10 Steps To Write Scannable Content
You could be an award winning author and Internet readers are still only going to scan your content. It’s just a fact of life. Nobody is going to read every single word you write. Here are 10 steps to write scannable content so your visitors get your message and will hopefully share it on social media channels, even when they only scan the page.
Write Your Title First
The biggest mistake most bloggers make is rambling and they do that because they don’t have a clear idea in their mind of what they want to say when they sit down to write. Choose your keyword and write your title first and it’s much easier to stay on topic.
Write A Strong First Paragraph
Write a strong first paragraph that lets the reader know what you’re going to tell him and how this information will benefit him. Don’t worry about giving it all away in the lead. If that first paragraph doesn’t grab the reader’s attention he’s going to click away.
Break Up Content Into Paragraphs
By definition, a paragraph addresses one topic. When you change topics, you start a new paragraph. Break up your content into paragraphs instead of one long stream of text. The first sentence of each paragraph should state the key message on the other one or two sentences are used for explaining that message.
Limit Paragraphs Length
Limit your paragraphs to three or four sentences. Any longer and you’re going to lose the reader’s attention. If you’re making one key point in each paragraph it shouldn’t take more than two or three more sentences to explain it.
Use Headings And Sub-Headings
Use headings and sub-headings to make the key points of your post. These larger fonts will attract the reader’s eyes, more so than your standard font.
Use Bullet Points
Instead of separating a list of items with commas in a sentence, use bullet points to highlight each item. The bullet points give your readers a visual reference point if they want to go back and review, and they psychologically reinforce the bits of information, making them easier to remember.
Use Bold And Italics
Use bold and italics to add special emphasis. However, don’t overdo it. If you’re using the same word several times throughout your post, only use bold or italics on the first occurrence.
Images help break up text and give your readers something to look at. They’re also helpful for presenting information that might be too wordy. For example, if you’re trying to show your readers how to fill out a profile, instead of typing it all out with “fill in this box, then click here, now fill in this box…” you can use a screenshot with arrows.
Eliminate Unnecessary Words
If you’re the wordy-type, stop it now. Eliminate all unnecessary words. For example, if you start off your opening paragraph with “My goodness, it’s very, very hot outside today,” go back and delete – Not just one “very.” Not even just both “very”. Delete the whole sentence. Your readers don’t care. They came to your blog for information, not a weather report.
Narrow Your Content Area
Narrow your content field to 500 to 600 pixels. Readers don’t like to have to move their head from side to side to read online, and most don’t even like to have to move their eyes. If you have to, add another sidebar to your theme and put in an empty widget to narrow your content area.