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Blog Formatting and Style Best Practices

Matt NeSmith

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A blog is a valuable part of any website and is a great place to show your brand’s expertise and personality. While the actual content of each blog post on your site is very important, the way the content is presented should also be considered.

The formatting and style of your posts has an impact on readability and could mean the difference between a visitor reading your whole article or leaving to find another resource. Read through our blog formatting and style best practice guide to gain some insight into ways you can layout and structure your blog articles.

 

Content Structure and Layout

Create Paragraphs and Add White Space

Most readers that visit your site and read your blog posts won’t actually read them; they’ll most likely skim them looking for important details. Displaying content in large chunks of text makes skimming more difficult and will most likely result in a bounce or a reader going elsewhere.

The habit of skimming stems from blog posts and digital content being consumed differently than traditional print media. Mobile devices and tablets are taking over desktops as the preferred device for consumption and this means articles are displayed differently. On a smaller screen the issue of large blocks of text is further compounded.

The easiest way to separate a section of text is to break it where there are distinct changes in thought. Most of the time this will happen every few sentences. These paragraphs can then be easily skimmed and the reader can identify the focus of each by looking at the first few words in each.

The addition of white space in the document also further increases readability and, as shown below, creates a much better experience. These screenshots show this topic as one paragraph, then split into four. The latter makes it much easier to read and is more visibly appealing.

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 12.05.06 AM

 

Descriptive Headers and Formatting

Beyond creating paragraphs and separating the article into distinct sections, adding a descriptive header to each makes it even easier to read and digest. This is especially important in longer articles if a reader is looking for a specific topic within it.

Headers in an article should be used in a similar way to how chapters are used in a book. Each heading provides context as to what the following text will be about. Because it adds value in this sense, these headings should also be coded in H tags.

H tags are used by the search engines to help put together what a page topic is about and the H1 is especially important for providing context. The H1 tag will be your blog’s title, followed by the H2 which would be the subheadings. Any headings beyond that will use the H3, H4, H5, and H6.

Formatting these headings differently than the rest of the text also makes it easier to identify where a section begins and ends. If the headings are the same as the body text, the content of the page will blend together.

Using Lists

To further break up blog posts and make them easily digestible, ordered lists add a lot of value. They take a grouping of items or ideas and put them into an order, rather than trying to create a paragraph out of these items.

This is useful for instructions as well. A list is much easier to follow than a paragraph and the perfect example of this in practice is recipes.

Adding Imagery

To further engage users, images should be added to articles. Beyond adding context (a picture is worth a thousand words!) the images help to draw readers into the article. Text accompanied with an image is much more appealing than a wall of text.

Images also provide additional SEO value since they have a variety of tags that can be optimized. The image file name should be descriptive and reflective of the article’s topic. In addition, the alt text and title text provide more context as to what the image is. This will not only help the page the image is on, but will also give the image the opportunity to be shown in Google Image search results.

 

Social Sharing

Add Social Share Buttons

To allow your content’s reach to expand even further, add social share buttons to each post. These can be added through a plugin if you are running WordPress or with a script.

Social share buttons make it as easy as possible for your content to be shared. Often times copying a link, heading to a social platform, and writing a post may be too time consuming for today’s on the go consumers. With the share buttons, readers can stay on the page so sharing the content is just a click away.

Some sharing tools also allow you to pre-populate the tweet or post so that you can control the text, hashtags and links within it. Either way, the larger the audience is that views your post, the better. These shares will drive additional views to your website and ideally, fulfill the intended goal of having your readers explore your products or solutions even further.

 

Internal Linking

Create Internal Links

Internal links provide value not only to the blog reader, but also to your website as well. There are two main reasons to create internal links –

  • To pass authority between pages and drive value up from the blog posts
  • To add value for the readers by providing links out to other resources

Blog posts are more often shared and linked to than product or solutions pages because they are generally more pertinent to a reader’s specific interest. When these blog posts are linked to from other external sites, they earn page authority from that new link being established. This authority can then be distributed within your site through internal links. Typically, we recommend linking to other associated pages on your site from a blog post so that all of the pages can elevate their authority.

Internal or even external links add additional value by pointing to other resources. If an article references another page on your site or a statistic from an outside source, link to that page. From a readers perspective it will help to fill in the gaps and create a more valuable site experience.

 

Revamp Your Blog

With these tips you’ll be able to create a blog that looks as good as the quality of content within it. Properly formatting the pages will help to keep readers around longer, and by providing images and links, you can also keep them engaged.

Try these pointers and share your thoughts on how a blog should be formatted.

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