Let me ask you a question: If 50 people Tweeted your latest blog post, but none of them actually read it, does it matter?

For years online marketers have stressed the importance of social shares, but do you really know how to get people to read your blog?

Don’t get us wrong, social shares can be absolutely helpful. However, how often do you stop to think about if anyone is actually reading or engaging with the content you put out?

Don’t Always Assume People Read Your Blog Because of Shares

The assumption is that if someone Retweets, Likes or Pins your content, then they read it and enjoyed the content enough to share it. The reality is with content curation being such a huge trend in social media marketing, that’s not always the case. And there’s some proof to back it up.

moz and buzzsumo graph

A study from Moz and Buzzsumo looked at the correlation between the amount of social shares blog posts got and the number of sites linking to those articles. One of the standout findings of the research was:

“Across our total sample of 1 million posts, there was NO overall correlation of shares and links, implying people share and link for different reasons.”

Basically, people share links to content that they aren’t reading.

That’s a problem because if people don’t read the content, they aren’t really engaging with it. The solution? Start getting people to read your blog instead of just sharing it. That way your audience will be more likely to leave comments and link to your content from their own site, which is the most important search engine ranking factor.

moz google influence example

Be sure you have some plan of action when you want to get people to read your blog. You can’t simply post and stand by. To help you out, here are eight tips on how to get people to read your blog:

1. Start With Why

In the insanely popular book Start With Why by Simon Sinek, the author stresses the importance of figuring out your “why.” Your why is your purpose, reason or inspiration for why you do what you do. That doesn’t just apply to your business as a whole. You need to define your why for each piece of content you publish to your blog.

If you have a chance, take a look at Simon’s TED Talk about how to inspire action and the importance of starting with why.

Taking this step is going to allow you to identify what the goal for your blog post is, so you can choose the right topics and craft content specifically for your target reader. The best content is written with purpose and with a particular reader in mind. Have you ever read an article or a book and felt like the writer was speaking directly to you?

The Food Network does a good job at inciting curiosity while pushing readers to click their links. This id the same emotion you want to give to your readers. You want to speak directly to them and this starts by figuring out why you’re creating the post to begin with.

You have to ask “why” for every piece of content. If you don’t have an answer to the “why,” is it worth reading? Would you want to Retweet, share or read the content yourself?

2. Create an Amazing Introduction

We have to face the facts, most people aren’t going to read your entire blog post. Blame it on our short attention spans, busy lifestyles or general disinterest, but it’s the truth.

Slate and Chartbeat researched how people engage with their content and found most of their traffic only reads about 50% of the page.

Percent of article content viewed

And as you can see from this other study performed by Chartbeat on a bigger sample of websites, a large percentage of readers aren’t even scrolling down the page at all.

Percent of content viewed

Luckily you can combat these numbers by starting your blog posts off strong. Your introduction will make or break you. That’s why newspapers commonly use the Inverted Pyramid model when they write stories. With this model, you put the most important information at the beginning of the article. This way, even if someone doesn’t continue to read the entire story, the reader will still get the gist.

Inverted Pryamid Writing

Another option is to build your post like a story. With this approach, you’re going to lead with a compelling setup that intrigues people to keep reading. Readers will want to find out what’s going to happen next as each sentence leads into the next.

You don’t necessarily have to tell a story with each blog post you write. But using some of the different elements of storytelling like setting the stage and painting a picture makes your content a lot more compelling.

Go back and read the very first paragraph of this article. Notice how we set things up in a way to keep you wanting to read more. Asking a question, creating a situation and suspense are all things that entice people in successful storytelling.

Here’s an example from a blog post on Greatist where the writer details her experience eating organic foods. She could have easily done a blog post on the pros and cons of eating organic. But adding a storytelling theme to her article, the blog post becomes a lot more interesting and intriguing because you can’t wait to read what happens at the end.

Blog Storytelling Example

3. Cut The Fluff

Have you ever read an article that just seemed to drag on to the point where you skip to the bottom or exit the site? This tends to frequently occur when the article contains a lot of fluff and very little substance.

Fluff is filler content. The article might repeat the same ideas, have unnecessarily long sentences and contain minimal value. Jay Baer continues to promote this idea by giving tips on how to keep reader’s attention.

jay baer infographic

Writing with more substance and less fluff takes a lot of practice and it’s difficult to do. But here’s a good exercise to start building the habit.

  • Write out your blog post as your normally would
  • Go back and re-read it aloud
  • Look for sentences that repeat and delete the excess
  • Search for sentences that don’t add any value and delete

Think of your blog posts as a movie. Each paragraph or section is like a different scene. You want every scene to serve a purpose. Whether it’s helping to make a transition from one scene to the next, explaining a crucial detail or helping to paint the overall picture, you want each scene of your movie (or blog post in this case) to be a piece of the puzzle.

