If you are like most people, you won’t make it to the end of this blog post.
This is not because this post doesn’t offer value — at least we hope that’s not the case. Rather, it’s a result of the fact that most viewers only read about 20 percent of the content on any given web page. Instead, they scan for the information they’re looking for.
Several eye-tracking studies over the past several years have confirmed this concept. Using heat-mapping software, researchers have found that users tend to view web pages in an F-shaped pattern. This has some considerable implications for web copywriters.
Here’s how that looks:
Image courtesy of Nielsen Norman Group
According to this particular study, most users start by reading the top of the content on a page in a horizontal movement. This represents the top bar in the “F.”
After that, users will move down the page and read the next few lines of content. However, rather than moving their eyes all the way across the screen, they tend to stop about two-thirds of the way across. This represents the second bar in the “F.”
As they continue to move down a page of web content, they tend to look more toward the left side of the screen than anywhere else, shortening their horizontal movements to a considerable degree.
What this means for web copywriters
Understanding the scanning patterns of most users allows web copywriters to create and format content in a way that gives viewers the information they’re seeking as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This starts with the main heading of a page. Considering that this could be the only component on the page users actually read in full, it’s important to use it to grab readers’ attention and tell them what they’ll find in the rest of the content.
The main heading should also contain a high-impact keyword, as the spiders Google and other search engines use to crawl content and determine its value place significant emphasis on the heading. Yours should accurately represent what users can find if they continue to read the content on the page.
Professional web copywriters also know that the first two or three paragraphs of text on a page are of utmost importance. Writing in an inverted pyramid style allows us to place the most critical information toward the top of the page, with items of lesser importance in the subsequent paragraphs.
Thus, if you have anything you absolutely need your readers to know, be sure to focus on it early on rather than burying it in the middle of your blog or web content.
Other areas of emphasis for web copywriters are subheadings and bullet points, which also draw the focus of scanners. Each subheading should accurately and descriptively communicate what the section of content below it is all about, starting with keywords and phrases. Bullet points should be concise and offer the greatest amount of value using as few words as possible.
Turning to a professional for your web content
Your website is the foundation of your online marketing strategy. As such, the copy on your web pages needs to be benefits-driven, keyword-rich and focused on the needs of your target audience. To that end, it may be beneficial to work with a professional content writer to help ensure your website offers value, even for the people who aren’t necessarily hanging on every word.