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A guest post by John Haydon of Inbound Zombie.

You’re smart enough to decide within a few seconds if you’re getting what you need from this post. And it’s my job to keep you here so that you can at least get to the first subheading.

If my stopwatch is correct, it took you approximately 7 seconds to get to this point. And in order to keep you here, I have to combat a host of reasons for you to go elsewhere:

  • You're not finding what you want, and searching for it on Google might be a whole lot less painful than staying here.

  • The web is an interactive medium that makes you feel that if you’re not clicking a link every few seconds, you’re not getting value from it.

  • You might be reading this post on an iPhone, which severely limits what you can view at any moment.

  • The dings of real-time web notifications are calling you even now.

How to Get Visitors to Read Your Entire Post

This may be obvious, but the best way to get people to read your posts is to get them to stick around for seven more seconds. And then seven more seconds after that---and so on.

7 Ways to Re-captivate Attention

  1. Use subheadings. Every two paragraphs, break up the text with a subheading. This way, readers can scan the post for the section they find most relevant.

  2. Use bullet points. Like what I’m doing here. People like lists. It puts your content in a nice container.

  3. Use white space. Line height is important in posts. Most premium WordPress themes allow you multiple ways of creating more white space.

  4. Use images. If you read CopyBlogger, you might notice that authors always put an image at the top of every post. Sonia Simone calls these images “steroids for your headline.” Where applicable, use images through your post, like I do in “Essential Social Media Connections For Your Blog."

  5. Ask a question that begs an answer. It’s one thing to provide information based on your expertise, but what about asking the reader questions that get him or her thinking about their experience? Like I just did in the preceding sentence.

  6. Keep the focus on them. Try writing your posts as if they are emails to a specific person you have in mind. Maybe it’s a client who asked you a thoughtful question. For me, this way of writing flows more naturally and comes across more personal.

  7. Keep word count under 500 words. Call it cheating, but why not make the finish line closer?

John Haydon is a social media strategist for non-profits at Inbound Zombie.

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