Having run a few blog carnivals for a couple of months now, one thing I’ve noticed that’s fairly common is that if a new blogger produces a relatively longer piece of “key content”, it’s often unformatted. That is, it looks like one big mass of visually intimidating text. There are no bullet points, no headings or subheadings.
Here are a few reasons to use the latter, plus a couple of tips on how. The reason for bullets should be evident in the list below.
- Eases scanning.
Makes it easier to scan an article:
- Adds white space, reducing text density and also eye fatigue.
- Defines information hierarchy, cueing the mind on how to absorb blocks of information.
- Adds authority.
Partitioning information with headings and subheadings can improve search engine ranking authority for a page. It’s not guaranteed, but if you are producing lengthy resource articles (aka “key content”), headings can help with rankings. (This depends on other factors, including search engine algorithms.)
- Eases production.
Starting with your headings and subheadings when writing a long article to make it easier to produce such key content. The reason is that you have easily definable sub-tasks to work on, not one massive task that seems endless.
What to try
Here are a few options for heading use.
- HTML headings.
Try HTML h2-h4 tags for maximum effect. (H1 in most blogging platforms is used for the title of your article.) You can even customize h5-h9 if you prefer, by tweaking the necessary CSS.
Keep in mind that the smaller the “n” in the hn tag used, the more important it is. That is, your primary subheadings should use, say, h2. The next level of subheadings should then use h3. Follow the hierarchy, as you would with headings in a word processor app such as Microsoft Word.
- Bolded headings.
Try HTML bold/strong tags on a line by themselves, followed by a “br/” (line break) tag.
- Other options.
Try underlines (solid, dotted, dashed, hairline, colored), colored heading text, different fonts, boxes, colored backgrounds (of the heading text), etc.
Using headings and subheadings (and bullet lists with bold short phrases) make it easier on your readers’ eyes, easier to absorb information. That makes them more likely to return, since you’ve made the effort to not only make their reading experience convenient, but informative with your key content.