The whole point of Search Engine Optimization is to aid potential readers in finding the information you’re providing that will help answer their questions. One way to bolster your rankings in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is to gain links from other bloggers and websites. If your site is hard to read, navigate, or look at, you won’t be getting any link love.
Today’s post is a throw-back to my years spent as a newspaper copywriter, and covers some presentation and formatting basics that will hopefully help each of us maintain an easy-to-understand, easy-on-the-eyes blog.
Give you blog a quick once over by checking the following:
- An easy-to-read font
- Space between paragraphs
- A font that is large enough to read well, no smaller than 11 point, but 12 is better. Don’t make it too big, though, or your blog will look funny. I’d say no larger than 14 point.
- Distinguish your headings and subheadings from the remainder of the content.
- Make your content area prominent. It’s frustrating to follow a link to a blog and then spend five minutes searching the page for the actual post.
- Don’t insert ads within your posts. Yes, I know many major news sites do this (thus the dreaded “article continues below ad” disclaimer), but it annoys readers. Keep them in the sidebars or at the top or bottom of your site.
- All image wrapping isn’t created equal. To ensure your images display properly no matter which browser your reader uses or what theme you’re using, place images at the top of each post.
- Do use images when appropriate, though. I forgot the ratio of newspaper articles read with an image versus those read without, but the difference was significant.
- Don’t use cheesy clip-art. There are plenty of quality image sources available for free or cheap.
- Lose the blog bling. Few things look less professional or more annoying than a blog that is reminiscent of the Batman television series with the “Bams” and “Pows” and “Bangs” constantly flying in the face of the viewer. I love Batman, but this over-done means of attention-getting was not created for bloggers to abuse. Please don’t do this to your readers.
- Left-align your text and use a ragged right edge (don’t justify) your posts. Also, only one space between sentences. (Those of you who learned to type on a wordprocessor may be scratching your heads at this, but once upon a time we used a machine called a typewriter, which required two spaces between each sentence.)
- Use lists and bullets when appropriate to give the page some white space. Let the text breathe, and give your reader’s eyes a rest.
- As cool as it may seem, don’t include snap-shot popup links. A simple underlined hyperlink is sufficient.
- Keep paragraphs and sentences short. And words, too, for that matter.
- Spell out all acronyms on their first use. (How else will readers know that FOMDT stands for Fraternal Order of Microwave Device Technicians?)
- Ensure your site has a clear navigation system. Most Internet readers are accustomed to page links listed horizontally near the top of the page. Even though you want your page to have a unique look, messing with people’s minds by making them search for the navigation menu will create more “Ews” than “Ahs.”
- Check your color scheme — will those with poor eyesight or who are color-blind be able to distinguish the text from the background color? Black on white is the preferred choice for most readers.
- Finally, does one require a post-graduate degree to read your blog? Most readers in the United States read at an eighth-grade or lower level. You can check the education level required to comprehend your content by conducting a simple readability check available in Microsoft Word.