Quick Improvements #1: Formatting Articles to Improve Engagement
Today's Editor's Picks
We’d like to introduce a new mini-series (five in total) that will guide you through a variety of tweaks that will improve the experience of your visitors and, ultimately, your conversions.
The first on this list relates to formatting text when publishing your website content.
Believe it or not, people will skim through the content regardless of whether it’s extremely valuable to their immediate needs; it could be a life-changer but everyone jumps around when reading online text.
The problem that rises from this skimming is that a lot of your vital information (and call-to-actions) get passed over therefore you lose out on converting the visitor.
The aim of this article is to dive into what makes for great formatting so your visitors not only read the content but take action.
(Note: This article will appear very scattered but it’s to display the formatting)
STOP. Don’t Skim.
Headlines – these are what most people read and then make their way to the next.
We all do it because we’re strapped for time.
We choose to avoid big blocks of text because they require a mental commitment.
The first lesson: treat your headlines as if they were the most important bits of information.
Make it so that even if someone skims they’re able to get the main message of the content.
This may be tricky but quite possible.
Remember: you don’t need to make it a short sub-heading – it can be as long as you want.
Make it BOLD
Bold test is easy to pick up because it stands out (naturally).
We’d discourage you from using too much bolding in your text but would mention that it’s very valuable if you know the right keywords you want an individual to read (to hook them into the other text).
Italics works wonders
Italics can do a great job at emphasis.
- You don’t want to go to that website
- You don’t want to go to that website
The difference? The latter is one that subtly references a website whereas the first is just a general statement. Reading the second plants the idea that you know what website is in reference so there is immediate association.
Use your italics properly and you can change the whole mood and tone of your message.
- Bullet points
- And numbered lists
- Get read.
We don’t think it needs to be fully explained because it’s inert that text that breaks from the block formatting will naturally draw our attention.
Bullet points are easy to consume which is why most readers will skim around until they hit these points – so make sure a lot of your good information is within these lists.
Likewise, you may want to bold the main element of the items listed in the list for easy scanning.
Use those Links
Sites and themes tend to go with a complimentary color palette which is perfectly fine but we, humans, have come accustomed to certain formats with links – mainly: blue and underlined.
There’s really no reason to break from the tradition (and best practice) unless the links are easy to spot -otherwise just leave them the basic color and formatting.
WordPress and most themes/designs will come with a block quote format so you can pull out those snippets of information that really matter – or just testimonials/opinions.
Block quotes break the visual symmetry of the post and can be used as an effective format for your call-to-action.
Try to use them sparingly; use them when quoting a source or if you really need to draw attention to an added opinion when covering your topic.
Resources you’ll want
More resources about formatting best practices you say? You’ve got it:
- 9 Essential Elements of the Perfect Blog Post
- How To Build The Perfect Blog Post Blueprint
- How to Create the Perfect Blog Post
Did you click one of these because they’re helpful or because they’re part of a bullet list and they caught your attention?
The Conclusion (plus one more thing)
A lot of your articles will most likely end with some quip about what they have learned and what to do next – unfortunately most people are already on their way out since they’ve got the “meat” of the content.
So, instead of having a blaring “this is the end” section – lead out of the last paragraph (such as using italics to create the visual difference) or inject some form of “awesome” tip that shouldn’t get passed up.
For our tip, it would be: Change the text from “leave a comment” to “X people shared their awesome opinions”.
You wouldn’t think it but the relaxed tone and the fact you’re complimenting the readers will increase the chances that someone chimes in rather than some boring “please comment” type message.
There you have it – go out, do some edits, try out formatting – make it happen.