young woman at laptop writing a blog post

Are you setting up the format and structure of your blog posts in the right way? Also, why does this matter?

Using the right blog post format has many benefits, but the two key reasons you want to focus on your blog writing format are:

  1. Increase user engagement (more time spent on page and more of your content consumed)
  2. More organic traffic from search

In addition to discussing the importance of your blog post formatting, below I also share 15 best practices you can use when writing your blog posts.

This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure here. This means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

 

Why is Your Blog Post Format so Important?

When people read content online vs. in print, their behaviour is quite different.

Online readers are typically looking for an answer or solution and will usually scan a blog post to find what they are looking for.

Online readers are essentially lazy readers!

We just don’t read every word online, so it’s really important for blog posts to be formatted in such a way that it becomes easy to consume the content.

If the content isn’t easy to read (especially on people’s mobile phones), readers will simply leave.

This is why sticking to a reader-friendly blog post format will ultimately increase the time spent on your blog posts and even increase conversions to your opt-ins.

 

Blog Post Format for SEO

Another big reason blog post structure and layout are so important is SEO (search engine optimization). Setting up your on-page SEO with the right formatting will help you rank for more keywords in Google

This means you’ll slowly drive more traffic to your blog posts over time (without active promotion) which all bloggers want!

In the blog post format best practices below, we’ll be walking through some of the key elements of setting up good on-page SEO.

Tip: A resource I highly recommend if you want to dramatically drive more and more traffic from search is an eBook called Easy On-Page SEO

I purchased this ebook about a year ago and have seen my SEO traffic massively increase on both my blogs – see screenshots below…

Sessions from SEO (from my lifestyle blog – Put The Kettle On)

screenshot of sessions from SEO
Nov’19: 1245 vs. Oct ’20: 13,278 sessions

 

Sessions from SEO for Full Circle Digital

This blog is much newer than my lifestyle blog and is in an extremely competitive niche – given the smaller numbers. I am, however, really encouraged by the growth I’m seeing month over month.

screenshot of sessions from SEO
Nov’19: 87 vs. Oct ’20: 1900 sessions

 

-> Learn more about Easy On-Page SEO and decide if it’s right for you.

 

15 Blog Post Format Best Practices

blog written on notebook

 

1. Use Properly Formatted Headings

Using headings in your posts helps readers consume the content easier. Using correct headings also tells search engines what the main content is about.

When writing your blog post there are some rules to follow to ensure you are communicating your content to Google in the right way. This is by using H1, H2, H3 headings.

header tags in WordPress - Screenshot of menu dropdown

H1 is solely for your blog post title.

Whether you publish content in WordPress, Squarespace or another publishing platform, your blog post title should automatically be configured with the H1 header tag.

H2 headings are for your main sections of a blog post.

Using the H2 header for all main sections will tell search engines about the details of your blog post. In the H2 header make sure you include a keyword that you are targeting.

H3 headings are great for sub-sections.

Use the H3 heading for a sub-section under an H2 heading.

For example, you may include a bulleted list or additional pieces of information like I have in this section about formatted headings.

What About H4 headings?

On rarer occasions, you may need to create a sub-heading under an H3 heading and this is where you can use an H4. 

SEO Header Tags Hierarchy

2. Use Short Paragraphs

When writing blog posts, you need to forget what you learned in English class!

Long paragraphs are not to be used, as big blocks of text can be too much to digest online and people will simply scroll past these paragraphs without reading.

When writing your blog post it’s best to keep paragraphs to two or three sentences.

However, you can also just use one sentence to make a strong point.

 

3. Use Compelling Images

high quality image of woman pointing

High-quality images are really important in your blog posts, regardless of your niche. 

In this post, Neil Patel communicates that using text in your blog posts is just not enough.

Neil explains…

What you need to understand is that your audience is lazy. They want information as fast as they can get it.

Using great images helps communicate the content and encourages readers to continue scrolling through the post. Blog posts with little or no images seem like too much work.

Not to mention, beautiful, relevant images just make your content more enjoyable to read – simple.

Here are some image tips for your blog posts…

Make sure you can Legally Use your Images

Use images from stock photo sites or use your own images if you are a good photographer. There are many high-quality FREE stock photo sites you can use.

