4 Ways to Make Your Content Gripping to Readers

mind grip

Do your readers hang on to your every word?

I bet they don’t.

Okay, that’s not fair because mine don’t all either.

The facts clearly show that a large chunk of your readers will skim your content, no matter what.

But that still leaves a lot of readers.

And these readers can choose to skim as well, read somewhat closely, or read every single word you write.

I think you’ll agree that the last option is the best for us as content creators.

Think of the blogs you read on a regularly basis. How many recent posts have really gripped you?

I mean those cases when you read every single word because you couldn’t help it.

Maybe one or two?

It’s certainly not common. And because it’s challenging to create content that does grip your readers, you won’t be able to achieve it in every case.

But that’s the goal that you should have in mind. It’s what I’m always trying to do when I write a blog post, guide, or guest post.

In this post, I want to share four methods that I personally try to use to accomplish this.

Start incorporating these tactics into your own content, one-by-one, and I guarantee that you’ll start seeing more comments, more subscribers, and better on-page metrics (like time on page, bounce rate, etc.). 

1. We NEED answers as readers

The first requirement for gripping content is that it needs to be interesting.

It doesn’t matter how well-written something is if your reader doesn’t have at least some interest in it.

I’m going to assume that you can come up with some decent content ideas fairly interesting to your audience.

More importantly, you need to use a principle called curiosity gaps as often as possible.

Curiosity gaps have less to do with what you’re writing about and more with how you are writing—to maximize interest.

Here’s what a curiosity gap is:

The more we are interested in finding an answer, and the less of an idea we have of what the answer actually is, the more curious we are. A curiosity gap is the space in between what we know and what we want to know.

Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed use curiosity gaps in their headlines all the time, despite their claims that they don’t.

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And it’s because they work.

Joanna Wiebe, from Copy Hackers, implemented curiosity gaps on a pricing page and increased clicks on it by 927%.

Using curiosity gaps to make your content gripping: Okay, neat, but how do you actually use curiosity gaps in your content?

You can’t control what your reader already knows; that’s going to be different for everyone.

What you can control is how much they want to know the answer to something.

It starts off with the benefit that your content provides. That’s where you get the initial interest.

The benefit might be:

  • Showing how to make an extra $1,000 a month
  • Teaching how to use a tool to save 5 hours a week
  • Learning from your 10 biggest mistakes as a business owner
  • Or anything else that most of your readers would want to find out.

If you emphasize a good benefit in your headline and first few paragraphs, you’ve already built up some interest—perfect.

Now, you need to deepen the curiosity gap by increasing your reader’s desire to know the answer even more.

There are a few ways to do that, but the best way is to surprise them.

Take that first example I just gave you: a method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Most readers will be interested in it, but they’ll also assume that it’s going to be straightforward, like working an extra 5 hours a week or getting a second job.

Instead, you need to surprise them.

What if we changed it to: A non-obvious method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Now, the reader is even more interested because they don’t even have a good guess at your answer.

But you can apply this within your content itself, not just the headline and first paragraph.

Tell the reader that you’ll reveal a trick or secret of yours to get even better results from whatever you’re writing about.

The final note I need to make here is that you need to deliver on your surprise. If you promise a non-obvious method, it needs to actually be non-obvious, or you’ll lose your reader’s trust.

2. If you saw an angel, wouldn’t you pay attention?

We’ve all seen it on TV: a guy sees a girl he thinks is beautiful, the music starts playing, and light begins radiating outwards from her.

All of a sudden, he can’t focus on anything else but her.

That’s obviously not completely realistic, but it has some truth to it:

When we are in awe of something, or even just impressed by it, we focus our attention on it.

Can you guess how this applies to content?

If your reader is impressed by either you or your content, they’ll be glued to every word on the page.

The tough part is finding a way to impress your readers.

One of the best methods to do that is to use the “halo effect”: once we see someone or something in a positive light, we rate them highly in other aspects as well.

For example, studies showed that we naturally think that beautiful people are kinder, more trustworthy, and smarter than less attractive people.

But it goes beyond just basic traits.

One study had subjects grade a written essay, but only after they saw a photo of the supposed author. Some study participants were shown photos of attractive authors, and others were shown photos of unattractive authors.

Here’s the twist: the essay was the same regardless of the author photo the subjects saw. 

The researchers found that the clearly attractive authors got a rating of 6.7 out of 10, but the unattractive writers got only 5.9 out of 10.

On a different essay with the same setup, the attractive authors got 5.2, while unattractive authors got only 2.7.

Basically, if a reader thinks highly of you in one area, their opinion of you will transfer over to other areas and, in particular, your content.

When we like people or are impressed by them, we give them the benefit of the doubt.

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You’ll see a few things when you come to Quick Sprout or any of my other blogs, starting with a picture of me in the sidebar:

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No, I’m not ready for GQ, but I had professional pictures taken and cleaned myself up the best I could before the photo shoot.

