During my time as the C-Suite Editor at Business Insider I learned many important lessons about the creation of viral news. One of my biggest takeaways was the realization that readers want long pieces of content to be broken up with images.
The term TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) is thrown around all the time. Even if a piece of content is only 500 words long, many internet users, used to the age of quickly consumable content, will quickly abandon even the most engaging piece of written work.
Oddly, as images are added to content, readers tend to stick around. There’s something almost magical about adding a visual element to an otherwise word filled piece of internet real estate.
Simply adding photos at random isn’t going to earn you the biggest bang for your buck. Instead, images need to help engage the reader by highlighting the main focus of the story.
The same philosophy goes for sub-headings. They must guide a reader through the content, acting as teasers and informative digital bookmarks for the story. They also need a splash of search engine optimization (SEO) so your stories become highly discoverable for your potential reader base.
To help prepare for the creation of user-friendly TL;DR content, there are a few simple strategies every publisher can employ. This holds true for viral news, breaking news, and various other forms of digitally displayed content.
The Proper Way To Construct Sub-Headings
Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary
Make sure to capitalize the first letter of each word. This helps the sub-heading standout and urges the reader to pay attention to your main talking points within the article.
Use an H2, H3, H4, or similar tag to create a slightly larger and unique appearance for your headings. At Presto Media, we suggest the H2 heading which signals that the sub-headings are of secondary importance only to the title which should always carry the H1 tag.
Remember to include your keyword focus in the sub-heading. With the H2, or similar tag, this focus tells Google and other search engines that your sub-heading content is clearly representing the terms you want to be ranked for on the page.
*Be sure to excite the reader with your sub-headings. They should want to keep reading because of what they are about to discover.
The Importance Of Using Images With Your Sub-Headings
Photo Credit: EBritish Council Russia
Find images that are engaging. In this post, we chose a typewriter to connect our readers with the idea of creating great content (writing). Because the topic of “writing” isn’t visually striking, we chose a unique looking typewriter. In our second image, we chose a strong image of an artist at work.
Images should guide the reader through the story. If you are focused on a topic in which directly associated images are available, be sure to consider all images that help tell your story. Images under subheadings should connect the last point of your story to the upcoming content.
Be sure to avoid stock photos whenever possible. With white backgrounds, staged shots, and a lack of natural and candid storytelling, stock photos should be used only as a last resort. Our studies have shown a significant drop off in continued reading when stock photos are utilized. Sometimes, based on your content, it can be hard to find an action shot to compliment your story. In this post we chose interesting photos that were well shot in place of an actionable item since representing “content creation” is more challenging.
At the end of the day, remember that good storytelling engages everyone. Strong sub-headings will guide a text-based learner through your article while photos can keep a visual learner engaged with your story.
Break up the monotony of your story and readers will stick around for the entirety of your written post.