Shape Your Content for the Web - More content formatting ideas
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Link to relevant articles
Staying with the Halloween safety tips example, let's say you've built a site around child safety. If one of your safety tips for Halloween mentions not using flammable materials for a costume (or real, lit candles in a costume), you could link to another article on your site that mentions why real, lit candles are unsafe near a Christmas tree in a house with children. Okay, these are obvious examples, but they're still worth bringing up, especially if you have a business website and assume your customer knows what they're looking for.
You may be surprised to learn that a lot of people may not realize what they need, even after they peruse your navigation menu. If they land on something that is close to what they need, how will they find their way to the exact item? If you mention related items in your content, and link to them, your readers will find what they really need that much more quickly.
Use bold text effectively
Do you have a point in your article that you really want to jump out at the reader? You might want to use bold text to convey it. The key, however, is to use bold text sparingly. You don't want your article to look like half of the items are in bold. You also don't want to look like you're trying to get items in bold text to make the search engines notice your keywords; that just looks unnatural. As de Guyter explained, “You bold text because it's important, not because you want to get a keyword in bold font.”
Once again, keeping with our Halloween safety theme, say you wanted to drive home a particular point about the safety hazards of certain costumes. You could write “Angel wing sleeves, long skirts or dresses, enveloping floor-length cloaks, loosely-wound bandages for mummy-style costumes and the like are bad ideas because they present tripping hazards to the child.” See what I did there? Again, you should not bold something in every sentence; just key points.
Bullet points help
Like bold text, bullet points convey key information to your reader in a friendly way, without forcing them to read everything. Given the attention span of your typical web surfer, don't be surprised if the bullet points are the only part of your carefully crafted article that gets read!
Bullet points bring out bits of information that would otherwise get lost in a paragraph. They break it down into easily digestible items. They make your text easier to read. They can even be combined with other techniques I've mentioned here, like bold text and internal linking, to give your ideas even more of a punch.
Or, in other words, bullet points:
- Make information pop.
- Keep important ideas from getting lost.
- Combine well with linking and bold text to drive points home.
There you go, four ideas to help you make your website's content easier for busy web surfers to read. Follow these ideas and you may find that visitors actually choose to slow down and see what you have to say...and sell. Good luck!
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