Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Jordan Alexo
Did you know that roughly 80% of readers only skim online content? That’s right!
So, what does this mean for you? It’s simple.
Good content must help readers skim through information quickly. But also give value to those who read the full blog post.
In this post, you’ll discover seven tactics to make your content skimmable. I’m talking about short and sweet phrases, clear headings, and bullet points.
Ready to transform your content and engage your readers like never before? Let’s dive in!
- Skimmability is King: With 80% of readers skimming online content, making your content skimmable isn’t just for show; it’s a must-have. So, respect your reader’s time and deliver your message in a way that’s easy to digest.
- Short and Sweet Wins the Race: Keep your phrases and paragraphs short and sweet. For this, break up your text with bullet points and lists. And remember, every word counts. So, cut the fluff and get straight to the point.
- Visuals are Your Best Friend: We process images 60,000 times faster than text. So, use (images, videos, graphs, etc.) to break up your text and make your content more exciting. But remember, your visuals need to add value, not distract from your message.
- Summarize, Summarize, Summarize: They give your readers a quick overview without needing to read everything. So, include key takeaways at the start of your content and summaries at the end of each section or blog post.
- Presentation Matters: Pay attention to your font size and white space. So, ensure your text is between 16 to 18 pixels and use easily readable fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.
What’s Skimmable Content All About?
Skimmable content is like your favorite fast-food joint: quick, convenient, and gets the job done.
In other words, your blog post must be easy to digest, even when you’re just glancing through it.
Think about it.
You’re scrolling through your feed, and a headline catches your eye. You click, but you’re not ready to commit to reading every single word.
So, you skim. You jump from heading to heading, pick out key points, and if something grabs your attention, you might slow down to read a bit more.
That’s skimmable content in action. It’s not about dumbing down your message or cutting corners.
Nope. It’s about delivering your message in a way that respects your reader’s time and attention.
So, if you want to have winning content: you’ve got to master the art of skimmable content. And provide high-quality and interesting info for those who read the full blog post.
3 Rock-Solid Reasons to Make Your Content Skimmable
So, why should you bother making your content skimmable? Well, let’s take a look at some reasons:
1 – People Have Short Attention Spans
The constant use of social media platforms and smartphones has dramatically reduced our attention span. And everyone’s busy with their lives.
Nowadays, most people don’t have enough time to sit down and read a full blog post.
In fact, our attention span has decreased 25% from 2000 to 2015. It is now about 8 seconds.
So, skimmable content lets people quickly grab what they need and go on with their day.
2 – Increase Engagement
Here’s a fun fact from the Nielsen Norman Group: users read at most 28% of the words during an average page visit.
When your content is skimmable, readers can quickly find the information they’re interested in, which can increase engagement rates.
Just imagine someone goes to your post and sees a huge chunk of text without any breaks or headings. What do you think they’ll do? Well, most likely bounce off.
3 – Improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Yep, you heard it right. Skimmable content can actually help your SEO. How?
- When readers stay on your page longer because your content is easy to skim, it sends positive signals to search engines about your content’s quality.
- Also, if your content quickly ends the “user journey.” Meaning that reader didn’t have to jump to another site to find information. Also, that tells Google and other search engines your content is top-notch.
So, there you have it. Making your content skimmable isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have nowadays.
Skimmable content is your fast-food equivalent in the content world – quick, convenient, and effective. It’s all about delivering your message in a way that respects your reader’s time and attention.
With attention spans shrinking by 25% from 2000 to 2015, skimmable content is a must, allowing readers to grab what they need quickly.
Plus, it boosts engagement, with users typically reading only 28% of the words during an average page visit. Not to mention, it helps with SEO, sending positive signals to search engines when readers stay on your page longer.
7 Tactics To Make Your Content Skimmable
Now, let’s dive into how to make your content skimmable with these seven tactics. Ready? Let’s roll!
Tactic 1 – Keep Phrases & Paragraphs Short And Sweet
Keep your phrases and paragraphs short and sweet.
You see, in this world of 280-character tweets and bite-sized TikTok videos, nobody’s got the time for long, winding sentences and chunky paragraphs.
They’re like a brick wall for your readers’ eyes.
So, if you want your readers to get the most out of your content, you’ve got to make every word count. How do you do that?
- Keep your sentences short: Your paragraphs should be short. Sometimes, you need to break some grammatical rules to make your sentences easier to understand.
- Break up your paragraphs: Aim for 2-3 sentences per paragraph. This makes your content easier on the eyes and helps your readers absorb information faster.
