We are constantly bombarded by content that we can't possibly read and consume it all. The solution? We scan things quickly and decide if we want to invest the time to read the article, watch the video or listen to the podcast. That's right, we live in a world where people have short attention spans.
Blog readers are no different, that's why formatting is extremely important. With the right formatting, readers can easily get a quick idea of what the post is about and make a decision about reading it.
Formatting is also an important part of on-page SEO and it is something that needs your attention.
Formatting For Your Readers
Always start by formatting for your readers. While search engines are important, they won’t do you any good if you can’t convince people to read your post.
Make It Easy To Scan the Content
The most important thing you can do is make your content easy to scan. Use headlines, break up text and use images to make scanning the post and figuring out what it’s about easy.
Break Up Things into Bulleted or Numbered Lists
Breaking up things, tips, and ideas into lists is a great way to break up the text. Depending on context, lists can be bulleted or numbered lists.
- easy to read
- quick to scan
- help readers consume your content
Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Reading online is different from reading a print book or newspaper. Add in our short attention spans, the need to find answers and not wanting to waste time we scan A LOT.
Make it easy on your readers by keeping your post and paragraphs short. One to three sentences is usually all you want in each.
Bold important Concepts
Highlight the most important concepts or keywords 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 reading your post.
Formatting For the Search Engines
Now that your post is easy to scan and read for humans, let’s talk about formatting for search engines.
Use H Tags
Using H tags like <h1>, <h2> and so on show search engines what words on the page are important. Use an H1 tag for your post title, which your blogging platform should take care of 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 split up into two major sections, like this post for example. One section is about formatting for readers, the other for search engines. Those subheadings 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 describe the image remembering to include your main keyword. As with the other tags and formatting tips, this will help with ranking and for adding images to Pinterest.
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 400+ word article like this, using the keyword about 3 times is a good general rule of thumb.
Now that you've learned a few things about formatting will you change your writing style?