3 Ways to Optimize Blog Posts for Better Reading
I am shocked – shocked! – by the number of poorly formatted web articles and blog posts I come across on a regular basis. Even some of the more polished websites still fail to spend enough quality time ensuring their content is easily digestible and flows intuitively.
But there are some simple ways to optimize blog posts for organizing and presenting information, that can go miles in improving your blog’s readability.
Use Descriptive Headers
The easiest way to effectively organize lengthy content is through the strategic use of headers. A good way to delineate sections is to think of your article in terms of the five-paragraph essay structure you were taught in high school:
Section 1: Introduction of Topic & Hypothesis
Section 2: Developing the Topic and Supporting Information
Section 3: Conclusion
A savvy writer will use descriptive headers to mark each section. For example, let’s say I’m writing a blog post about why Lupita Nyong’o should play the X-Men character Storm in a movie. Using headers, I could outline the structure of my post to help my readers along:
Article Title: Storm: The Movie
Section 1 Header: Knock Knock, Lupita Nyong’o
Section 2 Header: A Match Made in Heaven
Section 3 Header: Let’s Make It Happen!
Even without reading the actual post, you can already see where the piece is headed. Ahem, headered.
Format Lists with Bullets or Numbers
No one wants to read a list embedded in a paragraph. Having to dig through all that text to recall the point or two they found most compelling isn’t really practical for modern-day attention spans. They’re likely to just give up instead.
In general, if you have a list of three or more points to make, set them off with bullets or numbers to make life easier for your reader.
For example, this confusing list makes it tough to find single points:
The characteristics that make this actor pairing and movie a spectacular idea include Lupita’s African heritage and training, her high-profile Oscar win in 2014, Hollywood’s lack of female-driven movies, and the potential for gorgeous African panoramas.
But this list is super clear:
The characteristics that make this actor pairing and movie a spectacular idea include:
- Lupita’s African heritage
- Lupita’s high-profile Oscar win in 2014
- Hollywood’s lack of female-driven movies
- The potential for gorgeous African panoramas
Not only is a bulleted list an easier way to convey information, it holds an air of authority. It shows you know exactly what you want to say and you’re getting right to the point.
Enhance Your Content with Imagery
Newspaper editors have long known the limits of readers’ attention. They’ve accepted that a photo and its caption are often the first (and only) opportunity to tell the story.
It’s not much different for web content. There’s plenty of research saying why we respond better to visual stimuli than plain text, but you don’t need to hear that. What you need to hear is that images (including video) can dramatically increase your readership.
Speaking of which, here’s a video of some puppies straight-up terrorizing a cat:
It’s important to give your readers a visual associate with your content that will spark their curiosity and make your content memorable. Even a small image that relates back to the theme of your post can make an outsized difference.
Each piece of content you create is competing against millions of other pieces of content for readers. Making smart formatting choices, like the ones I’ve laid out above, can help your piece stand out — and make your readers more likely to come back for more.