Are We Writing HTML or Blog Content?

WordPress may be a great blogging platform; and so may be the case with some other blogging environments as well. Unfortunately blogging still has not come down to the state where content writers can fluently write and publish formatted content. This is due to the fact that writing content or posts in the case of blogs refers to including some HTML (along with the text) tags as well that gets stored in the Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress.

blog content as htmlThe basic formatting needs, inclusion of pictures or linking to other sites/documents etc are usually assisted by simple editors provided by the blogging platform. But sometimes, one needs to know a little more than that to produce posts that look great and are search-engine friendly as well. To make things worse, the formatted content may not be compliant across themes and platforms.

H3 or H4?

H1, H2, H3, H4 etc refers to the tags that represent the main title and further sub headers and sub-titles. For a well structured post (depends on the blog theme) the post title should be wrapped within H1 tag. Most themes have the sidebar categories or sub sections marked with H2. But there’s no clear guidance on whether one should use H3 or H4 for sub sections within a post. I have seen many themes using H3 and some others H4. What happens when one switches the theme? This is one of the areas that needs to be somehow standardized or guidelines made available (In fact, a lot of people use the strong tag instead of H3 or H3 and that makes the post look too simple and unformatted)

Need essential tags in the editor

While the essential tags come with the blog visual editor interface, many essential tags such as abbr, pre are more or less essential for the current blogging needs. The blog platforms need to consider including them in their subsequent releases and provide simple to interfaces to access these features.

Plaform independent blog content

There are several people who migrate their blog content from one platform to another (e.g. blogger to WordPress). Many times it so happens that a blogger adapts to a style of formatting that looks great on his current theme and blog platform. What if the content has to be migrated to another platform? Manytimes this necessitates editing the target platform theme to accommodate ill-formatted source platform content. This essentially means that there has to be some kind of formatting guidelines to be followed across various platforms as well.

Over to you…

The above mentioned are some of the issues that I have faced or noticed myself. Probably I was using bad themes and wrong ways of formating. What about you?

Do you use the Visual Editor or HTML editor while editing your posts?

Do you use either of H3 or H4 tags within your posts for sub-titles? Or is it that strong tag is used for sub-titles?

Have you ever felt like editing and formatting some of your posts after a theme change? If so, do you think that the themes need to be more standardized beyond their look and feel but more in terms of structure?

Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. The required knowledge for blogging with WordPress goes well beyond writing great content. It’s an ongoing issue – and I don’t know what the solution is. Visual editors are getting better but …

    I write my posts in html and never use the visual editor. I rarely use subheadings in my posts, although I know for SEO purposes and reading scanning that I should. I believe I use h2 or h3 rather than strong.

    If I don’t like the way my posts look when I change themes, I edit the theme. I know it’s now the best solution for most users but that’s the way I handle it.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post… (Anti) Social-Lists 1/18/09

  2. Arun | BE Folks :

    i have not come across this issue so far. i just use bold for highlighting characters..

    Arun | BE Folks’s last blog post… Move your feedburner feeds to Google’s feedburner

  3. Nihar :

    Ajith, I have also thought on the same lines with you but have not blogged about it. I was using strong tags for sub titles in the past, but after reading somewhere that heading tags help SE traffic. I started using h3 and h4. I agree with you not all themes are consistent. If we change the theme and that theme has different visual settings for the heading tag, then we will face the problem.

    One solution to this is :

    Have one custom.css and keep adding the things that you would like to have this in this theme and also in any future themes that you may shift to.

    Just add include custom.css line in the new theme at the top. This can be one solution.

    What do you think?

    Nihar’s last blog post… Browser stops working after starting uTorrent client

  4. Mitch :

    I hate WYSIWYG, so I code my own HTML when I need to. My platform automatically gives my titles the H1 tag, but I haven’t thought much about H2 or the other tags ever. I’ve done it for websites, but never for my blog or any of my newsletters; couldn’t tell you why.

    Mitch’s last blog post… First Week Of Contest Info

  5. Dennis Edell :

    H tags – huh what?? I guess I don’t use them. I use the visual and HTML editors depending on what I’m doing..or deleting.

  6. Teenum :

    I have a few wordpress blogs and I often change the themes to experiement with different layouts etc. I find I need to change the layout of my posts (change the position of the tags and the images). For the sake of SEO, I always use tags for sub-headings.
    I work with both Joomla and wordpress platforms and find wordpress quite limiting in terms of ‘look and feel’, but in terms of blog optimization it is an excellent system.
    Joomla developers recognise the power of the wordpress blog and have released a wordpress copy-cat componants called mojoBlog which replicates wordpress down to the dashboard!
    I feel wordpress will develop further in a few years into a stronger system in terms of flexibility of customization.

  7. I use the FCKEditor which gives many more options than the default WordPress WYSIWG editor. However, I still manually edit my source code when necessary.

    In terms of tags, I use:
    h1 – post title
    h2 – subsection
    h3 – sub-subsection

    Some other less frequently tags that I use include:
    samp
    code
    acronym

    For the average user who doesn’t want to play with tags, I definitely think that there should be some sort of standardization so that there would be no need to manually change anything when switching themes.

