How to Write the Perfect Blog Post 👍
How to Make Your Blog Content Scannable
Apart from fantastic content, making your blog text scannable has just about everything to do with getting your blog read. Web readers won't linger longer than needed, so it pays to make your content scannable for your readers, which sometimes means letting go of some of your own preferences in favor of those of the reader. Basically, scannable content is writing or text thatstands out. It is the headers, the font and format highlights, the keywords, and the visual cues. When reading online, your eyes jump to finding the easiest things (apart from images, although those matter too). In this article, you'll get a quick rundown on how to make your blog content scannable.
Pay attention to the title of your blog.Don't put lots of thought and effort into your blog and blow off the title. That will leave your great article... unread. First impressions really matter, and titles are the "hook" to get your reader interested. Even if you spend a long time getting the title "just so", the rewards for your effort will be better.
- Think about how the title will look in the RSS feed. What titles make you click on RSS headings? Aim for the curiosity, interest, and even question angles.
- Keep the title as simple as possible.
- If you use shocking, controversial, or big claim titles, make sure the content meets the promise.
- Think about meeting a need.
- Titles that express what people often worry or think about are popular. For example, "Losing weight without trying" would interest a lot of people!
- Indicate the general topic, for those new to the subject or accumulating a broad base of information and reasoning. There will be a lot of these readers, but they'll probably just skim your article. Also indicate the specific topic, for those facing a specific issue. There will be fewer of them, but they'll need to read your special information carefully and may return for more. For instance, "Losing Weight with the Cabbage Soup Diet".
- Apply these principles to the title of each post, too.
Look at it from the viewpoint of starting with the conclusion.The idea of this is to lead with the essential point you're trying make, allowing the remainder of the article to expound upon it. Making the point clear from the outset is better with web writing than leaving the ah-ha! moment until the conclusion. Remember, your reader may never get to the end to discover your pearls of wisdom. Give more up front to avoid your readers dashing off before reaching your brilliant finale.
Use headings.The wonderful thing about headings is that they help to guide your writing initially (fill in this bit, then this bit...)andthey allow your reader to quickly look through the body of the post to see if the read is something they want to pursue further. Headings draw the eyes downwards,which is just what you want your reader to do when reading on screen.
Make lists.Lists break up large blocks of daunting text into manageable bits. Look around the Internet and you'll see that just about everyone uses lists in some type of way to get their message across.
- Indeed, although not a blog, wikiHow uses bulleted lists, as you can see from the style used right here. Whether bulleted or numbered, lists allow your eye to quickly run down the list of points.
- Lists carve out the text for you, something that makes screen reading a lot more enjoyable – and fast.
- Lists get your articles and posts linked to and read more than essay style posts; research done by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett has proven this.
Rely on good formatting.Bold, italicize, and underline your text, without overdoing it. Use these elements of formatting toemphasizepoints. And changes in the size, style, or color of font can help make content scannable.
- Like using highlighter, if you go overboard with it, it no longer serves its purpose.
- Underlining should be used with care because it can lead the reader to think they can use it as a link and they'll get frustrated when it doesn't open to a new page.
- Some people groan inwardly at bolding or italicizing in places where you wouldn't see it in a book. Getting used to this different style can take a leap of faith but it helps to remember that the Internet is not a book and the rules differ because reading on a screen differs.
- Block quotes are neat. Just as they're used in magazine and newspaper articles, block quotes can highlight a particularly juicy, interesting, or profound part of your post, making the reader keen to dig deeper to find out what provoked that quote.
Use links, but don't overwhelm your reader with them.While a certain amount of links are desirable, you can lose your reader to them too.
Use images.Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words and it certainly helps to make a text 'heavy' blog more interesting.
Write short paragraphs.Three to five sentences is fine and sometimes, you can even get away with less. Shorter paragraphs also have the benefit of encouraging a reader to keep reading a longer post because each bite sized chunk is easy to digest.
- Leaving space is good. Don't seek to cover every part of the post – allow white space to form a regular part of your post's overall appearance.
Keep your word count down low.Don't let your writing run away from you. Mark Twain once said:"If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare."Finely crafted less words can take a lot longer to produce than a spiel that rolls off your keyboard without nary an editorial input. You'll get better at writing pithier copy without strain as time goes on but for now, put in the effort to learn how to keep the writing shorter and the message punchier.
- The key element is to reread it several times and anything, anything at all, that doesn't make sense, sound right, or add to it,comes out.
- Read your copy out loud. Nothing substitutes for reading out loud; you'll pick up errors you haven't spotted reading silently and you'll note rambling that isn't so evident from reading.
Enjoy the rewards of working on scannable content.The benefit of making a blog post scannable is that your readers are more likely to stick around and even spend time reading your longer posts. It may feel like hard work initially – and it is – but once you're in the habit, you'll wonder how you could ever have done it any other way.
- As with anything in life, there will always be exceptions. Know your readership and its preferences and expectations. If you're writing profound analyses about social issues, longer may prove better but you'll need to be sure that your readers are interested in lengthy perusal of deep topics. If you do have consistently long posts, consider breaking them down to several pages, with links to each page at both the top and bottom of the post.
- Be prepared to change your approach to blog layout when it seems that what you're currently doing isn't resonating with readers. While that may mean more effort now, it's definitely worth it in the long run. For current readers, you might like to explain why you keep making format or layout changes to help them bear with you as you aim to improve their user experience.
Video: 176: How to Create Scannable Content: 19 Techniques in 19 Minutes
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