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Do Your Blog Posts Pass The Test? 5 Things You Can Improve On Today

Do Your Blog Posts Pass The TestWhen you’re writing a blog post, do you ever consider how attractive it looks to your readers?

How about how easy is it to read? Or how effective your headlines are?

In today’s busy world where attention spans last seconds, it’s important to think about these things if you aren’t already.

You need to give your blog posts the best chance of being read, shared and commented on. And yes, to pass the test!

There are a number of things you should consider to improve your posts.

Format Your Post

Formatting a blog post isn’t the same as you would do when you’re writing a book or a letter.

It’s better not to have huge chunks of text in paragraphs because it can be quite tricky to read online.

Plenty of white space between your sentences means your readers will find your posts easier to read.

How about making it easy for people to scan your posts? Do you think that’s important?

I think inevitably, people lead bust lives and they very often do scan posts.

So, I think it’s important to structure a post so it can be scanned over.

It’s easier for people to do that if you have clearly defined sections all with headings and sub-headings.

Use Images

There’s something weird about blog posts without an image.

It just doesn’t look right.

Images help to draw attention to your posts and help break up the text.

They also give you an opportunity to gain more traffic from the likes of Pinterest.

Not only that but they can also help to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engines scan images for a title, alt and a description, so always remember to include them.

Remember Google also index images and you may get traffic from those showing up in the search results.

Think Carefully About Your Headlines

If you’re like me then the headline is either going to pull you in to read a blog post or turn you off so you move onto the next blog.

So, headlines are one of the most important things to consider when crafting blog posts.

I set up a draft headline for every post I write but it doesn’t end up being the last version in most cases.

I find that coming back to the headline after writing the post can usually bring new inspiration to me.

OK, so we’re not all copywriters but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to write a great headline.

Keep a swipe file of headlines that you come across that grab your attention.

Make use of them in your own writing to grab your readers’ attention!

Simplicity is the peak of civilisation
Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Compfight cc

Keep It Simple Stupid!

Don’t use complicated words when simpler ones will do.

Remember, you want it to be easy for your readers to take in your message, not reach for a dictionary.

The same goes for jargon. Avoid using jargon because it tends to put people off.

If you do have to use it then make sure you explain what it means in your post (unless of course you’re writing for a specialised audience).

Give your readers a clear direction in your posts – in other words, a start; a middle; and an end.

Also remember to give them a call to action. When they’ve read your post, what do you want them to do next?

Be Brief And To The Point

If you have a tendency to waffle then don’t – less is more from your readers’ perspective.

Ruthlessly edit your work after you’ve written it and take out any extra words and paragraphs that don’t need to be there.

A blog post only needs to be as long as it takes to explain the message you want to get across.

Sometimes things can be explained in 300 words or less and other times it might take 2,000 words or more.

Just make sure you haven’t filled out your post with a lot of fluff!

Do Your Blog Posts Pass The Test?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tim Bonner

Tim Bonner is a Stay At Home Dad, Blogger and Internet Marketer. Learn more about him here.

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Comments

  1. says

    Tim, I love how you space your sentences and paragraphs out. It is so easy to read, and keep visitors here then leaving in a hurry. I loved your quote and had to pin it too :) I’m always surprirsed when I land on a post and there is NO image, boring! I came across one about using images too, imagine that? Great tips as always Tim. I hope you have a nice new week ahead there!
    Lisa recently posted…The New Klout – How Klout Has Become a Content Creation PlatformMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Lisa.

      It’s kind of ironic that someone would write a post about using images and then not include one! What a faux pas.

      I think you and I space sentences and paragraphs out quite similarly on our blogs so we’ve both doing the right thing :-).

      Have a great week too.

    • says

      Simple and direct is always the way to go Ryan.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve got that one down to a tee!

      Headlines are the key to everything.

      If you can’t grab people’s attention then they’re just going to move onto the next thing.

      I’ve been working hard on getting better at those lately!

  2. says

    Yayy!! I passed.

    I could always do better in the keeping things simplicity arena, but that’s the fiction writer in me fighting with the marketing/website writer in me.

    Always appreciate a check in!

    Also, my latest post is a how-to find images you can legally use in posts. While it doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of my writing posts, I felt it important for any blogger to keep in mind.
    Leigh Shulman recently posted…How-to find images for your blog without getting suedMy Profile

    • says

      That’s great Leigh!

      I think we all need to be concious about keeping things simple.

      It makes for a much more interesting and enjoyable read.

      That’s wonderful that you’ve written about finding images Leigh.

      It can be a struggle to find them sometimes.

      I make a lot of my own but I could definitely do with more sources for read-made images too.

