People read differently on the web than they might in print. Readers often visually scan an article, your marketing copy, or a blog post before (or in lieu of) reading your material in full. That’s why it’s important to create scannable content for your company blog.
Making your company’s blog content more scannable isn’t difficult. It doesn’t require a lot of extra work. It’s a simple matter of structure.
Let’s explore what “scannable content” is and you can make your company’s blog posts easier to consume, and more helpful, for your visitors.
What is Scannable Content?
Your readers — in many cases your potential customers — want specific information. And they want it quickly. Scanning a page of blog post should make it easy to find what they’re looking for. That’s what scannable content does.
Scannable content simply means a reader should be able to pick out key points or key sections of your content at a glance. They shouldn’t need to read everything to understand the essence of what your content says.
Now let’s look at what you can do to make your company’s blog content more scannable.
How to Write Scannable Content for Your Blog
Here are five simple things you can do to write more scannable content for your business blog.
1. Write short paragraphs.
Keep paragraphs to no more than a few sentences. And keep most of those sentences short.
Large blocks of text can be difficult to read on a computer screen. They can be even more difficult to read on mobile devices. You don’t want to lose your readers before you get your message across.
2. Use subheadings.
Break your copy or content up using subheadings. These are usually bold and in a larger font size than your body text, using heading tags (such as H2, H3, etc. in a hierarchy).
Subheadings are used to break up your main points or major sections of your blog posts. They should clearly identify your key points or sections of your content. Incorporate important keywords in them not only for SEO purposes, but also to help readers find what they’re seeking.
3. Include lists.
Bulleted and numbered lists are also good ways to highlight important information. Lists can benefit your company blog in several ways.
For example, lists in blog content can:
- make blog content easier to read;
- serve as linkbait and attract more visitors seeking easily-digestible content;
- help you organize your blog content in a more logical way;
- allow readers to quickly find the data or points they’re most interested in.
Lists can be used either as indented content in more of an outline style, or you can include numbered lists in your subheadings. You can see examples of both list styles in this very post.
4. Use images and pull quotes in your content.
The most important aspect of scannable content is breaking your text up visually to help readers navigate your posts. Images are another way you can do this.
That said, including images just to include images can also become a distraction. So avoid filling a post with stock images that don’t help you illustrate a point.
If you have particularly interesting quotes in your content, and you’d like to feature them, pull quotes can also add visual interest. You can do this as text in your content, or you might create sharable images of those quotes.
Just be careful about quoting yourself. It can be tacky and unprofessional. Use pull quotes to highlight stats, quotes from third parties, or at least don’t add your name to self-quotes as if you’re quoting a third party.
5. Take advantage of white space.
The absence of content can be just as impactful as the words on your page. Use white space to help visually break up your blog content and make it more scannable.
This might not be something you have full control over when writing blog content. You might need to have your web designer make adjustments to naturally build white space into your content by default. This might include spacing between paragraphs, spacing between lines, or spacing around subheadings.
This isn’t always the case however.
For example, when adding images, you can control the padding and margins (blank space) around them using inline CSS. Or you might center non-full-width images to leave extra white space around them.
Ultimately, use white space on your blog to avoid making your content appear cluttered.
Don’t worry if all five of these tactics don’t make sense for your content. You don’t need to use them all at once. A good rule of thumb is the longer your content is, the more you want to break it up visually to help visitors find what they need.
If writing web content just isn’t your thing, or you have a large archive of posts that you want to make more scannable, no worries. You can always hire a pro to write your copy and blog posts for you or clean up your old blog content.
This post was originally published on January 27, 2014 and was updated, expanded, and re-published on its currently-listed publication date.