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This is a guest post by Verity at The Online Course Hub!
The presentation of any blog post is key. It might be hard to believe, but 80% of people on the internet never get past a blog post title. As far as the internet is concerned, you can forget the old adage of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Because in this day and age, everyone judges your blog post on your title, the format of your blog posts, or your Pinterest pins.
That’s why in this post, I’ll be going over why you should focus on the format of your blog posts, along with 6 easy tips to make your blog posts easier to read!
WHY FOCUS ON THE FORMAT OF YOUR BLOG POSTS?
The first thing to understand is why does the format of your blog posts matter so much?
We’ve already established that 80% of people don’t read past the title. So, for the 20% of people who do decide to read past the title, a number of them will be put off by your layout and general presentation. People might find your text difficult to read, feel bombarded with adverts, or get put off by a wall of text.
And you’ve probably put hours or days into creating a beautifully thought out blog post. You don’t want the format of your posts to be the reason people click away. Because while most readers agree that content is more important than how a blog post looks, the layout definitely matters too.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Planning the format your blog posts does not need to be difficult. You’re already working hard at your blog and I do not expect you to suddenly need another checklist to add to your already full to-do list!
Just think of it like this; if you were trying to access a piece of information, would you rather access it from a post within seconds, or from a post which you need to trawl through to get your answer? I think we all know the answer to that one.
So, once you’ve written your first blog posts before you hit publish, make sure to apply these top tips for improving the layout of your blog posts. If you’ve already hit the ‘publish’ button, make time to go back over your old blog posts and implement these strategies to improve your old posts!
1. USE HEADINGS TO FORMAT YOUR BLOG POSTS
Using headings is a cardinal rule of writing blog posts. Your reader does not want to be faced with a wall of text. What they want is something that they can easily skim read and pick out the required information.
It is so much easier to read a blog post with headings. Not only is using headings easier on your readers’ eyes, but SEO loves headings too.
That’s right, as a bonus tip, I will tell you that headings are great for SEO. This is especially true if you add keywords to your headings.
Although seemingly underused in the blogging world, one of my favorite headings to use is ‘Conclusion.’ Some people might think that adding in a conclusion makes your blog post too formal and essay-like.
I, however, feel that adding in a conclusion tells your reader that they’ve reached the end of your post. This helps to prevent the reader from suddenly feeling like your blog post just stopped mid-topic (which is something I see A LOT of).
2. LEFT-ALIGN YOUR TEXT
This one often causes controversy. In the world of text alignment, people are either die-hard ‘justify text’ fans or all about ‘left align.’ Whichever camp you fall into, though, the evidence doesn’t lie.
Left-aligned text is easier on the eye. It is easier to skim-read, we read left-to-right, and it is considered good internet writing practice to have your text left-aligned. (Sorry to all of the ‘justify text’ fans out there.)
If you are a ‘justify text’ fan and cannot abide to not have your text in a neat block, I would strongly suggest including headings. This will help to break up your text and ensure that your text is easier to read.
3. USE COLOR
Using color within your blog post can help to break up the post for your reader.
You can add color to format your blog posts in different ways;
Personally, my headings and hyperlinks are all different colors from my main text. My hyperlink hover color is a different color too. While the colors all compliment each other as part of my blog color palette, using colors for headings and hyperlinks helps to break up the text further for my reader.
Images can be a great way to inject a little color into your blog. Just make sure that your images are relevant to your content, and optimized for SEO.
You don’t want to insert an image to format your blog post only for the file to be so large that people click off before it can load!
When inserting images, you can either use your own images or use stock images which are widely available on the internet. If you are looking for royalty-free stock images, I highly recommend Pixabay.
4. FORMAT YOUR BLOG POSTS PARAGRAPH LENGTH
I will confess (and probably upset a lot of people), but I am a sucker for the Yoast SEO plugin and its happy or frowning faces at the bottom of my draft blog posts.
If you use this plugin, you’ll know that Yoast gets upset if you have a blog post section which goes over 300 words without a header break. If you don’t use this tool or haven’t heard of this advice before, do heed it. In the land of blog posts, facing a section of more than 300 words without any breaks can be daunting.
If your blog post section is over 300 words, re-read it and see if you can break it into smaller sections, each separated with a header. Both your reader and your SEO score will thank you later.
