We live in a world where people have very short attention spans. Readers are bombarded by so much content every single day, they can’t possible read and consume it all and then put it into action.
The solution to the information overwhelem is that our reading habits have evolved…. readers scan things quickly and decide if they want to invest the time to read the article, watch the video, or listen to the podcast.
This is why it’s important to format your posts in a way that makes them easy to scan, get a quick idea of what the post is about, and then make a decision about reading it. That’s what blog post formatting is all about. It’s an important step in your blog writing process.
Throw in the fact that formatting is also an important part of on- page SEO and it is something you should be paying a lot of attention to.
Formatting For Your Readers
Always start by formatting blog posts for your readers. While search engines are important, they won’t give you any advantage if your content is unreadable.
Make It Easy To Scan the Content
The most important thing you can do for your readers is to make it easy to scan the content. Use headlines, break up text, etc. to make it quick and easy to scan the post and figure out what it’s about. Of course your headline and your images are a big part of this.
Break Up Things into Bulleted or Numbered Lists
Breaking up things, tips, ideas, etc. into lists. Depending on context, those could be bulleted or numbered lists.
Lists are easy to ready, quick to scan, and help readers consume your content. They’re also very popular when it comes to social sharing, and can easily help your blog post go viral.
Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Reading online is different from reading a print book or newspaper. It’s much harder on the eyes, and since we’re consuming so much written content on a daily basis and scan a lot, our attention span when it comes to reading has gone down quite a bit.
Make it easy on your readers to read your posts by keeping your paragraphs short. One to three sentences is usually all you want in each. Although I’m the queen of Dickens-length sentences, I do go back and edit them. Hard. Remember each sentence is one breath. Each full stop is the space to breathe. If you cannot say it in a breathe you need to edit the sentence :).
Bold / highlight / emphasise important Concepts
Highlight the most important concepts or key words of your post by bolding them. Not only does this help readers understand that this is an important point, it also helps with scanning before they commit to read your post.
Formatting For the Search Engines
Now that your post is prettied up and easy to scan and read for human being, let’s talk about formatting for search engines.
Use Header Tags
Using H tags like <h1>, <h2> etc. show search engines what words on the page are important. Use an H1 tag for your blog post’s headline. If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, your theme should take care of this for you.
But don’t stop there. You can use various other H tags throughout your content. Let’s say your blog post can be slit up into two major sections like this post for example. One section is about formatting for readers, the other for search engines. Those sub headings are H2 tags.
Bold Key Words
This one is easy. If you haven’t already done so for your readers, find your main keyword and make it bold. This will also show search engines this particular word or piece of text is important. Don’t overdo it though.
Use Alt Tags in Images
As you’re adding images, include text in the alt tags that describes the image, but also includes your main key word. As with the other tags and formatting tips, this will help with ranking.
Use Your Keywords in the Text
Last but not least, give your post a quick scan and make sure you’ve used your keyword several times in the main body of your post. Again, it’s important to strike a good balance here. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t forget to include it. In a 600+ word article like this, using the keyword about 3 times in each post is a good general rule of thumb. Remember, if it doesn’t sound right to mention it… Don’t mention it!