Phil Laboon is a serial entrepreneur and investor. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Phil has founded several companies both in his hometown and his homes away from home, Florida and Costa Rica. His proudest achievement, Eyeflow Internet Marketing, has grown from a one-man operation in his basement to a full-service inbound marketing firm in Pittsburgh's South Side. The company, which specializes in building a company's online brand authority, evolved out of Phil's own experience in online consulting.
"Why isn't my website converting like it should?"
It's a question I'm tasked with answering on a daily basis at Eyeflow, making it one of the top reasons people come to us in the first place. When business leaders launch a website, they automatically feel as though they should be on top of Google's search engine rankings, and customers should be flocking to them in record-setting numbers. That's often far from the case.
So, how do I answer their question? Well, for me, it's simple. It's a mistake I've seen time and time again throughout the years. It's an issue of readability.
Readability has long been thought to be a huge factor in either attracting or losing visitors on your website. No matter how hard you work to improve your website, gain new positioning in search engine rankings or attracting more visitors, it's a waste of your time if you're not providing high-quality appealing content. Here are some surefire ways to start building your website into something your customers will actually enjoy reading.
Make Text More Readable
By now, everyone knows that long paragraphs containing huge chunks of text are a big turn-off for readers, who are more attuned to snippets of compact information that provide exactly what is needed without the fluff. Web surfers are growing more and more adept at picking out just the pearls and leaving the big empty shells behind.
But long paragraphs aren't the only hindrance to easy reading. Here are some more tips that you should take into consideration.
- Be aware of grammar, punctuation and spelling. So your site isn't exactly an English lesson. But if your text is littered with misspellings and bad grammar, it can easily cause readers to jump to a better-composed one. Punctuation is intended to make sentences more readable, providing visual cues to group phrases and convey intent. When punctuation is missing or inaccurate, the absence or error of visual cues work just the opposite way and send visitors to more understandable content.
- Eliminate long sentences and big words. Most content on the Internet is written at the level of high school students. This doesn't mean that surfers can't read at a higher level, but that they don't really want to. The whole point of surfing is to quickly acquire relevant information on any topic. If you obscure the actual meaning of your content, you may as well put blank pages on your website.
- Break up the text. By adding bullet points and headings, you can highlight important information and cue the reader as to where specific information is located in the text. This is also an important visual technique for breaking up text into manageable, bite-sized pieces instead of asking the reader to chomp on a 10-pound roast.
- Take advantage of generous line spacing. This goes along with the strategy of creating more visually appealing information, since sentences that are crowded together with tight spacing are usually difficult to read. If your target audience includes older web visitors, you especially want to maintain some distance between lines for readability.
- Use bold and italic lettering. Sparse and strategic use of bold and italic print can really bring attention to the most important points you want to make on your website. Use a bit of restraint, however. If a great deal of content is bolded, none of it will stand out.
Add Photos and Video
The only way to provide information even more easily than highly readable text is to make data available via very little text, or none at all. Given that Internet visitors are inherently lazy about reading, photos and videos are the perfect vehicles for getting across any message.
Videos and photos do all the work of providing images for you so that you don't have to conjure up mental images yourself from books or magazines. It's no wonder then, that video is by far the most popular component of any given website, as evidenced by statistics which analyze user behavior on websites.
Use Online Readability Tools
Content readability is such an important concept that software manufacturers have developed tools to test your site's readability, and provide recommendations on how you can improve your score. There are many of these available online, including the Readability Test Tool, the Hemingway App and Grammarly.
To use any of these tools, you simply have to submit a chunk of text you want evaluated. After analysis, you will receive feedback such as the grade level the text is written in, how many sentences and words are difficult to read, and how many grammar mistakes are included.