In this step-by-step guide, we showcase the absolute best blog post formatting ideas not only to keep your readers hooked, but to keep them coming back for more!
Quick question. How do you structure your blog posts? The best blog post format for each of your posts should be determined by either the search engine results pages (SERP) position you’re targeting or the keywords you want to rank for. Or even both!
I don’t blame you.
This detailed and practical guide bares it all for you. So, if you’re ready, let’s push on right now!
What is a blog post format? And why is it important?
Blog post format or blog post formatting signifies the way you structure your posts as a writer, so they get maximum read time from anyone lucky enough to stumble upon them.
And picking the right way to present your content, and formatting your articles properly makes the difference between users sticking to your pages as if they’re glued onto them.
Or bouncing quickly, dashing your hopes of content monetization.
So, I’d say it is mighty important, don’t you agree? 🙂
What are the Most Common Types of Blog Post Formats? And How to Use Them?
The most common blog post format types are:
- How to post;
- Listicle post;
- Curated posts;
- FAQ post;
- Infographic post;
- Interview post;
- The comparison post;
- The expanded definition post;
- The beginners guide post.
Let’s quickly break down each, shall we?
#1- How-to Posts
These types of articles are ubiquitous on the web.
And it’s no wonder why.
We humans are curious creatures and we want to know how to do X Y or Z, or all of them.
There’s an insane demand for this blog post format type, and bloggers have recognized it and all niches are overflowing with this type of content.
Now, Should You Write How-to Posts, and When?
Yes, you should.
Write how-to guide at times when you want to teach your audience how to accomplish something.
For example, in my “how to start a blog” guide I teach people, you guessed it, how to start a blog step by step.
It’s one of my most popular blog posts ever, and it’s because it resolves a pressing need for many about-to-become bloggers.
Listicle posts are another blog post format that is easy to find on the web.
You see, listicles are probably the easiest type of blog post to write. They’re very formulaic and the whole blog post lays itself in a sequence of writing steps.
Even newbies who’re afraid to write, afraid of the results, can sit down and whip up a listicle post.
So they’re easy-peasy, but also super abused at this point.
Should You Write Listicle posts?
The key is to not overdo them on your blog (perhaps 1:5 can be a list post) and of course your blog posts, listicles or not, need to be overflowing with value.
For example, you can take hints from my best email service providers (ESP) post. That post is so easily digestible, yet it’s also jam-packed with info you need to pick the best ESP for you.
#3- Curated Post
Another easy blog post format is curated posts.
This is when you create your post by taking bits and pieces from other articles on the web. With proper attribution, of course.
Some may deem it lazy writing. However, I think curated posts are perfect for newbies to get some writing experience under their belts, but also to acquire some early and crucial networking experience.
What do I mean?
I mean that you can curate your sources and then reach out to them individually, letting them know you featured them.
You have a perfect excuse to blast emails and it’s often enough to land at least a few social shares, and occasionally a link or two.
Here are 2 good examples
Matt Diggity has a monthly “This Month in SEO” series where he talks about the important events in the SEO industry, and also writes his opinion on the topic.
Another example are my own expert roundups, for example this one on keyword research.
You can bet I reached out to all 38 contributors on that curated post.
Should YOU Be Writing Expert and Link Roundups?
I say you should, but in moderation.
The bulk of your blog should be informational content that gives abundantly and teaches, and a large chunk should be your reviews, listicles, comparison and other types of monetized content.
Reserve curated posts for special occasions when you want to connect with successful bloggers in your industry, and also build some high quality links.
#4- The FAQ Post
This is another newbie-friendly blog post format.
Similar to the listicle post, it’s very formulaic and consists of you posting questions, and then answering said questions in a succinct way.
Here’s a fantastic example from King’s College in London. This FAQ page is not just a big list of questions.
Instead, it’s divided into subsections where each tackles the main queries future post-grad students have about them.
Pro tip– FAQ posts can be standalone articles, or they form a part of a larger piece.
For example, most of my articles feature a mini FAQ section at the bottom of the page, where my guest writers and I answer pressing questions about the particular blog post’s topic.
It’s an easy way for me to sneak in a few more relevant keywords, whilst making my post more valuable for the end user.
#5- Infographic Post
Infographic posts are pretty hard to pull off, but when done successfully can result in huge exposure for your brand.
Infographics are backlink magnets, especially if they get picked up by big media outlets and then syndicated to no end.
