Scrolling is Scanning — Writing for the Web is Different

The thought of having to write a five-paragraph essay in Mr. Bussio’s Eighth Grade English Class used to drive me to tears. Mrs. Nance gave us a great overview of grammar – I had her in 6th and 7th grades – but I couldn’t diagram a sentence to this day. 

I was always a math person. I liked grammar because, like math, it had rules. Five plus two is seven. All. Day. Long. At least on this planet and in this time-space dimension. 

In comes the internet. Copywriting is brought to life in a new way. Sure, Mad Men in days of old were marketing and advertising copywriters. David Ogilvy himself wouldn’t steer you wrong in that regard. Promises of better-looking teeth, snake oil remedies, and tickets to the World’s Greatest Show. 

Taglines. “Think Different.” (Yes, that always bothered me.) Apple did that on purpose. Words created to sell were always designed to be scanned. 

Grab attention.

Keep it. 

Persuade. 

Writing for advertising is more like jazz. Know the rules of music; then break them – just a bit. For emphasis. To grab the ear. To grab the eyes.

It’s no different in 2022. 

A writer isn’t a writer, isn’t a writer. 

When it comes to writing for your web pages, that’s an art in and of itself. 

Blog posts? An art. 

They’re not term papers. They aren’t five-paragraph essays for middle school. They’re not a thesis that you defend to earn a doctorate. 

  • We write to catch eyes. 
  • We write to intrigue people. 
  • And, yes, we write for robots.

It’s an art. It’s a science. 

It’s intuition combined with experience. Some would say intuition, experience, and storytelling.

There is no right or wrong answer to SEO copywriting. Why? Because each client has their own set of business goals. 

SEO copywriting is for those who surf the web. The scanners. The scrollers. 

The scrollers get to your article and then they scan again.

What’s important? Look for headings.

What’s the point. Look for bolded text.

We have taught generations to scan. If it’s important? Then read.

Scrolling is Scanning.

Now you have search results to stand out in as we have for decades. But also, we have to stand out in the feeds that people scroll through. 

Doom scrolling? Dealing with Anxiety? Looking for a fast WordPress host? It doesn’t matter. 

You have to do the same things copywriters have always done.

  • Get attention.
  • Make a connection.
  • Persuade. 

You need those seven to ten touches – online – through the consumer’s scrolling experience.

This is why it’s impossible to perfectly attribute a lead. And honestly, stop looking for that to happen. It’s a distraction.

Are people coming to your website?

Are they clicking on your products?

Are you being talked about offline? 

How’s your off-page SEO? 

Are you set up for Google Alerts for brand mentions? Do you have a Twitter account so you can participate in the conversation? 

People are scrolling. 

Will they see your brand online? 

Or will you be so unrecognizable, that they won’t stop scrolling to read, click, and see your awesome website?

And that starts with a business logo / mark that is recognizable in the circle that fits in a 500 x 500 pixel square on social media viewed on phones that are about 2.5 inches wide.

So, does your mark stand out in the sea of social traffic while someone is scanning the internet?

Is a user’s scrolling behavior benefiting you or do you fade into the noise?

2 Comments

  1. Mitch Mitchell on May 6, 2022 at 11:12 am

    It feels harder to get traffic to come to your blog unless you have a loyal following. Even people writing on sites like Huff Po and Medium have problems getting people to read their content. Still, if it’s for our business we have to persevere; if it’s for fun, why give up our fun just because we don’t get a lot of traffic? And look, I even wrote a comment! 😀

    • Bridget Willard on May 6, 2022 at 11:16 am

      You’re so right. It has always been work to earn and keep an audience. The internet didn’t change that.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Mitch. I appreciate you.

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