How The Letter “F” Can Make You A Better Blogger

How would you feel if you found out that most people on your blog aren’t reading your post at all? You have this well-thought, killer post which you think deserves recognition from the entire civilized world and yet… people don’t read it.
They SCAN it.
The problem is… a lot of people don’t know how to write for a blog. Just because you learned to write in school doesn’t make you a good blogger. Worse yet, usually it is the people who write like they did in school who make the worse bloggers.
Let’s talk for a minute about how readers interact with your site and how this affects the way you write for it.
A lot of user-interface studies have been done (heat maps, studying eye path, etc.) on how people interact with websites. One of the principles that has come out of all that is what is dubbed the “F-Pattern”.
Simply put, people’s eyes scan over your page in a pattern which is similar to the letter “F”. In other words, they scan horizontally across the top, then they scan down the left side. Usually in one or two places, they scan a little bit more toward the right. This is the F-pattern.
Knowing the F-pattern comes in very handy when it comes to how you write your content, how you place important visual elements on your site, or deciding where to place ads.
For example, Daniel has an ad right here on this article. That ad is placed top left. It falls RIGHT at the apex of the F-pattern. For that reason, that placement for a banner ad within content is usually one of the top-performing locations.
There are, however, plenty of other applications of this pattern. For instance:
  • Your headline is key. It is at the top and people will read that. So, make sure your headline knocks their socks off.
  • The first paragraph or so is the key. Again, it is at the top. This needs to knock it out of the park because this is what will often determine whether anybody actually reads what you wrote. Best bet is to use the top paragraph to introduce a “pattern interrupt”. An attention-grabbing statement that is designed to raise an eyebrow.
  • Sub-headlines are important. Make them enticing. The purpose of the sub-headline is to get people to read what’s right under it. And, those sub-headlines form the branches of the “F”.
  • Bullet points can also form branches to the “F”. As a person scans the left side of your post, the bullet points will stick out visually. Make those bullet points interesting.
Contrast this to a reader coming across a long-winded post with multiple paragraphs. Even worse, the paragraphs are justified left and right. Ugh. No wonder people won’t read that! They can’t scan it over and they’re too damn lazy.
Put the “F” to work on your site. You have to work WITH human nature rather than fight it. Most blog readers are riddled with ADD… so your content has to be structured to accommodate. It is just as important as what you say.
David Risley is a blog marketing strategist and long-time pro-blogger. You can subscribe to his podcast, The Blog Program, inside of iTunes. You can also enroll in his free 30 Day Blog Transformation Challenge, to transform YOUR blog into a well-tuned powerhouse.
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