For example, this infographic over at Copyblogger has generated almost 300,000 social shares to date, + hundreds of links and referring domains.
You probably won’t have nearly as much success, but imagine getting just 1% of that astronomical success.
I mean, wouldn’t you be happy with an infographic post that got 300 shares and ten links built from ten referring domains?
What is an Infographic Post Exactly? And Should You Be Doing Those?
It’s when you design (or have designed for you) a pretty infographic which you slap on your post or page, followed by some text below so Google can crawl and index properly
I suggest you don’t bother with infographics, unless you’re a blogger who’s also a designer, or you have the budget to stomach an expensive graphic.
#6- The Interview Post
I bet you thought that only celebrities get to be interviewed?
No, not at all.
Interview posts are a common occurrence on the web and everyone and their mom is getting interviewed nowadays.
For example, my friend Nikola Roza has already done dozens of interviews (like this one), and I strongly suspect he’s using those as a link building tactic.
I say it, as all his interviews host links pointing to his domain, and some of those didn’t omit to include a keyword or too:).
That might be his link building tactic, but the real question is:
Should You be Hosting Interviews on Your Site?
Yes you should!
Interview posts are a wonderful way for you to bulk up your site with content so you passively rank for long tail keywords.
And they’re an even better way for you to connect with other bloggers in your space.
Think about it, you’re a new blogger and no one’s heard of you. How to stand out?
Invite other bloggers in your niche for an interview.
No one is going to reject your offer, even if yours is a brand new blog.
It’s because they know they can use your interview to get a handful of links pointing to their site.
And also, in case you don’t know, people like talking about themselves:)
I already linked to an example interview above, so I won’t do it here.
I’d just like to add that you can also use your interviews as bait for future link building.
Here are the steps:
- Make a list of 20 bloggers in your niche who’re above you in success, but not overwhelmingly so. They also must be hosting interviews on their site
- Pitch them all for an interview on your site, and the likelihood of all 20 accepting is very high.
- Publish those interviews and let those blogger link out freely to their site
- Wait 3-6 months. This is important because you don’t want to immediately ask for an interview in return. And because these bloggers need to see you have staying power in the niche
- Ask to be interviewed on their site and offer them another link in return (guest post links work superbly). It’s important not to mention their interview they previously did with you, as it shouldn’t feel like you’re forcing them to return the favor. Instead, present it as a link exchange and most of them will accept, partly because they want another free link, and partly because they’ll remember they got featured on your site first.
- Bring a tonne of value in each interview you do, and don’t forget to drop 2-3 links to content on your domain.
#7- The Comparison Post
Comparison type posts are pretty intensive pieces of work that will leave you panting for breath, especially if you aren’t an experienced blogger already.
But, despite their difficulty, I say you need to be cranking out these left, right and center.
Because comparison posts organically target money keywords.
Money keywords are those where people searching are already far in the buyer stage of their customer journey, which means ranking for these phrases can literally make you money.
A great example is my award-winning post SEMrush Vs Ahrefs.
There I compare these 2 awesome SEO tool-sets and I talk about which in my opinion is more value for your money (hint- it’s SEMrush).
#8- The Expanded Definition Post
Oftentimes you want to talk about a thing or a concept but you aren’t quite sure that your audience reading that page will be able to effortlessly follow along.
That they follow along is crucial because if they are confused, they’ll click away.
Plenty of sites on the internet, and some of that cater their writing style to total noobs.
So, what can you do about it?
Deploy the expanded definition post.
Tell them at the beginning of the post what you’ll be talking about, get them to know the terminology, and then go into detail
Pro tip– for this kind of posts it pays to have a table of content at the start of the page so they can easily go to the section they want.
#9- Beginners Guide
Beginner guides are educational resources on your blog that are aimed at teaching newbies something new.
As such they need to be written in plain language even a total noob will have no problems understanding.
A good example is this beginners guide to knitting.
It’s written in a way everyone can understand, it’s educative and it really does what it promises- teaching newbies how to knit.
Pro tip: “for beginners” is a common title modifier that can help you capture more long tail traffic for your brand.
Use it liberally, but never let it mislead the searchers over on Google pondering where to click.
Only use it if your content truly is beginner-oriented..
How to Pick the Best Blog Post Format for Your Next Blog Post
What you pick depends a bit on your budget. For example, you can’t make an infographic post if you have zero design skills and no marketing budget.