On the note of paragraph length, when it comes to writing blog posts, you almost need to forget anything you were taught about structuring a paragraph. Readers want information which is easy to engage with. And for blog posts, that often means that traditional rules for structuring a paragraph no longer cut it.
Instead, find the natural breaks in your writing, and create paragraphs based on this. Don’t be afraid of one line or one-sentence paragraphs. They’re great for emphasis.
5. USE A TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is particularly useful when you come to writing longer pieces which may have sections. A lot of my blog posts run into the thousands of words.
Not only that, but my posts can become quite in-depth. Because of this, if someone were to click onto a post looking for a snapshot of advice, they would be met with a wall of text.
Realistically, anyone looking quickly for a specific answer is very likely to click off that hard to navigate the web page and search for a better laid out website.
Having a table of contents can reduce this risk of losing your potential reader. They can click onto the post, and quickly navigate to the part of the post they require.
LuckyWP Table of Contents
If you are looking to integrate a table of contents into your blog, I’d highly recommend LuckyWP Table of Contents. The plugin is exceptionally easy to use and is really easy to customize for your site’s branding. As a bonus, it only took a few clicks for me to have my table of contents fitting in with the color scheme of the rest of my website. Most importantly, this plugin is 100% free!
The plugin automatically creates anchors from the table of contents to your headings, so you don’t need to configure it at all!
6. CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR
I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing more infuriating than reading a piece where the apostrophes are incorrectly used, or a word has been used for an incorrect meaning. On the back of grammar, check your sentences. Multiple complex sentences are straining on a reader and can be difficult to digest.
When you write your blog articles, you are not expected to be a wordsmith or have a degree in literary writing. But if you want to be taken seriously, you do need to watch your spellings and grammar.
If you are someone who isn’t the best at spellings or grammar. First of all; do not panic. There are so many tools which you can use to help you. Google Docs has a built-in grammar and spelling checker, as does Microsoft Word. To enhance your spelling and grammar even more, I recommend Grammarly.
Grammarly can be installed into your web browser for when you are writing on the internet, and also into Microsoft Word. There is both a free and premium version of Grammarly. But honestly, after 6+ years of using Grammarly, I’ve never needed anything more than the free version.
7. THINK ABOUT YOUR FONT
That’s right, consider your font, or fonts, carefully.
When you get access to your typography, and especially if Google Fonts is included, it can be a little overwhelming. Suddenly you might have hundreds of options at your fingertips.
And I get it; it’s tempting to go for the fanciest font that you can. But please try and resist.
Lots of people skim-read blog posts (sad, but true). So you need an easy to read font. Easy to read fonts also make your content more reader-friendly for people with Dyslexia. (Fun fact – 1 in 10 people are thought to be Dyslexic, so you need to think about making your content accessible to as many people as possible!).
FANCY FONT’S SLOW DOWN SITE SPEED
On top of this, fancier fonts can actually hinder your site and page speed. This is because fewer people use them, and so they can take longer to download to your readers’ internet browser.
When I first installed my new blog theme, for example, it came with this beautiful writing which was italicised and petite.
Petite, by the way, is my polite way of saying that my font was small.
It looked gorgeous, but it was not easy to skim read. and there were certain elements which I had to zoom in on to read properly. I only bothered with this because it was MY blog.
So the chances of my readers squinting their eyes and zooming in to read more were very unlikely. Within hours my font changed to Open Sans for the body text, and Lato for my headings. Simple to read, and good for SEO.
Therefore, when it comes to your font, choose something which is easy to read and is easy on your reader’s eyes. Hostinger has a brilliant article about the best fonts to use for your website, which will help you choose the best font for your website.
In conclusion, (see, I said that I like conclusions!) the layout of your blog can really help your audience engage with your content.
Remember: statistically, most people won’t make it past your blog title. Therefore, you want the ones who do to read on. What you don’t want is to turn readers away because of a wall of text that seems inaccessible.
Do remember, though, these tips are only pointers, and are not steadfast rules which you have to apply to every single blog post that you write. The beauty of blogging is that there is no one ‘right’ way to do it.
You’ll figure out what works for you and your readers in time. But, if you’re just starting out with your blog and wondering how to attract your readers, I’d highly recommend implementing some of these strategies.
Verity is a trainer and teacher for both Further and Higher Education, sharing her passion for educating others. The Online Course Hub is designed to help anyone who is wanting to create an online course, or blog, make their vision a reality through regular blog posts, guides and tutorials.