So, you’ve done all the planning, research and legwork, and now you’ve got a compelling article that is destined to convert. All that’s left to do is hit the publish button, sit back, and watch the visitors roll in. Right?
Content is king, but if you want to be a serious contender in the running for a place in the top 10 search results, you need to dig a little deeper into the anatomy of a successful blog post.
This process, also known as on-page SEO, may sound tedious and unnecessary. But the competition is fierce! And in a sea of relevant, engaging articles, good structure is what will set your blog apart from the rest.
Appearance is Everything!
Blog structure doesn’t just impress the search engines. First impressions really do last, and an article that’s easy on the eye reduces the bounce rate as well as ensuring that your readers make it to the end of the piece.
First and foremost, you are writing for your target audience. Short chunks of information are a lot easier to digest than large walls of text, so keep your passages sweet and succinct.
Double spacing between paragraphs gives the reader a millisecond to absorb what they have just read, while also preventing a blocky effect.
Aim to have no more than 2-3 sentences per section. This gives a conversational feel, which further engages the reader. However, beware of using short single sentences line after line, as it disjoints the article and makes the reader feel like you are talking at them rather than to them.
People have a natural tendency to read web content in an F pattern. The downside of this is that they won’t be reading your article word for word. The upside is that once you are armed with this knowledge, you can use it to your advantage!
The F pattern involves reading horizontally across the top of the content, followed by a second horizontal scan below, ending in a vertical skim of the left-hand side of the page. All very scientific and complicated, but the takeaway from it is:
- The first two paragraphs are the most important. If you haven’t hooked your reader by then, you might as well say adios amigos
- Headings, paragraphs and bullet points should ideally begin with information-carrying words, because it draws the reader further along the page as they scan vertically
A picture tells a thousand words, and with the rise of the Instagram generation, pictorial content is more important than ever.
According to marketing expert Jeff Bullas, articles with images get a whopping 94% more views than articles without.
User engagement is the main purpose of inserting images in content. Who doesn’t love a pleasing image of a cute furry kitten? Or even better, a short and enlightening infographic that depicts the information in the text below?
The sad but true fact is that people are time-strapped (not to mention a little bit lazy) and will actually avoid reading the text at all costs. Cue the eye-catching, stimulating image that will impart the information quickly, with minimal effort on behalf of the user.
Pictures have the added benefit of breaking up the text so that the reader doesn’t feel like they are wading through an ocean of words.
Width Matters Too!
The optimal width for blog content is 500-600 pixels. For us mere mortals, that means lines that are approximately 100 characters long. Problem is, as much as people like text that is arranged to suit their eye movements, they actually dislike too much blank space on a webpage.
The rule of thumb for bloggers is that content should take up no more than 60% of the width of a webpage, and any sidebars or menus should be placed in the right-hand margin.
This gives the eye a break when it reaches the end of a line of text, without giving the impression of an expansive white space. It also provides the perfect opportunity to promote the other fantastic content that your site offers!
Remember that F Pattern from earlier? The left-hand side of your webpage is the premium space, so save it for the critical information.
In the olden days, bolding text, and especially keywords, was an important SEO technique to improve rankings. This is no longer the case, and in fact, bolding too much text might actually damage your search engine position. Also consider the best use of colours, contrast and your website colour scheme.
However, there is still room for a little boldness in your articles, as long as you know how to use it correctly. Readers tend to slow down as they approach boldened text, so the surrounding words will make a bigger impact.
This means that it can be used effectively at crucial stages of your blog to ensure that vital information is emphasised.
Link It In
Internal linking is a great way to direct your users to other relevant pages on your site that they might like, thus boosting your page views.
But that’s not the only benefit. Internal linking also helps to build the authority of your page, and it makes it easier for bots to crawl and index. Which means that a lot of links will ensure that your site is highly optimized and ready for the influx of visitors.
It may come as a shock to some that “content marketing” doesn’t simply involve killer content. And though the main focus for marketers is on page rankings, Google’s main aim is to guarantee a good user experience. So, concentrate on what the user wants, and the results will follow!