Present yourself in the most attractive light you can, and that will carry over to your content.

It’s not all about looks: I went over only a few studies about the halo effect above, but there are many more. And others prove that the effect applies not just to looks but indeed to all traits.

If someone is really nice, we think that they’re probably smart.

If someone is really accomplished, we think their content must be amazing.

And so on…

You can see that I use the halo effect further within the biography under my picture.

When someone first finds out who I am, they see that I’ve worked with massive companies and have founded two successful companies.

When someone gets to my content, they’ll see I’m not just some random guy. Instead, they’ll think something like:

Holy crap, this guy is successful! He must know what he’s talking about, so I’d better pay attention.

But don’t think the halo effect is about tricking people. It’s about making sure they see your best traits as soon as possible.

Find a way to impress people either above or beside your content or within the content itself (tell a story that relays an impressive accomplishment).

Your face isn’t the only thing that can be pretty: Think about what makes a person attractive.

It’s not just their actions or looks. It’s also things like their clothes.

Pop quiz:

Which content do you think readers would rate higher:

  • a guide with minimal formatting?
  • a guide with a beautiful design?

The answer is obvious. The same content will be rated higher when it’s designed well, and that’s because of the halo effect.

That’s one of the reasons I spent so much on design for my advanced guides (in the sidebar):

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Yes, the content is great, but the design is as good, or better, than that of almost any other piece of content on the Internet.

Readers have carefully read the whole guide throughout the years not only because of the content but also because of the design.

You don’t necessarily have to go to the same length, but do whatever you can to improve the look of your content (images, formatting, font, etc.).

3. Explain complex topics like your readers are 5 years old

Think about the last piece of gripping content you read.

Chances are you weren’t scratching your head every 5 seconds or heading to Google because you didn’t understand something.

The best content isn’t written in complex terms, which is why some of the smartest people can’t write content to save their lives.

This is a very simple tweak you can make to instantly make your content more gripping—just write simpler.

You don’t have to write as if your readers were literally 5 years old, but you want to write in a way that will allow 95% of them to understand everything you wrote without having to look up words, acronyms, or other terms or concepts.

4. The same old angle is never gripping

Remember when you were a kid and when learning basic addition was fun?

Most people enjoy new things.

What they don’t enjoy is repetition.

Once you learned how to add, did you really want to spend hours every day doing it?

I’m guessing no—because doing exactly the same thing over and over is boring.

This goes back to the curiosity gap. If there is no gap (because you already know the end result), there’s no curiosity.

And yet marketers regularly produce content that is very similar to tons of other content already out there.

For example, if you search for “guest post guide,” you’ll find a few different guides from well-known sites:

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But you can go down hundreds of results, and you’ll still find more guest-posting guides.

Who’s going to find those interesting after they’ve learned 99% of what they need from those first few guides?

Approach it from a new direction: I’m not saying you can’t write about topics that have been written about. But I’m saying you need a unique angle that hasn’t been done (at least not too much).

More lectures on addition will be boring to anyone who can already add. However, teaching someone to add in their head could be new and fun.

Readers and students will always pay more attention to new angles and new ideas.

My challenge for you here is this: the next time you’re writing an article, see if it’s been done before. Search for similar articles.

If you find several, you need to change the approach you take to your article because chances are many of your readers have already seen those other ones.

For example, you might want to write an SEO guide.

Well, there are hundreds out there that go over all the basics of SEO, so there’s nothing you can add to that.

However, you can take unique angles to appeal to specific audiences. For example:

  • How to SEO a Joomla site in under 10 minutes
  • How SEO for a local business differs from SEO for a typical website
  • How to set up your social media accounts for better search rankings

Be different.

Conclusion

If you want true fans, you need to create content they love.

They can’t just like it because in that case they’ll often skim it.

You want them to read every single word because they can’t help it. These readers will then sign up to your email lists, buy your products, and help share your content.

This isn’t easy, which is why I showed you these four ways to make your content more gripping.

Start by applying a single method, and once you have that down, start with the next one.

Track your results before and after applying each tactic, and I think you’ll be happy with the improvements you’ll get in reader engagement.

If you’ve found any other technique particularly useful to make your content more compelling, please share it with everyone in a comment below—and I’d love to hear about it too.

Comments

  1. Hi Neil,

    Most of create content that we love which is a mistake. We should create content that people love since they are the ones paying us.

    …by the way, I took part of your webinar and made it a blog post.
    http://eliteaffiliatehacks.com/10-stupid-mistakes-to-avoid-while-starting-a-business

    What do you think?

    • Nice job! How did you like the webinar?

      • Hi Neil,

        You overdelived. The one I talked is only the introduction where the critical factors were mentioned.

