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Want your posts read? Avoid these 6 bad habits.

WordPress Blog Writing and Formatting Tips

Everyone I work with get's coaching on the dos and don'ts for writing great WordPress posts. Post that convert. Posts that are ranked and maybe even shared.

But first your posts have to be read…

For anyone with a website, you should know about and implement the basics when it comes to SEO'ing your content. The trick is to do so and keep your content readable and effective.

Even those that consider themselves “authors” aren't always aware of the formatting and styles that work online to encourage content to be consumed. Without taking certain things into consideration — folks may just click away.

Over the past 25+ years consulting those who want to succeed online, there are a handful of topics that are always met with resistance. Learning to write better is most certainly one of them.

The fact is the online arena has its own set of proven strategies you have to embrace. It is no longer a build it and they will come. You are lucky if you get found.

Point in fact, what's a website without great content? Shallow and untrustworthy. And that then leads to what I talk about all the time. Your E-A-T factor. Without E-A-T — minimal overall success.

It's all about the content. So while most website owners obsess about the look of their website, they should translate some of that obsession to their content as well.

Are you guilty of these bad habits?

You want to embrace the six points below and consider them into your every day content creation efforts. While it may seem difficult at first, over time they will become a habit.

1. Post titles that suck.

Titles are the most important lead-in and also what is displayed on search engines. The first thing searchers see, that can get them to click through and read, is your post title. You want to craft concise effective headlines that draw visitors in.

You also want to create a great meta description that speaks to why the searcher should read your post. Your meta description, while visitors to your website won't see it, will be displayed on search engines under your pithy irresistible title.

You also want to make sure that your titles will be seen in full. This means keeping titles to 50–60 characters so your title is not terminated prematurely on search engines.

Your tittles need to clearly reflect what the post is about with a focus on what the benefit will be to the reader. Never be misleading.

You've heard of click-bait, right? That's basically when a title lures the reader to click through based on the promises the title infers. Then it's a let down. The content is shallow or not worth the readers time (usually to get them to click on ads).

Make sure that your post content delivers on what the title claims.

2. Huge paragraphs that go on and on and on…

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 visitors land on your page.

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. That's where the acronym TLDR (too long didn't read) comes from.

  • Break content up with subheadlines (H2, H3, H4) and bulleted lists.
  • Keep sentences to 15-20 words or less.
  • For paragraphs, having no more than 2-3 sentences can have an 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.

3. Over formatting text with too many styles…

Let your theme's style-sheet format your content (bolding, colors, sizes, etc.). Doing so will allow all your content to display consistently and professionally throughout your website.

  • Do not change font colors for emphasis alone.
  • Only use colors from your established color palette.
  • Refrain from using all caps for emphasis.
  • Use established heading and font sizes.

When it comes to formatting text adding additional formatting should be the exception not the rule.

4. 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. Concentrate on the SEO basics to start. Such as including your main phrase in the post title. Then pepper that phrase throughout your post along with variations of the same.

Always keep front and center that you need to be writing for your site visitors not search engines if you want to be known for having great content. And have the best chance to convert (order, appointment, contact form (aff)).

This is where skill and experience comes in. Over time your writing will improve and your content will be read and, over time, ranked positively.

PRO TIP: Yoast SEO's readability tools help you improve your writing skills (aff) and SEO. The “Premium” Version is worth the cost to upgrade.

5. 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 professional.

Here are a few considerations when adding images to your website:

  • Every WordPress theme has recommended images sizes for certain areas. Find out what those are and stick to them. Exactly — do not deviate. Resize to those recommended dimensions before uploading to your media library.
  • Minimize graphics to be used within posts to no larger than 1024 pixels in width before uploading to WordPress. This helps keep file sizes down and your site zippy. The only time you need to use resources for larger files is to show detail — such as for product photos or graphs. Or if your theme specifically calls for larger images in its design. Otherwise, minimize before uploading.
  • Keep photos small enough so that your content can 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. Good for SEO and accessibility.
  • If your site displays featured or thumbnail images make sure that all your images are the same recommended size and orientation. Horizontal and square images work best. Vertical images are generally best used only when inserted within content.

Always inform site visitors why you are 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 guide them on how to accomplish that goal.

The other extreme is over doing it. Be too sales-hypey-pitchy and you'll lose visitors if your content serves no purpose other than to be the online equivalent of a used car salesman.

By linking to your other posts within the content of a post, when it makes sense to do so, helps visitors find out more. Internal links also server to keep readers on your site longer and builds your credibility to be that info source worth bookmarking — and doing business with.

Blogs are Serious Business

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.

With the above tips, and consistently applying them, you can structure your blog content to have the best chance of being read, linked to, shared and ranked. And that's good for business.

At your service,

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Business Coach