Magnifying glass and paper to scan content
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How to create scannable B2B content that Google and your audience will love

Want to get better engagement, repeat visits and higher conversions on your B2B content? Make it scannable with these tips.

How many tabs have you got open right now? I have three windows open, each with between four and eight tabs. Don’t judge me.

Why? I’m comparing information, reading through each blog post or web page quickly to find out if it has what I’m looking for. The answer to my question.

Which is…where do I find a good accountant for a freelance copywriter in London? Thrilling.

I’m actively looking for reasons to narrow down my search. I don’t want to have all of these tabs open for long. It’s too much.

These days, competition for eyeballs is tough. We’re all busy and we’re consuming content all the time: constantly reading, listening, subscribing and sharing.

So if you’re writing valuable B2B content, you need to think about human behaviour as well as what words to use and what information to include.

The truth is most people aren’t going to sit down and read your blog post or website word for word. They don’t have time, so they’re going to scan through it. You need to meet them where they’re at.

Plus, making your content scannable is important for accessibility. And SEO.

What do you mean by scannable content?

Imagine you’re looking for an accountant in your local area (it’s Friday afternoon and I don’t have the brainpower to come up with another scenario…).

You’ve typed ‘accountant freelancer London’ into Google and now you have to wade through a billion websites and reviews to find a couple to compare.

Websites with long blocks of text, no breaks and no images are going to put you off. The copy feels like too much of an effort to read – it’s long, seems boring and you can’t find the information you need. You’re going to close those pages and keep looking.

Readers need a reason to stay engaged and on the page.

Your content should be easy for someone to scan through and find what they’re looking for. Effortless. This is especially important for B2B content, which can be quite technical and complex.

By understanding how your audience read, you can write to capture their attention. You don’t have long to pique their interest – in fact, Jakob Nielsen, often regarded as the forefather of UX design and human-computer interaction, believes you have 10-20 seconds to capture attention on web pages. That’s not long.

So if you’re a SaaS targeting aware buyers with bottom-of-the-funnel content (BOFU), you’ll want to format your competitor comparisons and case studies in a way that makes sure the most valuable or likely to convert information stands out.

Put simply: scannable content is easy for your audience to skim read.

Does that mean long-form B2B content is pointless?

Not at all.

People like to cut to the chase and digest content quickly because they’re busy, not because they don’t like to learn or read valuable content.

A well-researched lengthy blog post littered with nuggets of wisdom or a B2B white paper that shows people how to do something or provides new insight into an area of business should still be an important part of your marketing strategy. 

It’s the formatting we’re here to discuss. Even a twenty-page white paper needs to be scannable.

The number one rule of creating B2B content: offer real value.

Rule number two: offer that value quickly.

Getting to the point with content

Formatting tips and tricks for B2B content

To recap: scannable content is easy to read and eye catching.

Clever formatting is a copy hack that is simple and quick. You don’t have to rewrite your BOFU content or legal blog, you might just need to shift a couple of things around and add whitespace.

My favourite formatting tips are:

  • Use lists: your whole article might be a listicle (Google loves these), or you might add some bullet points in to highlight data points, actionable tips, features/benefits or recommended resources. But keep your list punchy: fewer than five items.
  • Use subheadings: you’ll see I’ve used these throughout this post. Not just for SEO purposes, but also because they break up paragraphs and you can signpost different subtopics easily. I’ll often skip through introductory paragraphs and use subheadings to find the bit of a web page that is most useful to me.
  • Use whitespace: leave space between your characters, lines and paragraphs to avoid long blocks of text. It makes your content more manageable and scannable.
  • Use grammatical tools: brackets, dashes, colons, ellipses. These all help give the readers’ eyes a break and can help you emphasise explanations, sidenotes and afterthoughts. A lot of SaaS and technology B2B brands like to use these as they tend to use a more casual tone of voice.
  • Use different font sizes: draw attention to different parts of your copy and break up sections by using a larger font for headlines/hero statements, then decrease for your subheadings and body copy. Using colours and bolding your text can also help, but don’t go overboard. Too much inconsistency can give your reader a headache.

You can use tools like the All in One SEO plugin to help analyse your web pages or content (this one is just for WordPress sites, but there are others). Jakob Nielsen’s NNG site also has a lot of useful information.

What’s in it for me?

Creating scannable content doesn’t just mean your readers are more likely to give your page a chance.

Keeping readers reading with valuable content means better engagement, repeat visits and higher conversions.

Your readers are more likely to remember your name and get in touch to hire or buy from you. And that’s the goal of your B2B content marketing, right? 

If you’d like a B2B copywriter to write super scannable content for you, please get in touch with me

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Written by

Caroline Voaden
Magnifying glass and paper to scan content
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