Skimmable, Snackable Content

     

Published: November 4, 2019

When creating content, two conflicting worlds have to come together if the content is to be successful. The first is that longer content tends to make it to the first page of a Google search result. In fact, the average length for first-page results content is up to 1900 words! The second, however, is the fact that human attention spans are shorter than ever before. You now have about eight seconds before your readers get bored and move along.

If people do not have the patience to read through your content, and if people will skip around the search results looking for an easy answer to their questions over a comprehensive one, how can you give them what they want while also convincing Google that your content is thorough enough to bring to the front page? By making it snackable!

Everyone Loves Snacktime
Snacktime is the best time because you get a quick bite of something filling and satisfying without the major disruption of prepping, cooking, serving, and cleaning. Snackable content fits the same bill: it allows people to get their questions answered in the micro-moments we tend to use for searching. These moments include standing in line, waiting in a reception area, or the few minutes before a meeting begins. They also include breaks from longer tasks, such as checking a fact while working on a project, looking something up that arises from a conversation, or vaguely wondering if a service exists that could help with some burden.

In other words, people are not usually sitting down for a lengthy search-and-read session. Instead, these searches happen between all the other things we’re doing and if it starts to become too time-consuming to find the solution, most people will hit the “back” button and try another page.

If you want visitors who are more likely to take an action such as call, submit a form, purchase a product, or click a link to a deep dive on the subject, you have to deliver bits of content that are easy to consume and so satisfying that the search is over.

What Makes Content Snackable?
One bite of snackable content is usually a simple answer to a question or solution to a problem. Of course, we all know that answers and solutions are never simple and there’s always more to the story than what can be summarized in a sentence. However, nobody is going to take the time to read the whole story unless they are positive that it’ll be worth their time.

That means you need to distill each section of your content down to one central point and find a way to convey the gist ideally in a few words. Then, you can provide a paragraph or two of information to drive home the point. If that’s not enough space for a thorough explanation, link to another page that goes into even more detail. For example, action steps make excellent snackable bites and are easy to summarize with just a few words. Then, provide the reasoning behind the action in the next several sentences.

Lists are perfect for snacking on because readers can skip from point to point until they find one that resonates. Quotes, statistics, and surprising conclusions are also very catchy and likely to get people to read a bit more if they apply to their search.

Organize For Skimming
When our stomachs start rumbling, we all tend to head to the fridge or pantry and start scanning packages and labels to see if anything looks interesting. The same applies to your long-form content. In the same way that you’re probably not going to turn away from a full pantry (so many options!), people aren’t going to turn away from a long document--provided they can scan the entire thing and see which parts look interesting.

The first step to making your content skimmable is to use lots of bands, sections, and subheadings. These serve to break up the content visibly and act as a label of sorts so readers will know what the lines of text below are likely to contain. That way, it is easy to scroll past any sections that are not appetizing and hone in on the ones that will answer the question or solve the problem.

Next, you want to break up any long pages with lots of visually appealing elements. This can include photos, graphics, a short video break, or even colorful lines to help direct the reader’s eyes and attention around the page. The purpose of these visuals is first to make the page appear less overwhelming. Even if the page is long and full of text, it won’t seem like a dense textbook so it won’t be challenging. The second is aesthetic: pages that are pleasing to look at have staying power. Plus, a nice visual will give eyes a short rest before they move on to reading text again.

Bonus: Snackable and Repurposeable!
Once you’ve taken a longer document and broken it up into snackable bites, you’ve also created small pieces of content that are easily distributed and shared, especially on social media. You can also do the reverse and take any small bites you’ve dished out to your social feeds and stitch them up into a blog post and it’ll be easy to see where to include subheadings, visuals, and other elements to break up the page.

When you begin the content creation process with these ideas in mind, not only will your readers react to your content better, but search engines will see the quality and value in your pages, too.

Categories: Content Marketing
Tags: Content Marketing, High Quality Content