I coach everyone I work with on the dos and don'ts for writing great WordPress posts that will get read and that I know can make a difference in those posts being shared and ranked. Even those that consider themselves authors aren't aware of the formatting and styles that work online.
Are you guilty of these bad writing habits?
Over the years, I've experienced a pattern of resistance that forms on a handful of topics — regardless of market or perceived “uniqueness”. You create content by writing well and honing those skills. Well written content then converts.
Posts that go on and on and on and on… and on.
Onliners have the attention span of a gnat — stats show the average length of time spent on any Blog is 96 seconds — just a minute and a half! And they scan first and maybe read after.
The first thing they see, that can get them to click through and read is your title. Titles are the most important lead-in and what is displayed on search engines. That is why you want your titles to be seen in full. That means keeping titles to 50–60 characters so your title is not terminated midway on search engines.
While what you have to say is important to you, and may actually be good stuff, if not properly structured your great content can appear overwhelming when first viewed. So how can you ensure that longer posts get read?
- Short concise headlines that draw visitors in.
- Breaking content up with subheadlines (H2, H3, H4) and bulleted lists can make a huge difference in making your content easier to read.
- Keep sentences to 15-20 words or less.
- For paragraphs, no more than 2-3 sentences can have a big impact as well in breaking content up into small readable chunks.
When the topic is very long winded (2000 words or more) format with top of page navigation and in-page links so that visitors can navigate easily to each section. Another option is to create a series where you break up your post into a easily digestible multi-part series of posts.
I know, I know — easier said than done. But worth the effort when you need your content to have the best chance to be read.
Copy and pasting content from other software programs…
By copy and pasting from your word processing software you also include unnecessary styles and bloated code in the background. When you copy-n-paste from your word-processing software, make sure to use the Custom HTML block to paste into.
This will then provide you the option to review the background code, modify or remove it to make sure it displays properly on your website.
Over formatting text with too manystyles…
Let your theme's style-sheet format your content (bolding, colors, sizes, etc.) allowing all your content to display consistently and professionally across throughout your website. When it comes to formatting text the K.I.S.S. principle applies.
Posts that are over SEO'd and on the verge of spammy…
We all want the best rankings possible but keyword stuffing hasn't worked for years. Yes, include your main phrase in the title. Pepper that phrase throughout your post along with variations of the same.
You need to be writing for your site visitors if you want to be known for having great content. Do that and your content will be read, shared and over time ranked positively.
Posts that include photos not properly formatted or inserted…
We live in a visual world. Photos and graphics help to make your point and enhance your message. But just inserting them willy-nilly doesn't help make your content look credible and/or legitimate. A few considerations:
- Minimize graphics to no larger than 1024 pixels in width before uploading to WordPress. This helps keep file sizes down and your site snappy. The only time you need to use resources for larger files is to show detail — for product photos or graphs as an example. Or if you theme specifically calls for larger images in its design. Otherwise, minimize before uploading.
- Keep photos small enough for your content to wrap around. Vary from aligning photos from left to right to break up your content. Only center images that are too large to have text wrap around and still be easily read.
- Use image “alt” and “title” fields to accurately describe your image and the caption field to offer a visible description to site visitors. Be short, sweet and concise.
- If your site displays featured or thumbnail images make sure that all your images are the same size and orientation. Horizontal and square images work best. Vertical images are generally best used only when inserted within content.
Posts that have no Call to Action…
Having a personal blog to share your thoughts and point of view is one thing. But, I work in the world of businesses who ultimately are trying to commercially gain from their content efforts.
Tell site visitors why you writing about what you are writing about and what you want them to do. Do you want them to read more, subscribe, buy this, order that? Then tell them how to do that.
The other extreme is over doing it. Be too sales-hypey-pitchy and you'll lose visitors because your content serves no purpose other than to be the online equivalent of a used car salesman.
With the above tips, and consistently applying them, you can structure content that has the best chance of being read, shared and ranked.
At your service,