Have you ever seen a blog post and thought, “Wow, this looks really nice”?
On the flip side, have you seen a post with a wall of text and no images, and thought, “Wow, this looks really ugly”?
Did you even read the second one?
Your posts’ text needs to engage your readers to keep them coming back, but first your posts need to be visually appealing to attract those readers.
Your blog posts first need to be visually appealing to attract readers, says @TheBillWidmer. Click To Tweet
An attractive blog post will:
- Increase reader engagement (e.g., time on page, comments, shares, CTA clicks)
- Drive backlinks from top-ranking blogs
- Lead Google to shine on your site with better rankings
- Make your brand look more professional (and trustworthy)
It’s not that hard to make a blog post look good, either – it just takes a little extra elbow grease and some pizzazz.
1. Craft an awe-inspiring headline
David Ogilvy, famous advertiser, once said:
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
On average, 5x as many people read the headline as read the body copy says #DavidOlgivy via @TheBillWidmer. Click To Tweet
With so much at stake, what’s a content marketer to do? Well, here are a few tips:
People prefer known risks over unknown risks (ambiguity aversion) – we want to know what we’re getting into. Neil Patel found that 61% of top-shared headlines contain numbers (numbers give readers a framework of what to expect.)
61% of top-shared headlines contain numbers, says @neilpatel. Click To Tweet
Your article should have a clear goal – to provide a benefit the readers seek. The headline educates viewers on how they will benefit by reading the post. For example, this post’s headline promised you three tips to make your blog posts sexy.
Make a promise in your headline – and deliver on that promise, says @TheBillWidmer. Click To Tweet
Don’t be afraid to be odd
This isn’t conventional wisdom, but who ever wanted to be conventional, anyway? Some of the best headlines are those that make the reader stop and say, “Wait, what?” For example, Brad Smith recently wrote a genius headline on the Kissmetrics blog: Hey $FNAME” is Dead. Here’s How to Personalize Marketing in 2017.
Unexpected or surprising headlines stand out among the clutter. Just make sure you don’t write a headline simply for shock value – it still needs to work for the text in the post.
2. Format like a master
People don’t read every word in your posts. NN Group research found that visitors read around 20% of the words on a page.
Be sure that your posts are designed to encourage people to read further. I’ll let Andy Crestodina, founder of Orbit Media Studios, take the stage on this tip:
“As writers, we have just two ways to slow people down and get them to read more of our content: formatting and images. Formatting adds white space, which makes pages more scannable. Content is easier to consume if it’s in small groups, with important points called out. Consider adding these elements everywhere:
Formatting & images are 2 ways to slow people down & get them to read our #content, says @Crestodina. Click To Tweet
- Short paragraphs (no longer than three to four lines)
- Bullet lists and numbered lists
- Bolding and italics
- Internal links
“But the big way to make content sexier is with images. Add something of visual interest at every scroll depth of every post. A lot of the pros are already doing this. Every year, more bloggers are adding more images to their typical article.
“In a desert of text, images are like water. Give your readers a sip!”
3. Don’t forget the little details
Just as artists pays close attention to every detail so should content marketers on the finishing touches on their masterpiece. These include:
Write an awesome description
Your meta description is the only thing (besides your title) to entice Google searchers to choose your post over another. You spent hours polishing your post – spend five more minutes to craft a great 155-character description of it.
Your meta description & title are the only things to entice Google searchers to choose you. @TheBillWidmer Click To Tweet
Make sure social posts look good
Have you ever shared your post on Facebook only to have the platform grab the wrong image or chop off the essentials? Look at this image used on social for an article I wrote on blog formatting – it doesn’t make me look like I know what I’m talking about that’s for sure.
In addition, Facebook and Twitter sometimes don’t pull the text you want them to. You can fix these issues with the help of tools. Two that I’ve found useful are the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO, and Formilla.
The Yoast widget includes at the end of each post a button that looks like a share icon on a mobile phone. Click on it and you can edit the Facebook and Twitter images, titles, and text.
Formilla creates separate social-sharing images that include the headline text. That way, the headline version pops up on social but it doesn’t appear on the original blog page.
Keep URLs short and specific
WordPress and most other CMS automatically create a URL for your page. Often, it’s long and unsightly.
Edit the prepopulated URL to make it as short as possible while including relevant keywords. This step not only makes the page seem less daunting, it also makes it easier for people to type or say it (e.g., referencing it in a podcast).
More people are attracted to good-looking blog posts. They please the eye. They suck you in. They make you feel more comfortable.
Beautifying your blog posts doesn’t have to take a tremendous amount of time or effort. You can implement most of these tips in just 15 to 20 minutes. You just have to start paying attention to the details.
Cover image by Ryan McGuire via Bells Design Gratisography
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).