Today’s post contains three (3) little known secrets to improve your blog: 1) readability, 2) scannability, and 3) organization. The secrets that I propose here require your efficient use of the English language to organize your blog’s content. Why English? Because — I’m from Texas and I am unable to convey information in another language.
Successful online content is helpful, interesting, popular, and needs to be above all else — searchable. The primary purpose of web content is sharing information – and if people can’t search for and find your post containing the information you want to share – then you need to change your underwear. Is your content readable. Is it easy to understand? If I read the first 20% of your post, will I comprehend your intent?
In order to help us achieve these goals, one of the first questions that we need to answer is: what is the perfect length of a paragraph of text? We likely understand that the optimal number of characters per line is between 40 and 60 characters. Does this knowledge help us with online content?
A web page visitor will typically read only 28% of the words in a post. The first step to reach our goal of improving this metric is to organize our content. And we organize content with subject headings.
1) Organize your content using appropriate headings.
The use of headings will help us in two ways. It will make our page easy to scan for important ideas, allowing a visitor to make up their mind if they’ll continue to read our post. The second way organizing content with headers helps us is that it will guide us from point A to point B.
Organized headings will guide us on our journey. They function as a roadmap for what we want to share. We will know where we’re going and we will have all of the navigational elements to let us know that we’ve arrived. .
2) Label your Headings in the same way as your Titles
Use a modified version of your post title formula to create relevant headings. That is to say, the heading should describe the content of the section, and not mislead the reader into a false assumption about the content.
A good tactic to use to formulate headings is to start your post by writing out the topic, and then writing a numbered list for either the steps to describe your solution or subtopics that lead to your conclusion.
Your numbered list becomes a guide to writing your story, and the fact that it’s numbered means that you can rearrange your headings. This makes the logical organization of your research easier, as well as help your reader find the information they desire quickly.
You should also ask yourself while writing if your conclusion is based on information that is supported by empirical evidence. Or, is your conclusion just a synopsis of the relevant parts of the things that answer your topical question. In other words, are you just spouting an opinion or an authoritative fact.
3) Limit your paragraph to 7 sentences.
The last writing hack is perhaps the most important. Writing web content is NOT the same as writing a book, or a magazine article. Digital natives find content published on paper to be more than useless.
Studies have shown that the brains of the modern consumers of online content have been trained by swipes, gestures, and the ability to instantly find relevant linked information, or share information with others.
It is a general truth that people reading content on the web scan information and summaries rather than investing the time to laboriously read and comprehend a well researched and crafted article.
Said another way, if your looking at a beautiful Italian cream cake on a table – you want to lick the icing to see if it’s any good before you decide to cut off a piece and indulge in gastronomical bliss. It’s true. You know it’s true.
A post can be like a cake. If it’s well researched, crafted with concise words and written with exquisite language – it can be beautiful. You might even use the vocabulary that a professor of Etymology would use. That’s the decoration of our cake. But if the organization and layers (headings) of the cake are hard to understand or perceive – then your cake will not be eaten. It will stay on the buffet table alone – to be taken home later and fed to the pigs.
The Bottom Line Goal of a Blog Post
In order for a blog post to be effective, it must be easily scanned for important key points that answers a question.
Some business marketing types will tell you that the goal of your blog post is to achieve an optimized analytical metric of “time on page”. They will argue that you should maximize the amount of time a person spends on a page so as to maximize the advertising opportunities available. Why? Because this will in turn maximize the monetization of your blog post.
Is that why you write a blog? If it is, don’t quit your day job..
The advice of optimized time on page from the school of marketing is utter and complete horse shit.
Please, don’t listen to, believe in, or take advice from any asshat who tells you this.
The goal of your blog should be to provide accurate, summarized information that is easily scanned. It should have links to authoritative sources (links are like citations – make them relevant). If you’re good, you’ll also break up your text with some visual reference. Using an infographic is another way of summarizing information. .
If a blog post provides easily scanned information, has quality links to more in-depth source materials, and offers unique insight into a problem – then we have done our job.
Don’t be an asshat and reuse information. If you put horse shit in a red paper bag instead of in a green paper bag, it will still smell like horse shit. It’s just red and not green.
Have you searched for something and after you click on a new post your say to yourself, “This is horse shit, I’ve already read this by 3 other people.”
Those people – the ones who repacked the horse shit? Don’t be one of those people.
So, we will make our content more readable, scannable, and organized. By doing so, we will have helped our reader resolve a question for which they are seeking an answer. We will have helped Google provide that answer for them, and Google will reward us with a higher ranking on a search results page..
In review, This post contains information about how to:
- Organize your content using appropriate headings.
- Label your heading titles to organize your content.
- Limit your paragraphs to 7 sentences, or 100 words.
- Think about the purpose of your blog.
Remember – you can create a nice cake to serve to your visitors, or you can repackage a bunch of reused and recycled horse shit.
Please – for the love of God – make a cake.