Why People Aren’t Reading Your Online Content

by | Feb 4, 2020 | Writing Services

We’ve written extensively about how to improve your online content, styles, tones and more. However, sometimes the frustrating aspect of writing is when people simply aren’t reading. Even if you’re sharing important information! 

In writing, it can be quite frustrating producing content for the web, only to see Google Analytics reports indicating that people spent a short amount of time on your articles and pages. 

Intuition tells us that “quality” might be the problem. Or maybe it’s the delivery system? Let’s assume for a moment that an article is sharing great news, or informing people of something important. Let’s also assume that it’s being distributed through channels where people can see it. What now? 

People read differently online than in print mediums. If you skipped the first few paragraphs to read this, then that’s pretty much the case we’re making here.  


Linear Reading

We’re all familiar with how people generally read in print publications. Left to right, and top to bottom. Though our attention may be grabbed by photographs, ads or large text. We’d like to think that the same applies for the way we read on our phones and online in general, but it’s simply not the case.

Check out the table below from the Writing Cooperative which breaks down our (often unconscious) reading habits.

Non-Linear Reading

Whether we realize it or not, online content leads to a different way of processing information. Some sites are adapting their writing style to fit some of our online reading habits.

  • Jumping to bold text 
  • Being drawn to subheadings
  • Only reading intro paragraphs and final paragraphs
  • Focusing on text which stands out
  • Scanning bullet points
  • Searching for links
  • Quickly reading and saving for later

People are bombarded with articles, text and ads pretty much everywhere they look. For example, we’ve adapted to quick glances of billboards while driving. Billboards have found a way to share a quick message that we can retain in mere seconds. Online content should be no different.

Take note of some of the ways you read online content in the next day or so, and apply the structures of great articles to your writing strategy!