Blog Posts: Is Your Content Easy-To-Consume?
Would you like to get more blog traffic without investing a lot more effort or resources?
What blogger wouldn’t want more readers?
If your blog is like many other blogs, the factors driving prospective readers away are relatively common and simple to fix.
I realized this during a recent Sunday night #BlogChat where 4 blogs were critiqued, a technique commonly used in writing classes and circles. Other bloggers provided positive input to help these 4 bloggers to improve their blogs.
While the bloggers had worked hard to create strong content, the way the information was presented hindered readability. In my experience, poor blog post presentation is a frequent issue. After spending time a writing good blog post, a blogger just wants to publish it and be done.
The problem: Poor blog post presentation causes visitors to leave without reading your articles.
Fortunately, with a few changes, you can transform your ugly duckling blogs posts into attractive, easy-to-read beauties.
30 Stellar blog tips for posts your audience loves to read
Here are 30 stellar blog tips for creating blog posts your audience loves to read. Your goal is to attract blog post attention.
Make your blog design visually inviting.
- Get rid of the telltale signs from a preformatted template. If you’re not sure about this, ask your webmaster.
- Use an easy-on-the-eyes creative. Select colors that are harmonious and enhance your brand.
- Be consistent in color usage. Color is a major element of your business brand. You have both foreground and background colors to work with.
- Beware of homepage clutter. It’s easy to keep adding “just one more thing” to your homepage. Understand that overcrowding can become a distraction to your readers.
(Additionally, here is a list of 31 design mistakes and how to fix them.)
Be selective in your font choices. They’re a critical element of your brand, especially if you’re a small business. Use a combination of fonts that work together, are easy-to-scan, and represent your brand.
- Choose readable fonts over fancy fonts. Remember your goal is to get visitors to keep reading. Ornate fonts are a turnoff. Readers have to work to hard to get the information. They can’t scan it.
- Assess font color. Here the major issue is contrast. Select colors so that your type stands out and is readable. Avoid the screaming hot pinks and acid greens.
- Be sparing and careful with your use of knockout type. This means white or other light color text over a black or other dark color background. When you use knockout type, increase the font size by half a point size to make it readable. While it’s the best way to present text to low vision individuals, it’s not the best presentation for most readers.
- Use a 12 point font size or larger. This is particularly important if you’ve got an over 40 target market. This isn’t ageism but rather the fact that they need reading glasses so that small type is difficult to read.
- Consider line and character spacing. Are the letters too crammed together to read? If so, you’ll loose readers.
The use and placement of images including photographs, drawings, charts and other graphics, help readers understand your information better. Take the time to ensure your images support your blog goals.
- Use the best images you have. Skip the out of focus photos and the free drawings that your audience has seen a million times before. Your goal is to pull your readers in by showing them the unexpected.
- Be consistent in your picture presentation. Depending on your topic and category, you may choose to use color photographs, black and white or sepia.
- Put an image near the top of your post. Since images pull readers in, put at least one at the top of each post. You can use more.
- Add related text to each image. Search engines can’t see images. Therefore you need to associate keyword rich text with your pictures.
- Utilize visuals to increase reader comprehension. This means show readers screenshots, infographics and photos to get your point across. Provide examples and screenshots where appropriate.
Other content formats
Spruce up your blog with information that is presented via non-text formats.
- Become a film director. Add your own or someone else’s video to your blog. Derek Halpern does this on his Social Triggers blog. I love how he uses everyday life to help his readers.
- Say your words. Incorporate audio into your blog. Many blogs have a weekly podcast as another way of reaching their target audience. (You can also distribute it via additional channels.) Jon Loomer has fun with his podcast that he lovingly calls a pubcast. He interviewed me when I passed 1,000 blog posts.
- Imbed presentations in blog posts. While this is a great way to extend a live presentation, you need to enhance the information. Ann Handley, rock star author of Content Rules, does a great job of this with her Bold Talk.
Don’t laugh. White space increases your content’s readability.
- Think dramatic impact. Utilize white space for emphasis instead of using all capitals.
- Put in whitespace to separate different points. Guide your readers through your content by using whitespace to separate thoughts. Paragraph and line spacing can have a big impact on how well your text content is consumed. It also helps content scanning.
Readers decide whether or not to read your blog based on how easy your information is to consume. Don’t make them think too hard.
- Organize your thoughts in a logical manner. While it’s efficient to write your content down as your thoughts flow, arrange your information so that it makes sense to your readers.
- Use outlining and headings to guide readers through your content. Think scanability.
Understand that readers shy away from long blocks of text. Make your information inviting to your audience.
- Avoid long, text only paragraphs. Keep it short and sweet.
- Use upper and lower case text. When you use all capitals, people think that you’re shouting at them. Use other approaches to emphasize your points. Also, all capitals, even if the font distinguishes between upper and lower case, take longer to read.
- Include text call-outs or asides. Don’t let the important elements of your content get lost. Make it stand out.
Blogs generally shouldn’t sound like The New York Times or an academic journal.
- Choose easy, short words over big words. The shorter the better is the rule.
- Write human. Skip the corporate and marketing lingo. Sound like a real person talks.
These words at the top of your blog post are what pull readers in. Don’t take my word for it, read the headline research.
- Use your key word phrase in the title, preferably near the beginning of the title. Keep titles under 70 characters. This helps search optimization.
- Select your words with care. There are different headline formulas that work better than others.
Your blog should be a content marketing publishing platform not a vehicle for marketing message distribution.
- Skip the promotion. It’s a reader turnoff.
- Provide information readers want and seek. Marcus Sheridan is the king of content that sells without being promotional. Offer this type of blog posts to attract readers, prospects and search engines. His pool pricing article drove $2 million in sales. Use a calls-to-action where appropriate.
Blog visitors decide whether to read your blog in seconds, possibly never to return again, so take the time to make your posts more attractive and easier to consume.
Presentation matters for most blogs. Your lovingly crafted posts need additional help to transform them into easy-to-consume hits.
If your resources (including your time) are limited, then test what works best for your blog. This means slowly changing your blog over time or publishing easier-to-read articles less frequently.
What are your favorite blogging tips for making your content easier to read?
Join me at Social Media Marketing World this coming Spring in sunny San Diego, California, where I'll be presenting a session on Blogging.
Free Blogging Guide —
In today’s content-driven world, writing matters more… not less. Ann Handley offers 10 tips for crafting a better blog post.
Based on Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley.
Now there are two ways to get Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Content by Email:
Subscribe to receive the full text of each new actionable marketing post delivered free, five days a week to your inbox.
Signup for the weekly Actionable Marketing Newsletter and get a roundup of of the week’s posts, plus extra content you won’t find on the website, plus a free e-book: What Every Blogger Needs to Know – 101 Actionable Blog Tips
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crazycatchthecat/3676763773