        What I liked most are the five step sales process which most of bloggers don’t follow.

        Also, grabbed why we should have OTO and upsells as customers are in unconcious “buy mode” therefore tend to buy.

        You are a great resource Neil,
        Cheers,
        -Tony

  2. Very very helpful post for content marketers. Contents is king and we all know that Google likes it too much for any website ranking and reputation.

    Thanks for this post.

  3. Hi Neil Patel Sir,
    Again you came with another awesome guide , as last time i learnt how to boost conversion rate of link building now i learnt this another lesson from you.
    Thanks 🙂

    • Glad you found this guide useful Jack. If you have any questions or get stuck, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  4. Emanuel Dragomir :

    Great piece of content, Neil!

    I find it interesting how you manage to always deliver such good stuff.
    I liked the point you mentioned about having an unique angle.

    Learned a lot today, thanks!

    – Emanuel

  5. Excellent post, thank you. I find paying attention to details such as grammar and spelling in writing seems to be often overlooked. If a writer can’t spell or hasn’t mastered basic grammar, I’m off the site like a hot potato.

  6. Thank you, Neil,

    A lovely, handy guide clearly and concisely presented that even a duffer like me can grasp and implement.

    Thank you and kindest.

    • You’re welcome Zarayna. Once you get a handle on these strategies, your content should become much more sticker

  7. Neil,

    Thanks for the post.

    I’ve a fundamental question about the whole content marketing thing. I was reading that videos are going to be the dominant mode of content in near future. Numbers aren’t that important, but if that’s going to happen then will that be a death knell for text blogs. Will traffic drop significantly for suck blogs? Will text blogs be reduced to transcripts for videos?

    Regards,
    Anil

    • Text blogs will still be vary popular. It is easier to get information from text based blogs than it would be to watch a 5 minute video… at least for a lot of people.

      You can quickly skim a text blog, while it is much harder to skim a video.

      • Hi Anil.

        I think a video will always be an asset to our strategy, I know if I post a video, I always have an accompanying blog post!

        When you blog you will learn, never put all your eggs in one basket, we as creatures like variety.

        Hope this helps 🙂

  8. This is a very helpful post for any content marketer. The points are really amazing. I will definitely follow for my website.

    An excellent piece of writing…Thanks, Neil…

  9. Angela Glassburn :

    Very good article! Trying to tell people how much they can save on healthcare is hard enough! Now I need to learn what people ‘love.’ Thank you for the post!

  10. uthman Saheed :

    Nice post. You almost seize my breath while reading the post. Everything is just timely and are talking to me.

    problem solving for your visitor is undoubtedly a wonderful way to tie them down.. I became loyal to this blog ever since the first time I read your post.

    Keep on brother.

    • I’m happy to have you on board Uthman, if you get stuck or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  11. Ditte Christina :

    Great Post – I did in fact read every word of it. I use free design templates at Canva.com to make pretty blog titles and other designs.
    Thanks Neil for your many awesome posts!

  12. Hi Neil,

    Everyone want that their readers stick to their content and not just skim to the end. The reason I found people stick to your content is the value you provide to them. From every post you write your readers learn something. This is the main reason people love you & your content.

  13. Great post Neil,

    You hit everything that I want in writing a content. This post is very beneficial to all content marketers or seo specialist. I will use these tips for the next article I’ll made.

    Thanks for this post.

  14. Mosab Alkhteb :

    I loved it!

    Especially: be different. We need to look at the marketplace and see what’s missing so we can create it instead of rehearsing the same exact advice, post after post, that alone can give us that “halo effect” as we’re adding value more than anybody else.

    Thanks Neil 🙂

  15. Anupam Saikia :

    Thank you Neil for this information. This is really beneficial to all content marketers. .

  16. Chris Hufnagel :

    Love the first example. Too vague and you draw no interest. Too specific and they don’t even need to read. It needs to be just right!

    Keep it coming,

    Chris

  17. Hi Neil,

    Again you come with the Amazing post 🙂 “curiosity” How it is important for generate the interest of visitor to reading our post till the end. Before the day have not any thought that it should be in our content & Title, Now I feel content is imperfect without any curiosity stuff…

    • Well that’s why you want to create that curiosity gap, so it gets someone hooked, and wanting to read further and further down the page

  18. ‘sigh’ – I can see my social headings are so tedious having read this 🙂 on a positive, i can now jazz them up a bit and someone might click on them lol. I’ve just started a new blog so great to have your many super tips on hand.

  19. Hey Neil, nice article, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  20. What A great Post.. Thanks

  21. Roland S. Racz :

    I think this article is the best by a long shot in recent months. It is simply amazing. Why don’t you write more about how to write? Do you have a guide about writing, also? It’s pretty difficult to believe you gave away advice like that for free. More, more, more 😀

  22. Abhishek Kalra :

    Hi Neil, I agree with your point that providing answers to readers is the best way to make them stay on your site and read your full content.
    Thanks for this awesome post.