But, the main impetus for choosing a blog post format is always going to be you seeing what’s already working in Google.
When you load up the first page of the SERPS, Google tells you what they expect to see from any content that wants to compete and rank.
So, if you see a bunch of listicle posts, you know you need to make one too.
For example, when you search in Google for “best email service providers”, notice what you get.
The first 7 results are all listicle posts.
Or, let’s say you type “what is SEO”. You get a bunch of beginners guides and your future post should be one as well.
Bottom line- don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Let Google inform your decisions.
How to Outline Your Blog Post for Best Structure and Flow
Outlining content before putting words to (digital) paper is what separates pro bloggers from newbies and wannabes.
The benefit to outlining in advance is that you know exactly what you’re writing, when and why.
So you don’t have to think about those things while writing the post itself.
How to Outline a Post (2 steps to full mastery)
Note: our example keyword will be “affiliate marketing strategies”
Step #1- Gathering Keywords
Outlining content is tightly related to keyword research, The keywords you find are going to heavily influence your decision .
First, let’s use Google Suggest.
Google Suggest is a feature where they try to help the user decide what to search next by showing them what others have queried before..
Very helpful for an indecisive user, but super helpful to us marketers as Google is serving on a silver platter all terms, phrases and keywords we should be targeting within our content.
And it’s very easy too.
All you have to do is enter in your target phrase and then NOT press ENTER. Google will respond by trying to guess what you want.
Scoop up those as they make for wonderful content outline material.
Second, related searches
Next, scroll to the bottom of the Google first page where you will find related searches to your main query..
Pick those that are relevant and add them to your keyword list.
Third, image search
This keyword harvesting technique is something almost no one uses.
Go to Google Images and at the top you’ll see a bar with related searches (they’re actually entities powered by the knowledge graph).
Pluck out everything that seems interesting to you.
Fourth, get the data from your competitors.
Take your 3 competitors who’re already ranking on the first page and extract their subheadings.
You’ll end up with 3 content outlines ripped from your competitors pages which you’ll later use to make your own.
Step #2- Pick and Distribute
Ok, you have your list of keywords, now what?
First of all, you will get a mess of keywords that might even paralyze you from taking action.
Fret not, there an easy solution.
Take the outline of number #1 result and write it as if it’s your own
Then, look at the keyword list and see whether your competitor’s piece really is that comprehensive, or they missed something. 99/100 times there will be things you can add that they’ve just glanced over, or maybe not even mentioned.
Next, look at the keywords you found and see which one you can add in a natural way to your article.
My favorite way of adding keywords is by adding FAQ sections to each post.
So, see which keywords can be turned into questions, and add those.
As a bonus point, keywords phrased as questions often get pulled as voice answers and featured snippets.
It’s a passive benefit for you if and when it happens.
And that’s it.
It’s pretty simple and a good SOP (standard operating procedure) to follow when outlining content.
Remember, your goal is to create the best article you can, but also not to obsess over it.
Instead, let Google keep it in their index for 6 months, then go to Google Search Console and pull up a report for that page to see which keyword you’re indexed under, and which of those are getting clicks and impressions (think of the opportunity)
Then, as you go and update the article, you can include additional keywords and target those intentionally.
How to Format Your Blog Post for Maximum Readability
According to this Nielsen-Norman study, people read less and less, and they also have embarrassingly low attention spans.
You can’t change how the world reads, but you can change how you write.
Formatting your blog posts makes a difference, a HUGE one.
Here are 8 tips to master this subtle part of the art of writing.
#1- Write Shorter Sentences
If you read through this guide a second time, and a bit more carefully, you’ll notice that most of the sentences are really short.
Average word count per sentence is just 9 words, which I’m sure you’d agree is not a lot.
The reason behind it is that I want to make it easy for you, the reader, to grasp what I’m saying, and leave the post knowing what action steps you need to take right now.
#2- Write Shorter Paragraphs
Take a look at this wall of text (draft of my influencer affiliate marketing post).
Not pleasant, right?
And now, see the same result in a published blog post on my site.
Notice the difference?
Sure you do.
The majority of changes came from formatting the text in such a way that all the paragraphs have 1-3 sentences, without exception.
#3- Use Common Words
If you utilize perspicacious words to apprise your audience of the meaning obfuscated behind your written designation, expect them to bail before reaching the first (full) stop to your first sentence, (like this one) 🙂
By the way, the sentence above in non-preposterous, common English is:
“If you use words that are too intelligent sounding to let know your audience of the meaning hidden behind your words, expect them to leave before they’ve’ finished reading your first sentence”.
