Most people who run blogs will agree that knowing what to write about is often difficult. After all, making an editorial calendar requires you to think ahead. At the same time, most bloggers must worry about the competition they face from other bloggers and brands.
Worse than the competition, however, is the customer’s reaction to your blog post format. If your posts are disorderly, they may land on your blog from a Google search, and then leave right away. Unfortunately, your failure to keep a visitor will mean you lose a visitor AND your search engines rankings. Google considers the time people stay on your site as an indicator of reliability.
Getting people to stay on your website can be tricky. For one thing, marketing studies indicate that 55% of visitors will only remain on your page for less than 15 seconds skimming or only reading a portion of your blog post. If they stay longer, then you’ve done a good job of engaging your readers.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your bounce rate, including a consistent format. By templating your blog post format it will make your blog post creation process more efficient. This way, you’ll need less effort for every piece of content you create for your blogging and content marketing. At the same time, people will want to linger and consume your content. What follows is some best practices that, along with a quality call to action, will improve your blog.
1.) Have an Attention-Grabbing Heading for Your Blog Post
Most people decide what to read based on the headline or title. After all, we tend to see the title as a representation of what a blog post is about. Even if the heading is poorly worded, this assumption is usually correct. However, an interesting heading or title will persuade people to read it in the hope that the content just as good.
Look at it this way: when you head to a job interview or sales meeting, do you show up in grubby clothes? Even professionals that work with their hands will look nice for those meetings. All that changes is the appropriateness of clean, mended clothing for a particular trade. If you think of headings as the interview clothes, you’ll appreciate their importance.
Here’s another example: push notifications on your phone. For the majority of us, the most compelling headlines or most effective clickbait will win over the boring ones any day. With our increasingly busy lifestyles, it’s hard to justify wasting time on content that doesn’t satisfy our curiosity or need to know. Fortunately, blogging tools are available that can help you with those headlines.
Further Reading: Blog Post Examples That Will Light Your Creative Spark
2.) Provide a Table of Contents Preview for Your Article
Because most people don’t read the entire article, it’s important to make their reading time count. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by including a table of contents. This helps significantly because it lets people see what is in your article before they read it. Alternatively, your audience might decide to read just one or two sections based on their interests. Either way, your readers will appreciate being able to find particular points in the article.
3.) Use Headings (H2) and Subheadings (H3 and H4)
Do you like skimming through articles online? Well, a lot of people do. Short of having a table of contents, headings are the easiest way to navigate any article. Not only does this help keep readers interested, but it’s also good for SEO purposes. Google uses them to help index and rank websites.
However, there’s another reason to love headings: they help you keep on track while writing. Each point must be covered appropriately before you move on. At the same time, you won’t be as tempted to go off on unrelated topics.
4.) Use Short Paragraphs with a Few Sentences Maximum
For many of us, reading those long, boring paragraphs in school drove us nuts. Having our teacher or professor tell us to finish it anyway probably wasn’t rare. However, with blog posts your reader has a choice. In order to keep them reading, you’ll need to keep your audience interested.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using short paragraphs. These have two purposes. First, reading your blog is uncomplicated and appeals to a wider audience. Second, short paragraphs are friendly for those who are short on time. In both situations, short sentences encourage people to linger and read the whole post.
5.) Add Numbered or Bulleted Lists
Next, consider adding bulleted or numbered lists. You don’t necessarily need these in every post, though. Some blog topics don’t lend themselves well to numbers and bulleting. However, this kind of formatting feature lets you present ideas in a clear, concise manner. From that standpoint, it’s similar to outlines or tables of contents.
6.) Try Bold Text for Big Ideas
Big ideas require your reader’s full attention. This is especially true because your readers come to your blog for the big ideas. In fact, blogs that don’t teach readers something new are blogs that often get ignored. By putting your big ideas in bold typeface, you’ll indicate their importance. Besides, your reader will want to see your reasoning or supporting information behind the idea.
7.) Include Block Quotes for Bigger Ideas or Quotes
If you have something especially important to say, consider adding it as a block quote. These jump out on the page, and signal to the reader that they simply need to read it. Plus, these block quotes can be more easily shared on Twitter or other social media platforms. For extra benefits, you might add a click-to-Tweet button to these segments.
Of course, block quotes can also be used for traditional quotations. The old-fashioned guideline of putting quotes over four lines into a block quote is still relevant for modern blogging. However, the quote doesn’t need to be so long to benefit from block quotes. Even a line or two can be formatted this way for emphasis.
8.) Sprinkle Text with Relevant Images and Graphics
One of the great things about the Internet is that you can add anything to your blog post format. Whether you’re using WordPress or another content management system, all kinds of images and graphics can dress up your post. And this is good practice: research suggests that if you have images and videos throughout your post, your audience is more likely to scroll through the whole article. This not only improves your SEO, but increases your overall influence.
Want an even better impact from images? Use your own photos. In fact, studies indicate that posts which use photos including “real” people enjoy a 95% higher conversion rate than similar posts using stock photos. Considering the overall emphasis on authenticity these days, we probably should not be surprised about this.
Finally, be sure to keep it relevant. Whether you use photographs, infographics, or something else, this kind of visual content should complement what you write in the blog post. Otherwise, people may feel those images are clickbait or worse. Of course, this also means your pictures/graphics must align with your content strategy.
Further Reading: 17 Things You Need for Effective Blog Management
9.) Provide Captions for Your Images
Throwing pictures and graphics up on your website isn’t enough, however. Instead, your blog post format should always include captions for those pictures. While many snaps seem self-explanatory, including captions is a great opportunity to boost SEO. Plus, not all pictures make the link between them and your blog topic obvious.
10.) Remember to Set a Featured Image
A featured image is an important part of your blog post format. Pictures in general draw people into your post, and featured images set the stage for the rest of it. In particular, the featured image is what people see when browsing your blog. WordPress and other blogging platforms use the featured image alongside the title you chose to display each post. Practically speaking, this means that without a featured image these posts won’t even “look right” on the page.
Further Reading: The 17 Most Useful WordPress Tips and Tricks to Blog Like a Pro!
11.) Don’t Forget Your Call to Action At the End of Your Blog Content
In many ways, the call to action is what your blog post is all about. No matter whether you’re trying to make a sale with that post or just get engagement, your blog post format is incomplete without a call to action. Remember, even if you just want people to engage with your content, they sure could use some encouragement. And you sometimes must give customers an extra push to make a purchase. Either way the call to action is critical.
Having a blog post format has many benefits, regardless of why you run a blog. For corporate blogs, the format becomes a part of that all-important brand voice. Bloggers who do it for fun and influence benefit from consistency and increased engagement. Finally, knowing what to expect with each blog post makes hanging out at your blog more fun for readers. What’s not to love?
Hero photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash