How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

According to a Nielsen report, “on the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” So, if you wrote a 1000-word blog post, your reader will read only 280 words of your post. Wanna bet most of those words will be in your post’s introduction?

I have written about this earlier too: before even knowing the relevance of a post, your audience must be ready to pay attention to your writing. And you have about 15 seconds to do so.

Why Do You Need to Grab Your Readers’ Attention?

How many of you deal or have dealt with a toddler or a preschooler? There are times when you are fighting tooth and nail to gain their attention but they are busy doing something else. I face it every day…especially during meal times. My son is so lost in his own world playing with blocks or simply daydreaming that I often have to raise my voice to divert his attention back to the meal in front of him.

Your readers are distracted toddlers too.

Very few visit your blog intentionally to read your words (and for those of you who have loyal fans, kudos!). Most people land on your website via a search engine, as part of their blog hop, or because of a social media promotion thread both of you are participating in…while still having other tabs open or the television running in the background.

Once they are on your website, how do you ensure they don’t hit the Close / Back button immediately? Grab their attention such that they are happy to stay on your website for longer than they signed up for. However, to do this, you have only 15 seconds. That isn’t much! But there are a few things you can do to facilitate this.

How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Most readers on a webpage have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit. Here's how you can grab their attention and make them stay.

When your visitors land on your website, they will be either on your website’s homepage/landing page or on an individual post/page. Therefore, it is important not only to make your website pretty and functional but also your posts exciting and compelling.

 At the Website Level

  • Streamline your interface and make it functional: First impressions matter. When visitors land on your website, the first thing they will notice is the face of your website, i.e., the interface/theme. A cluttered website confuses and repels new visitors because they don’t know where to focus. Ensure your theme is minimal and streamlined. Additionally, focus on easy navigation. Pay special attention to your sidebar. Populate your sidebar only with the essential items, or better still, lose it completely. If you embed advertisements, ensure they complement your website’s aesthetics.
  • Utilize your sidebar effectively: If you choose to go with a sidebar, consider adding a small About blurb along with your photo to encourage personal connection with your readers. I always find it useful to know about the blog owner right on the home page. Alternatively (or in conjunction), consider adding your most successful opt-in offers to collect sign-ups.
  • Use your Header area to communicate: Utilize the header area intelligently. Instead of displaying a one-foot-long image, use this area to convey what your website visitors will stand to gain from your blog—state the benefits. One way of doing this is to use a tagline that conveys the mission of your blog.

At an Individual Post / Page Level

So, your visitors approve of your website. However, that still doesn’t guarantee a read because they are not your (loyal) readers yet.

Each page of your website (About, Legal, Resources, etc.) should be written in simple language and laser-focused on the task. These are not the places to experiment with your creativity. Sure you can organize the content in a specific manner but keep the content of these pages straightforward and to the point. If readers want to know about you, give them that; if they want to know about your privacy policy, give them that. Simplicity and functional are the two keywords for individual pages of your website.

Now, coming to individual posts, it’s a whole different story. You have the opportunity to impress your reader with a phenomenal opening to each of your posts. This is not to say the rest of your post can survive being crappy but the introduction is what will decide whether your visitor will stay for longer. Without a quality opening paragraph, forget any response from your visitors.

No time to read the tips below? Download the summary sheet.

Tips to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Here are some ideas to write blog openings that will get your visitors interested in what you have to say.

  • Go top-down: The first peep into your awesome post is through your headline. It’s the awesome trailer to your even-more-awesome blog movie. It is, therefore, imperative you spend quality time coming up with a headline.
    1. Start with 8-10 headlines (difficulty level: extreme!)—read them aloud; see how they flow. Make each word count because not every visitor will read your post, but they will read your headline for sure.
      • Make them catchy and emotion-driven.
      • Make them about your reader (try using second-person pronouns).
    2. Then, run all the headlines through analyzer tools, such as CoSchedule, to test their effectiveness. Here’s an excellent article on the magic of headlines.
    3. In the end, narrow it down to 3-5 headlines.
      • Use the highest scorer as your blog post headline, and the remaining headlines for your social media graphics.
  • Nail the opening: Once you are past the headline, it’s time to write a killer introduction. Your one and only job at this time is to write an introduction that will not only highlight the relevance or benefit of your blog post but also pique their interest. Use any of the following techniques:
    • Present striking statistics / facts / quotes
      • Numbers resonate with people and can even influence their thinking about certain subjects. Do your research about the subject matter of your post (where applicable) and present your findings using colorful charts and graphs.
      • Alternatively, present striking facts (such as “did you know that…”) that will make your readers go “whoa”.
      • And quotes, well, who doesn’t love those?!
    • Open with a problem statement
      • Use a personal story, famous quote, or just create a scenario to talk about the problem you are about to address in your post.
        • Use superlative examples to invoke a sense of hope/positivity
        • Use negative / mediocre examples to invoke a sense of disruption / shock / controversy
      • Invite reader interaction: Readers love to interact because it gives them a sense of control. Ask your readers to state their opinions on the subject of the post using interactive elements, such as a survey/poll.
      • Use multimedia: Using powerful visual or aural mediums help evoke strong emotional reactions. This, in turn, creates a highly receptive mindset for your story.
        • Images / Graphics / Animation
        • Newspaper clipping/essay excerpt
        • Video
        • Audio
      • Cartoon / Humor: When all else fails, humor saves. Enough said!

Don’t be afraid to restrict these elements only to your post opener though. Experiment with them midway or toward to ending to break the text monotony. It’s not unusual for your readers to remain on the website but completely zoned out. Mixing up your presentation elements will keep them alert and interested.

What are some of your tried-and-tested methods of grabbing your readers’ attention? Share in the comments below.

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Most readers on a webpage have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit. Here's how you can grab their attention and make them stay.

Most readers on a webpage have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit. Here's how you can grab their attention and make them stay.

3 Replies to “How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention”

  1. Thank you for this guide! I feel like I’m a toddler you’re talking about & I totally get what you mean about skimming a post. I will be implementing some of those tips fo sho!!

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