A TLDR blog post will improve readability for your customers so the big questions are: what is TLDR and how do you use it?
In this article I’m looking at the whole concept of TLDR; what it means, why you need it and how you should build your blog posts to make the most of this simple to understand concept.
In this article:
- What is TLDR
- Why should you care about TLDR?
- How TLDR helps your blog
- How to structure your TLDR blog post
What is TLDR?
TLDR stands for ‘Too Long Didn’t Read’ and it’s almost morphed into a derogatory statement about modern attention spans.
I’ll be honest if I see big expanses of text then I tend to switch off so seeing a blog that understands TLDR and is sensibly structured makes me much more likely to read the whole thing.
I know I shouldn’t say that given that I am a writer and all, but my attention span has turned really short and the statistics say that I am not alone.
Essentially what TLDR is saying is that your reader needs to get information quickly and a TLDR post is a method of providing that.
Why you should care about TLDR
The very first reason you should care is that if you are at all bothered about the quality of your content, you’ll know that you need to provide information in the way that your potential customers want.
So a big rambling post does two things; it really annoys most people and it discourages them from reading on or clicking to read more of your material.
The second reason you should care is that Google rewards sites that are interesting to users.
The great god of Google looks at your site and assesses how many of the people who visit read for a long time and how many read other articles.
It also looks at their behaviour after they have clicked on the search result. If they quickly click back to the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), then it tells the god that your page doesn’t have the information you need.
Or more pertinently, it may have the information but they couldn’t find it.
So if you have a lot of people who don’t read more than one article and don’t stay on the site for a long time then you will get penalised.
How TLDR helps your blog
What TLDR does is to tell people what information is in your post and where to find it.
This may seem counter-intuitive because if you are wanting people to stick around then you would expect that making them sift through acres of text would do just that but in fact the opposite is true.
In reality, users do a quick scan to see if the post is likely to yield the results that they are looking for and if it doesn’t then they click away to a new site.
The evidence shows that in 2021, users have become much smarter about the information they see.
So TLDR is a way of showing users that they will be rewarded with the information they seek if they invest a little time in reading further.
It also has a way of surreptitiously showing them that if they click on to another post they are likely to find more information of use very quickly.
How to structure your TLDR blog post
Structuring your blog for the TLDR readership is really easy and I can promise you that after a short while it will become like second nature.
I wrote a longer piece on some of the finer detail of TLDR here
Have a read through this post and see if you can spot any of the TLDR blog items that you need to include.
The first one is to answer the question your reader is asking in the first couple of paragraphs.
This tells people what they are going to read right up front and is a way of reinforcing the pay off for continued attention.
Second have what I like to call a ‘TLDR block’ very early on.
This is a list of the headings in your post that give people an understanding of what information is included and where they can find it.
You’d think that people would simply navigate to the section, read what they want to read and then go away but actually that’s not what happens.
In fact they tend to read what they want to read, then go to other parts of the post to understand more or even better, they check out your other posts to get more in depth information.
Make sure you have internal links on all the headings in your list so people can quickly click straight through to your sections.
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