If you want people to read your blog posts without whispering, “Ahhh, why did they have to make this so difficult to read?!” under their breath, and then leave in frustration, this article is for you.
Most of these things you can implement yourself, even if you have no tech knowledge. A couple of them may require a developer to implement.
All of them will completely change the read-ability of your blog posts. If nothing about your actual words/content changes, but only these things below are implemented, you’ll see some good stickiness on your blog posts if you’re measuring metrics.
#1 Title it something that people will actually understand and click
Don’t get creative here. It’s not user-friendly to name blog posts like you would a fiction novel. Writing about your metaphorical experience of gardening and how it relates to your body’s health, should be named plainly and obviously.
Using the example above, let’s say you named your article “Weeds of Health” because you wanted to get creative. Creative it is! Sounds like a great documentary name. Now let’s name it “How Managing Your Health is Like Taking Care of a Garden”. This spikes curiosity, and people kind of know what they’re going to get.
We make split second decisions about what we’re going to read or not online when there are hundreds of articles trying to get our attention on the daily.
Be kind. Be user-friendly. Like your readers enough to make it easy for them. This isn’t about you. It’s about helping people!
This also isn’t about SEO or finding the perfect keywords. This is solely about titles that give people some info so they know what they’re getting into.
#2 Format it like a blog post, not a newspaper article
Bold, italicize, use headings, and break down your paragraphs.
Seriously, proper blog formatting allows eyes to scan the article quickly and pick up the most important information. If you only have solid chunks of text with no formatting, the bright blue light coming from the computer screen will make it hard to focus on the text. Our eyes don’t read from screens the same way they read from books or print.
Use bold when you have a point that needs to be seen, regardless of whether people read the rest of the article.
Use italics when you use any sort of tone of voice.
Use headings to break an article into separate ideas.
Use small paragraphs so people can scan through the text faster.
This very article is an example of good user-friendly blog formatting.
Here’s a great article from Copyblogger about formatting a blog post for user-ability.
#3 Link in the same tab within your website
If you link within your own website, DO NOT open it in a new tab. A user can easily choose whether or not to right-click and open in a new tab if the want. Its annoying to go on a website and then every single time you click a link you’re automatically on a new tab. There are lots of articles written about why this is the user-friendly thing to do.
I first heard this back in 2011 when I was blogging and since then I’ve paid attention to website who open their own links in a new tab and personally I find it very annoying. You can also start paying attention to it. The general online consensus is that if its linking within, keep it on the same tab.
#4 Link in a new tab outside of your website
Following the same point above, it’s also user-friendly to link to outside websites in a new tab. This way if the user clicks, they don’t completely lose your website. This keeps people on your own website, but allows them to explore additional resources on other websites at the same time.
#5 Keep your line length short
Don’t stretch the width of your blog posts from page edge to page edge. It’s harder to follow a long line online than it is a shorter line. Make sure there is some good padding on either sides of your blog posts, or a sidebar automatically shortens the width of the content.
Social Triggers has a great article on the ideal width of your content.
#6 Display related posts at the end of the blog posts so people can read on
If a reader has made it to the end of the blog post, and they found the content interesting, they’ll probably want to continue reading topics that are relevant to the current one.
You can automatically help your reader out by installing some sort of “Related Posts” plugin that pulls in blog posts that have similar tags or categories to the current post.
If you display 4-5 options, you give readers some good options.
I personally tend to always click on related posts on other blogs if I like the content.
#7 Give people a chance to opt-in for some goodies
Display on opt-in form somewhere on your blog post page (usually at the bottom of your posts) so that people can opt-in to your list if they want to remember you and hear from you regularly, because you’ve proven that your content is valuable.
If you give them a high-value freebie as an incentive to opt-in, even better!
Giving them a chance to not lose your blog for good is super kind and friendly.
#8 Have a call to action at the bottom of every post
What should readers do with the information that they’ve just read?
Make it easy for people. If you want them to contact you, ask them to. If you want them to comment, ask them to. If you want them to check out another article, link to it and ask them to click it.
Let people know what you want from them.
Don’t you totally dislike it when you ask someone what they want and then they tell you, “Whatever you want”? That’s because being a non-assertive, passive human being doesn’t help anyone.
Be assertive, tell people what you want and then let them decide if they want to do the same thing.
You can make it super easy by adding a permanent one, like I have, at the bottom of every post. This is especially great when the blog post isn’t aimed at leading people to your services or something.
#9 Make it shareable.
Do you make it easy for people to share it with their friends? It’s not only about sharing on social media. Yes, that’s where a lot of shares happen, but I also like sharing articles with friends on WhatsApp and via email. Make sure you think of those kind of shares too.
Add a social sharing plugin and configure it to show up on your blog post pages only and give people the option to share easily without having to copy/paste links, change applications, etc.
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