Why Aren’t People Reading and Sharing My Content?
How Much Thought do you Give to Formatting Content?
Many of us remember the days when we had to format school papers or business letters on a typewriter or in Word. Now, for the most part, these things are standardized but there is no place where there are fewer rules and more choices than in formatting content on a site. It’s pretty much the wild west. Just because you can center justify everything or write it in a delicious small caps font doesn’t mean you should, though. Today we’re looking at how people read your content and the best practices when it comes to formatting content.
The Letter F Still Matters To Web Readers
People scan web pages by looking across the top of the content and then going down the page but moving their eyes to the right less and less as they go down the page, forming something that maybe sort of reminds us of a capital F. It’s important to make sure that you place the most important information in those heavy hit areas.
This also aligns with good SEO practices. We know readers are more likely to read shorter paragraphs. Furthermore, we know that they will focus on the first sentence of paragraphs and the headings and subheadings on a page so we purposely craft headlines that gain attention. But there’s more our content formatting can and should do.
Formatting Tips for Web Content
- Bulleted and numbered lists: Lists attract the eye and offer the reader a signpost. “Here’s the stuff you need to know! Come look here!” They may not read every word but they will tend to stop and check out your list.
- Bold instead of italics: Drawing a reader’s attention to important text is vital to keeping her interested in your content but italics, while pretty, just don’t work well on the web. Use bold to draw attention. But please don’t go overboard.
- Sidebars and call out boxes: The right hand side of the page doesn’t get much love but there’s something that helps: sidebars, boxes, background changes and anything else that sets the information apart.
- Consistency and logic: Arrange information in a way that is systematic. If you’re writing a series of steps, use numbers and make sure you go in order. If you’re writing about the history of something, use a timeline or chronological list. Be sure that you use the same structure for each entry so that readers know exactly what they’re getting.
- Appropriate links: Link to your own related content and valuable outside content. Hyperlink the text that is important (keywords, for example) and not at the start of the sentence. Don’t say click here for more. Say “learn more about fly fishing” and link the words fly fishing. This is how you build a more SEO-friendly link structure and keep readers engaged in the content.
Don’t Forget the Most Important Content Formatting Rule
At the end of the day it it’s still about providing valuable content to readers. Don’t force your text to tick the boxes—instead write it organically and then go back and structure it. This lends itself to your article’s authenticity. Want us to take a look at the structure of content on your site and your content formatting? Get a free content audit in less than a week!