There are gazillions of blog posts indexed in Google for every search phrase imaginable. Think of anything and search for it… there will be a result for it in Google. Getting your posts ranked is one thing. Getting a click on your indexed posts in search results another. Once you’re over these hurdles you have to encourage visitors to read your post. How do you do this? One way is to use a tried and tested blog post format that hooks your visitors in from start to finish.
In this post I’m going to outline a blog post format that you can use to provide a killer framework within which to build your posts. Here’s what you’ll get:
- An understanding of why blog post format is important.
- A guide to elements to include in your blog posts along with reasons why they’re important.
- An format template for you to use freely for all your blog posts.
Why is Blog Post Format So Important?
Perhaps the most important reason to focus upon blog post formatting is that you’ve already done the hard work of getting people to your post. Let me explain…
You’ve taken the time to research your topic and written your post. This time can mount up considerably, because as you’ll know, it takes time to write blog posts.
After investing so much time to get visitors to your post, if you can’t keep them on your blog, that’s going to impact what you want to happen next.
It can affect your chance of:
- Generating sales.
- Earning affiliate commissions to make money blogging.
- Growing your email list.
The format of your blog posts is a vital step in keeping people on your blog and encouraging them to do what you’d like them to when they’ve finished reading it. It also helps to reduce bounce rates in the process.
The great thing about formatting is that it’s the easy part. The hard work is researching and writing your post… going through your content and formatting it is simply the polishing phase!
Assuming you format your blog posts in a way that makes them visually appealing, visitors will remain on your blog longer. The longer people stay, the more likely it is they’ll take the desired action you’d like.
So let’s get into the formatting elements you can include in your blog posts to give them some extra fizz!
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1. Write a Killer Title
While not strictly a formatting element (I’d generally consider this a part of your written content) your headline feeds into the objective of keeping visitors on your blog. As such, a killer headline plays an important role in persuading your visitors to read your post.
Your headline will be relatively short, which is of course limiting. Writing something compelling with a few brief words is a skill you’ll need to develop.
How do you develop the ability to write killer titles?
Look at the major players in your blogging niche.
- How do they format their blog post headlines?
- What is it that makes you want to read them?
- Are they using power words that call your attention?
Looking at other bloggers and how they structure their blog post titles can give you ideas about how to form your own killer blog post headlines.
In addition, you can use a whole bunch of online headline generators to help. Try out some of the following to help inspire you :
- Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Generator
- Answer the Public
- BYOB’s Blog Post Ideas Generator
- HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
- Impact’s BlogAbout Title Generator
- Portent’s Content Idea Generator
- SEOPressor’s Blog Title Generator
2. Use a Captivating Featured Image With a Caption
The featured image for your blog post may be the first thing someone sees on your blog. It may be the thing that encourages or discourages them to click through to read it.
These images should be captivating, relevant to the post and include a caption that makes the visitor feel compelled to read it.
The caption may simply be the killer title you’ve already written for the blog post, or something equally attention-grabbing.
3. Narrow Post Width
Moving beyond the title, the width of your page has an immediate bearing on the look of your blog post format.
Opting for a full-width format that fills your screen left to right may seem like a good idea… but you’re immediately hitting your readers with a solid wall of text. Nobody wants to look at that let alone read it.
Your visitors need to be eased through your blog post and encouraged to read it from start to finish. A narrower width is a more optimal blog post format because it’s more kind on the eye and far less intimidating to look at.
4. Font Size and Format
I’ve seen countless examples of fonts people have used on their blogs that must have seemed a great idea at the time.
Let’s be clear right now… you MUST choose a font that’s going to be easy on the eye. Most people don’t want to see some fancy script type font because it simply takes too much effort to read, especially on a mobile device.
Choosing a readable and visually enticing font and adjusting the font size to make it super-legible is a basic usability tenet that should be a staple of the overall format of all your blog posts.
5. Table of Contents
Once you’ve written a blazing intro, you may find it useful to format your post with a table of contents.
On long form blog posts, a table of contents is a list of all the key topic areas your readers can expect to find out about.
Why is this good?
- They’ll be able to skim read up front to find out what they’re going to, erm… find out.
- You’ll be able to provide anchor links to each section of your blog post so readers can navigate their way through it.
- It’s a neat way to add a little formatting flourish into your post immediately at the beginning.
Long form blog posts need to be broken up logically into sections. Without logical breaks, your posts are going to be one hell of a long wall of text.
Give each logical section a subheading. It’ll help to break up your text into meaningful and related groups of ideas and offer you opportunities to optimize your content for search engines and human readers.
You should also introduce varying sizes of subheadings. Your main topic headings will likely be H2 but sprinkle in some H3s and H4s too… they’ll mix up the format of your blog posts in an appealing way.
7. Short Paragraphs
Another formatting trick relating to breaking up text is to use short paragraphs. In the same way that subheadings introduce space around related blocks of text, short paragraphs make your blog posts easier to skim.
When you format your posts with short paragraphs, you give your readers a chance to breathe and time to digest what they’ve just read.
Long paragraphs tend to look confusing when skim reading and may just shut down your visitors’ interest in reading beyond paragraph 1!
Keep your paragraphs short and simple.
8. Format Your Post With Appealing Images
There’s no way that anyone’s ever going to read a 3,000 word text article that offers no visual stimuli.
When you land on a blog post and all you see is text, it’s be a huge turn-off. It doesn’t matter if your post is formatted with a narrow width, subheadings and short paragraphs because the visual impact would still be overwhelming.
Images have the potential to format your blog post in a way that’s visually appealing to your readers.
