How Skimmable Is Your Content? Here’s Why It Matters!

Published on November 18, 2016

It all seems like we’re busier than ever these days, doesn’t it? Who has time for anything, let alone reading an entire article online?

Indeed, research suggests that about 55% of pageviews are less than 15 seconds long. Just 15 seconds!

Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure that your content is unique, compelling, and skimmable; that is to say, simple to read and grasp quickly, without a lot of effort.

But what does skimmable content look like now? How can you make sure your readers are getting the most out of your amazing content? Try these five tricks to make sure your content is effortlessly readable, in 15 seconds or less!

1.) Keep Your Most Important Info “Above the Fold”

According to analyst Jakob Nielsen, users spend roughly 80% of their time looking at information “above the fold,” or at the very top of your web page (this is an old bit of slang left over from the newspaper business, which always prints the most important headlines at the very top of the front page). Users do scroll, but only about 20% actually allocate their attention to the back-half of your content.

So, when it comes to laying out your content, think like Pulitzer or Hearst and make sure your most compelling content lands above the fold. Another trick to pull from journalists? Write your posts in the style of the “inverted pyramid” – start with the broadest, most important information at the top, then get into more specific details further down in the piece.

In short? By the time your reader’s done their obligatory 15 seconds, they should at least know the gist of your entire article! This isn’t Law & Order, so don’t save the good stuff for your closing arguments!

2.) Guide Your Reader’s Eye

There’s a reason listicles are some of the most popular pieces of content on the web – having an obvious, leading structure in place encourages your readers to follow your train of thought as far as it can go.

But there are other, even subtler reader habits to keep in mind when you’re looking to capture a maximum of attention in as short a span as possible. According to Nielsen, web users spend a full 69% of their time viewing the left half of a page, as opposed to just 30% viewing the right. And rather than reading your words thoroughly, left to right, the way we’re taught in school, most internet users will read your content in a quick “F” pattern – meaning that they’ll just be glancing over a large swath of your copy!

Work with your readers! Make sure your copy is concentrated on the left side of your page, and you’ll capture more organic attention.

3.) Present Your Information Visually

As this hilarious story at Slate explains, on pages containing photos and videos, people are far more likely to “scroll through the whole page;” on pages without this multimedia content, most users drop out of Slate articles about halfway through, or around 1000 pixels deep.

So, when it comes to your content, diversify! Audio, photo, and visual content are here to stay; not only do these multimedia elements add value on your own, but they also reinforce and bolster the success of your written copy. It’s a win-win!

4.) Don’t Waste Words

According to Eyethink, users tend to skip over about 75% of two- to three-letter words, but fixate upon words that are eight letters or longer. Similarly, 85% of readers focus attention on meaningful “content” words (those that convey the most information in a standalone way), but only 35% read “function” words, which connect ideas.

So what’s a writer to do? Don’t keyword stuff your content or write without a strong voice, but do write succinctly: Hone in quickly on your core concepts and their meanings.

5.) Make Sure Your Blog is Mobile Optimized

At least 1.2 billion people are accessing the internet from a smartphone every single day. Is your site optimized for this eager audience of touchscreen-scrollers?

A mobile user who can’t access or quickly skim through your site will click away without a second thought. Capture these important audiences by making sure your site is as clean, fast, and responsive on mobile as it is on a desktop.

Have any more questions about the science and art of great content? We’d love to keep the conversation going! Drop the Geek team a line today for all of your digital marketing needs!

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