The Basics of Scannable Content (It's a Better Way to Blog)

The Basics of Scannable Content (It's a Better Way to Blog)

Over the last several years, you've probably heard a hundred different reasons about why you need to start a blog.

It will help boost SEO. 
It will expand your audience.
It will establish you as an authority.

But a lot of that advice skips one big thing...

Your blogs have to actually be good. 

If you're just pumping out bad content just so you can have something on your blog, you could be doing more harm than good. 

There are a number of ways to write great blog posts, but one of the best is by keeping content scannable. 

If that sounds like Greek to you, keep reading. 

What Is Scannability?

So what is scannable content? 

To answer that question, let's compare how different things are written.

If you have a book nearby, go ahead and pick it up.

How do the pages look? They're probably covered in huge walls of text, right? How easy is it to find the information you're looking for?

Now, look at this page. 

Notice how much more white space there is? 

Notice how short the paragraphs are?

It's much easier to quickly "scan" through the content to find the information we're looking for. 

And that's very important in blogging.

Why Does Scannable Content Matter? 

So scannable content makes your blogs easier to skim through. Why is that a big deal?

Let's look at some statistics.

    • Most people read 25% slower on a screen than on paper
    • 43% of readers will only skim through your blog posts
    • 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading your content

When someone reads your content online, there are a number of other things vying for their attention.

Your copy is competing with pictures in the sidebar, notifications from other tabs, banner ads, and even the eye strain that comes from reading on a screen. 

Not to mention those thirty million other bloggers in the United States alone.

If you want to maximize communication with your readers, you need to make sure your content meets them where they are.

Basic How-Tos of Scannability

So how do you create scannable content? Here are a few pointers.

Keep Paragraphs Short And Sweet

One of the first rules of scannability is by keeping your paragraphs short.

Nothing scares off web readers more than a huge wall of text. A block of several uninterrupted lines of text just feels heavy and imposing. The reader might take one look at the chunk of text and quickly press the back button.

On the other hand, small paragraphs are much easily digestible. 

Be generous with your line breaks. 

If the reader sees more white space, they will be less intimidated by the amount of reading they'll have to do.

Break Things Up

As your readers skim through your content looking for important information, one of the best ways to give them a hand is by using headers and subheaders to break things up.

Again, let's compare that book with this blog post. 

Skimming through the book's huge chunks of texts for the information you need can be an arduous task. There are very few indications of what is important and what is not.

On the other hand, on this page, there are headers and subheaders placed throughout the article. 

These act a bit like an outline. If a reader is only looking for information on How To Make Scannable Content, they can look through the headers and skip all the other information.

Again, more than half of your readers will only spend 15 seconds on your posts. 

Make sure they can easily find what they're looking for.

Highlight Important Figures

Speaking of making information easy to find...

If you bring up any important figures or statistics, make them obvious to the reader. 

Bullet point lists are a great way to point to data and say, "hey! This is it right here!"

Similarly, using bold text and italics attracts the reader's eye. Use this to draw your audience to your main point.

Invert the Pyramid

In academic writing, we're often taught to start small and work our way to a massive, epic conclusion.

That might make for a more dramatic reveal, but it's really bad for keeping readers' attention.

Instead, utilize what's called the Inverted Pyramid.

The Inverted Pyramid is a mainstay of journalistic writing. 

You start off by telling all of the most important parts of the story.

All of the basics should be told in the first few paragraphs. As the piece continues, work your way to background information and more detailed specifics.

But this method works great for web content as well. 

As readers land on the post, hit them with your most important points right away.

After all, only 20% of your readers will get to the end of your article, remember?

Keep It Snappy

The time you have with your readers is precious. 

15 seconds isn't a long time. So it makes sense to make the most of it.

Avoid wasting time with unnecessary statements. If something isn't necessary, don't say it.

Write direct statements. Avoid fluff at every turn. 

Overloading your content with superfluous statements is a surefire way to get your readers heading to greener pastures (that is, shorter blogs).

Get Blogging!

Now that you know how to create scannable content, it's time to get blogging! 

And if you're interested in using your blog to earn some extra money, why not try our affiliate program?

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