7 Tips for Making Your Blog Content More Skimmable

by Ginny Dwyer   Last Updated Last Updated on Sep 12, 2016
Ginny Dwyer

blog-skimming-1-1.png

How many articles or blog posts do you scan in a day or a week?

Be honest we all do it ...

43% of people admit to skimming blog posts. (source)

We've all taught ourselves to scan content and if it doesn't grab our attention, we're out of there - we bounce.

Bonus: Download our What is Inbound Marketing Guide as a PDF. Easily save it to your computer or print for reference anytime.

According to Nielsen Norman Group, you've got 10 to 20 seconds to pique your readers interest before they move on.

In today's post we are going to show you exactly how to focus your content to "reflect the reading or skimming habits of your audience."

If you're looking for some practical strategies that you can use on your blog post today, then you'll love these 7 tips for making your content more skimmable.

1. Engage Readers to make your Blog Posts Digestible

With every place else "supersizing"  you and your website need to think bite size pieces. Your audience wants to be delighted. They don't want to read a run-on novel.

Not to say long form content is a big no-no. Long form content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. According to the  State of Inbound Report 2016,  66% of marketers say improving SEO is their top inbound priority.

Blog content is marketers, bread and butter, with 60% focusing on blogs in their work.

Words from Kim Garst (Social Selling Strategist and Forbes top 10 social media influencer),  "Make your content snackable. Readers today scan and they are looking for quick bits of knowledge that they can run with!"

You may just need to understand your structure needs improving. And in structuring it could be as easy as ...

2. Most headlines are dreadful - Here's how to make winning section headers

Let's face it.

Your visitors are scanning your content and you can't always give away the goods. You have to create a little curiosity.

Just like a good headline...

And what do headlines do?

"They hook, they entertain, they shock, and, above all, they create curiosity. They pull readers further into your epic content so they stay with you long enough to realize that it is, in fact, stellar writing."

What the headline does for the post, the subhead does for each individual subsection of copy.

Use subheadings to break down your content into bite sized pieces.

Evidence-based user experience research explained how users read on the web.

howusersreadontheweb

In a control test situation, they discovered that their scannable layout, using the same text as the control condition in a layout that facilitated scanning, the online content boosted readability by 47%.

Use headlines that are enticing. Make an emotional impact with your headers and you'll keep your readers wanting more.

3. use bullet lists to make your content more skimmable

In doing so, you'll be on your way to creating viral content that the masses will enjoy.

Format your content in a way that enables skimming.

Get away from several paragraphs of text that have no breathing room. Present your points in an easily digestible way with bullet points.

If you're on wordpress , it doesn't get much easier to use the bullet or numbered lists by clicking on the appropriate icons in the editor.

bulletpoint

This helps you deliver your main concepts quickly.

When you make your content actionable with how-to posts or lists posts the better off your readers will be. They will understand exactly what to do next.

4. Use Whitespace to focus your visitors on your content not your clutter

White space is any section on your blog that is unused or space around an object. White space can help separate paragraphs of text and will enhance your article and make it look less crowded.

Visual presentation matters. There is nothing worse than going to a blog and all you see is text in one long paragraph.

Which do you prefer?

run on text

The second paragraph makes great use of whitespace. It improves readability.

Using the bullets in addition to whitespace will keep your readers engaged and on your page longer. Remember when people visit your site you have 10-20 seconds to pique their interest.

There is nothing interesting about the first paragraph.

5. Use Video To Keep Your Audiences Attention

Consumers want to see more social media posts, news articles and videos from marketer's in the future.

43% of people want to see more video content.

People are most likely to skim blog posts and long form business content so give the consumer what they pay most attention to.

"Inbound is about matching the way you market and sell with the way people actually want to shop and buy". It's a smart business decision to give them what they want.

If you spend time creating a video on Youtube, embed the video on your blog. You'll reach a larger audience using multiple channels. But don't just hit record, there are ways to entice your viewers.

According to Brian Dean at Backlinko, he's grown his Youtube channel to close to 35,000 monthly views with only 10 videos.

How'd he do it?

3 great ways to keep your audience tuned in and watching ...

  1. Have an intro that quickly previews what they will learn and then give them a quick taste of it. (You'll have them hooked)
  2. Keep your video around 5 or so minutes. Not too long and not too short. "Long enough to optimize for watch time without losing people because your video is too long"
  3. This is one of our favorites - open loops. You mention to your viewers they should keep on watching because something is coming later on in the video that they need to hear.

video marketing tip

Find ways to integrate video into your web design and make pages less static and more immersive.  Two specific places where video can be beneficial are home pages and product pages.

A great video will keep your readers entertained and on your page longer.

Data reveals most people pay close attention to video, which means savvy marketers can "leverage videos to put out powerful, high quality content that speaks for their brand offerings."

6. Use Bold and Italics to augment your point

One of the easiest methods to attract your reader’s eyes is to use bold and italics.

As in any thing, moderation is key. Don't get overzealous with the bold button.

Bolding key sentences to enhance your readers user experience or help "skim" your data is useful.

Can you see the key take away in this tip?

LSI keywords (also known as semantic keywords) are related to your primary keyword. Bolding LSI  keywords or phrases will help your reader and "Google" understand your content.

"Using LSI keywords is SEO-friendly and natural. It is better than using the same keyword often in your blog post”.

7. Visuals are More Important than Text - Here's why

visual world

source: Ethos3 infographic

Using images or videos to help guide your readers through next steps is a method to provide more value. Images will help break up your text visually.

When visitors land on your site, they can immediately focus on an image to understand what the content is about and how it will help them overall.

People are visual by nature. Visuals are an excellent way to draw attention to your content and at the same time make your insights digestible and memorable. (and for those 43% of readers that are "skimmable", it will get them where they want to go faster).

Another cool fact about images : you can make them a clickable link. People love to click on images. You can link your image to another blog post, page on your site, or anything else with a URL.

Turning an image into a clickable link points your readers to more detailed information.

Conclusion

Create content your readers actually want. Your priority in 2017 still remains to grow your organic presence through SEO and writing great blog posts. Help your readers have a useful experience and give them what they are searching for and in the format they can enjoy most.

Make sure your blog posts are "snackable"/easily digestible to reflect skimming habits of your audience.

photo credit: skimming

Author
Ginny Dwyer

Ginny Dwyer

Inbound Evangelist at Modgility
Ginny is a Hubspot certified inbound marketer helping companies build their brand through blogging, social media and other inbound activities.

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