It seems like everyone is creating content, whether to share on social media, send out to existing customers or attract new ones. It can often feel like you've got nothing to say or that your content isn't going to get the cut through you hope for, but it's important to remember that not all content is created equal.
The difference between a good piece of content and a great piece of content can be really subtle but it can also be huge. So what can you do to help your content stand out, engage your audience and ultimately increase sales, in this post we examine a number of techniques that you can use.
The key is to use these elements to break up longer form content, giving the user a break from reading large blocks of text.
Basic Content Formatting Techniques
Content formatting can be as complex as you want to make it, with interactive elements and so forth. Don't worry though, there are some basic techniques you can use to bring your content to life for you audience, including:
- Text formatting
Most website editors or content management systems will have text formatting options built into them, making it easy for you to use the techniques above.
Lists of any kind present a clear and easy way to convey structured information to user, from your favourite things to instructions of how to complete a task.
They come in two forms, ordered and unordered lists. Ordered lists are useful to present lists in numbered order for example a list of steps in a guide, where as unordered lists can be used for lists where the items have no relevance to each other in terms of their order, for example a list of colours. Your can see an example of an unordered above.
A picture says a thousand words and it goes without saying that the incorporation of images into content is a great way to drive engagement. From headline images to galleries and thumbnails, each image you use can help to keep your audience engaged with your content. Of course you should use images sensibly and keep any images relevant to the topic in discussion, it makes no sense to feature an image of a car in a blog post about formatting content, unless you also drive one occaisionally.
While including images is a good starting point, think carefully about their placement in your content. Too many images can be overwhelming and slow your website down, think about whether to have your images on the left or the right of your content, or with content above and below if you need the image to have particular impact.
You should also be aware of sharing images which are not your own, images may be copyrighted however there are some great resources online for stock images. Image file size is a hugely important factor in the use of images in your content, without going into detail, your website needs to load quickly and large images are going to impact this. As a bare minimum you should use a service like TinyPNG which can make image files smaller without compromising on quality.
Headings not only have a visual impact on the layout of your content but they also play a role in other ways and can help your content be found in search engines for example.
If you have a CMS (Wix, Joomla, Wordpress etc) driven website you'll probably have noticed that you have six headings to choose from (heading 1 to heading 6), these change more than the look of the text they are applied to. In SEO terms, a "heading 1" is seen as the most important heading on the page. There should only be a single heading 1 and it should be at the top of the page, think of it like the headline in a newspaper article.
Using sub-headings really helps to break up longer form content and does this by introducing relevant break points, this also helps to add context to the different parts of the article. You'll notice in thie piece I have used a sub heading for each of the key sections, not only does it make the page easier to read but it also gives you an idea of what each section is about so you can skip it if you choose.
Possibly an overlooked element of any piece of content is the formatting you use. We're not just talking about bold or italic, but the consideration of aligning content to the left, right or centre and using space above and below paragraphs to section content into relevant parts.
But of course none of this is going replace well researched and written content, it simply helps to begin the process of enhancing your content to keep your audience engaged and potentially more likely to share your content.