6 min 43 sec Reading Time | Post contains affiliate links
This is the second post in my series on formatting your blog posts for SEO and reduced bounce rates. The first post on writing your content for SEO optimization can be found right here. Today we are going to cover formatting your blog post in WordPress for increased engagement.
At this point, you’re probably already sold on writing content for your business. You know your audience, you know what they want from you and you wrote some blog posts to get them clicking to your site. The hard part of getting your content online is over, right?
Well, that’s the dream anyhow. The reality is that once you have your content ready to post online, there is still the process of posting it to your site.
This post is set up to answer any number of the following questions:
- How do I keep readers on my website?
- How do I use the WordPress editor to format my blog post?
- How do I keep readers from bouncing off my website?
- How do I make reading my content easier for my audience?
Content marketing is where it’s at, but that’s not exactly a secret. You’ll be contending with a saturated market full of people who have been offering excellent content for a while now. The main thing you want to avoid is a high bounce rate. Your bounce rate is when a reader ends up on your website and then clicks away without scrolling down or clicking any other page on your website.
When you realize that your published posts have a high bounce rate, and aren’t being read by your audience, it’s easy to blame your writing skills. However, if we are looking at bounce rate alone, the problem is usually not about your writing, but instead about the formatting of your posts in WordPress.
In this post, we’ll take a look at:
- Clearing Formatting Issues before they start
- Effective paragraphs and lists
- Sentence structure/Using Whitespace
- Headers (H1 and H2)
- Images for your posts
Making a few small changes to how your information is laid out in WordPress will make a huge difference for your reader.
For this post to be the most useful, it’s best if you have a piece of content ready to be posted. Copy and paste it into your WordPress Editor and let’s get started.
If you need help with writing your content for getting those organic search results, check out this post right here.
Have your post ready? Let’s get started.
First, clear any formatting from your blog post
I write two drafts of each post I create. My first draft is written in the default notes program for my computer and my second in Grammarly. By the time I have it moved over to the WordPress editor to format my post; it’s full of stray code from these other programs.
WordPress, while trying to be helpful, grabs all the extra formatting and adds it to the post. So when I load that post into preview mode, sometimes there are weird formatting choices that are a complete mystery to me.
Do yourself a favour and make sure you click this button to remove all the previous formatting before you get started. You’ll thank me later.
Use lists where possible
When it comes to formatting your blog post, keep in mind that most readers will skim through your article. According to Hubspot, 43% of people who took their survey admitted to skipping through blog posts.
Are we all a tiny bit hurt and offended by this? Yes. However, knowing that people are skimming our content doesn’t mean we put less effort into creating it. It just means we need to plan our writing for busy people looking to find the information they want right away.
The best way to make your work easy to digest? Bullet points. Adding bullet points:
- Makes content easier to pick through
- Decreases the wall of text intimidation
- Brings attention to specific points
Scan your post for places where you can use a list or bullet points instead of a sentence. This will make things easier for your readers when they are scanning your post for tidbits of information to solve their specific problem.
In the example below, you can see the difference it makes to have a list of several points.
Write in short sentences.
This is the hardest one for me. I tend to be a bit of a rambly person, and sometimes I let that translate into my writing. If you have built this style of writing and speaking into your brand, you can bend this rule a little. But make sure you can read your sentences out loud without stumbling if you want to ramble a bit.
A quick fix for this is to check your post for sentences that are using two or more commas. Break those into a couple cohesive sentences to make reading your post easier.
Use headlines (aka H1 & H2)
Headlines are used for many reasons when you’re posting a blog in WordPress.
- Help your user scan content
- Help Google understand what your article is about
- Break up walls of text
- Provide a place for Keywords
- Structure your blog post
When Google is looking at your post formatting, it’s looking at all of your H1 and H2 headers for keywords that will tell Google what your blog post is about.
All of Google’s rules and SEO policies are in place to create consistency for users online. They are making sure that you are putting your reader first. Beyond the SEO aspect of your headers, we also use them to break up the text and make it easier for your reader to find what they need.
