Have you ever wondered what makes some online content hold the readers attention and keep there eyes flowing to the end, whilst others have the readers rushing for the back button?
Aside from having a good title to attract the reader in the first place and saying something worth reading, there is an important point that some online authors understand about writing for an online audience …
Yes, writing for scanners will help wonders with your online writing.
Studies have shown that people read web pages and printed pages COMPLETELY different. The majority skim web pages quickly stopping only when something stands out and catches their eye.
Although there will be those that read EVERY word on a web page, the fact than most readers scan means that to write successfully for an online audience it’s in your best interests to write scannable web copy.
So with the knowledge that most people don’t read online, they scan, how exactly do you write scannable articles for your website?
Here are four tips to get you started …
One surefire way of making readers stop and pay attention where YOU want them to is by the use of highlighted text.
This can be the use of format features such as bold, italics, underline, hypertext links (with accurate description of the linked content rather than “click here” etc), font variations, colour or CAPITAL LETTERS, for example.
These really do serve to keep the readers eye moving down the page from one highlighted piece of text to the next, making them read the points you really need them to see.
Write meaningful subheadings so that readers can hone in on a particular section that may be of interest.
The subheadings are important as the scanners eye will be drawn to these so make them relevant and meaningful. Infuse curiosity, tips or just good descriptive words so there’s no doubt about what the section will be about.
You want to help the reader quickly spot what they are after.
* BULLETED LISTS
Bulleted lists are a great way to display information in an easy to read way as it’s a great way to summarise content and perfect for scanning eyes.
* SHORT PARAGRAPHS
It’s best to present one idea per paragraph and keep them short; long chunks of text are difficult to read. Just think how do you feel when faced with an article where the paragraphs are too long?
It just seems like too much hard work and strains your eyes trying to keep your place, doesn’t it?
Even make the occasional paragraph just a single line…
… Just like this.
Sentences or points like this stand out and are great for highlighting important points. Having these single line paragraphs really helps to break up the sea of text and leaves some white space which is easy on the eyes.
Once you’ve written your article lookover your work as a “scanner”.
Is your article inviting to read?
Does it include the elements mentioned above that would make it scannable and engaging – or does it have lots of text chunked together that may stop a visitor from reading any further?
How many times does something in your copy catch your eye and cause you to read something of interest?
Once you start asking these questions writing for an online audience will become second nature. It just takes a little time and practice to reinforce these aspects but it’s worth it to write an engaging article that flows well and holds the readers attention till the end.
Going over your article and inserting these features will condition you and soon you’ll be adding them as you write without even realising!
Writing great content that’s interesting and is written with scanners in mind takes care of one side of the equation. How are you sorted for the other side? Matt Gent at SEO Rank Tank takes care of the other side which is search engine optimisation to rank well in the search engines.