Guest blog post submitted by Jayne Kendall from Our Home Online.
The way people read blog posts and articles varies, from scrolling on their mobiles whilst on the bus or grabbing a few minutes while they eat lunch. It’s also likely some of them will be pressed for time, scrolling through the post quickly and picking out headers and the main points rather than reading in depth.
So, it’s fair to say the way you construct your blog posts matters more than you might think, here are some top tips on how you can structure your posts so they are easy to read on any device from anywhere.
How much should you write?
There are no definite rules when it comes to the length of your blog posts, but you’ll need at least 350 words as a minimum to ensure you’ve gone into enough detail to make your post informative and useful. Some subjects warrant a much longer word count though, so it’s not unusual for some articles to reach 2,000 words or above.
Providing you’ve kept your post clear and you’re not rambling you can theoretically have as many words as you need, but around 500-1000 is pretty standard and makes a good benchmark. If you do go for a longer post make sure you’re structuring it so that it’s easy to digest and holds the reader’s attention.
Construct a great title and snippet
The title of your post is what’s going to draw readers in, so it’s worth investing some time into getting it right. It can be easier to write it last as you can summarise what you’ve written and you’ll know which direction your blog has taken. Just remember the aim of the title is to fuel your reader’s curiosity, while remaining clear on what your post is about.
The short piece of text that acts as a summary for your post is the snippet, and depending on your site design it might appear on the front page of your blog section. Therefore, try to include a call to action that encourages your readers to open the article, for example; “Read our post to find out how to keep your blog readers interested right to the end”.
Include headings and subheadings
Headings are great at breaking up the text of your blog posts and making it easier for readers to digest your content, even if they’re just scrolling through quickly. For example, if you write a list-based post (such as ‘8 top packing tips for summer holidays’), you could have a subheading for each point. This means readers can pick up the main points without necessarily having to read through the whole post or they can find the areas that are most relevant to them. You can also use subheadings every couple of paragraphs to introduce ideas in an essay or news-style piece.
Make sure you use the correct HTML tags for your headings, as they help search engine algorithms understand your post. In most blog editing suites these are equivalent of ‘Header 1’, ‘Header 2’ and so on. Your title should be the only header 1 in your post, while all other subheadings should be header 2s. If you need any further subheadings within the sections, that’s where header 3’s come in.
Keep your paragraphs clear
Most readers have relatively short attention spans so long walls of text don’t tend to work very well in blog posts. Make your article as easy to read as possible by using shorter paragraphs of two to three sentences and making the most out of formatting, such as bullet points, where you can.
For example, if you were to offer your readers some steps to try within a longer article, you could include them in a numbered list so they’re clear, easy to read and attract their attention.
Links are a great way to illustrate and explain your points further than the scope of your post. They’re also great for cross-referencing with other relevant content on your site, improving your SEO and (if applicable) increasing sales.
For example, if you’re a travel agency and you’re writing a post on the top tourist attractions in Wales, you could link to these hot-spots so your readers can find out more, or even to another area of your site where they can purchase tickets or merchandise. If you’re writing an opinion piece and you want to mention research or other opinions it’s best practice to link to the articles you’ve mentioned.
While links are a great asset to your blog post, avoid peppering your post with too many, as this can be off-putting and even make your post seem less trustworthy. When you do include them, make sure they open in a new tab so you don’t send readers away from your site with the risk they won’t come back (there’s normally an option to ‘open in a new window’ when you insert links in your post).
Insert some (relevant) images
Great blog posts use relevant images to break up text and help explain points, so be sure to include them where you can throughout your posts. Just bear in mind that they may appear differently when viewed on different devices so preview each post on different screen sizes before publishing, and be aware that referring to images where they are placed (such as; see image to the left) might not be applicable all the time.
Once you’ve got the hang of these basic tips, you can have a play around with the way you structure your blog posts. Don’t forget that variety is a good thing, so you can try and experiment with different formats to keep your readers interested.