You can use screenshots

This is especially helpful if you are writing a tutorial or how-to post.

Alt Text

Make sure you fill in the alt text for each image which explains to search engines what the image is about.

If your image has text related to a keyword you’re targeting, make sure to include that keyword in the alt text. For example, for the pin images I have in this post I have used the text in the pin as the alt text.

Resize Images

Images that are too large will slow down your site. If you are handy with your graphic design skills you can do this on your own.

Otherwise, I recommend ShortPixel Image Optimizer, which is an easy plugin you can use to reduce the image size without losing the quality of the images.

Create your own images using Canva

Canva is a free (easy to use) online graphic design tool that has templates, photos, elements and so many other cool features.

If you already use Canva, check out this review of Canva Pro and try it free for 30 days!

 

4. Use Bullet Points and Numbered Lists

Emphasizing text in different ways makes it easier for your readers to digest the information in front of them, especially on their mobile phones.

By creating a bullet point or numbered list you are: 

  • Making it simple for the reader to get the information quickly
  • Using more white space so the content stands out
  • Breaking up the usual flow of paragraphed content to communicate important details
  • Creating visually appealing content that will keep the reader engaged
  • Communicating content that should be delivered in sequential order, such as step by step instructions

People also love reading lists!

 

5. Bold and Italicize

Emphasizing text in different ways makes it easier for your readers to digest the information in front of them, especially on their mobile phones.

The best way to utilize the bold feature is when you want to make your content stand out, or to make a point.

Italicize comes in handy as another way to break up your text so you can emphasize a word.

Make sure to use the bold and italicize features sparingly.

 

More Blog Post Format Writing Tips

 

6. Pinnable Images

These are images that people can save to Pinterest.

The best format to use is 2×3 (1000 x 1500 or 600 x 900), however, I also love to use 600 x 1000 which works really well.

By using Pinterest-friendly images in your posts will increase your saves (aka repins) to Pinterest, which will drive more traffic to your content over time on autopilot.

Pinterest Tips:

  • You can easily create pins in Canva using these free Pinterest templates.
  • Don’t want to visually display Pinterest images? You can use a plugin called Tasty Pins which allows you to hide the images. Tasty Pins also offers a load more features so you can accommodate Pinterest SEO in your blog posts.
  • Always include high-quality images in your pins with easy to read overlay text. This post will give you some great tips: How To Design High Performing Pinterest Pins
  • Add pin description text to your pin images (which you can also do in the Tasty Pins plugin. Make sure to read these Pinterest SEO Best Practices to get started.

Pinterest-Friendly Image Example:

how to write a blog post. 15 tips to format your blog the right way

7. Memes & GIFs

Memes and GIFs are another fun way to break up the text when writing a blog post. Not to mention they are great to show your personality and inject a little humour into your topic.

See what I mean?!

via GIPHY

(You can embed GIF iframes into WordPress just like YouTube videos – see below instructions)

 

8. Better Click To Tweet Plugin

Better Click to Tweet is a free plugin I love using to encourage people to tweet, but also to make a point stand out.

How to format a blog post (the right way) with 15 best practices & instructions. Access now! #bloggingtips #bloggingcommunity Click To Tweet

Use this plugin for:

  • Quotes
  • Important statements
  • Questions your readers can share 
  • Tips

 

9. Video

Video is great to use in your blog posts to massively increase user engagement.

According to Themisle people spend 2.6x more time on blog posts that have video vs. a standard blog post with no video.

The best part: You do not need to be a video creator to reap these benefits of increased time spent.

You can easily embed a YouTube video in a blog post. Just doing this will increase time spent. 

How To Add YouTube Video:

1. Click the Share button at the bottom of any video

2. Click on ‘embed’

share a video on youtube

3. Copy the embed code into the HTML text section of WordPress

how to add embed code from youtube to wordpress

4. Now preview in the visual section of WordPress

5. Voila! You’ve embedded a YouTube video…

 

 

10. Utilize The Blockquote Feature

All WordPress themes have the blockquote features included, however, each blockquote will look different based on the theme you use.

Using the block quote feature is excellent for quotes (obviously) but it’s also ideal if you want text to stand out.

