How To Write A Scannable Blog Post That Will Keep Visitors On Your Page

How To Write A Scannable Blog Post

You might think that the most important part of writing a good blog post is the writing (it is essential), but there are actually some hurdles that readers need to clear before they even read the first word. Blog structure is about keeping up appearances, both for individual posts and across your entire website, so that people don’t abandon your site when they see a poorly structured post. No matter how much blog promotion you’ve done, bad structure could ruin the user experience.

Readers usually want to scan things they read online; it’s just the reality of how people consume information. People do read badly structured writing, but usually only if they have to. And online, there are too many other choices available for you to neglect the structure of your own writing or guest writers’.

Hurdles Between Readers And Your Content:

Often, how you present your content is just as important as what the actual content is. When someone arrives at your website or blog, they’re taking in the whole website first, and then digesting the individual sections. So you have a few seconds where your web design and post structure can turn them off and make them leave your site without reading word one.

So, even if you get someone to your page with good content and SEO best practices, your lack of structure might be driving them away. When readers see writing that is sectioned, well organized and easy to skim (like, for instance, this keyword research post by Preston Van Dyke), they’ll stay on the page longer and be more likely to click internal and external links.

Blog Post Structure That Engages Readers:

Even if you don’t choose a specific blog post format, you should know the general topic you want to address, with at least one specific question or idea to focus on. People fall back on top-10 lists or FAQ formats because they’re easy, ready-made structures to build upon. But without flow and overall story-arc, aside from the format, all you have is a skeleton of a post with no meat on the bones.

When people read something you’ve written, they almost subconsciously feel that you’re building up to something, and that the arc of the piece you’re writing is drawing toward some conclusion. And when they sense that underlying structure, they want to stick with you until the end. You don’t need a pre-set framework when you have an idea around which to build a flowing structure. Let’s look at how to do that.

The basic three elements of a post seem simple, but you’d be surprised how often introduction, body and conclusion are ignored:

Intro:

This is your setup. You want to lay out the general idea that you’ll be addressing throughout the rest of your post. Intros can be hard to do when you’re not exactly sure where you’re going. It’s always smart to rewrite your introduction after you’ve finished the wrapping things up. You don’t have to give away your conclusion, but you should at least point the reader in the direction where you’re heading.

Body:

Here, you’ll really start to dig into the meat of your topic. There’s no set structure, here, but you have to make it scannable. Large blocks of unbroken text are like Brussels sprouts; nobody really wants to eat them.

Scannable blog posts break up the body with keyword rich subheadings, illustrative lists, bolded intro phrases or numbered steps that guide the reader through the content. These are the visual anchors that people use to navigate your post and which hook people into staying on the page.

A short note about images: Think about the difference between pictures you’ll see in newspapers and magazines that are associated with a story, and then think about what commercial pages and advertisements look like. Real, relevant photos might not look as polished as stock photos, but they’re always a sign that the blog owner cares more about crafting a relevant experience for their audience, and I’m more inclined to read their stuff if I think I’m getting good content instead of an ad.

Conclusion:

The conclusion to just about any type of writing too often gets abused or neglected. It’s not a recap of what you just wrote — forget that high school essay junk. And too many posts just end when the writer ran out of things to say. They (maybe) slap a question on the end, meant to solicit comments, and pretend they’ve actually come to some type of resolution.

Conclusions should be just that, a conclusion you reach based on the thoughts you’ve been mulling over in the body of the post. There are several strategies for writing conclusions, each working for different ideas. Stop and think about what you wrote, give some closure to the topic by giving your considered opinion on the questions you’ve raised. Anyone who has read that far clearly considers you worth reading, and they’re waiting to hear your judgment on things.

Maintain Blog Structure Consistently:

The form and structure that content takes on your site or blog needs to be consistent in order to look professional. Regular readers are going to keep coming back because they like what you do. If you change it up too often, they’ll stop getting what they liked about your writing and your site in the first place. Find structures that work for the types of posts you like to write, and require guest writers to conform to that style, if only generally. It’ll do wonders for your bounce rates, and help you develop a loyal readership more quickly.

I hope you found these tips on how to write a scannable blog post useful. I’m curious to know what blog formats do you use? Are you a slave to structure, or do you keep things more free form for yourself and for guest bloggers?

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7 Comments

    • iGoByDoc says

      Hi there Jonathan, thank you for the comment.

      Not that we try at all to be like anyone else, especially Copyblogger, it makes me curious what types of content you would like to see from us? What would you deem more legit? Would love to know so we can work on possibly creating it.

      Have a great week, and thanks again for the comment.

      Doc

    • Paul Sanders says

      Thanks for the compliment, Jonathan. I actually do like some CopyBlogger posts from time to time, and I respect a lot of what they’re doing. But I think it’s natural that a writer like me will at some point be talking about the same topics and touching on the same points, especially something as germane as content quality. I’ve been harping about the quality of SEO content for years, now, and the same issues keep on coming up.

      <a href=”http://www.copyblogger.com/new-yorker-content-marketing/”>Demian Farnsworth</a> wrote a good piece about content marketing lately, and I like some of his points. Since the avalanche of Google updates this last year, you’ll find a lot of people turning to content as  a refuge, and a lot of people making the same points about user-engagement and content quality.

  1. Jonathan Smith says

    Hey there,

    I actually meant problogger.com. They just emailed me right before reading this post about scannable content and linked to an article from several years ago on their blog. 

    Just thinking you got the same email hence this post. Not sure though. Anyway, I’m a fan of actionable content. That would be my suggestion. SEO content we as your readers can implement. I’m sure it is here but from what I’m seeing not much of it here. 

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    p.s. There is something wrong with the site on a mobile phone. I’m on iPhone and this was hard to post Because of it. 

  2. Gina Fiedel says

    As the soon-to-be beginner blog content writer responsible for supplying blog content for our small company website, I feel fortunate to have discovered your blog. Frankly, I’ve been nervous enough about the whole thing to have put it off and then put it off again and then once again. Lately, I realize I just can’t avoid it any longer, so we’re setting up the blog and I’m compiling articles. I will be writing most, but have also engaged the help of a content writer whose work I like. I’ve been writing the content for our site since its inception in 1998, but somehow, the blog thing has just felt intimidating. Your posts are demystifying a number of issues for me in a way that is engaging and easy to understand. Thank you for the help you are unknowingly giving me!

    • Paul Sanders says

      I’m really glad this helped, Gina. If you’re already a writer, you should have no problem with the blog. I think part of the intimidating part is the social aspect of a blog. You’re kind of putting yourself out there, and people get to respond. No matter what, just keep writing. All things get easier with time, and you already sound like a seasoned pro.

  3. Joel Mitchell says

    Great post.  Many of the good points that you brought up will also help in search engine rankings.  Google likes that kind of structure.  I might add that, if you can, add a summary Vlog (video Blog) to the post.  I like to think of these as executive summaries for the reader.  Post that on You-tube with a link back to your blog site. Not only will this help readers find your site, but Google will rank the keywords in the video faster than you blog. To see an example of this check out our blog. http://smallbusinessthoughts.prysmspress.com/

    Joel 

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