Every writer strives to be better. After all, it is an art form but one that can be learnt and constantly improved.

But writing for an online audience isn’t just about grammar, spelling and finding your own style. A lot of it is actually about keeping people’s attention.

Why is this important? Because you want people to spend longer on your site. To read more of your content. Google also use these cues from your site in their ranking algorithm, so happy people = happy Google.

To keep people’s attention with your writing, follow these tips:

1. Get to the point QUICK.

When somebody is reading online, they have such a low attention span. Think about it:

When you’re reading an article in a magazine or a book, the chances are you’ll take a punt on it if you’re not enjoying it immediately.

On a website? If you’re not finding what you’re looking for, or are getting bored then you’ll flick that little X faster than you can sa…

2. Use short sentences.

As a rough guide, don’t use more than 20 words. It’s much harder to read on a screen than it is in a book. Using shorter sentences also means that people can scan read a lot easier. As a quick hint, when writing in Word, that’s about one line.

3. Use headings.

I’m not just talking about using bold, make your section titles larger (H2/H3). This helps scan readers to know what your article is about to find the right section. It also helps to break up large sections of text.

4. Use short paragraphs.

Seeing a blog with a large block of text is very off putting visually. It makes the reader feel like it will be hard work to read.

5. Use lists and bullets.

Who doesn’t love a good list or bullet point? These help to summarise information and act as a good visual aid.

6. Always think KISS.

KISS means ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.

If you’re trying to make your writing sound deep and meaningful? Please don’t. When people try to write to make themselves sound clever, it actually has the opposite effect. Write from the heart and use small words. Normal words.

As a starter, here are my top 3 words that I’d NEVER use, with those that I’d use instead.

  • Whilst – while
  • Utilise – use
  • Thus – so

Remember, you’re not writing an essay to a professor – if you don’t use the word in normal life? Don’t use it on your blog.

7. Use images.

Pictures speak louder than words. Your writing could be fantastic, but if the page doesn’t have an image on it? It will put some people off. If you don’t have your own, you can use free stock photos as long as it’s relevant.