Understanding the average Internet user and various reading patterns on the web is very important if you want to monetize your website or just want to make the user experience as pleasant as possible in your website. In very broad terms reading patterns can be categorized into two , immersive reading and scanning.
The goal of immersive reading is to go through almost all of the text and thoroughly understand what is written in there. This could be something like reading a novel where you absorb everything written there. By contrast the goal of scanning is to quickly locate things. This could be something like a user visiting your website to find your contact details or find an order form etc.
When it comes to blogging in most cases it is a combination of two of these techniques. Typically a user scan for the desired/specific information and do some immersive reading to comprehend that section. Which is why it is important to make your blog , websites and even blog posts easy to scan and locate important things. In one of my previous posts I showed how to make a user friendly website , below are few things you can do to make them easy to scan.
- Have important information in vertical navigator or at the top of the sidebar – it could be your contact information , link to the download of something your giving away free , if its an event it could be link to the time table , anything that you will think that visitors to your blog or website want to find out quickly
- Break your blog posts into small points – it could be by having sub headers , presenting items in bullet points , making some text bold etc , anything to highlight the important aspects of your blog post , keep in mind that users tend to skip large paragraphs that are not properly formatted. There are some cases where this is a good thing and which can lead to increase in advertisement clicks but if you trying to provide information and grab the attention of the user then its best to avoid such text blocks.
How Could This be Used to Highlight Things
Making the text easier to scan ( sub headings / bullet points / quotes ) can highlight the main points in a blog post. But to highlight your ads and to increase your income you need to understand the general eye movement pattern of the average Internet user. The above images shows how a typical web visitor scans a web page.
Top left corner is the starting point which is why ads just under blog title tend to perform well. Then the focus moves to top right and as you can see the least looked upon place is the bottom left corner. So obviously having your contact information and newsletter subscription form at the bottom left is not a good idea.
Since you’re reading this check out how I have added various content to my blog. In a single blog post the title is the most important part and it’s place to the top left. To the top right it’s a brief introduction about me because the primary aim of this blog is to build leads for my freelance SEO business. The right sidebar covers the next most important things and they are to the bottom right.
Although these patterns could be considered as starting point you should remember that it is very important to measure the performance of your advertisement units because user behavior is differs from blog to blog. Most advertisement programs allow you to track your clicks etc and in case of Google Adsense you can use channels to monitor the performance of your ad block. So make sure to test each and every aspect of your advertisement blocks whatever the research says.
Manipulating Reading Patterns on the Web
As I mentioned few times this is the general reading pattern and I’m sure a majority of users follow this pattern. But there maybe instances when you want them to focus on something specific without going through the usual routine. Fortunately there are many actions that can be taken to trigger these things. Covering them all probably requires a book but I’ve linked to a blog post that covers something that really fascinated me.
It covers in detail why people are attracted to other peoples faces, how then tend to look at what other people are looking at and how to include those finding to your website. Be sure to check out “You look where they look”.