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How F Street Will Have Readers Returning To Your Blog

The methodical organization of your blog content can make all the difference when engaging a reader to entirely consume your articles.

Today’s article is the introduction of yet another Tomato author.   Chris Hotz, our very own Director Of Education, steps up on to the soapbox to deliver his first piece of blogging advice.  Chris plays a very important role for our team, and we’re thrilled to have him on the Vine.

How F Street Will Have Readers Returning To Your Blog
By Chris Hotz

F_StRules of the Road

There are certain rules of the road that we all learn when looking to pass our driver's exam. 

The rules help us anticipate the direction others are going to take, preventing us from crashing into one another. 

Without rules, the road most traveled would quickly turn into chaos.  The destination, never reached. 

Three rules that I learned in driving school are:

  1. Read road signs and traffic lights.
  2. Correctly give a turn signal.
  3. Never drink and drive.

These three rules, especially the third one, are designed to get us to and back from each destination safely. 

I have recently learned from a new study is that these rules, if followed properly by bloggers, can help keep their readers well guided so that they may have a safe return, again and again.

The F-Shaped Pattern

A recent study using eye-tracking equipment demonstrates how internet users navigate their way through search engines, websites and online data.  After tracking how 232 users read thousands of web pages, one common attribute became apparent, an F-shaped reading pattern.  This pattern is characterized by three common attributes:

Visitors first read in a horizontal movement across the top of a site. This forms the top horizontal line in the "F" formation - The Headline

  1. Next visitors move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement. This forms the "F"s lower bar - Killer Opening
  2. Lastly, visitors scan the left side of a site in a vertical movement - Keywords

F_ShapeImplications of the F-Shaped Pattern

  • Visitors do not read everything you have to say.

This is most common during a users initial research. On the first visit, the visitor is looking for specific tags of information within your site. Most first-time visitors will not read beyond the first few lines.

  • The points of your content with the most impact should fall within the first and second paragraphs

The visitor may not even make it to the second paragraph if you have not caught their attention immediately. Think about your headline, picture and opening killer paragraph.  Get their attention from the start.  Don’t hold back.

  • Use keywords within the start of the header and opening paragraph.   Use keywords in other major divisions: sub-headers, bullet points, and bold sentences for example.

Visitors are scanning vertically along the left side of your site. Use this knowledge to add keywords along this area that will catch the visitor’s attention by letting them know what your article is about.

The Lesson

While driving down F-Street the blog reader is taking many of the same precautions as a driver does on a busy street.   They are looking for road signs and traffic lights (read: killer headlines and illustrative pictures), following turn signals (read: killer sentences and lists) and hoping not to have the unfortunate luck of crashing head-on with a careless (drunk?) writer.

As a blog writer, one needs to consider the actions their potential readers are taking to save themselves from making the wrong turn.   Make their trip safe so that they may return by following simple tips. 

Thanks, Chris.
Thanks to Doug Trudeau for sending us the original article.

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It's settled then. From now
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Love the comment Shaun. If only you began it with a creative picture I would have actually read the entire comment :)

Jim, Thanks for the credit.

Chris, Great perspective and graphics.

Shaun, What can I say, I lost you after "From now"

Chris- thanks for digging up that gold nugget. Info like this is what makes the tomato so good. I never knew that such a study existed. I encourage everyone to follow those links to, there are other great posts on reading patterns for email newsletters, etc.

Awesome comment, Shaun. And the heatmap photo is fantastic.



Glad to see more detail about your thoughts on the F pattern. I have been catching myself to see if I really do so when I read and research online. It seems pretty true to form.


Really good article on the F pattern. Seems like an accurate analysis.

i found this comment ecxtremely useful and researched further to uncover more patters and habits practiced by readers and visitors of sites and articles etc.

one point to mention is that this is the opposite when writing somethign in a country where peopleread from left to right, and generally participants in the research were 89% more likely to start from the bottom working up, so almost complete reversal.

thanks fo rthe advice

Crazy how the world goes: people hardly read, most just point the car not drive, should I barely write? Maybe...

Every article should be written vertically instead of horizontally :)

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