I found this recent Twitter thread pretty fascinating stuff, essential reading for any websites out there that create a lot of regular content and have an interest in SEO. In a nutshell, heat map data from a previous NN Group eye-tracking study shows the unique “F-shaped” pattern users quickly default to when scanning through a webpage.
The report shows that when scanning through a web page people have a unique focus. This starts at the top left part of the document, scanning right, then jumping down and repeating. Moreover, as people quickly skim read the page they typically only look at the left part of the content.
As the Twitter thread I linked to explains, as people move further and further down your page, the information towards the right hand part of the screen is increasingly invisible; the user briefly notes the start of each parapgraph or heading only.
That means if you’re leaving the best of your content to the end of your page or post it may never be seen. The result is a user bouncing back to Google and finding another webpage that meets their needs – a massive fail in the world of SEO (and the ever-watching eyes of Google). With all the chatter recently about Core Web Vitals and what that might mean for a website’s search engine rank, it’s always important to remember other factors in the SEO mix.
So with all that in mind, what are the main things you can do to ensure your content remains viable for skim reading?
- Hook the readers attention with key info in the first paragraph, encourage them to read on
- Use clear and obvious headings to delineate the various parts of your article
- Formatting is king, use easy to read items like lists to make information stand out
- Put the most critical data right up at the top, don’t make people search all the way through the page – they won’t
- Keep it simple stupid, less is more, insert your own truisms here too!