By Steve Smith
A well-written blog post is no guarantee of SEO success. Good writing is what separates you from the amateurs. It positions you as a serious participant in any discussion, as opposed to a mildly interested bystander. We also know that modern algorithms award long-form content that is well written and authentic. In other words, it’s not crammed, stacked or jam-packed with keywords. A well-written article is great, but to increase your chances of SEO success, your introductory paragraph will have to do some heavy lifting.
To make your piece SEO-friendly and maximize its exposure – and your best chances for profitable consumer action – your article must also be well designed. As it mimics human behavior, Google will read your post from the top, down, so it is crucial that your introduction be strategically designed for SEO success. It should introduce the topic, get people excited and set their expectations. It should set up an argument, present a controversial point of view or a solution to a problem that your target community may be experiencing (and for which you have a solution) and use the exact terms that your desired customers will likely use to find you. In this post I will set forth three steps you can take to make your article’s introduction SEO-friendly, thereby increasing ranking performance and website traffic.
Follow this three-step recipe to build a well-designed, high performance introduction:
1. Begin with a good hook
Begin your post with a question or a controversial statement of opinion and you’re on your way. The “hook” should be something that teases or suggests a solution to a problem that may be shared by members of your target community, or one that poses a rhetorical question. Again, you’ll be playing to the curiosity of your target community. Think of what makes a good movie trailer. Its purpose is not to explain the film’s plot, but to ignite your curiosity while portending the actual movie-going experience.
This is a pretty straightforward assignment. Let’s say your article is about the symptoms and treatment of psoriasis, a common dermatologic condition. Television simply cannot be watched lately without enduring ads for the new prescription medications for this affliction. So, with apologies to the Tegrin brand, which coined the phrase back in the 1960s, you’ll say something like, “How to avoid the heartbreak of psoriasis.” You get the idea.
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2. Introduce your message
Here’s where you’ll want to include 2-3 sentences in which you introduce the main problem you are attempting to solve. Some description of the problem – in this case psoriasis – will set the stage and position you as a reliable information provider on the subject. What is it? Why is it so (with more apologies) heartbreaking? What treatments are available? Yours is more effective? Go ahead and tell them briefly.
3. Tell them what to expect
This might bring to mind an old-time public service film, but by wrapping up your intro paragraph with 2-3 sentences that lay out what the reader can expect in the article, you will improve SEO while keeping your reader engaged. Similar to what I’ve done in the introduction above, you will say something like, “In this article I will explain what causes psoriasis, how widespread the condition is, and how psoriasis symptoms are managed. Another important aspect of this article is a description of recent advances in psoriasis treatment.” So if your target community is using search terms like “what causes psoriasis?” and “psoriasis symptoms,” and “psoriasis treatment,” this content can be expected to perform well.
Seems like an awful lot to include in a single paragraph, but with smart writing and fastidious editing, you can tighten things up very nicely. With total word count in that “sweet spot” of 2,300-ish, your 500-word intro paragraph will be far from cumbersome.
About Consonant Custom Media
Consonant Custom Media provides content marketing and storytelling for hospitals, health systems, nonprofits, foundations and others who want to make more meaningful connections with their communities of interest. We create original content that is truly consonant, or in harmony, with our clients' brand values and drives profitable consumer action.Clients use our original content strategically, to reach specific objectives in perception management, physician relations, service line development, sales and donor development.