Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tips for Making Sure Your Blog Posts Engage Readers

According to professional bloggers Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, "Web users are known for not staying on web pages long and for skimming content rather than read it word for word." According to them, bloggers need to write content that is scannable because that fits the style of most web readers.

 Suggestions for Making Blog Content "Scannable"

  • Use lists: Bulleted or numbered lists make content more accessible than when it's located in paragraphs. Remember, scanning readers move down the page quickly, so lists grads readers' attention quickly.
  • Use bold print, capital letters, italics, underlining and other text format tools: Use these textual formatting tools to emphasize and draw readers to your main ideas and content. Avoid overuse though. Readers don't want to be had with too much formatting.
  • Use headings and subheadings: These are like signposts guiding the scanning reader through the text.
  • Use pictures: Pictures, related to content of course, are ways to get readers' attention and emphasize points made in the post.
  • Borders/Block Quotes: These will draw readers' attention to main points as well.
  • Space: The temptation for those of us who had any journalism training is to want to fill in all that white space, because in print, space is money. With blogs, however, space is another formatting tool to capture your readers' attention.
  • Shorter paragraphs: I am guilty of writing posts with these long paragraphs, but that seems to come from the English teacher side of me that wants to experiment with text and style. Bloggers should be sparing with paragraph text. Web readers are known to quit reading this text, especially in RSS readers.
  • Make your main point in first few sentences: You won't get readers to read your whole post by placing the main point in the end. Instead, they're just as likely to quit early and wonder if your post has a main point at all.
When I look over the stats for my own most visited posts, every single one of them employs the elements above, so there is truth to what Rowse and Garrett suggest. If we want Web readers to engage our posts, we are obligated to making the content of our posts scannable.


  1. I've been blogging for a couple of years as a science/parent blogger and have been following Darren Rowse in particular. Now as I start an education blog I find it interesting that it's a completely different culture.

    My first impression is that the parenting/personal blogging community often see blogs as potential earners, whereas teachers see blogs as a little extra as an aside to their real job. This means there isn't the emphasis to be professional or the impetus to study blogging.

    I see blogging as a great tool for my students to use, so I'm interested in learning as much about it as I can.

  2. Absolutely. Many educators do not see blogging the same as professional bloggers do. I think all bloggers, educational or otherwise want people to read their blogs, so learning from pro-bloggers like Darren Rowse can help them do that. Thanks for the comment.