Have you ever wondered why you read the articles you read online? How it is that some articles manage to grab our attention even with all the distractions online today? No matter how busy we are, there's always certain content that manages to gain our undivided attention. So what do those writers know that the rest of the online world doesn't?
Well, as it turns out, there are a number of psychological factors at play that we aren't always aware of. You could almost say popular content has somewhat of a "secret sauce" that mediocre content doesn't tend to have.
If you're thinking content that stands out is simply better-written or more valuable, you're wrong. At least for the most part. The internet is filled with valuable content. It's almost a commodity at this point, and it's certainly not a differentiator.
The truth is, the gurus in your industry aren't much smarter than you are. They may have a certain level of authority, but that authority isn't the sole reason people read their content so intently. The keys to a fascinating piece of content are much simpler than you probably realize, and they're right at your fingertips.
So if you're looking for a way to break through the online clutter and make your content stand out, here a few secrets the pros use to draw readers in, keep them engaged, and entice them to take action.
1. Use data and images to give your content instant credibility.
It's pretty obvious that we all tend to trust data more than a person's opinion. So what do you do when you haven't built credibility with an audience yet? You use data to your advantage by finding statistics and studies that will back you up.
To take that a step further, Brian Dean from Backlinko quoted a study from Claremont University that found that images boosted content credibility by 75 percent. (See what I did there?)
Another study cited by SiteGrain found that people were more likely to believe in a particular medication's efficacy when presented with visuals that appeared scientific (graphs, formulas, etc.), even when the visual contains no new information over the text. So what does all that mean?
Include data and statistics, then take those statistics and put them in a visual of any kind, and you should see engagement increase significantly. It's a simple fact: human brains love proof, numbers and images. So it only makes sense to use a combination of statistics, graphs, charts and screenshots to your advantage.
2. Use quotes to give your content instant authority.
You can put a powerful statement in an article, and I might skim right past it without a thought, but put that same statement in quotes with a byline after it, and suddenly it becomes a statement to live by. It's as if our brains think it must be true if it's in quotes. Maybe it's because we tend to quote influential and successful people, usually after they've died. Maybe it's because quotes carry with them a bit of implied legitimacy. Who knows. Either way, quotes work, and they're a great way to instantly give your content a certain level of authority.
Quote an expert to support your content, and you'll instantly add a layer of authority to your message.
3. Use stories to keep your readers engaged.
Why do we love movies, TV shows and books so much? Why is it you can mesmerize a hyperactive toddler just by turning on Toy Story? It's because we're all hardwired to love stories. You can take a simple boring topic and spin it as a storyline, and you'll instantly make it more appealing and engaging.
This isn't always easy to do, but even the smallest amount of storytelling injected in your content can make a huge difference. Maybe instead of simply making your point outright, you tell a story as an example to really illustrate your point. It will resonate much more with your readers, and they'll be much more attentive.
That's because when you're telling a story of any kind, you're speaking a language people's brains understand at a primitive level, and it can be a powerful thing.