There’s a lot of competition on the web for readership. If you have a blog or website, chances are you’re competing with many other sites for readers, and every day there are challenges in keeping your loyal readers around. Whether your articles have interesting subject matter or not, there are things you may be doing to lose readers.

Getting Readers Attention

Before worrying about your reader’s loyalty, you need to get their attention. Social media is an excellent way to access potential readers, and it’s completely free. This can be done on both personal and professional levels. If your personal network or friends have similar interests as you, get them involved in helping you promote your work-related content. It stands to reason that they have friends who have the same interests, so it’s an easy and fruitful network to tap into. You can also develop Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr accounts fairly quickly and easily, that can help you create networks of relevant social media users. And finally, don’t discount those social media aggregators out there. I still find value in sharing content at Reddit, Delicious, Digg and StumbleUpon and perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn Groups of relevance.

Create Great Content

Once you have a source for readers, you need to focus on creating great content. Remember that writing is much more than great subject matter. You need proper formatting and website readability. Your goal is to be as informative as possible in short excerpts. Your blog shouldn’t read like classic literature; avoid longwinded passages. Webpages operate more efficiently when someone can scan the page and find the information they’re interested in easily.

Give your readers plenty of room between entries as well. Headers and sub-headers that are clumped together aren’t easy on the eyes and act like road blocks to your site’s visual mobility.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another essential element to getting your content read. Determine which keywords readers are using in Google and use them throughout the article. Keep in mind that there is a wrong way to do this. Regardless of how many times you repeat phrases like “Best Denver burgers,” the content should read naturally. You always need to write for your audience and not search engines, but following SEO 101 best practices for content optimization is always in your best interest.

Use Images

Use visuals to keep readers engaged. There are plenty of sites that have vast reservoirs of public domain images you can purchase at cheap prices. And there are free image sources such as Creative Commons at Flickr. Find pictures related to your subject matter to break up the content and keep people interested.

Make sure your most important information is also most accessible. Highlighting the most important aspects of your writing can be done a couple of ways. One example is the first sentence of this paragraph. Set apart important facts by using bold (or even italic) text. As stated above readers do a lot of scanning and bold text stands out. The second thing you should do is keep the most crucial information at the beginning of each paragraph.

These are crucial steps to gaining and keeping readers. Test your site’s readability on a friend or colleague. If they squint at the screen trying to read your content then there’s probably something you could be doing better. There are tons of sites competing with you, so make sure your page is well designed with a smart color pallet. Great subject matter doesn’t deserve to drown in a poorly planned site.