Inbound Marketing

How many people are actually reading your blog posts? Reading, not scanning. Turns out not too many.

By using a heat mapping tool, CoSchedule found that readers weren’t making it past 20-30% of their content and most sharing took place at the 35% mark.

In fact, users only have time to read 28% of the words on a page. How can you catch your readers by the eyeballs and suck them in?

Increase the stickiness of your blog posts by optimizing content for today’s online readers. This doesn’t mean writing blog posts in 140 characters or less. It doesn’t even mean writing blog posts that are 200 words or less.

Stratus-blog-scannable-content-your-key-to-writing-successful-blogs.jpg

Google and other search engines care about the length of your blog posts. Research shows that the more content your blog post has, the better chance it has of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Instead, write scannable content that will cater to the decreasing attention spans of your readers. We’re sharing 5 tips for blogging for the scanners and skimmers:

1) Number one with a bullet

Bulleted lists break down information into clear and concise list items. Keep an eye out for long-winded sentences with commas, semicolons or colons and replace them with bulleted lists.

When building out any bulleted list, it’s best not to overthink it. Look below to learn the basics and see a great example of a bulleted list:

  • Limit lists to around 9 items
  • Commit to one sentence structure throughout
  • Punctuate bullets consistently
  • Keep bullet points short and sweet (don’t write a novel)

Big, bad blocks of text tend to scare off readers. Bulleted lists, however, are a whole lot easier on the eye.

Keep in mind that too many lists can be visually distracting. You want to improve your blog’s readability, not make it more confusing. Avoid using too many bulleted lists or sub-bullets, which can turn off readers. Too many bullet points can make your blog post look like a PowerPoint.

There’s no magic number for bulleted lists. It all depends on the length of the post, blog topic, etc. As a rule of thumb, use no more than 2 bulleted lists per blog post.

2) White space is your friend

White space is the empty space on the page surrounding images and text.

White space between paragraphs - or even sentences - offers visual breathing room and makes your blogs easier to read. It reduces page clutter and helps readers concentrate on what really matters - your content.

Try chunking content into more digestible bits. This means keeping your paragraphs to 3-4 sentences tops.

You could even throw in a 1-sentence paragraph here and there.

Also, more and more readers use mobile devices rather than desktops to search the web, read their favorite blogs and catch up on email. White space offers a cleaner viewing experience on smaller screens.

3) Reel ‘em in with compelling subheadings

Typically, a reader spends around 10-20 seconds on your web page before leaving - that’s not much time to convince them to stick around.

Your subheadings can mean the difference between your readers staying or turning tail and leaving. Capture readers’ attention and keep it by writing irresistible subheadings.

Your readers should be able to take one look at your subheadings and understand what the blog is about and whether or not it’s worth their time.

Include big, bold subheadings that can’t be missed. We’re not saying you should use 100 size font subheadings, but they should jump out on the page.

Be consistent with your subheadings. Choose a font size, font style (should be the same as the rest of your blog), verb tense and letter case and stick with it. If one subheading is in past tense and another in present, it could hinder readability and hurt online user experience.

4) Fortune favors the bold

Highlight key takeaways by bolding text. That way, readers can easily scan your content and pick out the main points.

Don’t bold everything. Emphasizing everything is the same thing as emphasizing nothing. Use bold sparingly and use italics to call attention to one or two words.

5) Write a killer conclusion

The world may end with a whimper, but your blog post should go out with a bang.

Don’t overlook the importance of a conclusion. Like we said earlier, most people don’t read your entire blog post. Many readers will read the headline, skip to the conclusion and call it a day.

Keep them reading by writing a powerful conclusion. Tie the article up with an engaging, unique and useful conclusion.

Let them know why they should listen to your message. What will they get out of reading this blog post? How will this information give them a competitive edge in their industry or niche?

Will it help them drive traffic to their website, significantly improve lead generation or save time with email hacks? Will it show them how they can build a bulletproof inbound marketing strategy or improve their chances of reaching the coveted #1 position in SERPs?

Make your conclusion as authentic and engaging as possible. Strip your conclusion of any marketing fluff and wrap it all up with a question. Questions stimulate conversation and encourage readers to share their thoughts in the comments.

You could spark interest by asking:

  • What obstacles do you face when blogging?
  • Are you struggling to blog consistently?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by blogging?

And the list goes on. The bottom line: Your conclusion can be the push you need to convince users to scroll further or click on your call-to-action.

You spend hours slaving over your blog posts. They deserve a fighting chance. Compel people to keep on reading by writing scannable, easy-to-read content.

Did we miss anything? What are your tips for writing compelling and wildly successful blog posts?


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Topics:   Inbound Marketing

Courtney Feairheller

Courtney is the content writer at Stratus Interactive, where she is responsible for writing original, thought-provoking blog posts on a variety of topics. Courtney has been writing stories since she was a wee little one and has experience in B2B and B2C content marketing in addition to SEO. See all Courtney Feairheller's posts.

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