- Make each sentence count: Don’t have pointless fluff in your content. Nope, each sentence should give practical info.
Your goal is to deliver value fast and respect your reader’s time. So, cut the fluff, get straight to the point, and make every word count.
Tactic 2 – Use Clear and Informative Headings
Moving on to tactic number two – clear and informative headings.
You know when you’re at a party, and someone catches your eye from across the room? That’s what your headings should do.
See, they should grab your reader’s attention and make them want to know more.
But here’s the thing. Your headings aren’t just there to look pretty. They’ve got a job to do.
Rather they need to give your readers a snapshot of what’s in that section. Why is this important?
Well, according to the Nielsen Norman Group: people read online content in an ‘F-shaped’ pattern.
People skim the page for headlines and opening sentences to cherry-pick the most important pieces of information.
So, make your headings count. Use these three tips:
- Make Them Clear and Informative: Your subheadings should be like mini headlines. They must catch someone’s attention and briefly explain what the section is about.
- Keep Them Short and Sweet: Long subheadings? No, thank you! Keep your subheadings short and to the point. They should be easy to skim and understand at a glance.
- Pack Them With Keywords: Here’s a little SEO secret – search engines love subheadings, especially when they have relevant keywords. So, sprinkle in those keywords, but remember, it’s gotta feel natural. Don’t force it.
Tactic 3 – Use Bullet Points And Lists
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Jordan, bullet points? Really?” But hear me out.
Bullet points and lists are like the superheroes of skimmable content. They’re quick. They’re powerful. And they deliver a punch of information in a format that’s easy to digest.
See, they’re easy on the eyes and help break up the monotony of paragraph after paragraph of text. Also, it lets people quickly find the key points from your blog post without needing to read everything.
Lists aren’t just good for your readers. Nope, they’re also great for SEO. Search engines love lists because they’re structured and easy to understand.
So, next time you’re writing a piece of content, think about using bullet points and lists. Maybe it’s a list of tips, a step-by-step guide, or a summary of key points.
Remember, the goal is to make your content as skimmable as possible. And bullet points and lists are a great way to do that. As you probably have noticed, I use them all the time in my writing.
Tactic 4 – Highlight Key Information
You know when you’re studying for a test, and you highlight the important stuff in your textbook? That’s what you need to do with your content.
Akshay Hallur of BloggingX: bold text has several benefits for both skimmability and SEO optimization.
When you highlight a piece of content using text formatting tags, people slow down their reading speed and read in detail. You could call them “speed-breakers.”
You’ve got to use this power wisely. Don’t go highlighting every other sentence. Use it to emphasize key points, essential stats, or powerful quotes.
The goal is to make your key information stand out so that even if your readers are skimming, they won’t miss the important stuff.
Tactic 5 – Use Visuals
Let’s face it; we’re visual creatures. We process images 60,000 times faster than text. That’s a stat from the 3M Corporation, and it’s a big one.
So, what does this mean for your content? It means that visuals aren’t just to color up the page.
Instead, they make your content more exciting and break down walls of text like Darth Vader cuts down his enemies with a lightsaber.
So, make sure to use images, infographics, videos, charts, and graphs.
Your visuals need to add value. They must help readers better understand the information.
So, next time you’re writing a piece of content, consider how to incorporate visuals. Maybe it’s an infographic summarizing your key points or a video showing a step-by-step process.
Another pickle: even if you don’t have an informative image, you can always use relevant stock illustrations. Still, they chop down walls of text and make your content more exciting.
Tactic 6 – Summarize Early and Often
You see, when it comes to skimmable content, summaries are your best friend. They’re like the Cliff Notes of your content.
Your readers can scroll through your content and lock on these summaries, and quickly understand the main points.
So, how do you do this?
- Key Takeaways: Summarize your key points at the beginning of your content. This gives your readers a roadmap of what to expect. Or some people just read that section and run with it.
- At The End of Each Section: Include a summary or takeaway. This reinforces your key points and makes it easy for readers to remember the important stuff.
Put ChatGPT to work! If you’re wondering now, “S**t! Now I need to write all this extra content to summarize everything,” fear not.
Just grab each section and head over to ChatGPT and use the following prompt: “Can you help me summarize the main points of this section?[your content]”
Let ChatGPT do the heavy lifting for you while you spend time eating burritos (I love those).
Tactic 7 – Optimize Font Size And Family and White Space
When it comes to skimmable content, presentation is everything. And that’s where font size and white space come into play.
So, what does this mean for your content? It means that the size of your text and the space around it can make a big difference in how skimmable your content is.