Resist the urge to stuff these headers full of search terms. Add your keywords to 1-2 H1 headers and H2 headers, or more if it makes sense.
Quick fix: Once you’ve written your article, scan through it and make sure you format your blog post to have a header every 300 words or so. Make sure introductions, separate points and your conclusion/call to action is easy to notice.
Use whitespace in your paragraphs
You don’t need to be a designer to understand the importance of white space in formatting your blog post.
Everyone has loaded a web page or a blog post at some point that presented them with a wall of text. I can’t recall a time that I didn’t immediately click away because I felt so overwhelmed by the content.
Quick fix: Make sure you are leaving lots of white space in your post so that your reader can scan through the information with ease. Review it in preview mode to check for appropriate space between sections, paragraphs, etc.A wall of text in your blog post is called a 'no thank you' - use these tips to format your blog post for your readers. Click To Tweet
Use Block Quotes for important bits of info
Block quotes are great for calling out important information that you want to be quoted on. Or information that you want people to notice.
I use Block Quotes to highlight the reading time and affiliate status of my blog posts. I also use them to call out a personal opinion within an educational piece of content.
You can use Block Quotes however you feel makes the most sense for your brand, but like everything else, make sure you don’t overuse them.
How it looks online:
Use Images in your blog posts
Add in images where it makes sense to do so. Images give your content some context, and the visuals will help your reader stay engaged. You can use one of many of the following:
- general high-res images (saved for web)
- charts & graphs
Note: Your images should not exceed 100 kb per image used in your blog post because you want the post to load quickly in google. Make sure you check the size here before loading your image into your post:
You can find this on the left-hand side under the attachment details. This one is 60kb so it’s good-to-go.
While you’re checking the image size, add your ‘alt text’ as well. Alt Text is what lets Google know what the image is about, and also adds accessibility to your site for people who might have seeing issues, etc.
Quick fix: Review your content in preview mode and add images where appropriate. A good rule-of-thumb is a minimum of 1 image per 600 words. Make sure you add your keywords to the name of your image before you upload it into WordPress.
Bonus: Formatting pet peeves. Read on at your own risk.
Lastly, I want to talk about some formatting faux pas. Popular platforms like facebook and twitter don’t give many options for formatting your posts. So many people are using capslock, Astrix and a number of other things to denote emotion in their posts.
WordPress, on the other hand, gives you a myriad of options to take your writing online. Bold, italic, headers, sub-headers–so many options that choose from that opting to not use these is akin to a personal attack on my eyeballs.
If you want to decrease that bounce rate, avoid some of these:
- More than one ‘!’ at the end of the sentence. Maybe two, if we’re generous and being exceedingly excited is a part of your branding.
- Caps lock. We read caps as yelling, not excitement. Yelly type is bad. Please consider how people will read your yelly type in their head.
- Mixing bold and italic together. You can choose bold. You can choose italic. If you need to add both, please consider making it into a blockquote or a headline.
- Rambly sentences. If you’re getting past the 20-word mark, consider starting a new sentence. That’s not the ‘pet peeve’ part of this one. The pet peeve comes in when your web designer is adding your blog post into WordPress and Yoast won’t stop giving a big frowny face over the length of all these sentences. (If you don’t know what I mean, install Yoast, and you too can enjoy all the frowny goodness.)
- A bracketed sentence in most paragraphs. I was going to place one as an example here but they should be used sparingly, and I already have one in the point above this.
- Not numbering numbered lists. If you are offering me ‘the top # way to do X,’ I’d really like to see the numbers so I can see where the content starts.
What do I do next?
Next up, its time to get started! Take your blog post and make sure you have between 600 – 2000 words (depending on your beliefs around the ‘ideal blog length’) and paste it into WordPress.
Download this checklist to use while formatting your blog. Post it next to your monitor and start getting those readers engaged with your content.
If you’re ready to get formatting, fill in the form below to get my Ultimate Blogging for SEO checklist:
1 Affiliate links are for products that I use regularly and love the heck out of. If you click these links and end up purchasing with them as well, I get a small commission. Eventually. Potentially paid out in monopoly money. Who’s to say.