Google loves amazing content! We all know that, right? And what is THE most important part of a post or article? That very first paragraph! So, you should give that first paragraph some extra SEO love! The introduction of an article is of key importance to tell your audience what your story is about. Moreover, for Google, the introduction of a post is really important as well. But why is the introduction so important for SEO? And how do you make sure to write an SEO-friendly introduction? In this blog post, I’ll talk about the importance of the introduction and give practical tips on how to write an awesome first paragraph!
Why you should write an SEO-friendly introduction?
The introduction of any article is always the first thing people read. People usually start reading at the beginning of an article. Google knows that too. Google is trying to mimic a human. If your introduction is not compelling, people will click away. That’ll lead to a decline in your rankings.
Because the first paragraph is the most important part of the article, it should be really well written and really well-optimized. The demands on that paragraph are just higher than the demands on the rest of your text. Your introductory paragraph should simply be top-notch.
What should a good introduction do?
An introductory paragraph has a few functions. It is the start of your blog post. It has a specific task. Let’s look at the three major functions of the introduction to a blog post!
1. Introduce the topic
The first paragraph of any article introduces the topic. Just by reading the introduction, it should be clear what the message of your article is. What is it that you want to tell people in this article?
In the introduction of the blog post you’re currently reading, the message is: ‘the introduction of your article is of key importance to your audience as well as to Google.’ That’s what this article is about. That’s what I want you to remember.
Introducing the topic also allows you to use your focus keyphrase in the introduction. You should use the words you want people to find you on in Google. You should use the exact search terms your audience is using in the introduction. That’ll make your audience confident that your article will answer the question they asked Google.
2. Get people excited to read more
The second thing a good introduction should do is to get people excited about your article. You’ll need a hook. Something that’s fun or triggering. Something that catches people’s attention. The introduction should be written in such a way that people want to read more. Your audience should feel curious about what’s next and excited to have found such an amazing article.
3. Set expectations
The third thing an SEO-friendly introduction should do is set expectations. Readers should know just by reading the first paragraph of your post, what they can expect from your article. In newspapers, journalists tend to hide their content and not say people upfront what people will learn. But on a website, chances are very high people will click away if they don’t know what to expect from an article.
Tips on how to write an SEO-friendly introduction
Think before you write
Your introduction is your most important paragraph. In many cases, it is the first paragraph you’ll write. Take a little bit of time to think about what you’re going to write. In order to write a good introduction, you need to have a clear view of who your audience is. What kind of people are you trying to reach? What will they learn from your article? Which problems are you solving? If you have a clear view of your audience, the problems they’re facing, and the solution your article brings to the table, it will be much easier to write your introduction (and the rest of your article 😉).
An example: for this article that you’re currently reading, my desired audience consists of writers, bloggers, people that want to create content in order to rank high in the search engines. That’s their main problem: their content is not ranking as high as they would like it to (yet). This article serves them as part of the solution by giving them practical tips on how to improve their introductory paragraph.
Focus on the problem
In your introduction, you’ll always focus on the problem your audience is facing. People will recognize the problem and will want to read the rest of your article if that helps them to find a solution to their problem. In this article, I focused on the fact that a good introduction is important for your rankings in Google.
Make it relatable
Blog posts are generally not formal. Make your readers feel like you’ve written this post especially for them. Address them directly. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in order to get them to feel like it is about them personally. Asking questions is also a way to directly reach out to your audience. It’ll make them feel like you’re talking to them.
Make it fun
Use quotes, statistics, stories, and anecdotes in order to make your introduction fun to read. Quotes and statistics will help you to be more convincing, while stories and anecdotes will make your article more entertaining to read. An extra tip: if you use quotes, statistics, or stories in your introduction, I would always come back to those in your conclusion. It’ll make your article all ’rounded up’ and your readers will remember your story and your message more easily.
Use a different font
We’ve talked about how important that first introductory paragraph is. It should be well written, but it should also be well designed. Make it stand out a little and choose a different font. That’ll help your readers, they’ll immediately know which part of the text the introduction is. And, it will make it look important. And it should look important because it is really important!
Use that focus keyphrase!
If you really want to write an SEO-friendly introduction make sure to use your focus keyphrase in the first paragraph. You want your audience to recognize the thing they were searching for in the search engines immediately. Use that exact key phrase in your introduction. That’ll convince your audience that they’re reading the right thing.
Keep it readable
Readability is important for your entire article. But as the introduction is the most important part of your article, readability is especially important in the introduction. Don’t make that first paragraph hard to read. Use short sentences. Avoid passive voice at all times. An introduction should not be too long. One paragraph, containing 10 or 12 sentences at the most. You could divide an introduction into two shorter paragraphs as well. Don’t make paragraphs longer than 12 sentences.
Short recipe for an SEO-friendly introduction
So, let’s make this practical. How do you write an SEO-friendly introduction? Let me give you a short and easy recipe for an awesome SEO-friendly introduction!
- Start with a hook. A hook can be anything that triggers the reader. You could state a triggering or controversial opinion. Or ask a (rhetorical question). You could share a statistic. In this blogpost, I started with the fact that Google loves great content. I could have started with a statistic too. Or with an important statement: most people decide to read an article on the base of the introduction. Make sure to write two or three sentences that catch the attention of your reader. These first sentences are meant to entice the reader and get them to read on.
- Introduce the message of your article. After your hook, you’ll write two or three sentences in which you introduce the main problem you’re solving in the blog post.
- Write two or three sentences about what people can expect in this article. I always end my introductions with (more or less) the same sentence. It’s always a sentence like this: ‘In this blogpost, I’ll tell you about…’
Love your site and write an SEO-friendly introduction
If you write a text, you want it to be read. You want the message to get across to your audience. You want it to rank high in the search engines. Make sure that the most important part of your text, the introduction, gets that extra bit of attention. Treat the first paragraph to a little extra SEO love. That could really make all the difference. And it’s not hard work. It’s just a little love. And let’s spread that SEO love!
Read more: SEO love: Why you should add links to a new post as soon as possible »
SEO love series