Writing online is different. It is far more different than writing offline (for print or other media).
This difference is mostly because of the short attention span of people while they are online. Plus the numerous amounts of distractions they can encounter online.
Imagine you buy a book and start reading it. Let’s say you take the book with you to bed everyday and read it for 30 minutes.
Depending upon the size of the book, you would finish reading it in a week or in a month.
But while you’re reading the book for 30 minutes everyday, you’ll only read the book.
You won’t pop into Facebook to check on your friend’s updates, you will not check this-one-email of yours, you won’t be responding to 4 chat messages from 4 of your different friends and so on.
You will only be reading the book.
With a print book, it is easy to keep people focused for the amount of time they’re devoting to read the book.
Just imagine the same people reading your blog posts.
They have numerous things going on in their background and foreground. They have too many distractions.
And they’re way too busy than you could imagine.
Hence they say that the attention span of people on the web is about 3 seconds.
That’s all you’ve got to convince them and make them to stay!
I know, that’s really challenging.
The “why”: Why should we worry about making our readers read the full post?
What if they read only the first sentence or the first paragraph of your post? Why should you make them stay till the end?
Here are few possible reasons (I might be missing some; feel free to add them in the comments!)
1. You have your call to action only in the end of the post.
2. People will only be enticed enough to respond to your call to action only if they read your entire post.
3. Google is watching people’s activity on your site and if they don’t stay longer, that counts as a black mark. For instance, the metrics like bounce rate and average visit duration.
4. You have put your sweat and blood to create that awesome post and you absolutely want your readers to read it fully *sigh*.
How to know what your readers like?
Making your readers to stay till the end of the post is an art.
It is not magic, but magical. You initially never know how to keep your readers – true story. But as you start building up your presence it will be quite easy for you to get a hold on this.
To start with, lets do this.
Go to your Google Analytics Dashboard. On the left you will see a little module called “Content” > “Site Content”. Expand it and look for “Landing pages” and click on it.
Now you will get a list of top landing pages on your blog.
If you look carefully you will see a column titled “Avg. Visit Duration”. If you click on it, you can sort your pages based on average visit duration.
Find out those pages of your blog where people spend time the most.
Take a look at those posts and see what features are common; or what features could have attracted people to stay longer.
Bear in mind though, this factor (the average visit duration) is not just affected by one parameter. People could have simply stayed till the end because they were looking for the same thing (that you were dealing with in that post).
But still there could be other parameters too!
Yet, if you find a list of posts on a particular category where people stay longer, this means that your audience love posts on that category; so start posting more useful content in the same category.
On the other hand, if you can’t find a common “category” or a topic in those posts, then there is something else in those posts that keep your audience.
It could be your writing style, the structure of the post or something similar. Find it out. And make more like those.
Alternatively you can also use your own instinct to find out what people want.
Go to popular blogs in your niche and see what posts make you stay till the end.
Have you recently read a post from Problogger.net till the end? Why did you do so? Find out what made you stay. Use that in your posts. Simple.
Here are some of the resources to help you with this:
What readers want from your next blog post
Why not social count?
I could have simply told you to find out those posts from your blog that have more social shares. But the posts that get shared a lot doesn’t mean they’ve made your readers to stay till the end.
Some posts simply get shared because the heading is good. For some, the image in the post might be good.
And I don’t need to mention that most posts get shared immediately after your readers scan your posts, click share button and then move away.