“Design content, then write it.” We read this recently and pondered over it for quite some time. Sure, you always think about blog layout after you’ve written it, but you’ve never started with design. Until now.
In short, Google prefers websites that provide valuable content and good user experience. Engagement is a strong indicator of the value of your blog for your audience. So high activity on your blog — like “time spent on page” or “number of links clicked” — helps to boost your ranking.
To make your blog posts more engaging you will need readable formats, quality content, strong CTAs and multiple options that make it easy for your readers to interact with your posts.
So if someone shows up to your blog and sees one big chunk of never-ending text, they probably aren’t going to stay on your page very long. Instead, content writers should strive to engage their audience with creative design encouraging the reader to spend more time on each page. Knowing that readers are going to scan, here are some suggestions on how you can most effectively provide them with the most valuable information.
The most important part of any content is the headline. One technique we like to follow is to write headlines and subheads first, then fill in the body content.
Headlines are vital to getting a reader to click on your link and should be unique, attention-grabbing, and informative. Subheads keep readers engaged and serve as mini headlines throughout your content, to keep the reader interested and moving through your entire post.
The trick to writing a good subhead is to give away enough information to allow the reader to skim your content, while being intriguing enough to make them want to dive into the body copy. CoSchedule has a helpful guide for writing results-driven headlines and subheads.
Studies have shown that image captions are some of the most-read content on any given page. Take time writing these captions and consider utilizing “deep captions” that are 2-3 sentences long. Strong captions help the reader skim the page and determine if it’s worth their time to keep reading. Use each caption as an opportunity to hook the reader into the rest of your blog. Space out images with captions and subheads, so the reader has any easy flow to follow.
What are you looking at here? This is an example of a deep caption. It's 2-3 sentences long and tells you that there's a lot of good stuff in this post. Keep reading below!
What’s a listicle, you ask? Why, it’s just what we created here. It’s the use of numbered or bulleted lists that serve as a scannable form of content to present multiple points on one topic. They are incredibly effective at capturing attention, keeping the reader oriented on your page and drawing your reader’s eye to a visual break in the text. You can use them as the entire overarching format for your content, or you can incorporate them in sections of longer form content pieces.
Relevant links can include internal linking back to content on your own site, or external links to other industry experts. Both are good and should be used moderately throughout your text. Internal links will keep people on your site longer; while external links show that you’ve done adequate research to become a thought leader on the topic, adding additional value for the reader.
For instance, this article perfectly relates to an earlier blog post we published on the Why and How to Increase Readability Scores of Your Blogs. We link here internally because we would hope readers like you would also be searching for other ways to improve engagement.
Moderate use of formatting emphasizes parts of your content to draw in your reader. It highlights the most important information that your reader’s eye will jump to first. Use occasional bolding, italicizing or underlining so the reader can easily skim your content. Also consider the use of the line break. Complex content can be made much more reader-friendly with line breaks between big thoughts. You can use them to separate ideas, paragraphs, sections, etc. Lastly, keep your paragraphs short and experiment with writing one-sentence only paragraphs.
Like this sentence, anything that adds a little white space and provides a break in your copy makes for quality content design.
Above-the-fold content refers to the content that appears within the line of vision for the reader before needing to scroll down. Some users will use this content as a judgement on whether or not to continue reading your article. Hook them with snappy headlines, clean formatting and an intriguing image.
Pro tip: Don’t make the top banner or headline too large. The reader has already seen the headline, after all, because they chose to open your article.
Typography comes into play with readability and legibility. Have you chosen a font that’s easy to read? What about your font size? Does your font match the tone and style of your content? You could spend days researching typography online (guilty), but think about these things at the bare minimum:
Pro tip: Test it out! There’s no set of industry standards for typography, just a whole lot of recommendations. Design it first to fit your needs, then do some user testing and see how your readers react.
Sometimes all it takes to boost engagement is to ask a question. Where and when you choose to ask questions depends entirely on what your goal is with your content.
On some posts you may prefer to not ask a question and encourage your readers to take action on a particular piece of advice instead.
You could also place questions at the end of each section to provoke deeper thinking and hopefully encourage best practices. Remember, not all blog content is all about making a sale directly on the page. Sometimes, it’s about building trust and setting yourself apart as a knowledge expert and industry leader.
Take the below as an example:
Once you’ve successfully written killer captions and subheads, bolded when necessary, included a list or two, and linked to expert sources, then you can begin filling in the content between the design. Ask yourself: Have I called special attention to the most important parts of my article? Is the reader able to successfully scan my article and does he/she feel compelled to dive in?