You’ve poured your passion and experience into crafting the perfect blog post that’s sure to provide your readers with valuable information—but only if they read and comprehend it. Unfortunately, most blog posts are just quickly scanned. Only a few are read and fewer are comprehended because of how they’re styled.
You’ve probably already experienced this. Have you ever written a truly amazing blog post, loaded with brilliant insight and actionable information, only to have it seem to fall on deaf ears? The most common reason is that the style of your blog post turns off readers, and if they don’t read it, they can’t benefit from it, nor can they share it to further expand your audience. They’re eyes glaze over and they click the back button.
But you can make it easy for visitors to easily read and comprehend your blog posts, helping to build your expert status, expand your audience, and increase your traffic.
Use sub headings
Even when you break your post into short, manageable paragraphs, long blog posts can still appear overwhelming to readers, so further break them up with sub headings. (h2-h6) This makes your post more readable, enables readers to scan more easily, and helps search engines to better understand and rank your posts.
Use short paragraphs
Studies show that long blocks of text discourage readers, increase bounce rates, and reduce conversions, so aim for 3–5 sentence paragraphs to avoid those issues. You can also use italic and/or bold text in moderation to emphasize certain words and phrases and further improve readability. (I prefer italic, but use which ever suits your style.)
Never use justified text
Justified text looks more organized and seems like it should be easier to read, but it doesn’t work that way on the web.
In the print world, justification works because design programs like Adobe InDesign (the industry standard for page layout) use complex algorithms to balance the space between words. Web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, however, lack that capability, so justified text creates large, uneven holes between words, which makes reading more difficult.
Compare the same text in both justified and left aligned. The difference is clear and painful.
You might be thinking “Bullshit, I can read justified text just fine!” and you’re partially correct, but that’s only because you’re conscious of, and are compensating for it. In the real world, study after study after study have proven that justified text causes poor comprehension, reduced reading speed, and diminished retention. Online, that translates into higher bounce rates and lower conversions, which certainly is not what you want.
If you’re a design geek, you can dig deeper over at Design for Hackers, in post titled Never Justify Type on the Web.
Some content just needs to be formatted as a list. It’s logical, easy to read, and is also another factor that helps search engines understand and rank your posts. You might use lists for:
- groups of items
I think you get the idea. You have two options to format lists:
- unordered list (bullets)
- ordered list (numbers)
(See what I did there?)
In WordPress, you can create unordered and ordered lists by highlighting the text, and clicking the appropriate button above the editing window.
Images can instantly convey a complex message, punctuate a thought, or even just draw attention. For example, I’m willing to bet that by the time you’re reading this sentence, you’ve already seen the image below of Donald Trump. Was I correct?
You can buy inexpensive stock photos from Dreamstime. (Stealing images from Google images or other websites is a big no-no and can get your website shut down.) You can also download free animated gifs from Giphy.
A few things to think about when including images in your blog posts:
- Upload them at the size they will be displayed. There’s no benefit to uploading a 2000px wide image when it will only be displayed at 300px wide, but there is plenty of downside in the form of slower page speed, which can be especially problematic on mobile devices.
- Use the most appropriate format for the best balance between image quality and file size. Photographic images are usually best saved as .jpg, while images with flat, continuous colors are usually best saved as .gif or .png.
- Be sure to include image alt attributes. Most readers won’t see these, but they do have a small impact on your post’s organic search ranking and they tell visually-disabled visitors a little bit about the image.
Remember, your ultimate goal to to convert readers, and the only way to do that is to communicate your message clearly, and make is easy to digest.