  23. That was an informative article. It will really keep the newbies focused. Thanks keep sharing more.

  24. Dilip Rajpurohit :

    Hi Neil,

    Nice Post ! But I have a question apart from this post. How google crawl Facebook and twitter pages without sitemap, means both website don’t any sitemap. and a lot of pages created on both site on daily basis. So can you explain me that how google or other search engine crawl both sites?

    • Dilip,

      You don’t need a sitemap for your website be found, a sitemap helps SEO by helping Google crawl your web page. If you use Google Search Console and upload a sitemap it is a lot quicker to get GoogleBots on your site.

      I can’t comment on whether Facebook or Twitter have a sitemap, maybe someone can verify this but what I will say is that they both have huge authority in Google’s eyes and I would imagine due to the fresh content and authority that there is a crawler there all the time.

      Hope this answers your question

      Cheers
      Joe

      • Dilip Rajpurohit :

        Thanks For reply Joe, But when Facebook and twitter both are don’t have high or huge authority at beginning time, so how Google measure both site. Your answer is really great but I still confuse and haunting answer about my Facebook or Twitter related question.

        Cheers

        Dilip Rajpurohit

      • Thanks for sharing Joe 🙂

    • They have much more complex sites maps and systems in place that may not be available for you to see

  25. Hi Neil, yours seems to be one of the only blogs which I read every word, and it’s truly because you follow all of the steps you mention. It’s so refreshing to find a blog that practices what it preaches.

  26. Freddy Junior :

    Hi Neil!

    What a great blog post here!

    Packed with value! 🙂

    I agree that Curiosity and a bit of mystery can be very powerful with headlines.

    We are very curious creatures by nature. More often than not, if we had to choose between a certain thing and a mysterious thing – we would choose the mysterious thing. Wouldn’t you agree? 😀

    Crazy, right!

    Is like when you are given a choice between two boxes – you know exactly what is inside box number one, but you have no idea what is inside box number two – out of 100 people, how many would choose box number two (the mysterious box) instead of the other one?

    I think the curiosity gap that you have mentioned here is one of the most powerful ways to really grasp the attention of someone and make them want to click on your article and want read it all! 😉

    Thanks for sharing this man!

    Have a fantastic weekend!

  27. Thomas McCallum :

    Really great points. Loved the whole curiosity gap concept

    • It’s interesting isn’t it? Glad this was helpful, let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

  28. I think this article is the best by far as of late. It is just stunning. Why not compose more about how to compose? Do you have an aide about composing, too? It’s entirely hard to trust you gave away guidance like that for nothing.

  29. Really all points are beneficial..Thankxx for sharing this information with us..This blog will give wounderful knowledge to every blogger…I search guest post guide and opening websites are really helpful to me for blogging….

  30. hello,

    It’s really helpful posts for content marketers. Nice articles, Thanks for sharing.

  31. Hi,

    I used to make a composition writing on my own but haven’t try to share it to anybody. I’m not sure if they would appreciate it or not, or they might have a bad comments with the contents. Great article that encourages me to make a new one and publish it. I want to receive any comments from the reader soon and I’m excited. Thanks a lot!

  32. Really some great tips you have there, thanks for the informational article. Really enjoyed reading it all.

  33. People love stories. It’s why we’ve been telling them since prehistoric man first gathered around a fire. Anytime you find that the piece you’re working on feels a little drab or is getting bogged down in nitty-gritty facts and details, inject a relevant anecdote.

  34. As always great article. We have to make our writing stand out from the crowd to be noticed.

  35. As always, another excellent blog post. The curiosity gap was very interesting and something easily implemented. (Darn you Buzzfeed! I fall for you every time!)

    On the negative side, if looks influence article quality perception, I need an extreme makeover :/

  36. Myself, but definitely skimming through are what most people do. But If someone actually want to learn and search google then they would read every single word.

  37. Sue J. Maselli :

    Very very helpful post for content marketers.

    Thanks for this post

  38. Venish d'souza :

    Thanks for sharing this post about 4 Ways to Make Your Content Gripping to Readers which is very helpful to me in reading and understand the content of your article.
    Thank you…!

    • Neil Patel :

      You’re welcome Venish, glad this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any further questions

  39. Content is the foremost thing a blogger must give the importance most. And from an experienced blogger like you Neil, we are really blessed to get such kind of helpful posts.
    Thanks a lot.

    • I’m glad this has been helpful Sourav! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask

  40. This wonderful and awesome article has inspired me a lot which you have shared in this post. As I told you that this awesome post helps me in my work. In my next comment, I will told you everything clearly that how can your blog help me, what I had learned from your blog. Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful and useful idea with us. Keep posting like this helpful post.

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