10% of you to scroll further down the page. It has also created a pattern where a good portion of you scroll down to the end of the post first and then scroll back up to the top to begin reading the post.
Lesson #6: Increase your font size and spacing
By increasing your font size and spacing, you can make your blog posts easier to read. I myself have access to over 13 blogs that I can run tests on and play around with. So I decided to run a quick test to see if I can increase the overall time on site by increasing font size.
What I learned was interesting. Assuming you are picking a readable font type like Arial, Times, or Georgia, you can increase the time your readers spend on your site by increasing your font size.
By increasing the font size from 8 to 9, I was able to increase my average time on site by 13 seconds. By increasing it from 9 to 10, I was able to increase the time on site by another 8 seconds. And by going from 10 to 11, I was able to add another 6 seconds.
Depending on your font type, increasing your font from 11 to 12 or higher won’t help increase your time on site, or that’s at least what I found. It’s probably due to the fact that your text at a font size of 11 is usually easy enough to read. Making it any bigger won’t help much.
Writing great content won’t guarantee that your content will be read. I thought I wrote good content, but only 40% of you actually read the full post. But once I leveraged the tactics above, I was able to increase that number to 65%.
You may not have the time to use all of the suggestions I outlined in this post, but by making simple tweaks to your posts like increasing font size, using headings, or changing your post length, you can quickly increase the number of people reading your blog posts.
How else can you increase your blog’s readability?