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How Easy-to-Skim Content Keeps Visitors on Your Website Longer

Updated on October 23, 2012

Visitors to your website or blog don’t read—they skim. While there are many things you can do to help hold their attention and keep them on your site longer, making your content easy to read is one of the best things you can do.

All readers shy away from large blocks of text. Unbroken lines of text are intimidating and make it hard to stay focused, even for the best readers. And online readers have even shorter attention spans, so if the content on your site looks scary or they can’t find what they want, they’ll hightail it back to another site.

That’s why it’s important to break up your copy and make it easy on the eye. Try these web copywriting suggestions to keep your visitors on your site longer.

How Breaking Up Content Keeps Visitors on Your Site

Making your copy easy to skim through prevents visitors from bouncing in several ways:

  • They can find what they want easier and faster.
  • They are not intimidated, so they feel no reason to leave.
  • Done right, broken up content guides the reader’s eye down the page, so they keep reading.
  • Visitors are more likely to click on links or purchase products because it’s easier to see what action they’re supposed to take.
  • They understand your message better, making you seem more credible and authoritative.

Another benefit of always making your blog posts and articles skimmable is that visitors are more likely to visit your site again because their first experience was so friendly. Who doesn’t love repeat traffic?

Formatting Tricks to Make Your Copy Easy to Read and Use

>>Headings. Separate sections of your writing and give each section its own heading, and subheadings where appropriate. Visitors are more likely to read headings to find the information they want, so the more headings you have (within reason), the better.

>>Bold. Grab the reader’s attention by bolding keywords or important information. Don’t overuse it.

>>Italics. Grab your reader’s attention, but with less forcefulness than bold. Don’t overuse it.

>>Bullets and Numbers. List important benefits, features, tips, and ideas in a way that’s easy for visitors to find and read. Bulleted and numbered lists are some of the most-read text in web copy.

>>Images and videos. Even text that is broken up well gets boring quickly. Spice things up with photos, graphics, and videos. Interactive and visual content is extremely popular and helps retain visitors’ attention.

Writing Tips to Make Your Copy More Enticing and Friendly

>>Short sentences. Long sentences take too much time and energy to read when skimming. Stick to shorter sentences for the most part. They keep things punchy and encourage good flow, so your readers will at least scroll down the page.

>>Easy words. Sometimes you have to use big words or technical jargon, but try to avoid them for the most part. Words that can be easily and quickly understood are better for the short attention spans of online audiences.

>>Short paragraphs. You can have all the short sentences and easy words in the world, but if they’re all lumped together in one giant scary paragraph, they won’t do you any good. Don’t be afraid of one-sentence paragraphs. In fact, one-line paragraphs draw a lot of attention because they’re surrounded by white space, so they’re more likely to be read and encourage visitors to keep reading.

How "Skim-able" is Your Website or Blog?

How does your website or blog stack up to these suggestions?

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