Bottom line- don’t confuse your visitors as they won’t stand for it.
#4- Use Boldface and Italics
Boldface and italics are an easy way to style important work and phrases so they stand out more.
Just be careful not to overdo them because if every word in your text is bold and italicized, then they will all be equally unimportant.
#5- Use Bullet Points
Bullet points are an extremely easy and effective way to break up your walls of text and make them more readable.
Bullet points can be
- Unorganized lists where literal bullet points in front of every item lead you from top to bottom of the list; and
- Ordered lists where every item has its place based on priority, for example a list of steps.
Just below you’ll see a good example of unordered list.
So keep reading! 🙂
#6- Use Heading Tags
Heading tags are subheadlines you’ll find throughout every half-decent formatted blog post, including this one.
They have a dual purpose.
First, they’re good for the users because they give a brief overview of the topic for a particular section of the page.
And second, they’re good for SEO because they help Google to understand your content better.
As for how to write subheadlines, first, don’t be afraid to make them longer. Longer is usually better as long as it’s not too long.
A 40-word subheadline is more like a paragraph than a sentence.
Second, don’t forget to include valuable keywords within each subheading. From what I’ve seen and other SEO’s have confirmed, keyword-rich subheadings help a lot with SEO.
#7- Pick a Clear Font
I’m not an expert on this.
In fact, I usually let my theme decide which font to use because I know pro themes come with default fonts and typeface that are perfect for readability.
For instance, we use the modern and stylish Infinity Pro Theme by StudioPress for this blog. This is a child theme of Genesis Pro. As you can see from our blog, it’s got some snazzy fonts.
Overall, it’s an elegant and responsive way to introduce your online presence.
However, if you want to change your font, then the most readable fonts are:
- Open Sans;
And, if at all possible, stay away from these:
- Times New Roman;
- Bradley Hand;
- Copperplate Gothic.
The average American reads at an 8th grade reading level, and people in other countries boast similar abysmal scores.
If you want your content read, you need to make sure that it’s written at a level your audience can understand, and as a safe bet always presume lower is better.
For example, most of my articles hover between level 5-8 according to the Hemingways app.
Blog Post Format FAQ- All Your Questions Answered!
#1- What is the Best Blog Post Format for My Next Blog Post?
The best blog post format is one that’s currently dominating Google’s first page. For your target keyword.
So, Google your chosen key-phrase and let what you see inform your choice.
You won’t make a mistake like that
#2- How to Write My First Blog Post?
Here are the steps:
- Pick a keyword;
- Find keywords related to your main keyphrase;
- Research your competitors;
- Create an outline;
- Write based on the outline and research you did;
- Edit the article, fix types, improve readability;
- Do on-page SEO;
- Publish and promote.
#3- When’s the Best Time to Apply On-Page SEO to My Article?
First of all, don’t try to do on-page SEO while still writing.
It’s impossible to do and will take forever.
Instead, wait until you’ve written and edited the article. Then go back and optimize it to the best of your ability.
My on-page SEO guide for beginners can help you get those important checkboxes ticked.
#4- What are all the Different Types of Blog Post Formats?
There are too many to list here.
However, the most popular ones are:
- Listicle posts;
- Beginner guides;
- How-to posts;
- Expanded definition posts;
- Curated post;
- FAQ post;
- Infographic post;
- Interview post;
- Comparison post.
#5- What Types of Blog Posts Make the Most Money?
It’s not a matter of blog posts types or formats. Instead, what’s important is the keyword you’re targeting
90%+ of money you make as an affiliate will come from your money pages, and it just happens to be that comparison, listicle posts and how-to guides are perfect carriers for affiliate links,
While for example beginner guides, which are alway mostly theoretical will have few paid links, or none.
The Best Blog Post Format Guide – Your Turn
Picking the right blog post format for your next article is crucial. It literally could be the difference between having a successful post and a flop.
So, it’s dangerous to make a mistake. But the good news is that it’s so easy to get it right.
Look at Google and see what it’s telling you.
Do it once, two times and then a third time, and I promise you’ll grasp the conepts explained here.
And by the time you sit down to write your tenth article, you’ll be such a master you’ll be able to give me lessons 🙂
To which I won’t object at all as I’m humble and always hungry for more knowledge.
Thanks for reading, and leave me a comment below.
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