The average human attention span is seven seconds. For a frame of reference, the attention span of a goldfish is eight.
When it comes to writing content, you have limited time to suck in your reader. Then, if you've done it right, you get to deliver the high-impact content they've come for. But how can you hook them before they actually read what you provide?
Well, there's a simple way to increase the chances users will read your content. It doesn't require any fancy tricks or large investments. You only need to understand how your reader interacts with content.
3 Ways Blog Post Scannability Helps Your Content Get Read
The largest reason people want scannable content is to lower their bounce rate. This is a secondary effect, though. Your bounce rate doesn't directly influence your search rankings, but it does provide insights when pairs with your time on page and pages visited, things that Google does care about.
And while your metrics are important, if you focus on providing your audience with the value they need, in a way that's digestible, you'll find your metrics swinging towards the positive. It's the basis of customer-centric marketing, and if you can create content that's more scannable, you'll be pleasantly surprised by your success.
1. It Gives People The Gist
Readers want to know that something is worth their time before committing because with so much to do, their time is significantly more valuable now.
Scanning is how your audience understands whether your content is worth a time investment. If they see headers and images that prove the article is relevant to their problem and can deliver a solution, they're more apt to scroll back to the top and start actually reading.
You can give people the gist of what you'll cover with compelling headers. The best-written articles use headers that are clear and concise but promise a distinct benefit for someone who's ready to dive deeper. The header works as a hook, much like the article's title, to suck them into the content. Look at the ones in this article. Each is written to give you an understanding, but also to hook into reading why.
Images work in the same way. An infographic or helpful image can give your audience an idea of the value your content will provide. If the reader enters your site only to find stock photos that don't illustrate what the content is about, they'll bounce. If they something like screenshots that walk them through what they came to learn, they'll likely stay.
2. It Affects Your Metrics
The unfortunate truth is that many marketers don't give scannability enough attention because few people deem it important in affecting your metrics.
As we mentioned earlier, blog post scannability indirectly supports your metrics by influencing the ones Google judges for the SERPs. If someone scans your article and doesn't see anything useful, they'll leave. That means that no additional pages visited, there's minimal time spent on the page, and you'll likely get fewer sessions per user.
If you're seeing increased bounce rates with your blog, it could mean a variety of things. You could have a poor blog design or slow load speeds. However, if the high bounce rate is also coupled with less time spent on the page, a potential reason is that you need to hook your reader sooner, which you can do by making content more scannable.
When readers scan your content and see that it's going to be worth reading, they'll scroll back to the start and work their way through. This is where the value of your content comes in. If a reader doesn't think the article is worth it and leaves, they'll never see how well you provide the info, and thus never convert on your CTAs.
As your metrics improve, so will your page's location on the SERPs. This means better visibility with people searching for your content, and ultimately more people arriving at your site, further improving the article's rank.
3. People Can Read What They're Interested In
Depending on where someone is in the buyer's journey, they may only need a piece of information they can't find.
For example, if someone is looking for the best lawn mower, but previous content hasn't explained what size of an engine is best for their lawn, they may continue searching only for that info.
By creating content that's scannable, someone can arrive at your piece and find exactly what they're looking for. They may not have planned to read a full article because they were only searching for a very specific answer. But, when they see a header that offers what they need, they'll likely digest that portion, and may even dive deeper into the content.
Additionally, if you have internal links related to what they're looking for, the hyperlinked text stands out for easy scanning and can send them to the content they actually want to read.
Quick Tips to Make Your Content More Scannable
It's critical to create content that's scannable. The effect it has on your site's metrics is undeniable, and if you can build on the following tips, you'll see your readers' time spent on page increasing, and your engagement following closely behind.
- Provide headers and subheaders that display a benefit and clear purpose. While it's fun to use catchy or witty phrases, if they don't provide a clear image of what the reader can gain, it's effectiveness significantly drops off.
- Paragraphs should be kept short. Not only is a wall of text hard to read, but it's also a daunting commitment for those who have limited time. If paragraphs are shorter, readers are able to scan them along with your headers to decide if they should spend more time with your content.
- Use multimedia if it has a purpose. Stock photos that don't offer value won't hook the readers and could cause them to believe your content is "stock-ish" as well.
- Break the content into sections that make sense. Chunking is a useful strategy for remembering better, and if you can use it within your content, readers will associate your content as more digestible.
- Use whitespace to your advantage. It can make text or images stand out from the rest of the piece, and coupled with bold or italic fonts, you can catch the reader's eye significantly faster.
If you can implement these tips and focus on delivering value in every stage of your content, you'll increase your metrics and provide content that's more enjoyable for your audience. And once you have that, your campaigns will take off.