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As we dive further into blogging, we are going to look specifically at the content itself.

Utilizing some of the ideas from the previous session (looking at search engine optimization), there are several key areas that we need to look at regarding our content. Remember that SEO covers both the front end (the visual end) and the back end of your website. We are just looking at the front end today.

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1. You need a powerful headline

This is one area I need to really work on improving. Headlines are the title of your post. They are the second thing people usually see (after a relevant image) and the first thing people read. They are the doorway into the post, so you want to make it as appealing (yet truthful) as possible.

Copyblogger has some great resources regarding magnetic headlines.

2. You need an intriguing opening

If the headline can be compared to the door of a house, the first sentence and paragraph would be the entrance welcoming you to come further. Just as the entrance to a house can set the mood for the entire house, the tone is set in these first few words.

Jeff Goins suggests starting with a quote, a question, or a bold, audacious statement. A short, relevant story can help draw the readers’ attention and create a desire to keep reading.

3. You need headings and sub-headings

It’s an older study, but the Nielson Norman Group deduced in 1997 that 79% percent of Web users scan content rather than read it. One reason they give is that it is more difficult to read on a screen than it is to read on paper, slowing the person down. If you couple this with the fast-paced society we live in, people what to quickly find what they are looking for.

Heading and sub-heading help to make the major points stand out. A scanner of your content should get a good idea what you are talking about just from a quick look through. Hopefully, you can entice them to slow down and read more thoroughly, but you should make it easy for them.

4. You need shorter sentences and paragraphs

Longer, complex sentences make it more difficult to read. I know, I know. In English class, you were taught to write with a variety of sentence structures. But that doesn’t always work well online.

Remembering that many people are just scanning your content, they will miss more if there is a large sea of text. Shorter, simple sentences make it easy to see the point. Short paragraphs make it easy to visually break things up.

White space is good.

5. You need to emphasize your text

Well, don’t emphasize all of your text. Just the text that needs to stand out more. Not everything can fit as a heading, but still needs more attention that the text around it.

  • You can emphasize text by using bold, italics, or strike-through.
  • You can use lists, both numbered lists and bullet points.
  • Underlining is not a good method because it can look like a link.
  • Putting a word or single sentence on its own can help bring emphasis, too. (white space is good)

Other considerations

I plan on covering some more regarding the content itself, but here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Post length – short or long?
  • Call to action
  • Images
  • Links
  • Guest posting
  • Republishing

Question: How can you improve your content? Is there anything you would add to this list?