      I’ll check out your post. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. says

    Awesome tips Tim. I do many of them. Some of them I do better then others… :-), The breaking up of sentences to create white space is such an important tool for many to understand and learn. Interesting images can be the very thing that get people to come back, especially if they’re your own and they like seeing what you created. :-)
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Valentines Gifts From The Kitchen: RecipesMy Profile

    • says

      You’ve got an advantage there Susan!

      Creating your own images that everyone loves means you don’t have to rely on anyone else.

      If they help to bring people back as repeat visitors then even better :-).

      White space on a blog is something that not everyone adheres to.

      However, if can be pretty awkward to read things online if there are sentences all bunched together.

      The same goes for using more elaborate fonts. They can be really tricky to read!

  4. says

    Hey Tim,

    Yeah I agree with the whole “extra white space thing”…it definitely can make articles a lot easier to read.

    And I’ve also found that formatting a post can really be annoyingly difficult sometimes if you’re just using the visual editor in WordPress depending on your theme. I tend to solely use the HTML editor because I can get it to do a lot more of what I want it to do.

    And while I do partially agree with being “brief and to the point,” I also agree that longer posts certainly have SEO benefits and are in some cases valued higher by readers. But you’re right that longer posts filled with fluff really aren’t the best!
    Josh May recently posted…My January 2013 Income Report!My Profile

    • says

      I sometimes use the HTML editor as well Josh.

      It can help to fine tune certain parts of your posts, although in general I still use the visual editor.

      I tend to do a lot of writing in the full screen visual editor to keep away distractions.

      It’s tricky with longer posts because they are often valued by Google, although quality content has to prevail.

      I still think for the most part we should aim to only make a post as long as it needs to be.

      That’s where planning comes into it and writing those longer posts need to be well supported with internal links!

  5. says

    Hey Tim,
    Really helpful post for newbie like me. I’ll surely keep these things in mind while writing a post.

    Thanks and Regards
    Ashish (Webcipher)

  6. says

    Hi Tim, Phew, I’m doing all of these. Keeping it simple is especially important to me because often what I’m explaining is tech which can be quite complex. I have a policy of plain English, no tech terms allowed!

    I also like the formatting suggestion. Having headers (and using H2 and H3 formats) is really helpful for people scanning the article.

    Last week I wrote about unroll.me, a site that helps you manage your email inbox by allowing you to unsubscribe from your subscription emails easily and putting others in a single digest for you each day. I wrote how the service only works with certain email providers and listed them, but I had three readers ask about which email providers unroll.me worked with. I realized that I needed better formatting of that important information.

    I edited the article and put the email services unroll.me works with in bullet points and bolded the information. Voila, problem solved. Listing the services in a sentence buried in a paragraph just didn’t do the trick.

    Thanks so much for this simple, well-formatted article, Tim!
    Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently posted…Unroll.me – Get Control of Your Inbox!My Profile

    • says

      I’m sure it’s sometimes tricky to keep things simple when it comes to tech Carolyn.

      You do a wonderful job of that though. I’ve always found your writing very informative and a pleasure to read.

      That’s a great example of when important information sometimes getting buried within sentences.

      Even though the information was there, sometimes people just don’t see it.

      Bullet points are a good way to highlight the points you want people to know about.

      Thank you for sharing your experience Carolyn.

  7. says

    Heya Timbo,

    I think I am following these, at least most of these.

    I do have a few problems, especially with keeping things brief. When it comes to my blog posts, I go on and on and on…keep it ‘flowing’.

    Sometimes, I wonder why I should just cut down on the stories (Well, by stories, my own experiences) and get straight to the point.

    I tried to do that with my recent post – didn’t go so well…felt like a machine wrote the post (perhaps it’s just me? I do love stories!).

    That being said, I do agree with your point about keeping it short (well, my opinion would be to use the length, but only do so when it’s necessary..don’t write to increase the number of words you have).

    Visual…let’s not forget that. I am definitely investing more onto visual – images, check. Presentations, check.

    Next is infographics – got to make my first one :D Hopefully, it will go well.

    Anyways, thank you for these tips, Tim :) Appreciate them ;)
    Jeevan Jacob John recently posted…Psst, what’s in your first newsletter email?My Profile

    • says

      I think a post only needs to be as long as it takes to make your point Jeevan.

      If you look at posts by Seth Godin, for example, they are short and to the point.

      If you write a really long post, I think it needs to be packed full of information rather than padded out with fluff.

      Some people are very successful at those like Neil Patel but I’m not as good as him!

      I plan to write some content landing pages in the future and I’ll need them to be longer.

      Infographics are definitely a big traffic draw.

      I’ll be interested to see what you come up with Jeevan :-).

  8. says

    Hey Tim,

    Your all point is show stealer. I need to take care to rectify my shortcomings while writing post. Your readworthy and educational point will inject ability in me to reform.

    Thanks for sharing your catchlines.

  9. says

    Hi Tim,

    Basic tips, but important ones that any basic blogger must stick to as they are very important one.

