I wrote a very popular post recently, about getting more blog comments. This post is all about how to get more blog readers and it starts with a question:
“Have you noticed how some blogs and websites are really difficult to read for any period of time?”
You know the blogs I mean, right? The blogs where you find yourself just skimming the content because after a glance of the page layout, you just don’t feel like reading the whole thing? If you want to attract more blog readers and increase reader engagement on your blog, you need to make reading your posts a comfortable experience. Otherwise, people will just skim your content and miss what you have to say.
There are already millions of posts that explain how to get more readers via SEO / social media etc. This post offers you some easy, yet super-effective ways to massively improve the readability of your blog and by extension, it’s reach, impact and readership.
So, let’s go!
There’s a lot of research, including my own, which suggests that once the width of a content column (that’s the part of the blog you are reading now) goes beyond a certain limit, it becomes less and less readable.
Although some have said that the maximum width should be just 65 characters (including spaces) I have found that there’s almost no difference until you go past 85/90 characters. I did a test a while ago, where I increased the width of the content area on one of my blogs to 100 characters and had to stop after just a week, because of the massive drop in every reader-based metric! I saw a huge drop in the average number of pages per reader, fewer comments and a drop in the number of times a post was shared.
So, if your current blog layout goes beyond 95 characters – consider reducing it.
BTW: The content area here is 502 pixels wide and I use a 15px Arial font, which equals a limit of around 85 characters.
If you want people to be able to comfortably read your blog content, they need to be able to see what you’ve written without squinting! Many blogs use very small font sizes and as such, are way too hard to read on normal monitors and almost impossible to read, on smaller laptops and netbooks etc.
I use a 15px font size here, similar to that used by many other marketing and social media bloggers. You may want to use something a little smaller, but I strongly advise you not to go too small.
Black and white? Not quite!
Most new blogs use black text on a white background. Although black text on a white background REALLY stands out, it can be harsh on the eyes; especially tired eyes! That’s why it’s a really good idea to use a dark grey font on a white background, as used on many popular sites, like; The BBC, Seth Godin’s blog, Problogger and many other leading sites.
On this blog, I use the same shade of grey as The BBC, which is #464646.
Don’t let Bob or Mary screw up your blog
Whenever you make changes to the layout of your blog or website, you will get feedback from people, like Bob and Mary. Bob’s a great guy and has a passion for blogs with really wide content columns and super-small fonts. Mary’s also a wonderful warm human being, who loves those blogs that have jet black text on snow white backgrounds. They are both entitled to their opinions, but you must not change the basics of your blog design based on what Bob or Mary might prefer.
The vocal minority will often unintentionally lead you to make piss-poor decisions about the look and feel of your blog. As bloggers, we need to be a lot smarter than that. We need to look at the facts – The metrics we can measure. If after making a change, you notice; greater engagement, more comments, more people sharing your content, an increase in the number of pages the typical reader reads – then you are on track. Even if Bob or Mary’s intentions were good, they were simply expressing their unique preferences.
Listen to all your readers, not just the vocal minority!
Some advice on making these changes
If you are like me and know nothing about HTML or CSS coding, it can be an expensive pain in the rear, to have to make changes to the layout of your blog.
This is why I recommend you consider doing what I did, and start using the Headway wordpress theme; which will allow you to make changes to your blog, without learning how to code. Headway (affiliate link) lets you make the kind of changes mentioned here, in seconds. In fact, I built this blog from scratch, with zero need for expert help, using Headway. It’s given me total control over the blog and saved me a fortune. It’s also the ONLY product I have ever endorsed here!
Ultimately the decision regarding the look and feel of your blog, is down to you. However, there’s an old saying in business, which assures us that; “success leaves clues.” There’s a reason why so many of the world’s most respected and popular blogs do things in a certain way. They have already done the testing and measuring. Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to the readability element of your blog, it’s a wise move to make the experience as good as possible for your readers.
I’d like to know what additional tips you have, for making content more readable. Equally, do you have any experience of changing any of the elements mentioned in this post?
Let us know what you think!
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Image: TEIA MG