28 October 2013

Skipping the Formalities to Bring in Blog Traffic

Think of the most unimaginative business form letter you’ve ever read. It might have been impersonal, it might have included legalese and other industry-specific jargon. This is the type of writing you should avoid as you roll out a blog content strategy.
Heavy, formal language can make your blog posts inaccessible, scaring away readers as they’re faced with intimidating walls of text. You must walk a fine line – as a blogger, you shouldn’t have to dumb content down for your readers. You can deploy casual language and formats to make your content easier for web audiences to read.
Accessible Language
Search through your inbox and find examples of correspondences, ads, and other messages with dense language. This content might contain difficult acronyms with no explanations, unnecessary terms, and wordy phrases. These mistakes can obscure your blogging. First, churn out the initial draft of your article. Read it aloud and trim the fat. Delete phrases that don’t contribute anything to the meaning of your blog post. Remove legal terminology (if possible) and explain acronyms used.
If you’re having a difficult time omitting formalities, try to adopt a colloquial tone. Pretend that you are narrating or explaining the topic to a close friend or family member. The key is accessible and plain language – this makes your content easier to read for all audiences. If you constantly use stuffy or academic language, you might alienate blog readers.
Even if you are writing for a specialized, niche audience, you will draw more attention by catering to a broad knowledge level. If you must use industry terminology, be sure to qualify these words with basic definitions. Get to know your audience and use local colloquial phrases to connect with readers.
Bloggers can check out the plain language guidelines used by the United States government. These style tips are used by federal government agencies to write clear, easy-to-understand forms, notices, and signage. This philosophy is also used in newsrooms, as journalists write content for the general public. These professional writers understand that publications can increase their reach by catering to a wide readership.
Formatting Considerations
Photo by erikrasmuss
Remember your formal rhetoric training? Remember your standard essay formats from high school and college, with a thesis body and conclusion? We’re going to bend those formal writing styles quite a bit, so that your articles are easier for people to read on the web. It turns out that readers consume information differently online than on paper.
A study by the Nielson Norman Group revealed that online readers skim through content. They don’t usually read word-for-word. Web users have an easier time digesting an article if it includes bullet points, sub headers, and leads with conclusive hooks.
Readers are trying to get to the point quickly as they read online, jumping from paragraph to paragraph to glean valuable text. Since we naturally adjust our reading tendencies online, bloggers must also adjust their writing styles to accommodate digital mediums.
Large walls of text and formal language can make it harder for readers to skim through your piece. Long-winded, bulky writing can lead readers to hit the “Back” button and jump away to an easier article. Think of how your audiences interact with your web page. They’re probably checking your blog quickly during a break, before they jump into another app or website.
These readers don’t have time to sift through indecipherable language and walls of text. Mix your formatting up with spaces, sub headers, and bold text to keep your readers engaged.
Brush up on your readability standards and practice a less formal voice. Examine government communications and mainstream news to see how federal workers and journalists create clear messages with plain language. Local Forlocations listings can help you learn more about key audience demographics, so that you can incorporate colloquial phrases and better connect with nearby readers. Dropping formal phrases and formatting can increase your overall readership and lead to gains in web traffic.