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Sunday Morning SEO: The Role of Design and Formatting

Sunday Morning SEO: The Role of Design and Formatting

You may be surprised to see a post about design and formatting in an SEO column. These elements have nothing to do with keywords. But in my experience, they can play a crucial role in link building.

I found this out from one of my blogs about a year ago. A couple weeks after I started the blog, I started getting links and some of the linkers commented about how they liked my blog’s design. This was the first blog I launched that had a custom design. In the past, I would start blogs but just use a common free theme. I would modify it a little bit, but you could still tell that it was a common design. (If you’ve seen all the similar Thesis themed blogs running around, you know what I’m talking about.)

The links I got were links from top blogs and I’d never gotten links from those type of blogs this early for a blog. So I felt that my design had a big part in attracting those links. Plus, as I followed those top blogs, I realized that they only linked to sites with unique designs.

As bloggers, we may like to think that our content should be enough to attract readers, but your design has a substantial impact on the reader experience. Likewise, formatting can greatly improve your blog.

Formatting Adds Value to Content

Check out this screenshot of a site that does its own independent scoring of mixed martial arts (MMA) fights.


Now imagine if the content from the screenshot was only formatted in text. That would make a big difference, right? I’m sure the site would get much less traffic if it did not have the charts and graphs.

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You probably won’t be able to format your content like the MMA site, but there are opportunities for every blog to add some flair.

  • If you have a substantial piece of content like a contest or a big resource page, create a custom logo for that content.
  • Relevant pictures are a great way to increase the visitor experience.
  • Videos are, of course, harder to do but there is a big audience of online video fans.
  • Screenshots should always be used when explaining technical stuff that happens on the computer screen.
  • Keep your posts organized with bullet points, headings, and paragraphs.

I think it boils down to the perceived effort you put into your blog. I’ve started mulling around a simple theory about link building called the effort perception test. Basically, if your visitors can sense that you’ve spent a lot of effort on your blog, they’re much more likely to link to you. It’s part of our human nature to reward effort and hard work.

Design and formatting are clear ways to demonstrate your effort – even if you do have to outsource the effort (aka hiring a web designer).

View Comments (10)
  • I could not agree more. It’s always a subconscious thought to subscribe to a bloggers feed if the blog itself is appealing. The thought is, “If the blog’s visual is apppealing, I’m sure the content is as well?” Hopefully, the content IS just as appealing and rapport is built by both.

    Thanks for the insight.

    My blog ( is about design, advertising and marketing, and I’d love to have you visit!

  • I totally agree. The design of your blog plays an important role put at the same time you need to ensure your content is of a high quality. Having a good design and good content could be the difference between someone subscribing to your blog or not.

  • I agree that the design is indicative of your prestige as well as professionalism. From SEO point of view, the design should make it easy for search engines to find your textual content quickly on all pages of your site and find its keywords at key positions. Then, the beauty of its design can overwhelm the visitors.

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