This sentence is easy to read. But why is it? The answer is quite simple: It is short and it’s in a good position. Top left, just below the title. Just where every reader looks at when they view a site. This and other realisations of the LESEFORSCHUNG are also interesting for SEOs. For the best content and a perfect performance are useless if it takes the reader a lot of effort to read the site, because the font and the (typo-) graphic structure of the site are not quite right.
After all, the target of Onpage optimisation is to keep the reader on the page for as long as possible.
The Secret of the Big “F”
The eye tracking study of a site by the seo-nerd with the SEO tool Eyequant strongly indicated, where readers predominantly look: they glance at the left side of the screen, on the other hand it also moves to the middle and to the very top right, as well. This movement is typical for almost all readers. They scan a site subconsciously in the pattern of an F.
The casual reader
When getting on a site rather randomly, not intending to read it actually, one only looks briefly at the title and tries to pick up some points that could be interesting. If present, this type of reader looks at the image, then. He or she only reads the first few lines.
Also, he or she might scan the site for bullet points or similar lists, while instinctively assuming that these can be found somewhere in the last third or at the very bottom of the site. In a simplified schematic image, the color red indicates the sections which eyes are directed much shorter.
The purpose- and target-orientated reader
Another type of reading and consequently a specific way of looking at a page results from when someone only looks for specific information. In that case, eyes scan the screen in an F pattern, as well. However, the F is much thicker, glancing more intensely at few points reader is interested at. The F can be nearer the top or bottom, depending on the particular interest.
The reader wanders about with their eyes a bit more with this type of reading, but essentially stays focused on the section that seems to offer them what they are looking for. The rest of the site is also scanned, but this reader type only looks very briefly at the sections that don’t seem to be able to inspire them.
The text-loving reader
Every website owners loves this type of reader. Text-loving readers have come to stay. Their eyes wander over the entire text. It would be worth it to introduce another colour for them in the schema, for all the short eye contacts they capture the entire site with.
The eye contact of the text-loving reader is continuous on the site like a flowing movement. Jumps are rare. They read from the top all the way to the bottom.
Ideal line length: between 45 and 85 characters
One thing having all types of readers in common are the tricks we use to make reading easier. After all, we don’t read letters one after another. We all develop techniques enabling us to capture the content of a site as fast as possible.
One of them is the ability to finish lines and sentences in your head. Our brain works with assumptions and estimations when reading, allowing us to jump over lines. Verbs are easily blanked from the the text. We – you know it – the gist without them as well.
For readers being able to fly with their eyes over sites the ideal line length should be taken into consideration. Including spaces, it should only be a maximum of 85 characters long, but not less than 45. Anything below or above that will become uneasy to the eye. The most ideal and comfortable it is to read lines about 65 characters long.
Build up a site in a way that accommodates all different types of readers, keeping following points in mind:
- Structure the text with subtitles
- Write keywords in bold
- Line length between 45 and 85 characters
- The text should be loosened up with relevant images
- Don’t forget lists and/or bullet points