    For example, just the size of the letters are very important. Sometimes I land on blogs I can hardly read because the letters are so small, so that detail alone could be a turn off.

    I know one very successful blogger who doesn’t use photos much and seems to get perfectly away with it, but I still think that a picture is important and needs to be part of your post.

    Thanks for those great tips.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…How You Can Generate Organic Traffic Using ScribdMy Profile

    • says

      It’s always good to be reminded of the basics Sylviane sometimes, don’t you think?

      I was hopping around the blogosphere the last few days and this post was the result!

      The font size is a really good one. I’ve found a couple of blogs that use really large fonts.

      You’d think it would make things easier to read but whatever font one of them used it sort of merged with the background.

      It made my head hurt!

      Interesting that you know someone who doesn’t use images and are successful with it.

      People like Seth Godin don’t either much and look at his influence!

      I wonder if they did whether their Pinterest traffic would suddenly spring into life?

  10. says

    One of things that I don’t like is small text/font sizes. I know everyone has a different opinion, monitor settings, browser settings, etc., but some sites I visit the text is so darn small I can barely see it.

    I know I can zoom in my browser, but I don’t think I should have to do that, and I usually don’t bother. I just leave.

    I don’t know what the industry standard is. I guess 12-14 pt/px range probably. I think less than that is just too small. I am not a fan of monster text size either, but at least I can read it.

    That is in article content I am referring to. I don’t have a problem with larger headlines/titles, or smaller categories, tags, dates, and that type of thing.

    I have been thinking about bumping up some text sizes on certain parts of my site. One of these days when I get some free time I will probably do some testing.
    Ray recently posted…Save Time And Start Your Day With A Batch FileMy Profile

    • says

      I’m with you on that Ray.

      Fonts that are too small just make it hard to read and why would I go to the bother of zooming in?

      No, I’ll just zoom off to the next blog that you very much! :-)

      There must be an optimum font size and I’m sure it would be around the 12-14 pt/px range.

      Another issue can be where people use really elaborate fonts on their site.

      Regardless of how big or small they are, it makes reading posts just not that fun!

  11. says

    Hey Tim, I always try to follow your great suggestions, although I must admit I don’t space my posts out as much as you do. I do however make sure I use lots of paragraphs, sub titles as well as ensuring that the posts adhere to the Flesch Reading Ease test.

    Incorporating an image in the post is also a great idea. I make as many of the images myself so they add to the post and are unique.
    Sire recently posted…How To Buy Lottery Tickets With PayPal?My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, I appreciate that!

      It’s great if you can make the images yourself because then you don’t have to worry about copyright of course.

      Do you watermark them? I haven’t been but it’s something I’m going to do going forward.

  12. says

    Hey Tim, this should be used by all bloggers, especially those who are just starting out.

    I agree that we must be brief and direct to the point. Nothing is more annoying than having to go through a lot of sentences before having a clear idea of what the post is about.

    Great post!

    • says

      Thanks Irwin.

      I really do think it’s important to make a post only as long as it needs to be to get your point across.

      I see many posts that stretch things out because they think that’s better for SEO.

      They can be, so long as they actually need to be longer in order to cover everything fully.

      • says

        Right.

        And if I may add, some deliberately write longer posts to sound smart. But the truth is it makes them appear pretentious. Besides, writing concisely requires a lot of skill so it is a good indication of being a great writer.

        • says

          I couldn’t agree more Irwin.

          I’m wondering how things will pan out with Google with some of these longer posts.

          I know they rank well but some that I see around the blogosphere aren’t well written.

          Hopefully Google may change their algorithm to weed some of them out!

  13. says

    Hi Tim,
    I just saw the link to this article on Twitter. How are you? We have not talked for a while.

    I like your post. I agree.

    Just this last week I found an article that was interesting, but the print was very small and there were few headings or images. I ended up not reading the article.

    There would have been a time I would have forced my way through it. But since there is so much to do with my website and so many websites I want to check out, if the article isn’t quick and easy to read I now find myself moving to another article.

    My “To Do” is to think about headlines in a different way. I think that is where I need to be more creative. Thank you for reminding me of this.

    Barb
    Barb Brady recently posted…#8.03 Online Spell Checker and why I don’t use JetpackMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Barb

      I’m very well thank you. How about you? It has been a little while since we last talked.

      I find myself reading more and more using Feedly instead of via the blogs themselves.

      I can’t do that with everything though because not everyone has their full RSS feed set up.

      I know I don’t because of the possible SEO issues.

      At least though, it can be easier to read some posts and then go and comment afterwards.

      I like your “To Do”. I need to think about headlines too.

      I feel like I’ve been a little bit lazy just recently and not been as imaginative as I once was!

      Great to see you again Barb and I hope you’re having a relaxing weekend.

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