Look at the difference between this example of a tabloid a broadsheet newspaper article.
Which looks more visually appealing and easier to read at a glance?
Images don’t just make a blog format pretty though. They offer visual clues about your content that help readers understand it in a visual way. Therefore it’s important to choose images that relate to your content.
9. Bold and Italic Formats
Picking out important parts of your blog content by formatting them in bold text and italics does several things:
- Some people skim read blog posts before deciding to read them in full. Using bold and italicised text formats helps people to see the key points to help persuade them to read your post in full.
- Bold and italic text tend to make your content look more appealing.
- They provide visual cues to search engines about the relevancy of keyword phrases to the page on which they appear.
The point is to not use bold and italicised text to format everything, but to make your key ideas, phrases and keywords stand out.
10. Use Lists Often
I’ve already touched on the idea of lists when I referenced a table of contents earlier on. Lists are incredibly useful in terms of your blog post format.
They are a powerful and simple way to break up your text in a visual way since most of your content will be filling the page width you’ve specified.
Additionally, sometimes the best way to illustrate key ideas is to deliver them with ordered or unordered lists as I’ve done in this post.
Using lists in this way makes the key points of your blog post easy to digest and great to skim. You can shorthand the items in your list in a manner that makes total sense without adding fluff, which makes it much easier to read.
11. Include Attention Grabbing Media
Earlier, I touched on the visual appeal of using images to format blog posts. Adding more engaging types of media is another positive way to add visual appeal and keep readers on your blog longer.
Where appropriate, consider using the following different types of media to add zing to your post format:
- Social media embeds (such as “Click to Tweet”)
Attention grabbing media will provide your visitors with a more engaging and interesting experience.
The more interactive and engaging your blog posts are, the more likely your readers will stay on your blog.
12. Be Generous with Whitespace
Whitespace is good. Whitespace is your friend. Long live whitespace!
By modifying your on page elements you can add sufficient whitespace around them to break up your content and present a format that creates less overwhelm.
Tweak your CSS to add margins and padding around elements such as:
You can even adjust line height within paragraphs to create something that’s far easier to read.
What we want to do is move away from the dreaded wall of text that makes skim reading a challenge. By making small adjustments to padding, margins and line height you can produce a far less forbidding post format.
13. Use Text Callout Formatting
Callouts are short bits of text formatted in a larger font that draw attention to a key piece of information you want your visitors to see. This might be a USP or important fact you want people to take note of, but it could equally be an anchor text link on your page to something you want people to click.
A sprinkling of text callouts in your blog post again breaks up blocks of text and is a super simple way of spicing up the look and feel of your blog posts.
14. Block Quotes
You may not have quotes from someone in order to add block quotes… so why not just pull some quotes from yourself?
In a similar vein to using text callouts, pulling some content you’ve written into a block quote or two is a neat way to format your post with a juicy tidbit from it.
It doesn’t have to be an earth shattering quote, just use something interesting that summarizes the paragraph it came from.
Block quotes stand out in a skim read and if yours are enticing enough they might make a skim reader interested to read the full post.
15. Internal Links
While not strictly a blog post formatting device, internal links to provide a visual break in your text. You’ll likely have all the links across your blog appearing in a different color to make them identifiable as hypertext. You might also format your links with an underline style.
Internal linking is important not just in terms of your blog post format. They should link to related content your readers might also be interested to read. As such they provide a method to reduce bounce rate.
Additionally, internal links give you an SEO boost:
- Provide relevancy clues about your content to search engines
- Actively enable search engines to crawl your blog.
Some blog post elements have multiple benefits!
16. Affiliate Links
While again not necessarily formatting elements, affiliate links do add some variation to your blog content.
Affiliate text links provide a similar visual variation in your copy, whereas affiliate banners add another visual element as with other images you use in your posts.
17. Calls to Action
Two things to think about here.
- What’s the purpose of your blog post?
- How do you emphasize the purpose and encourage your visitors to take action?
Sure it’s great to have visitors landing on your blog pages. Getting lots of traffic to your blog is exciting… but what do you want them to do when they’ve finished reading a post?
Are you trying to monetize your blog posts? Looking for a newsletter signup? Perhaps you want to drive them to other pages on your blog.
If so…how do you make it happen?
Calls to action are a gentle (or not so gentle) way to tell your visitors what to do next. If you want them to sign up to your newsletter, tell them to do so. If you want them to buy an ebook, provide a compelling way to make it happen.
You can incorporate your call to action into a formatted section to make it stand out. This might include:
- Strong background colors
A call to action is not a blog post format element in itself, but you can turn it into something visually appealing so it becomes one.
Of course the hope is that you’ll create a call to action that not only makes the format of your post pretty but that also persuades someone to do something you’d like them to.
Your blog post format is an important way to ensure you don’t overwhelm your visitors and ease them into committing to read your post in full.
A blog post without thought put into format is a big turn off and may actually deter people from reading your posts.
A wall of text is forbidding to look at and your readers may feel that they can’t get through it without effort. Formatting your post elements will help make it less forbidding and encourage them to get to the end.
I’ve outlined 16 ways to format your blog posts:
- Killer titles
- Captivating featured images with compelling captions
- Narrow page width
- Font style, size and format
- Table of contents
- Short paragraphs
- Appealing and relevant images
- Emphasise text with bold and italic formats
- Attention grabbing media
- Lots of whitespace
- Text callouts
- Block quotes
- Internal links
- Affiliate links
- Calls to action
If you can incorporate these elements, you’ll be on the way to blog post format heaven!
Here endeth the lesson!
Anything blog post format ideas to add to this post? Please leave a comment below to share!