#HowTo Capture Audience Attention through Proper Blog Content Formatting

Last Updated on: November 9th, 2015

How To Capture Audience Attention through Proper Blog Content Formatting

Are you formatting your blog posts correctly? I bet you’re forgetting one small thing…

Good news: I have a special guest today who can help you!

His name is Nick Churick and today he’s going to share some important information with the Wording Well audience. (Thanks, Nick!)

So please welcome Nick to center stage with open arms (and don’t you dare be afraid of the snake that’s wrapped around his neck in the picture below)!

Take it away, Nick!

Impact Your Audience With Proper Post Formatting

Did you know… the way you format your blog posts has a DIRECT IMPACT on your readers?

Did you know… you need to format your blog content BETTER so that your audience spends more time on your blog?

I never thought about it as of a separate serious item before. It was my subconscious, telling me that good formatting is as important as general copywriting techniques. And it is probably even more important than the quality of the content itself.

How come?

The answer is easy: your content formatting is like a wrapper for a sweet.

It’s much easier to sell a bad sweet in a good wrapper than a good sweet in a bad one.

That’s the RULE of the market: what looks nice gets more attention!

Plus, when you keep readers on your blog for a longer time, you will lower your bounce rate.

 Bounce rate definition

Optimize Your Posts for Skimmers

I’m sure you already know that on a typical blog only about 2% of visitors spend more than two minutes actually reading a post. The remaining 98% are just scrolling your post or skimming.

As they skim, they read an average of 16-24% of a post. That is why the best parts of the awesome content you’ve created, and the cool stories you’ve told are just being ignored. Sad, but true…

People are unconsciously looking for something magnetic in your post (a bolded keyword, a header, etc.) that catches their attention and meets their expectations.

How Readers See Your Content

Far back in 2006 Nielsen Norman Group published a study of people’s eye-tracking when they read web pages. This study revealed a so-called “F-Pattern”.

F-Pattern

The F-Pattern is built of two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical line.

That is how your readers generally scan your posts.

This finding is still relevant today. But one thing has changed for sure: a visitor’s attention span. With tons of similar blog posts on the web, this factor has decreased significantly. Now it is under 4 seconds!

 Graph of Stats

Image original

This means that your blog post has only got up to 4-6 seconds to catch a reader with something, grab his attention and make him stay on your page for as long as possible. And if it fails, you visitors will go find answers to their questions elsewhere.

5 Ways to Help your Visitors Find What They Want to See

A plain uniform text has nothing but pure information in it. Even if this information is outstanding, unique and incredibly useful, a typical visitor will ignore it. Your potential reader will simply not notice anything special about your post. The reason behind it is that there are millions of new blog posts published every day all over the world. And the topics for blog post topics are… not that diverse.

That is why you have to get your readers’ attention from the very first seconds, and not let it go for as long as practically possible.

Let me tell you what blog visitors looks at when they see your blog post:

  • First sentence or two from your intro
  • Visuals (images)
  • Subheads
  • Bulleted lists
  • Bolded (strong) text
  • Tables, quotations, and other stand-apart text

The following 5 tips will help you make your visitors spend more time reading your posts just by proper formatting your content.

1. Mind Your Post Column Width

Ever wondered why newspaper columns are so narrow?

In 1929 Tinker and Paterson carried out a study, revealing that newspaper line lengths between 3 inches and 3.5 inches (75 to 90 mm) yielded the fastest reading performance. Your blog is not a newspaper, of course. Yet, the same principle applies:

With narrow columns it takes less effort for your reader’s eye to travel from one its end to another.

Column width composes the general impression for your visitors and affects their decision of whether to stay on your page or not.

A study by M. C. Dyson and M. Haselgrove from the University of Reading shows that the optimal line length lies between 55 and 100 characters, depending on your visitor’s reading speed. As 55 characters may appear too narrow, especially for long posts, 80 to 90 characters per line will be the optimal and flexible count.

You can adjust this number just by changing your text font size. Or you can play with HTML and CSS, if you are OK with that.

You may even think of removing a sidebar, so that nothing distracts your readers from consuming your content. A good example of such minimalism is VideoFruit Blog.

 Videofruit screenshot

2. Use Images and/or Other Visuals for Every Blog Post

Your blog post must include – at a minimum – one piece of visual content. This may be an image, infographic or embedded video, that will catch your reader’s eye. Any visual is a perfect text-breaker.

And, sure thing, this visual must relate to the post itself and to the place, where it is embedded.

A good visual drives attention to the text around it as well.

I’m sure you will enjoy this infographic by Leo Gomez, summing up the importance of visual content in a visual form.

Leo Gomez

3. Make the Best of Your Subheads

Subheadlines also stand among the first things things to be noticed by your visitors. That is why it is so important to make sure that your subheadlines (actually your H2s and H3s) stand out from your text distinctly.

Subheads must give enough information on what follows them. It is also nice to add some intrigue and appeal to your reader’s curiosity in them.

Although often underestimated, subheads must be one of the most powerful weapons of your formatting arsenal.

Feel free to play around with different colours, too! 

4. Add a Couple of Lists

  • Lists stand out
  • Lists are easy to read
  • Lists include no excessive information
  • Are you getting my point?

Everybody loves lists and list posts. They are good looking, always well-structured and extremely informative and focused.

A bulleted list is one of the simplest, yet extremely powerful ways of attracting your visitor’s attention.

List posts often go viral, too!

5. Use Quotes and Sound Bites (They’re POWERFUL!)

Another format type that can’t be unnoticed is a blockquote. Quotes are outstanding text breakers, they stand apart, drawing your visitors’ attention because they are different.

