Get Your Nonprofit Content Read, Digested & Acted On—6 Steps

Flickr: Calixto BentoIt’ll take you about two minutes to read this. Do you think you’ll make it? 

It’s not likely.

People usually read just 20% of any content that’s 100 words long or more. Since this post is longer than that, you’re most likely to scan it for keywords that are relevant to you, plus highlighted elements I showcase with bolding or italics.

Most of us wish, when we write, that people read every single word. But the reality is that people read far less than you think, or want.

Here are six ways to up the odds that your nonprofit’s content is read, digested and acted on: 

  1. Craft clear and compelling headlines that lead readers into the rest of your content.
  2. Structure your content with the most important elements first. The inverted pyramid is your best friend here.
  3. Use clear and accessible language that is quick and easy to understand.
  4. Edit well to keep it short. It’s always a “less is more” scenario with content creation.
  5. Emphasize keywords and phrases to make them easy to find for scanners.
  6. Use bullets and white space to chunk content for easier visual digestion.

This post is 208 words long. Did you make it until the end?

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Nancy Schwartz on April 24, 2013 in Content Marketing | 4 comments
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  • Thanks for your post Nancy. Definitely agree that brevity can go a long way when writing web content.

    The only question I have is from an SEO perspective. Of course you don’t want to stuff a page with meaningless content, but if you’re targeting specific keyword phrases, it’s important to have enough content on a page to tell search engines what the page is all about. How do you balance this need with the “less is [always] more” approach you mention above?

    Many of your best practices still ring entirely true to me (using clear headings, putting important elements first, emphasizing keyword phrases) but with regards to SEO it seems there is such a thing as “too little.”

    As always thanks for your post. Will be sharing it shortly today via @wiredimpact.

  • David, thanks so much for your right-on-target addition.

    Keyword stuffing (e.g. repeating keywords many times without sufficient in-depth context) will decrease SEO. As always, it’s a balance.

    I’d say that the bare minimum includes this necessary context. Never black and white!

    Any chance you have any concrete guidelines re: SEO to share, e.g. for every keyword use, include a sentence or two of context?

  • Definitely agree Nancy that you’ll want to avoid simply stuffing keyword phrases into your page content. It’s not only bad for SEO, but it’s also terrible for your readers.

    In terms of concrete suggestions, we generally push for at least 300 words on pages (when optimizing for a specific phrase is important). While not a hard and fast rule, 300 words generally allows for 3-4 instances of a keyword phrase and a few meaningful headings.

    It really depends on the point of the page. But as content grows in length, your other points (such as prioritizing content and using meaningful headings) become even more important.

  • Perfect, David. These concrete parameters are hugely useful.

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