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How much time do you spend worrying about your blog format when you sit down to write a post?
However much time that might be, there’s a better way: establishing an outline and a set of editorial standards that you follow on every piece.
This way, you can focus more on writing, and waste less time on mechanics and presentation.
In this post, you’ll learn everything from formatting best practices to where all your visual components should go (and beyond). By the time you’re done, you’ll be sure to have picked up a few tips that’ll help improve your content and retain more readers.
Advice is only worthwhile if you can put it into practice.
And to make applying this post simple, use this blog format template.
Fill out each section and your post will come out well-formatted every time.
Even the best content can underperform if it looks sloppy.
In general, most people stick around on a website for less than a minute.
Consider this graphic from Nielsen Norman Group:
People are most likely to drop off right away, unless they see something compelling that they want to stick around and read, or otherwise interact with.
And guess which factors determine whether people leave, according to Neil Patel:
Why are these points relevant?
All five of these factors can be influenced, positively or negatively, directly and indirectly, by your formatting.
Plus, there are plenty of other benefits behind making your content presentable. Here are three.
Like the intro to this post suggested, setting formatting guidelines for every post helps you save time since you won’t have to think about it each time you create a piece of content. Multiply the amount of time you save on one post, times the number of posts you’ll ever write, and it adds up.
This helps solve problems #2 and #3 from the numbered list a few paragraphs back.
Provided your content is on point (solving point #1), making sure people can read your stuff on whatever device they’re on while making conversion steps clear, you can put yourself on the path to success.
Incorporating keywords into the right sections of your post, along with using header tags (H2, H3, etc.) smartly throughout your content can have considerable influence over its search performance.
Before this post digs into an actual formatting process, it’s time to cover some basic best practices that apply more or less universally.
You’ll probably need an example to follow before setting forth on formatting yourself. So, what does a crisp and clear blog post look like? Check out this illustration:
So, say it’s time to write a blog post.
How should you approach structuring each section? And how can you get that advice in plain English?
Start with this process.
This is the first thing you should do before writing a piece of content: figure out what you’re going to write, and what sections your post will include.
The simplest way to write an outline is to sketch out section subheaders in bold text, and add specific details in bulleted lists beneath each one.
Here’s an example:
Next, add in sub-sections and label which sub-header levels they’ll use:
First Section: Thoughts on Point 1 (H2)
Why worry about this stuff? Here are a few reasons:
When the actual writing starts, everything begins with the introduction.
There’s a lot of weight riding on this one section, too.
So, how should they be formatted? Follow these guidelines:
After the introduction, it’s worth considering where your lead magnets (free downloadable resources locked behind an email opt-in form to build your email list) should go.
The CoSchedule Blog frequently places these shortly after the introduction. That’s because they often include resources that are required (or at least helpful) for implement the advice in the rest of the post.
But, whether that’s the best placement for you depends on your content. Here are some options and examples:
After your introduction:
At the end:
In a pop-up:
It’s worth experimenting with different placements and monitoring which appears to work best. From a formatting perspective though, what matters is knowing ahead of time where it will go, so you can plan and write accordingly.
Following your outline, each subsection will need to be written next.
Each one should start with its appropriate sub-header level. If you’re using WordPress, you can find your subheader controls here:
Why are these important? This has been touched on before in this post, but it’s worth reiterating a couple of key points:
As has been stated before, stick to 25 words or less per sentence, and three or fewer sentences per paragraph to make your post easy to skim.
The general best practice is to include an image every 200 to 300 words.
This helps to add more visual appeal to your post, giving readers a rest periodically to look at something more interesting than an endless scrolling wall of words.
Some other images to consider:
Great content deserves to be shared.
And people will often want to share something great that I’ve read, while they’re reading. This is where click-to-tweet boxes (which can be created using a variety of plugins) come in.
Here’s an example of what they look like:
But, where should they fit in with your post formatting? How often should they appear?
Here are a couple guidelines to consider:
A good conclusion should summarize the main points of your post. It might also refer readers to places where they can learn more about the topic, or lead into a call-to-action to drive email signups or another type of conversion.
Throughout your post, there will be a handful of other items to make sure are on point.
Image formatting matters for creating great blog posts. Follow these guidelines:
There are some formatting considerations for links, too.
Your title tags and meta descriptions don’t appear directly on your blog post, but they do appear in search engine results. Here’s what they look like in search results:
Here’s how each should be formatted:
Use the free SERP preview tool from Spotibo when writing title tags and meta descriptions to see how they’ll appear before publishing your post:
There’s a lot of information in this post to remember. So, how do you avoid missing a step? Try using this checklist before publishing each post:
[ ] Introduction includes a minimum of three paragraphs.
[ ] All sentences are 25 words or less.
[ ] All paragraphs are three sentences or less.
[ ] Title tag is less than 70 characters.
[ ] Meta description is less than 160 characters.
[ ] All images are sized appropriately.
[ ] Keywords are placed strategically within content.
[ ] All sub-headers use appropriate H2 and H3 tags.
[ ] Lead magnets and opt-in forms are correctly placed.
[ ] Calls-to-action are appropriately placed.
[ ] Images and other visual elements are placed every 200 to 300 words.
[ ] Click to tweets have been included.
[ ] All links open in new tabs.
[ ] Post flows logically from its introduction to its conclusion.
It’s easy enough to create a checklist using Excel, Word, or something else. But, the best way to create checklists for marketing projects is with Task Templates in CoSchedule. They’re reusable checklists that make collaboration easy and ensure steps never get missed.
If you’re a customer or have started a free trial, try creating a piece of content on the calendar.
Next, click Tasks and start entering items for your checklist. You can also assign due dates and team members who are responsible for each task:
Then, once each step is completed, you’ll see the progress meter appear on the calendar, making it easy to see project progress:
To make sure your team is completing tasks on time, you can also use Team Performance Reports to see who is checking off their tasks on time, and who’s falling behind:
You’re now prepared to make every blog post you publish look its best. Before you leave, make sure you grab your free templates and best of luck with your blogging efforts.
October 22, 2018
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