We live in a world where people have very short attention spans. We’re bombarded by so much content every single day, we can’t possibly read and consume it all. The solution we have developed is to scan things quickly and decide if we want to invest the time to read the article, watch the video, or listen to the podcast.
Our blog readers are no different. That’s why it is important to format your articles in a way that makes it easy to scan, get a quick idea of what the article is about, and then make a decision about reading it. That’s what formatting is all about. It’s an important step in your blogging process.
Add to that the fact that formatting is also an important part of on-page SEO and it is something you should be paying a lot of attention to.
Formatting For Your Readers
Always start by formatting for your readers. While search engines are important, they won’t do you any good if you can’t convince people to read your article.
Make It Easy To Scan the Content
The most important thing you can do for your readers is to make it easy to scan the content. Use headlines, break up text, etc. to make it quick and easy to scan the article and figure out what it’s about. Of course, your headline and your images are a big part of this.
Break Up Things into Bulleted or Numbered Lists
Breaking up things, tips, ideas, etc. into lists. Depending on context, those could be bulleted or numbered lists.
Lists are easy to read, quick to scan, and are helpful to readers who consume your content.
Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Reading online is different from reading a print book or newspaper. It’s much harder on the eyes, and since we’re consuming so much written content on a daily basis and scan a lot, our attention span when it comes to reading has gone down quite a bit.
Make it easy for your readers to read your articles by keeping your paragraphs short. One to three sentences is usually all you want in each.
Bold important Concepts
Highlight the most important concepts or keywords of your article by bolding them. Not only does this help readers understand that this is an important point, it also helps with scanning before they commit to reading your article.
Formatting for the Search Engines
Now that your article is pretty and easy to scan and read for humans, let’s talk about formatting for search engines.
Use H Tags
Using H tags like <h1>, <h2> etc. show search engines what words on the page are important. Use an H1 tag for your article title. If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, your theme should take care of this for you.
But don’t stop there. You can use various other H tags throughout your content. Let’s say your blog article can be split up into two major sections of this article for example. One section is about formatting for readers, the other for search engines. Those sub-headings are H2 tags.
This one is easy. If you haven’t already done so for your readers, find your main keyword and make it bold. This will also show search engines this particular word or piece of text is important. Don’t overdo it though.
Use Alt Tags in Images
As you’re adding images, include text in the alt tags that describe the image, but also includes your main keyword. As with the other tags and formatting tips, this will help with ranking.
Use Your Keywords in the Text
Last but not least, give your article a quick scan and make sure you’ve used your keyword several times in the main body of your article. Again, it’s important to strike a good balance here. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t forget to include it. In a 400+ word article like this, using the keyword about 3 times is a good general rule of thumb.