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

By Guest Author

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”.

f-shape-reading-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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18 Responses to “How The Letter “F” Can Make You A Better Blogger”

  • Richard Ng

    This is a very informative guide, I will sure to remember the new meaning of “F” letter and apply it in my blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!

  • Cengiz

    Thanks for the great article. I heard that before in an article about ad spaces. Because of the F patter top right ad banners aren’t effective, ads should be somewhere close right top of the article.

  • Rashmi Sinha @ TechInitio

    Wow very nice information that you cannot find anywhere. When i first read “F” word i really could not imagine what it could mean! Thank you for sharing this!

  • caren gittleman

    absolutely FANTASTIC advice!!!! When I see a blog post that is MILES long with small type to boot and paragraph after paragraph that continue on forever….I could care less about the content. I run for the hills!!

    People have a 2 minute or less attention span on blogs. I couldn’t agree more, some of the BEST writers make the WORST bloggers.

  • Sergio Felix

    Hey David,

    Awesome tips and I definitely wasn’t expecting to read about the “F pattern” when I first saw the headline of the article lol

    Sergio

  • Irfan

    The first thing attract me towards this article and forced me to come from email was the letter “F” I took it in a other way that won’t look good if I mention the exact term 😉

    But seriously I got something new to learn today. It is important if readers are actually reading our content or not and if not then what changes we should made after it.

  • Jamie Northrup

    Nice headline David, sucked me in thinking about another “F”, but glad I came through, it’s good info, and makes me rethink my ad placements and call to actions on a couple of my websites.

  • Binny Oinam

    Great headline & a great post! I have heard and read about heat maps but knew it was the next big “F”. LOL

  • Binny Oinam

    *but never knew

  • Jeff

    It is nice to remember this F rule if we can call it that way.
    Pretty cool.

  • Abdul Cholik

    This article is something new for me. I really understand that people don’t have enough time to read our whole content except they like it and need the article. That is why your tip is really useful especially how to write headline, putting bullets and so on.
    Hope by reading and applying your tip the traffic of my blog will increase.

    Thank you

  • azwan

    Cool use of the ‘F’ word 🙂

  • Abdul Rauf

    Wow. It is great article. I have never heard of F pattern and never ever thought upon this. So thanks so so much for sharing much valuable little thing.

  • Joey

    David definitely went all out on this one. I knew that people tend to just skim through the content, but never had any idea about this f thing. I’m definitely going to be using this on my blogs.

  • Ehsan

    Thank you very much David for your great article, I will surely apply the letter “F” in my blog.

  • Steve Borek

    David, this is one of the few blog posts where I read most of what you wrote. You must be drinking your own Kool Aid and using the F word.

    In fact you did just that. Your ads are in the NW corner. You had an interesting provocative title. Very cool visual of the heat pattern. Bulleted points. No long winded paragraphs.

    I’m honing my writing craft every day. Thanks for adding spice to what I’m cookin.

  • Ozio Media

    This information underscores the principals that have always been attributed to good copy. Making sure that you have a catchy title to entice readers, get your message across in the first few lines of text and keep your content simple and as short as possible are all just good general writing practices. This does imply that a lot of content is more about SEO than it is for actual visitors. The crawlers may be reading webpages more thoroughly than many of their live visitors do.

  • Sean Breslin

    I liked this post because it contained verifiable research data, but more to the point, a practical way of applying the results…. effectively.

    It was well worth spending the time to read.

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