Last Updated on: November 9th, 2015
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.
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.
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
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!
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)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
[Tweet "Remember that everything different is always noticed.”]
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.
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!!!