You probably already know how important your blog is to driving traffic to your website. And you no doubt know how important good content is to making this work. But even the best content will lose most readers if the layout is wrong. People have short attention spans, and when they’re looking for information online, they’re even shorter. The brain takes in information best in short bursts, and the eye has a natural flow when reading. Following blog layout best practices means keeping your readers engaged, and keeping them on the page long enough that they can click through to the meat of your site.
A note on SEO
In addition to making the visual formatting right in your blog posts, it’s essential to use search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices in translating your ideas into indexable content. Whether you’re coding your posts yourself, or letting a platform like Wordpress do it for you, it’s important to structure things like headlines in the correct way so Google knows what’s important on the page.
There are countless blogs and websites out there claiming to know how to get you the best SEO, and while there are some legitimate practices to keep in mind, by far the most important thing you can do is put out good content that will be interesting or useful. Google’s algorithm is really quite good, and always getting better. Some people use black hat tactics to try and fool it, and while that might work in the short run, it runs the risk of knocking you down to the bottom of results, or even getting your site blacklisted altogether.
Our best advice is to write content that your target audience will want to read; trying to trick Google is playing with fire. Plus, what’s the point of being the top result if your content sucks and people are dislocating fingers from how fast they’re reaching for the back button?
It’s often remarked that web content should follow the example of print content, and the cliche is absolutely true. Newspapers and magazines use time-tested layout formats that draw eyeballs to the text, and keep them there. In addition to making your writing good to keep the reader’s brain engaged with the text, it’s essential to get the layout right to keep their eyes flowing over the text.
The first thing to think about, before even writing anything, is the column width. Think about newspaper articles - the columns are quite narrow, and there’s a reason for this. It can be difficult for the eye to follow a line of text a long way from left to right, then jump back to just below the starting place. 12 words per line is the most common recommended length, but it’s okay to be a bit over. Still, avoid overly long lines.
As difficult for the eye as long lines, are too many scrunched together. It’s easier to jump from line two to line three in a short paragraph than a long one. Stack ten lines of text one on top of the other, and you make it much more difficult for the eye to follow. Keep paragraphs short and you’ll keep people engaged.
Paragraphs are useful for breaking up the text (that’s their purpose, after all) and headlines help even more. Headlines serve as waypoints that help guide people through the writing, and prepare the reader for what’s coming up. They also stand out and grab attention. No matter how lovely your intro paragraph is, some readers are skipping it and scanning for the one useful bit of information they need. A good subheading will help them find it more easily.
This helps break up this text, no? Below is another helpful way to do it
You’ll often have to list out a bunch of things in a post, but doing so in full sentences is just flat out boring. It runs each item together and often ends up being skipped over. Lists, whether ordered by number or unordered with bullet points, present each thing individually and give the eye another break from the monotony of the long paragraph.
Benefits of using lists (bold or emphasised text is good too, but without the same SEO punch as h1, h2 etc.)
- Give each item its due; allow the reader a moment to process the idea before moving on
- Don’t bore your reader with rambling lists in sentences
- Break up the text of the post. Lots of people don’t like to read, and when forced to they simply scan until they find what they’re looking for. Bullet points seem important and eyes are drawn to them
- They’re super easy to code in HTML, and even easier in Wordpress or any other platform
How missinglettr uses your blog formatting to promote your posts
Our product, missinglettr, automatically creates a unique social media marketing campaign for your blog posts. We mentioned earlier that Google’s algorithm reads your posts and determines what’s important. Well we’ve created something that also reads them, picks out the standout parts, and creates natural, non-spammy, and shareable content to post to your social acounts (did we just compare ourselves to Google? ;) ).
We pull directly from your H1, H2, blockquotes, and any text inside of quotation marks to decide what will be shared. Missinglettr then creates unique content out of these, checks to make sure you approve, then posts to Twitter, and submits to sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit. You’ve spent all that time writing posts, you may as well stay on top of sharing them when most of it is done for you.