Make em’ SCROLL
Let’s continue talking about how to tweak your site for more traffic from Google… by optimizing for human beings.
Now, answer me this…
When an article looks interesting, or at least holds potential, what do you do naturally?
You look it over, of course! You SCROLL downward to see what the article has in it and whether it’s worth your time. Now before you do that, though, it has to pass the absolute instant judgement.
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That instant judgement is that first couple seconds after you click through to the site. You immediately notice what it looks like. You notice whether the headline looks promising. You notice if the site is super slow or whether it loads up quickly. You might notice the feature image. These things you notice almost immediately.
If all that looks promising, then you scroll down. See how long it is. Scan a few things to see if the article is worth your time to read.
Yes, admit it. We all do that. It is a rare bird who arrives on an article and simply begins to read from the top.., right on through. It is actually very rare. Almost depressingly rare if you’re a blogger. But, as long as you understand that this is human nature, you roll with it. 🙂
So, one of the factors that will influence your rankings in search is what is called SCROLL DEPTH.
In other words, how far down do they scroll? Do they scroll down at all or do they do a super fast bounce back to Google to look at the next result (called pogo sticking)?
So obviously, we want our visitors to scroll down. So, how can we engineer our posts so that it is more likely they WILL scroll down?
Well, using a good headline with a good hook helps. Headline is the first thing people will see and if it looks enticing, they’ll look further.
Images are also very important. Especially images that people have to scroll to see. Infographics, for instance, usually have a higher vertical height which means they’ll have to scroll to see it.
Longer posts also entice scrolling. Long-form content has a lot of benefits for Google, including just more text for the bot to chomp on. Long-form content also contains a higher promise of value to the reader. In short, it is more impressive. But, yep… it also begs the reader to scroll down.
You also want to pay attention to how your site appears on different screen sizes. You don’t want the fact that there’s juicy content down there to be hidden. It should be super obvious! So, check your analytics and see what the most popular screen sizes are. If you use Inspector built right into Chrome and Firefox, you can preview your site at different screen resolutions. Is your content hidden? Does it start before the fold (aka the bottom of your screen)?
NOTE: If you didn’t know about Inspector, just right-click on a site and choose “Inspect”. It is called “Inspect Element” in Firefox. You’ll get the Inspector window popping up to allow you to analyze all kinds of geeky stuff. At the top, you’ll have an icon to allow you to view the site at different resolutions. Here’s what it looks like in Chrome:
OK, more on the scroll depth…
Nothing hurts you more than having your blog post just be a big block of uninviting text. Remember, people don’t read it! They SCAN it! So, what do you do?
Use sub-headlines to break it up.
And for each sub-headline, tweak it to be ENTICING. All the same rules guidelines for main headlines apply to sub-headlines. Every single sub-headline in your post, ideally, will make the scanner WANT to actually read every word of the post. But, if you’re not using sub-headlines, shame on you. Do it.
Oh, and make sure those sub-headlines are defined as headings. H2 or H3 formatting. That tells Google they’re sub-headlines. Do not just use regular text and bold it. That doesn’t count.
Alright, my friends. There’s the jist of scroll depth.
But, the big picture always remains… make an article that actually LOOKS interesting and entices people to look down. You do that, you’re helping your SEO.