Rather than keep you here for an hour reading lengthy blog writing tips, I’ve compiled my favorite practices into 5 short steps. Okay, short-ISH. The ish is important.
These tips are focused particularly on readability. Not only does this make for a better user experience, a high-readability score is incredibly useful for SEO purposes.
First, let’s quickly discuss exactly what readability means in terms of blog writing.
What is readability?
Readability is essentially how easy it is to read a piece of writing.
Readability scores are often based on grade level. In many cases, the lower the grade level, the better. Let’s say something has a grade 8 reading level. That means it’s something that could be read and understood by an eighth grader.
If you’re focused on more technical and analytical writing, you can expect your readability score to be lower. And that’s okay. Naturally, this type of content requires a higher level of comprehension.
In terms of SEO blog writing, readability is also important.
When spiders “crawl” your site, they look at how easy it is to interpret the content (along with many other things). If something is really difficult to read, the algorithm may determine the piece isn’t as useful for readers as another, more readable post on the topic.
That being said, there’s a fine line between being TOO easy to read (patronizing is a no-no!) and TOO difficult to read.
To help you strike that balance, utilize these five blog writing tips focused on readability.
5 quick blog writing tips to increase traffic & readability
Now, let’s dive in and help you get the blog traffic you’re looking for!
Use shorter sentences
Our attention span is shorter than ever, folks. So, what does that mean for blog readability?
It means shorter sentences are where it’s at. Same goes for paragraphs. Keep them to two or three sentences.
See what I did there?
A quick way to cut your sentence length down is looking for conjunctions.
Let’s go back to school for a minute and do a refresher on conjunctions. These are the words that connect two thoughts or phrases in the same sentence. Words like and, but, or so.
Here’s an example:
I love SEO copywriting AND content writing makes me so happy.
There’s really nothing inherently wrong with that sentence. But if you’re really focused on readability, try breaking it up even further. If you want to make that sentence even more readable, you’d write it like this:
I love SEO copywriting. And content writing makes me happy.
Yes, it’s okay to start a sentence with a conjunction in blog writing. We’re not doing formal or technical writing. Not to mention, using transition words like and, but, and so are great for readability.
Now here’s an example where we remove the conjunction or transition word altogether.
I love writing for SEO so I always make time to research current best SEO practices for copywriting.
I love writing for SEO. I always make time to research current best SEO practices for copywriting.
You definitely don’t need to do this with every sentence and you can certainly have longer sentences with two thoughts strung together in some cases. (See what I did THERE?)
But look for obvious, easy sentences that could stand on their own as a single sentence. Break them into two and watch your readability scores soar.
Choose the simplest word option
Many of us have the voice of our high school English teacher in the back of our mind every time we write. Maybe they always told you to look for more sophisticated word choices. And there are times this was good advice.
But for non-technical blog writing, simple words are where it’s at.
While you might be tempted to use long words that look and sound beautiful, don’t overdo it. Stick with their simpler alternatives whenever possible.
Here are some examples of more readable words to include in your blog writing:
- “But” instead of “however”
- “Move” instead of “relocate”
- “Whether” instead of “whether or not”
- “So” instead of “thus”
- “Many” instead of “multiple”
One of the quickest, free ways to check your blog writing content for simpler alternatives is running it through the Hemingway Editor. I use it all the time for my own writing. It will give you simpler alternatives for words along with a whole lot of other suggestions for your writing.
Do you ever look at a piece of writing and it’s soooo long you just decide not to read it at all? It looks way too overwhelming and time-consuming to even bother.
If you don’t want readers to feel that way about your own writing, there are a few things you can do.
One is something we already covered: making shorter paragraphs.
Second is using subheadings to break up your writing. Keep the text between each heading under 300 words. Yoast suggests this too if you use that plugin.
Clear headings are like a subconscious suggestion to the reader that the post is easy to understand and digest.
Subheadings or header tags not only tell readers what to expect and what each section is about. But they also work wonders for SEO.
More on that another time.
Active vs. passive voice
You guys – I write for a living and I still have a tough time switching between active and passive writing.
If you use the Yoast plugin or the Hemingway Editor or other blog SEO tools, they’ll often give you a heads up if most of your writing is in the passive voice.
Here’s a really obvious example of a passive sentence:
“The car is started by him.”
Now here’s that same sentiment in the form of an active sentence:
“He starts the car.”
“He” is the subject in that sentence–the one performing the action on an object. In the passive example, an object takes a leading role.
A lot of the time, these differences aren’t so obvious. In fact, it’s something I still struggle with all the time!
But here’s why it matters:
While both sentences are technically correct, one is more readable.
The active voice is almost always more readable. And if I haven’t said this enough yet: the MORE READABLE YOUR BLOG WRITING THE BETTER YOUR SEO! And the better your SEO…you guessed it…the more blog traffic you’ll get!
Write in a conversational style
Finally, I want to touch on writing in a conversational style. This is pretty different than the style of writing you’ll use if you’re writing a really technical piece. But if you’re trying to offer information in a friendly yet informative way, imagine you’re talking to a friend.
Read your writing back after and look for areas where it feels unnatural or forced. Would you talk to a friend like that? Unless you’re a rather formal individual (hey, they do exist!), keep it casual.
You can write in a casual and conversational style while still getting your message across.
Trying to use words like “you” and “your” instead of “an individual” or “their.” A few other examples? Choose “it’s” instead of “it is” and “they’re” instead of “they are” when you can. Make it feel like you’re talking right to your reader and your readability score will thank you!
Lessons I’ve learned in better blog writing
When I first started blogging, I figured it’d be really easy to be successful. After all, I had an English degree! I wrote for a living!
But here’s the thing:
Writing a blog isn’t just about writing if you’re focused on getting traffic.
You can be a really, really good write but a really, really bad SEO blog writer.
When I first started my own blog, XO&So, I just wrote whatever came to mind. In fact, when I first started, I usually wrote about makeup. A couple years later, it’s strictly a vegetarian comfort food blog.
I also used to get excited when I had 10 views a day. Fast forward a few years and a LOT of SEO and blog writing research, my traffic is booming and I make money from my blog.
None of that would have happened if I was writing just to write. It took strategy. I needed to focus on readability, SEO, and optimizing my content and site to bring in as much traffic as possible.
If you want to use your blog as a diary and write whenever and whatever you want and you don’t care if a single person reads it, then forget everything I’ve said in this post!!!
You’re here, though. And that tells me you’re probably focused on improving your SEO content.
In that case, blog writing becomes about writing…and strategy! And science! And algorithms…freaking algorithms.
There’s more to it than that, but I promised to keep things simple today.
Wrapping up my blog writing tips
So let’s leave it for today with a summary of my five blog writing tips:
- Write short sentences and paragraphs
- Use simpler words whenever you can
- Break your content up with subheadings
- Write in the active voice
- Keep it conversational
Now, I want to hear from you. What are some of the struggles you face with blog writing? Is readability already something you consider or is this new to you?
Comment down below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!