Your Content: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

By Ryan Majeau | Posted in my blog for

Your content sucksI’m sorry, it’s over. It’s not me, it’s you—rather your content. It’s boring, unimaginative, long-winded, and makes no sense. What are you even trying to say? I have “the talk” with websites every day. I get wooed by a catchy title, but it’s a complete let down once I start reading. Sound familiar?

You know, articles that talk in circles, use flashy words, lack any sort of personality. The point of content is to get a message across, right? Then why do so many websites feel the need to make their writing so unreadable? Nine times out of ten I’m bored to tears or confused as hell, after only a few sentences. It’s web content, not a thesis!

I get it. Industry speak is boring and reporting can be mundane. Plus, you have to use certain terms for SEO value. That’s fine, but I still have to be able to read it—to find value in it. If I don’t, then what’s the point? No one has time to figure out what you’re saying.

I used to shy away from the written word. I’m a graphics guy, I make the pictures pretty. It’s others who fill in the blanks, swapping my dummy text and ‘lorem ipsums’ with their perfectly crafted verbiage. They’re the experts, right?

Turns out, not so much. When it comes to web copy, reading ease and reading level take center stage—something I excel at! Did you know that all web copy aimed at other businesses should be written at a middle school level of writing? Better yet, copy aimed at consumers should be written at an elementary level. Don’t believe me? Check out Pixel Spoke’s readability tool.

It’s all about shorter sentences and smaller words. Say good-bye to more than three syllables, or an average word count of 20 per sentence! No, this doesn’t mean your content becomes “See Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.” It means my tongue shouldn’t get tied in knots just from reading it.

I guarantee that for most long words, there’s a simpler one that can replace it. Your message still gets across, but it doesn’t take a mouthful to do it. Swap “educate” with “teach,” or “understand it” with “get it.” See, it’s easy! Need some help? Befriend a thesaurus. Together the two of you are sure to make magic happen.

I’m busy, your busy, everyone’s busy! No one has the time to process content. If your words confuse people, they’re outta here. Stop trying to sound smart and just be smart. Keep it simple, make it readable, and you might just find your content get more than a passing glance from your viewers.