How Formatting Text Helps SEO

Formatting text on your website is important for a lot of reasons. People think that SEO is all about secret, hidden forces coming together to help your website, but that’s not the case. A lot of the visible things you do on each page will help search engines understand and rank your content.

Here are the ways that text can be formatted to help SEO.


Using headlines helps your text for search engines, but it also helps your readers. Several things that you can do to increase readability also help search engines. The reason is that search engines want their users to have a good experience surfing the internet, so they don’t want to send users to a website with jumbled text, or large blocks of text that are hard to sit and read. For the most part, text that is broken up with clear headlines relating to the subject matter will get you good SEO and help keep users on your website longer with lower bounce rates.

Bullets/Numbered Lists

Some people have experimented with bulleted and numbered lists to see if these help SEO, too. It may not be a huge boost, but having lists within your text does seem to help. Even if it doesn’t actually help with SEO, it helps with user experience, so you should still add them where it makes sense to have a clear list.

Shorter Sentences

Some content management systems use Flesch–Kincaid readability tests to give you an indication of the complexity of your sentences, length of words, and length of sentences. The idea is that you want them to be complete sentences, but you don’t want anything too long or muddled. Usually, shorter sentences with clear structure and relatively common words will make your text the easiest to read, and will help your content be prioritized in search engine results.

Word Count

Word count isn’t necessarily a formatting task, but what you should know is that the general rule of thumb is to always have blog posts be about 400-800 words. This is a good window to shoot for, but if you have a lot of good content, don’t be afraid to make it longer. Studies of Google searches and social media sharing found that the joke about our attention spans being super short isn’t necessarily true. Some of the content with the biggest SEO punch is over 2,000 words.


It’s important to format your links appropriately, and you’ll want to pay attention to what the text is. This is called the “anchor text.” Anchor text used to confer a lot of positive SEO if you were using keywords in your links, but it doesn’t make that big of a difference any more. If it helps for readability (and if it could still have a small effect on SEO), go for it.

Don’t forget pictures!

Again, pictures aren’t formatted text, per se, but adding pictures makes your content more likable, helps it preview well when posted to social media, and helps keep readers on your page longer.

So remember, don’t just hammer out some text and expect it to drive tons of people to your site right away. SEO takes time to build, and should be an ongoing task that you are regularly reviewing and spending time on.