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SEO Basics: Digital Content Formatting

example bullet list

You may think that search engine optimization (SEO) is all about words, but that’s only part of what makes a given piece appeal to readers and search engines. Although what your content says is obviously important, what it looks like and how easy it is to read through also has an impact on how well it performs.

That said, how exactly do you fill a blog post or an article with information without making it look like a giant wall of text? Here are some tips you can use to break up your content so that it looks great and reads well on desktop and mobile.

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  1. Organize your content with headings
  2. Consider white space
  3. Use all the lists
  4. Explore typographical emphasis
  5. Experiment with other elements

1. Organize your content with headings

Headings are one of the best tools you have at your disposal when it comes to organizing and separating your content. Not only do they help to clearly label different topics, but they also create white space, which you can learn more about in the next tip.

Most blog posts and articles use one H1 and multiple H2s. These allow readers to quickly navigate to the content they’re looking for instead of having to read through an entire post to find the answer to a specific question.

They’re also useful for search engines since they indicate specific sections of your content and how important they are. This can also up your chances of getting featured in rich snippets.

2. Consider white space

Since most website backgrounds are white, white space refers to the space between paragraphs, images, and headers on a webpage. White space helps to draw the eye to important elements on a page and keeps readers from having to sift through giant text walls in order to read through an article or blog post.

White space is especially helpful for mobile users who are reading content off of a small screen with tiny text.

When creating a piece of content, make sure to break up large paragraphs and spread out your content. Pages overwhelmed with text and images end up looking dated and are hard for users to digest.

3. Use all the lists

Lists are a great way to break up content and keep your wording concise and straightforward. Bullet lists and numbered lists:

  • Provide visually appealing formatting
  • Group information together
  • Offer oppurtunities to make headers
  • Increase white space

Lists also keep you from having to write entire sentences to outline basic information, which keeps your content short, sweet, and to the point.

4. Explore typographical emphasis

That’s a fancy way of saying use bold, italics, and underlining when appropriate.

Bold text can be used to draw attention to certain words. For example, when you’re defining a term.

Italics is often used to highlight help and sample text on web pages. Think email templates within blog posts or the example text that shows you what to enter in a text field, like your address or phone number.

Underlining in SEO is typically only used in anchor text to indicate it is a clickable link.

All of these types of typographical emphasis draw a reader’s eye by creating a focal point within a sea of text. Use them when it makes sense, but don’t go overboard. If you do, all of the elements you use will compete with each other, defeating the purpose of emphasizing them in the first place.

However you choose to emphasize your text, make sure to document any rules in your style guide so that you use them consistently.

5. Experiment with other elements

Blockquotes, images, videos, social widgets, and calls-to-action (CTAs) are common ways to break up content as well. Which you use depends on the type of content you’re writing and the content management system you use.

For example, blockquotes make the most sense when you have a pointed or interesting quote to use that directly relates to your topic. Videos are great inclusions when they add to your written content by demonstrating what you’ve already explained. And CTAs play a crucial part in your content marketing funnel because they provide users with an opportunity to take action.

So, what about SEO?

While some of these elements directly impact SEO, like headings, some are more indirect. Formatting is a big consideration in mobile usability. And the more visually appealing your page, the more likely users are to revisit your content. The more clicks you get, the higher you rank, and so on and so forth in a neverending circle.

Whether you’re writing a new piece or updating an old one, formatting should be a consideration, for both your readers and search engines. Include lots of white space, make use of headings, and sparingly sprinkle other elements throughout your content to ensure it’s easy to digest.

READ MORE: How often should I update SEO content?