Remember that everything different is always noticed.

[Tweet “Remember that everything different is always noticed.”]

Quotes also add credibility to your post, when you use words from the expert in your niche. You can also shape your own sound bites into a quote box.

You can see a perfect example of sound bites use, demonstrated by Michael Hyatt on his blog. He wraps his sound bites with kicky tweetable boxes, which look just awesome inside his posts.

 Michael Hyatt

Moreover, tweetable quotes add more opportunities for your blog posts to be shared on Twitter. And every Tweet will link back to your post, bringing you more traffic. (AND WE ALL WANT THAT!!!)

You can do similar and even better tweetable quote boxes with the TweetDis WordPress plugin. (It’s what Lorraine Reguly uses here on Wording Well!)

Final words about your audience

The time a reader spends on your pages is one of the crucial factors for your blog. It demonstrates if your posts are able to grab and hold your visitor’s attention. If not, most or all of your content will be ignored, and all fame will go to your competitors. If you use these formatting tips, you will be able to at least double the average time on page for your blog.

I’m sure these 5 tips will serve you well. Don’t forget to share them with your friends. (Not just on Twitter, but on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.!)

If you have anything to add or you are willing to share how content formatting works for you, the comments section is all yours!

Both Lorraine and I want to hear from you, so don’t be shy!!!

Nick Churick
Nick is a copywriter as well as an experienced Content & Social Media marketer. After several years of working for different companies, he is finally on his own way to success. Let’s wish him luck! 
You can always drop him a message on Twitter @NickChurick (https://twitter.com/NickChurick)

15 thoughts on “#HowTo Capture Audience Attention through Proper Blog Content Formatting

  1. says

    With what I’ve read and gained from this awesome guest post, am certainly sure things will be positively different on my side. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Nick and Lorraine
    Great tips!

    Formatting IS important so it’s great to see a post devoted exclusively to the topic.
    After reading your list, I realised that I am still not featuring quotes in my posts. Even better is making the quotes Tweetable (is that a word?). So thanks for the reminder, Nick – I’ll install that plugin today!

    Of course, the best formatting in the world will not make a badly written blog post good. We still have to come up with good content ideas for our audience and articulate those ideas in an engaging way.

    But formatting is an important ingredient in the mix, no doubt.

    Thanks again!

    Kim
    Kim

    • says

      Kim, Tweetable IS a word, believe it or not.

      I’m glad you are going to take steps to improve your blog posts!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Talk to you soon.

  3. Nick Churick says

    Hi Elna!

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂
    Totally agreed. Paragraph length is very important to ease up consuming your materials. But this must be considered together with column width. With wider colums you can afford longer paragraphs. And narrow columns force you to short ones.

    What do you think?

  4. Adrienne says

    Hey Nick,
    Great to see you here at Lorraine’s place and what an awesome post. I was shaking my head as I went down this list and there is still so much of this advice that I don’t use myself.

    I think the main thing for me is to understand and just know that people will skim your post. Those that want to make an impact and really connect with you probably won’t but most people don’t have a lot of time so make it easy for them to catch the main points. I do that pretty well I believe, making my sentences shorter and I use bullet points when appropriate.

    I don’t use a lot of images nor do I break the post up a lot. See, we all still have work to do.

    Great share though and I’m off to share it as well.

    Hope you both have a great weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    • says

      Adrienne, thanks for sharing with us the ways in which you can improve your posts. We ALL have room for improvement here and there! LOL

      Thanks for the social shares, too. You know I always appreciate your tremendous efforts! (Well, you should know by now that I do!!! But I also know it’s still nice to be thanked and have appreciation shown.)

      I’m going to be pretty busy with my mom until she heals, so time online is going to be kept to a minimum.

  5. Hi Nick,

    Totally agree with all these points. I’m a big fan of taking the time to present your content properly – there’s nothing worse than a poorly formatted or bland blog post! I use the Thrive Content Builder to help format my blog posts more easily.

    Thanks
    – David

    • says

      Hi David.

      I use the Thrive Content Builder on occasion, too. I like some of its features, but not others.

      Formatting, however, is something I pay close attention to. Always!

  6. says

    Hello Lorraine,

    Thanks for bringing Nick for the post.
    It is truly a great post. Consumed every bit of it!

    Great tips for engaging the visitors.

    4sec is something I never imagined for a visitor’s attention. Harsh reality of life I guess. Thanks for letting us know about it.

    • says

      Yeah, Unaiza, it’s sad that we are down to 4 seconds.

      That’s the internet for you, though!

      Glad you liked Nick’s post. He did a great job with it!

  7. says

    Hi Nick

    Loved the guest post. Breaking up text with subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs is certainly working for me.

    It’s shocking to read that human attention spans are now down to 4 seconds. Apparently for goldfish it’s 9 seconds!

    Now if only there was a way to create content for goldfish….

    Clement

    • says

      Clement, you are hilarious! Goldfish. Ha!

      I’m glad that the tactic of using bullet points is working for you.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving Nick a comment!

  8. says

    Nick!

    Great post (and I more than skimmed it! Kudos to you). I think one thing that helps beside content width is how long your paragraphs are.

    One sentence “paragraphs” seem to make the most impact and retains peoples attention longer.

    Writing for an online audience is indeed a new thing for many people to understand! Great tips.

    • says

      I agree, Elna. Nick has certainly given us a great post with wonderful tips!

      It’s good to make paragraphs shorter and simply edit/cut out the filler “fluff.” Making each word count is imperative these days!

      As a writer, you know this already, though, right?!

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