Do you think your content is readable? You get a clear sense with much online content, especially websites, that language is a kind of armour. People are apt to slip too comfortably into professional jargon. While it might mean a lot to them, it may mean a whole lot less to their potential customers.
There is a lot of emphasis on optimising articles and blogs, but less on their readability. However, making your content readable is crucial to its success.
What happens if your digital marketing strategy attracts visitors to your site but when they get there your content lets you down?
The readability of your content should run through everything you do. It’s how you communicate the essence of your business to the world. It’s how you attract, engage and connect with your target audience.
Why Readability Matters
Keep it simple, that’s the main rule. You want your readers to easily digest your content. The Nielsen Norman Group talks about the importance of accessibility in the language we use.
Using plain language does not mean dumbing down. Contrary to what you might think, using complex language and long sentences will not enhance your credibility.
Your obligation should be to your readers, not to your own sense of professional self-esteem.
The aim should be to take whatever concepts and information you need to communicate to your audience and make them as simple as possible to understand.
Look at it this way, if you appear frightened of explaining clearly what it is you do, it might suggest to others that you’ve got something to hide.
If you want your audience to trust you, make sure that they can figure you out from the start.
No one is going to complain that your content is too easy to understand.
Credibility and Transparency
Plain, readable text is not just for simple instructions, it works for experts too. In a business landscape that is increasingly value-led, transparency counts. If the language you use in your communications is clear, it helps get across the idea of your openness.
Regardless of the expertise you have, it won’t count for much if people cannot grasp what you’re talking about.
Credibility comes from the substance behind the stance. The more readable your content, the clearer you can communicate the concept.
Beware of Convention
Just because everyone else in your line of business is doing it doesn’t make it right. People can quickly establish conventions about how they talk in business terms. This is where jargon takes hold.
Now while this might seem okay in a conference of your peers, or with your colleagues, it puts a distance between you and your prospects and customers.
If, for example, when you are working out what your new website should contain, or deciding what to include in a blog, be careful with comparisons.
You might admire someone else’s content from a professional, peer-led viewpoint, but is it really talking to your target audience in the right way?
Put your readers first, always.
The Readable and the Scannable
Almost 80% of internet users scan web pages rather than read them.
Does this mean your efforts at readability are wasted?
Of course not.
This goes hand in hand with the idea of keeping your content simple, and therefore readable.
Writing for people who scan text means breaking it down into digestible blocks. It means using plenty of subheadings and short sentences.
Yes, you’re dealing with a short attention span, but you can respond to the challenge with dynamic content that engages.
Help to direct your online readers to where they need to go. Use the right keywords. Get your most important points in early.
Remember these two things:
- It’s about your customers. If in doubt, where you begin a sentence with we, see if you can change it so it revolves around you.
- Include a call to action. What do you want your readers to do?