    Shirley’s last blog post… ALT vs. TITLE Attributes For Images in HTML

  8. Chetan :

    I prefer to use HTML code, because i know HTML :)
    The actual moto behind using the HTML is, when you use “Editor” few extra codes are inserted into the post, which clutter the pages and which is really harmfull for seo.
    Extra code in pages should always avoided.
    and about using the header tags, it depends on themes :)
    BOLD , [Strong] tags for highlighting few important content just like you.
    Happy blogging

    Chetan’s last blog post… Amazing Wi-Fi detector T-Shirt for Geeks

  9. Hi Ajith – So true. Blogging is much more than just writing words on a page. I use the HTML editor for most of my writing. I’ll sometimes check it in the visual editor, but not too often.

    Whoever says blogging is easy either knows coding or has never blogged before.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post… They Don’t Have To Be Einstein To Figure It Out

  10. Kuntal :

    So true !! I’ve seen many persons writing their posts on word document and then copying & pasting them to the editor of wordpress or any other blogging platform they are using and that if one check in a HTML view contains lots of unnecessary (or you can say junk) code. I’ve been wondering is there some solution to this problem, cuz most of those bloggers are not much aware of the HTML part they just do formatting on word for their post and paste. 😐

    Ajith, I Agree with you, and i personally use, H3 tags generally for the headings under some post. But as far as I think that doesn’t matter too much, if one uses, strong, that is okey and that also depends on the number of headings you have in a particular blog post.

    Kuntal’s last blog post… Time to Call Content Marketing to Your Rescue

  11. May seem weird but most of the time I use Dreamweaver to write my post offline then I copy paste the source code to the wordpress html editor when I will post. Its then that I look for photos to add.

    I normally write my posts offline as I tend to take an hour to write most of the time lol.

    Concerning migration, yes indeed its a real problem concerning the styles. I had to edit many of my old post where the big bold word inside the posts were appearing like normal fonts :-( I edited some but left the rest… Got bored doing that lol.

    Some templates also behave very weirdly at times when i try.

    Kurt Avish’s last blog post… What is Time? What is the real time?

  12. @Kim, Yes Kim… that’s the point I was trying to drive home as well. Blogging actually requires some amount of technical knowledge, unfortunately. And if you don’t know how to manage CSS and HTML, you are either producing bad looking content or ending up paying a lot for consulting.

    @Arun, if you are just using bold alone, you are protected – even in the case of a theme change. However, you might loose on some SEO aspects if you don’t use the H tags.

    @Nihar, the custom theme idea is definitely good because you can use it when the next theme arrives – though this still doesn’t guarantee the best look and feel.

    @Mitch, so you are a technically sound blogger and hence you are saved. Why don’t you try using H2…H3 tags? I see that you write reasonably long (750-1000 words) posts and hence formatting with H tags give it looks and some SEO advantage as well.

    @Dennis, Like my answer to Mitch’s, I suggest that you try them…

    @teenum, Thanks for our mention on mojoBlog. I have experimented with Joomla sometime back. Though it has a very structured look I found it a bit stereotyped even with the best looking templates. And you are right that WP is more about SEO optimization… Good to know that there’s an option available that tries to bring in the best of both worlds.

    @Shirley, thanks for letting us know about the FCKEditor and your H tag usage sounds solid. In my case I thought of dedicating H2 to side bar (mainly categories etc) and use H3 and H4 in the content… But since I am planning to change the theme soon, I will have some tough time.

    And 😆 I was planning to write another post about the extended tags for bloggers mentioning acronym, code, abbr etc. And now, I have to re-think :)

    @Chetan, so you are in the HTML blogger league as well :) And you are right. If you blindly paste HTML, the content and hence the posts and pages can become heavier and unfriendly.

    @Barbara, you are with us :) The bottomline is that if you don’t know basic HTML (and sometimes even CSS and JavaScript) it’s hard to become a good blogger.

    @Kuntal, copying and pasting RTF content can be really tricky. Sometimes it can be ridiculously huge in size and it can spoil the format as well. Yes, using the H and strong tags judiciously can save the day.

    @Kurt, you are the first blogger, I have known, who uses DreamWeaver to edit posts :) And you said it man… It’s a matter of deciding whether to edit the theme or your most popular and search-hit posts.

    Thanks everyone for your views. I hope that some mechanism will soon be devised that help focus on the content alone and not HTML and scripts.

  13. Mitch :

    Ajith, for me to use H2 or H3 tags, I’d have to think of where to break up my content and add headings that one might attach those tags to. I have to admit that it’s not quite how I write or think about writing, but it’s not a bad idea. There are many people who write in that fashion, mainly articles, and I’ll have to think about that a bit more, since it would change my writing style drastically.

  14. Blog for Bloggers :

    The WYSIWYG editor does it’s job but once you get into changing text colors and getting deeper into the features their tends to be a lot of garbage code, so it’s not a bad idea to go through the html view and clean it up a bit. I know that’s what I do and it works pretty well.
    As for the heading thing, you may have realized that all my posts are separated into chucks, all with sub headings but when I use the H3 tag it seems like there’s too much space underneath it. :(

    nice post

  15. The most importtaht thing for is is basic how to make a blog. If you really interested to make a blog you should know the basic to made a blog using CMS. But try to explore more on the code for learn and additional knowledge for you. Make you in expert playing on the code. You will also can make a money for that.

  16. @Mitch, I understand your point and I strongly agree with you on that. There’s no point in doing something that affects your style and flow of writing!

    @Ardit, in fact it’s not bad to go through the HTML code and clean it up if you are good at HTML. The point is that instead of writing content bloggers are forced to write HTML as well.

    As for the second part of your problem, I think you need to do a minor editing on your H3 style.

    @chuckiesd, yes, the HTML/CMS expertise can definitely take your blog and its popularity to higher levels.

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