You see, small font sizes and cluttered layouts can make your content hard to read and skim.
On the other hand, larger font sizes and plenty of white space can make your content more readable and skimmable.
Then “what the best font size and family?”
- Body Of Text Size: Between 16 to 18 pixels is recommended for optimal reading.
- Heading Size: About 32 to 36 pixels. The math is fairly simple – your headings should be around two times the size of your body text.
- Subheading Size: These should be smaller than the headings. For instance, if your heading has 35 pixels, your subheading can be around 30 pixels.
- Font-Family: Never use complicated or decorative font families. Keep things simple! Like Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, or Helvetica.
So, next time you’re writing content, pay attention to your font size and white space.
Make sure your text is large enough to read easily, and use white space to break up your content and make it easier on the eyes.
Bonus Tactic – In-Depth Table Of Content & Scroll To Top Button
Because you’re so awesome, I’ve got a bonus tactic for you – an in-depth table of content and a scroll to the top button.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s so special about a table of content and a scroll to top button?” Well, let me tell you.
An in-depth table of content is like a roadmap for your content. It gives your readers an idea of what’s in your content and allows them to jump to the sections that interest them the most.
And the scroll to the top button? It’s all about navigation. Just imagine: your readers click on a topic they found interesting on the table content.
After reading it, they can hammer that button. And immediately jump from there to the top of the page.
So, how can you integrate both things?
- Table Of Content Plugin: Just install a WordPress plugin like “Table of Contents Plus” or “Easy Table of Contents.” These plugins come with customization options. You may adjust their appearance to match your site design.
- Scroll To the Top Button: Some WordPress themes like Astra, Kadence, or GeneratePress have built-in scroll-to-top button functionality. Otherwise, you have plugins such as “WPFront Scroll Top” that you can install to add this feature.
So, there you have it. An in-depth table of content and a scroll to the top button. These two simple tools can make a big difference in how skimmable your content is.
To make your content skimmable, keep phrases and paragraphs short and sweet, use clear and informative headings, and incorporate bullet points and lists.
Also, highlight key information, use visuals, and summarize early and often. Don’t forget to optimize your font size (16 to 18px), family (Arial, Georgia, etc.), and white space for readability.
A bonus tactic is to include an in-depth table of content and a scroll to the top button for easy navigation.
3 Examples Of Extra Skimmable Content
Alright, we’ve had a long chitchat about skimmable content. But what does it actually look like? Well, let’s dive into three examples of extra skimmable content.
- BuzzFeed Listicles: You’ve probably stumbled upon a BuzzFeed listicle at some point. They’re the kings of skimmable content with short, punchy headlines. Also, use bullet point lists and plenty of visuals. They’ve got it all. Next time you’re on BuzzFeed, take a moment to study their layout. It’s a masterclass in skimmability.
- The ‘Skimm’ Newsletter: The name says it all. The ‘Skimm’ is a daily newsletter that breaks down the top news stories into digestible, skimmable chunks. They use clear headings, short paragraphs, and plenty of white space to make their content super skimmable.
- Jordan Alexo Blog Posts (Wink, Wink): Not to toot my own horn. But I try to make my blog posts as skimmable as possible. I use clear and informative headings, bullet points, visuals, and plenty of summaries. So, feel free to take a look and get some inspiration!
Go and check these sources, and write down any additional tactics. Plus, you’ll notice similar tactics being used across these websites and other ones. So, it’s no accident that people enjoy reading from these places.
All these sites spend time crafting their content to be easily skimmable. And guess what? You should do the same.
Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground today. But let’s do a quick recap, shall we?
I started with a sobering stat: roughly 80% of readers only skim online content. That’s a big deal!
It means that if your content isn’t skimmable, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your audience.
So, what’s the solution? Purposely create skimmable content. You want to deliver your message quickly and effectively. How?
Use these seven tactics to make your content extra skimmable:
- Keep your phrases and paragraphs short and sweet.
- Use clear and informative headings.
- Use bullet points and lists.
- Highlight key information.
- Use visuals.
- Summarize early and often.
- Optimize font size and white space.
And we didn’t stop there. We also talked about a bonus tactic – an in-depth table of content and a scroll to the top button. This makes a huge impact.
Also, check some reputable examples of sites that provide skimmable content, like – BuzzFeed listicles, the ‘Skimm’ newsletter, and my own blog posts.
So, there you have it. A complete guide to making your content skimmable. Now, it’s time to put these tactics into action.
So, go forth and make your content skimmable. Your readers (and your SEO) will thank you.
Do you have any questions? Don’t feel shy, and leave a comment below.
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