When I was younger, I remember being assigned a book to read in school and never looked forward to reading it. Each week, the teacher would assign one or two chapters and ask questions regarding those chapters. Nowadays, while I do appreciate a good book or an insightful article, reading then was not on my list of priorities as a kid. Then Cliff’s Notes arrived and that was the savior that paraphrased the entire book for me. Alas, I could know enough about the book without reading the entire book to get by and answer the teacher's questions! What if you could provide the same thing for your blog posts?
Was I lazy that I did not want to read the entire book? It was more of the fact that I had other homework that had to be done and I wanted to play my video games and go outside and play rather than stay inside and read a book. While I did love reading books I certainly enjoyed, books that I did not have a whole lot of interest in would tend to drag on forever. Later on, as most readers do, they learn to skim the pages, picking up important keywords, and extracting the main point out of pages, making it so they can read books in just a few days rather than weeks or months. As adults, most people are not forced to read things they are not interested in, but they will definitely read the things they are curious about.
Today, with every news and article distribution website in competition for readers and their eyes, most people do not have the time to read the vast number of articles that they are presented with each day. They learn to read headlines, skim articles, pick out main points, and move on with their life. Whether the information actually sticks or not is another story. Not only do we live in a fast-paced world outside of the Internet, but the world wide web is extremely fast-paced with millions of articles written and distributed each day. There is no possible way for the average human being to read everything, as it would be a full-time job.
When it comes to your own blog or article distribution website, you are lucky to get a visitor to spend two to three minutes on your website, reading your posts. You have huge competition and are likely at a disadvantage with everything else. You are in better standing if your visitors read and understand the entire article of your blog and make legit comments. Chances are, the majority of readers are just skimming your blog posts, reading the first paragraph, and a few sentences after that, and then the last paragraph. I admit it, I do it too. I like to open several tabs to read and then I just skim through each article and acquire enough knowledge from the article as I need. Sometimes the information is retained, most of the time, pieces of information are acknowledged, maybe used for other ideas or topics that I write about, and that is about as far as it goes.
To make it easier for the reader, why not just provide a summary of your article? I saw the idea used on CNN called Story Highlights, located on the side of almost every article, and it was incorporated into Confessions of the Professions, known as Quick Glimpse. If you plan on summarizing your blog posts, you should provide about 4 to 5 bullet points of the main points of the article. Sometimes it proves useful and I choose from those paragraphs, while other times, I have to go directly into the article and grab a few sentences, or I paraphrase the article.
The benefits to providing a summary of your blog post are for the lazy reader, the reader who wants a general understanding of what they are about to read, or the reader who just wants to skim through the article. Providing a summary of your article will also boost your SEO results, especially if you paraphrase, as you will be using different keyword terms and tags for your blog post. This summary area is not for keyword stuffing or tricking search engines into giving you a better ranking.
As with anything you do on your websites, design it with your visitors in mind, and the rest will follow. While summarizing all the articles on your blog can be time consuming, it should be an ongoing process. The rewards for doing it will be greater than you can imagine. You are not only adding more content to your article, but you are doing your visitors a favor by providing for them a few bullet points of content before they begin to read your article or providing those skimmers and lazy readers with a quick glimpse of information.