This is what the block quote feature looks like in my WordPress theme. 

As you can see, my block quote is fairly subtle but still does the job of highlighting text in a different way, which can be useful to keep readers engaged.

Check out your blockquote feature in your WordPress dashboard by clicking the quotation icon (“).

 

Additional Ways to Format Your Blog Posts

 

11. Internal and External Links

Internal and external links are another important way to format your blog posts for SEO as well as content recirculation.

Formatting Internal Links:

Link to related blog posts and resources from within your blog post. This will help increase reader engagement and reduce the bounce rate. Internally linking also tells Google about your related content.

It’s good to link to internal posts throughout a blog post by hyperlinking within your content. For example, now is a great time to share some blogging mistakes for beginners to avoid.

You can also include a related blog posts section at the bottom of each blog post. You’ll see mine at the end of this article.

 

Include External Links for Good SEO Formatting:

One of the key factors search engine algorithms regard as important is site trust.

Trust can be built by externally linking to a reputable site (with a good domain authority). Essentially you want to link to a site that is an expert in a given area.

Tip: When externally linking to other sites always have the link open in a new window/tab – otherwise you will lose traffic.

 

12. Add a Table of Contents

Using a table of contents is a great way to help your reader find exactly what they are looking for. This is especially helpful for long blog posts.

Remember many people scroll through your content looking for an answer and using a table of contents helps them find their answer sooner.

I use the ‘Easy Table of Contents’ free plugin, which is simple and fast to set up and there are customization elements you can select for every blog post.

 

13. Ask Your Readers to Leave a Comment

Receiving comments on your blog not only helps you understand your reader’s pain points, but it is also an indicator to Google that people are engaged with your site content.

I recommend asking people to leave a comment at the end of the blog post, however, you can actually do this at the beginning of your post too. 

 

14. Get Your Social Sharing Plugins Set Up The Right Way

Many people utilize social plugins to encourage their readers to share, but they aren’t configured in the right way to see results.

Tips to get more social shares:

  • Use a social plugin with good quality tracking and customization features. I recommend Grow by MediaVine which is free.
  • Make sure your plugin is configured for both mobile and desktop
  • Make it easy for people to share – meaning they don’t have to look for the sharing functionality. This is why I like using the floating configuration for desktop. I also have the share functionality included at the bottom of every post which can be seen on all devices.

 

15. Affiliate Links and Disclosure Statement

If you include affiliate links in your blog posts there are a few guidelines you need to follow in order to abide by legal regulations and Google requirements.

First, you must include an affiliate disclosure at the top of your blog post before any affiliate links are shared.

Below is the affiliate disclosure I use which you’ll see at the top of this post.

This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure here. This means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

As you see, this links to my disclaimer page. In order to protect your blog, your content, your email list and yourself you legally need to have a legal disclaimer in addition to a Terms of Use page and a Privacy Policy.


Read more about these legal requirements in this interview with a lawyer (plus she has some easy legal templates). Use code SPECIAL to get 10% off anything in the shop.


Second, make sure that all affiliate links are set up as ‘nofollow’. You can do this by going to the text section of your WordPress dashboard and adding nofollow in this section…

nofollow example

 

How To Format a Blog Post: Conclusion

 

Let’s recap the key pieces to include in your blog posts:

  1. Use properly formatted headings (h1, h2, h3, etc)
  2. Use short paragraphs
  3. Use compelling images
  4. Use bullet points and numbered lists
  5. Bold and italicize text that you want to stand out
  6. Have pinnable images (for Pinterest) in your posts
  7. Add memes or GIFs to create further interest
  8. Better Click To Tweet plugin
  9. Embed video into your posts posts
  10. Utilize the block quote feature to emphasize quotes and text
  11. Add internal and external links to improve your SEO and user engagement
  12. Include a table of contents, especially for longer posts
  13. Ask for comments from your readers
  14. Ensure social sharing plugins are set up correctly
  15. Affiliate Links and Disclosure Statement

 

Tell me: What new blog post format tips will you try first?

Share in the comments below!

 

Related Blogging Articles & Resources:

 

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how to format a blog post - 15 best practices