How do you define great content?
What makes a killer post?
The answer is simple: A great post or a killer post is one which the reader can easily scan and pick out all the important points. And all of those important points combine to convey a valuable message or idea.
And what does value mean?
It means the reader can then take your message and apply it to enrich his own life or improve his own circumstances.
If your message doesn’t help your reader in some way, if it doesn’t fill a need, then he has no reason to read your post.
Why Is This Important?
Online readers are only going to scan your post and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.
You can’t force them to read every single word by using lots of teeny tiny colorful fonts.
You can’t force them to read every single word by smashing everything together in one huge paragraph.
There is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent your reader from scanning your content.
Why am I stressing this point?
Because, if your reader does not see the value in your content, if he doesn’t see or understand how it fills a need, he has no reason to visit your blog.
And knowing that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to make him read every single word, it becomes your responsibility – not the reader’s – to format your content to match his reading habits to ensure he gets your message.
In a nutshell, formatting your posts is essential if you want your reader to see the value in your content.
Assuming you’ve written a quality post that flows smoothly from Point A to Point B to Point C, you can really look at that post as a road map.
A road map that leads from a problem to a solution.
But most road maps have all these squiggly little lines running off in every which direction.
Following those little lines would still get you to the same destination and they might make the trip more enjoyable, but they also take more time and can be a bit confusing.
You want to make it easy for your reader and give him the most direct route to his solution as possible.
So think of formatting as a highlighter you use to mark the most direct route.
Yes, you have all these little bits of information included in your post that might make the journey more interesting and colorful, but if your reader’s short on time – and most are – then he wants to skip the scenic route and move directly to the highway.
But he still wants to reach his destination.
If he doesn’t, he’s just wasted his time.
Now, with that image in mind, it makes it a little easier to understand why formatting is necessary and how you can use it to help your reader find the value in your posts.
How To Polish and Structure Your Posts
A. Headings and sub-headings
Headings and sub-headings are those
H2 tags that make your font larger, like a title or a sub-title.
Use headings and sub-headings to draw the reader’s eye to new sections of content, like chapter titles in a book.
Using the road map analogy, you’d use headings to indicate major changes, like entering a new county, and you’d use sub-headings to indicate smaller changes, like turns or landmarks.
B. Bullet points and numbers
Use bullet points and numbers to separate items on a list of key points.
Never write out a list of important points and separate everything with commas.
Remember, your reader only scans the page.
If he needs to know these important points in order to see the value, then you need to highlight these points so he actually reads them.
C. Short paragraphs
A paragraph consists of one main sentence that contains a condensed version of the topic you’re covering in that paragraph.
Generally, that sentence is followed by two or three sentences that go into greater detail.
And each paragraph covers only one topic.
Keep your paragraphs short and to the point.
D. White space
White space is all that empty space between paragraphs, headings, sub-headings and surrounding your images.
White space helps provide reference points for your reader.
It also makes the content between the white spaces – your text or images – stand out more for the reader.
E. Block quotes
Sometimes I try to come up with one specific quote that conveys the complete message of my post.
When I manage to do this, I like to enclose it in block quotes to make it really stand out for the reader.
If they read nothing else on the page, they’ll read that quote.
F. Bold, italics, underline, and color
Links should always be a bold color that stands out from the rest of your text.
Studies have shown that blue is still the color readers click best but the choice is really yours.
Resist the urge to underline anything.
When readers see it they think it’s a link – no matter what color it is.
Use bold, italics, and colored fonts to highlight important phrases, but use them sparingly.
Too much and it becomes distracting for the reader.
Not to mention the fact you end up looking like a spammer when you bold every keyword on the page.
Preview Before You Publish
Believe it or not, almost every publishing platform, WordPress included, has a button you can click to preview your post before you publish it.
The preview button is your friend.
Before you publish your post, use the preview button and see how it’s going to look to your reader.
Your formatting should literally lead his eyes down the page, forcing him to stop at every key point.
If it doesn’t, go back and add more and use the preview button again before you publish.
So many bloggers write this really remarkable content and then they just copy and paste it in and hit publish.
With no formatting, the chances that your reader is going to see your value are…well, let’s just say you might as well go to AintGonnaHappen.com.
If you’re going to spend all that time creating this wonderful content, take a few extra minutes and put in some formatting so your reader sees and understands the value you’re providing.