To start things off, let’s first understand what is meant by content formatting.
In simple terms, content formatting can be referred to as how content is arranged on the page of a website. It includes headings, fonts, image placement, the use of blockquotes, references, etc.
Content formatting is not only crucial for the overall look of your website, but it has an impact on SEO as well. In this write-up, we will mainly be talking about how content formatting can hurt conversions, let’s find out how important it is in general.
Why Is Content Formatting Important?
You may get tons of traffic to your website, but it is all about how they feel once they are there. Ideally, they should find your pages attractive enough to stay and read. This is where content formatting plays its part.
The heart of content formatting lies in making your pages user-friendly so that the traffic you’re attracting stays on your website and converts. This means having good headlines, the ideal length of paragraphs, nice flow of relevant visuals (images, infographic, videos, etc.), bullet points and numbered lists, etc.
Content is king, but even with the most top-notch content on your website, you still can’t guarantee success. Why is that?
When talking about conversions, you may have good traffic numbers but what if the bounce rate is too high? Unless you make visitors stay on the desired page on your website, make them understand your product, and eventually convert them, all your SEO efforts are in vain. This is where content formatting kicks in.
Content formatting plays a pivotal role in making traffic on your website stay! (Low bounce rate). Users are smart. If they don’t find what they are looking for or at least something interesting within a few seconds, they will quickly go back and click on the next result. Content formatted as per the fast-paced user can be a game changer for any business looking to sell online. (Source: Boostability)
10 Ways Content Formatting Can Hurt Conversions
1. Poor Content
Content formatting actually starts with good (possibly remarkable) content. Formatting an exceptional article is easy while average or below average content usually requires a lot of time and hard work.
While creating good content make sure that it is suited for your audience. The content should neither be too simple nor too complex. A lack of images (and other visuals), storytelling, examples, explanations, quotes, shorter blog posts, etc. can make your content too simple. On the other hand, excessive use of jargons, complicated examples, vague infographic, longer sentences, and paragraphs, etc. can make your content too hard to read.
Other important traits of quality content are shareability, problem-solving, unique perspective, readability and so on.
2. The Headline
No matter how unique or compelling your content is, the headline is a doorway! A boring or inappropriate headline can make your content useless. There are two aspects to consider here.
The ideal length of the headline should not exceed 6 – 7 words or 55 characters. This is particularly relevant to SEO and when it comes to search engines displaying your content in search queries.
The content of the headline should be catchy. It’s like creating that Tweet or Facebook post which lures the audience to click on a link. Copywriting skills can really come in handy when creating catchy titles or the headlines.
Using headings or subheadings inside the article is essential too, especially if it is a lengthy one. It is also important for SEO as Google will browse through the headings to have an idea about the whole content. Proper use of <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, etc. will also boost the readability of your article.
3. The Ideal Content Width
There is no one size fits all approach to the ideal content width. However, experts are of the opinion that there should be 55 – 100 characters in one line. We believe that it all boils down to the current design and theme of your website. As a rule of thumb, your content shouldn’t be too narrow, which often makes scrolling difficult. Neither should it be too wide, which makes the lines difficult to follow.
Have a look at the examples below of narrow, wide and perfect content.
The content above is too narrow, less than 50 characters per line.
The example above can be a little hard to read as it is too wide – it has close to 120 characters per line. Whereas the case below, has only 80 characters per line, an ideal length when it comes to readability.
Test your content on various screens and create your own rules. The main idea here is to make the reading experience enjoyable.
4. Call to Action – CTA
A Call to Action button or a link leads readers in the direction to where they should be heading next. This is generally where they buy your product or hire your service.
The Call to Action can be a big button located somewhere on the page or a tiny hyperlink camouflaged in your content. No matter where it is, it should be strategically placed because this is where you’ll get your audience to convert.
While deciding on a CTA, make sure to keep in mind the type of audience and what you’re offering. A/B testing can also help a great deal when it comes to CTA button placement.
Below is an example of a CTA box at the end of an article:
5. The Page Layout
Page layout is more important than you think. It contributes to an ideal reading experience. The easy-to-follow navigation on your page can also make readers look elsewhere (where you want them to) like sidebars, buttons, etc.