4. Make it Easy to Skim

If this blog post wasn’t separated with headings, would you have taken the time to get this far? Probably not.

When you write in huge blocks of text with no breaks, you’re begging people not to read it.

In fact, in the 1980’s, Siegfried Vögele, dean of the Institute of Direct Mail in Munich, Germany, conducted research in eye motion. Vögele looked at how people’s eyes traveled during the first few seconds of seeing an unfamiliar piece of text.

His research found that people look at:

  • Photographs or images first
  • Big text like headlines
  • Short paragraphs
  • Stand-out text like captions and bullet lists

That research was specifically for printed text, but it’s even more relevant for the web.

Readers should be able to easily find what they’re looking for within your blog post. With bullet points, numbered headers and good font spacing breaks, you can keep a reader’s attention much better.

sprout blog post example 2
sprout blog example

Switching to this format makes your content a lot less intimidating to readers, so they’re likely to read more of it. Always go through and read your blog posts as if you were a random reader and ask yourself if the layout is easy for you to read.

5. Get Visual

Like you saw in the tip above, the first thing people look for when they see a new piece of text is images. Including pictures in your blog posts is an absolute necessity. Articles with images get 94% more views than articles without them.

blog posts with images

Using images also makes your content easier to understand in some cases. For example, remember the inverted pyramid method we talked about in the second tip? The written description may have made sense to you, but for other people the visual representation makes it a lot more clear. Any time you’re discussing a concept that can be explained visually, it’s a good idea to put in a graphic.

This post by Mike Parkinson shows a great example of how much easier it is to interpret visual information than text. Compare the written description of a circle to the visual.

Circle Text vs Image

There are plenty of ways to add visuals to your content.

  • Custom graphics (like the featured images you see in all of our posts)
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Screenshots
  • Product photos

Images make your blog more visually appealing, which entices people to stick around longer.

6. Make Your Content Responsive

Responsive websites are sites that adapt to different screen sizes. So whether you’re viewing it from your laptop, smartphone or tablet, the proportions change to fit your screen size.

responsive mobile content example

Have you ever tried reading a blog post on a non-responsive site from your phone? There’s a lot of zooming and scrolling from left to right involved and it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable user experience.

Despite the growing number of people that consume content from their phones, a study by Guy Podjarny showed only about 10% to 12% of websites are responsive!

Responsive Website Design Study

Having a responsive site helps ensure you’re not losing out on readers just because your site doesn’t show up correctly on their phone. The good thing is that a lot of popular content management systems like WordPress have plenty of website templates that are responsive. Or if you already have an existing website, you can talk to a Web developer about making your site responsive.

Having a responsive site goes beyond resizing text to fit the screen. If there are any functionalities like email subscribe boxes on your blog, those should be responsive too.

Not only is it bad for the user experience, but Google has flat out stated they now use mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. So you could be harming your search engine optimization with a non-responsive site.

google webmaster example

7. Post at The Right Time

We’ve talked about the importance of publishing social media posts at the right time. But timing is also important when it comes to your blog.

Kissmetrics published an infographic with detailed information about the best time to publish blog posts. Some of the key findings were:

  • Most people read blogs in the morning
  • The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday
  • The average blog gets the most traffic around 11 a.m.
  • The average blog gets the most blog comments on Saturday
best time to blog graphic

Obviously this is going to be different depending on your site, but it gives a good place to start. Monitor your blog’s analytics over time so that you can see which days are the most active. If you notice spikes early on in the week for instance, you can take advantage by putting new content out then. Find out when people are the most active on your blog and try to adjust your publishing schedule around that.

8. Create a Conversation on Social Media

Last year Copyblogger shook their readers up by making the decision to stop allowing blog comments on their site. It seemed like an insane move at the time because they were completely closing off a major line of communication between the site and readers. There were several reasons for closing the comments, but one that stuck out the most was they realized conversations were taking place more on social than in the comments section.

Here’s what Copyblogger puts at the end of each post now instead of a comments section.

Copyblogger closed comments

Pushing people to leave their thoughts and comments on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ helps eliminate the issue of your audience just sharing a link to without reading the article. This action makes it so comments aren’t only found on your blog, but posted on social media for other people to see who may not know about your site.

On top of that, it increases the social chatter for your brand. When people People @mention your company, you increase the overall interest in your brand.

You don’t have to go to the same lengths as Copyblogger and close the comment section of your blog. You can start with something as simple as ending posts by asking readers to continue the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.

Get Help With Social Media Publishing Tools

If you’re still finding your team struggling with posting engaging content to your audience, try using a a social media publishing tool like Sprout Social to make content management easier.

sprout publishing example

With Sprout, you can easily publish multiple networks, monitor audience interaction and get critical social media analytics that truly show how well your content works across social platforms.

Do you have any tips on how to get people to read your blog? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us!