This is about readability. Content is king and relevancy is queen, but the easier you make it for people to manoeuvre through your posts the more readers will stick with you and get to all that great content you’ve created. Often people overlook the simplest of things. They plough ahead with more complex enhancements without first taking care of the easiest steps to implement, those small things that will make the greatest difference for the time you give to your blog posts.
1. Use the More Tag
So simple and yet so many still don’t do it. It allows people to scan through your blog roll easily to find articles of interest. If they have to scroll through each entire article many will get fed up and leave. If you give them an opening paragraph or two and maybe an image, it’s a teaser and can entice them in. It also just looks neater and more manageable to the eye.
You can change the wording to ‘continue reading’ or other variations if you prefer. Newspapers and magazines list their articles with a paragraph blurb about them on the content page to whet the browser’s appetite. So should you.
2. Add Images
A good image can transform your text into something that bit more approachable. It breaks up what would otherwise be quite dull blocks of text. Regardless of how good your prose might be, an occasional image can make it look more accessible and appealing. Just make sure they are copyright free, you attribute where they came from or you’re legally allowed use the images. You can pay a small fee per image at places like iStockPhoto but there are free alternatives.
You can search on Creative Commons on Wikipedia or search on other photo sharing sites such as the free sxc.hu. Or click here on Flickr and tick the box for “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. It depends on what you’re looking for, but there are a wealth of usable images available to you.
3. Put In Plenty of Sub-Headings
Breaking your blog posts into smaller pieces makes them a lot easier to digest, it will flow and look better. Also I’d argue it makes you structure your thoughts to be that bit more logical. The other benefit is that with each sub-heading readers are primed for what’s coming or intrigued depending on whether you go for descriptive or quirky/mysterious headlines.
It should allow them greater attention to your writing, which means less likelihood of them leaving in mid-article. Use the headings bar, making it either “Heading 2″ or “Heading 3″ for example. For our posts on SelfAssemblySites blog, we use the latter. The point is, don’t just make line of text bold.
4. Chop It Up Into Smaller Paragraphs
It’s probably the simplest of all the points, but so often writers and bloggers have exhaustingly long paragraphs. James Joyce wrote for pages without a paragraph break or even a full stop, you and I are not Joyce. Chop it up and it suddenly looks far more readable and less daunting or dreary to the reader.
Paragraphs that may look perfectly normal if you’re an avid book reader aren’t quite suitable to the web. All those clichés of reduced attention spans and visitors hitting the back button in a matter of seconds are fairly accurate. Overly long paragraphs are a small barrier to people feeling comfortable reading your work, why not remove as many barriers as you can?
5. Inter-link Your Own Posts
You may already be linking out to your sources which is great, if not, you probably should start. But one common error many bloggers make is not inter-linking to their own posts. Where relevant you should link back to old posts which touched on similar themes. Just hyper-link a few of the keywords not whole sentences and don’t over do it by linking every paragraph. This also goes the other way.
Go back to old blog posts and update them where relevant with links forward to your newer blog posts. The benefit is several fold. Your viewers will appreciate it as you’ve given them some further reading should they want it. Also it’s positive for you with Google, as it tells them the content is still relevant and to re-index it.
Click here to view the difference between this post and a post that hadn’t implemented the 5 Quick Things to Improve Your Blog Post. There’s no difference in content, only a little tweak here and there on the presentation which makes it that little bit more appealing.