The main idea behind designing the perfect page layout should be to enable users to find relevant information quickly. Users can easily get irritated if the info is hard to find, which may result in a high bounce rate.
The context determines the layout. For example:
- A blog may only have tags and contact information in the sidebar as an easy way to navigate across the site.
- A more extensive magazine-like website needs to carefully consider which content, opt-in forms or editor picks go in the sidebar to showcase relevant content to its readers.
It’s essential to analyze your content, audience, and goals to achieve the best results.
6. Content Segregation
How well you divide your content can make it stand out from the competition. Making use of small and meaningful paragraphs, engagement techniques like asking more questions, and using numbers and bullets make your content shine.
- Bullet points and numbers make content easy to read, especially for skimmers. Use of keywords in bullet points also help with the SEO.
- Questions can be used to keep the readers engaged and visualize what’s being said. They also add a nice flow to the overall content, making it more readable.
- Dividing your text into smaller paragraphs can also make your content shine.
Using the right images can do a world of good to your content formatting. Without pictures, your content can seem boring, especially if it’s lengthy. Relevant photos not only keep the audience interested but help in conversion too.
Furthermore, it is best to avoid stock photos. They might be free and look great, but they are also commonplace and often overused on other sites. Canva is an excellent tool for creating unique, stunning images that are relevant to your business.
If you need to add a gallery to your posts, you can use the Easy Image Gallery. It allows you to create a visually appealing gallery that can make your content tell a story.
8. Text Alignment
People read from left to right so right alignment can disturb this process. A scientific study “Right is Wrong” also highlights the adverse effect of right alignment on reading.
Center alignment may look good in some places but tends to leave annoying gaps between lines. Center-alignment, however, is more suitable for a small chunk of content like quotations, etc.
Left alignment looks more professional and modern. It can make the content easier to read, especially if you are talking about lengthier articles.
9. Engagement Techniques
Remember, that the basic idea behind content formatting is to make the reader stay on your page, and read through it; either the entire content or at least what is necessary for conversions.
The main idea behind content formatting should be to keep the readers engaged and interested throughout.
There are lots of things you can do to make your content catchier and more engaging. Notice how we used “Now” above. It must have caused you pause for a second. It’s a great way to break down more substantial content into smaller yet compelling lines.
Asking questions in the middle is another way to keep the reader interested throughout and guide him or her to click on a CTA. Use of authentic and traceable data, such as links to studies and research and inclusion of infographic (with lots of facts and figures can also increase engagement.
10. Disorganized Content
There is no one way to define disorganized content. It can be either too short or too long or maybe just too cluttered. The flow of the content is also important.
Some websites (usually those with top 10 style articles) don’t show the entire list and make readers click to see more content. The idea behind this technique is to improve the bounce rate, but it often makes the content look disorganized. This technique can backfire unless you have a great, out-of-the-world story to tell.
Below is an example of a disorganized content.
The screenshot above is taken from a website talking about “countries with the smallest government per capita in the world.” It places China at number 11 and doesn’t reveal the whole list of countries. To see the next country you have to click “next” or “see all” button. This sort of content is disorganized and can put off a reader anytime.
Another example of disorganized content is when you try to list everything on one page. Everything you do or offer should have a separate landing page. Coupled with easy-to-follow navigation, this will make your content less cluttered and simplified.
Disorganized content can hamper the reading, put-off visitors and increase the bounce rate. It can make the overall design of your website spammy and your content less credible. To make your content more organized, keep the following points in mind.
- Avoid information overload
- Give information in easy to understand manner using bullets, etc.
- Make smaller sentences/paragraphs.
- Explain with pictures.
- Make storytelling a part of your content strategy.
To keep everything in one place, here is a list of useful practices for content formatting.
- Good length of the title
- Good length of the headlines
- Use of keywords in one of the headlines
- Ideal length of sentences and paragraphs
- Correct alignment
- Use of images and other media in your content
- CTA placement
- Use of questions, bullet points, and numbered list to make your content more scannable
What’s the Bottom Line?
“Simplicity” and “Logic” are the keywords when it comes to formatting content. You can have a stunning website design and a brilliant product to sell, but the content formatting should never be complicated.
We hope you impress your readers, improve your bounce rate and increase conversion with above tips.
Got more to add?
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