When crafting content for your website it is very easy to get bogged down with the ‘ins and outs’ of the SEO checklist, sometimes forgetting the overall purpose behind writing a blog in the first place. You’re writing to entice, inform and intrigue your audience! The best content writers on the block will open their blogs with a dazzling paragraph that will both engage your reader early AND help the Google bots understand the blog’s structure, topic, and subtopics!
Why it’s best to start your article with a bang
You’re absolute number one priority when crafting an article is your headline. Hands down. The following 2000 words or so may be worthy of a Nobel Prize in Literature but if your blog title is dull and uninspiring then nobody is going to see it.
Once you’ve got your flashy and engaging headline that’s bound to attract a barrage of clicks, you’ve got the opening paragraph to contend with. Most people will skim it. They’ll make a quick decision as to whether the article applies to them or not, and after approximately 140 words – they’ll either continue reading or head straight back to Google. Optinmonster claim that 43% of people admit they skim blogs when reading them.
Another thing to remember is approximately 409 million people view more than 20 billion articles PER MONTH. So yeah, it’s really important to capture attention early and make your opening content unique and creative. People should read your intro and feel a sense of trust; they should be reassured that what is about come in the blog post matches their search intent. Google and other search engine algorithms will also use this opener to determine how useful and relevant your content is.
Seems like a lot of responsibility for a couple of lines hey? Well, you’re in safe hands here. Soar Online have collated a digestible list of the ‘quick wins’ involved with writing blog openers. You’ll find some awesome tips and examples to get your blog article on the right path to excellent visibility.
Connecting the reader with your brand voice
A bog introduction can act as a conversation. It is a digital connection point between you and your new readers & future customers. The opening paragraph should command a voice that is in line with your brand.
Are you a quirky fun startup? A financial adviser? Does your website offer legal advice? Does it sell children’s toys? Whatever your product or industry, you can define, and in some cases re-define, your brand based on tone.
Make a promise
The best way to keep your new reader on your page is to make a promise to them in the introduction. Inform them of the information that they will find if they carry on digesting your content. “In this blog, you’ll understand”. Or perhaps “Here’s a list of the 10 different ways to”. You’ll be sure to get them scrolling after that.
The SEO value in a blog introduction
A professional copywriter knows the power of words. Whether that be for content marketing, web copy, a product description, or an online ad. When blogs and articles are concerned, it is also very important that your content ranks well with the search engines.
Now the big brains over at Google are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to developing algorithms that are used to rank and assess your page. Google is looking for relevant, fresh, preferably long-form, wholly informative, and well-written content to serve to visitors that matches their search intent. Google can now detect tone. They also utilise Natural Language Processing (NLP) – meaning they can determine the context behind the content.
Watch this explainer video on NLP:
What does this mean for your blog introduction?
Well, it means that you need to be able to:
- Clearly articulate the topic of your article from the outset.
- Ensure that the content is structured well enough so that Google understands and indexes it correctly.
So what are the ways to do this?
Firstly, do not be afraid to include your target keyword or keywords right in the opening lines; in fact, we strongly encourage that you do. This is a sure-fire way to communicate the content topic to the search engine from the outset. As we mentioned before, Google is now looking for the context behind the content – so look for ways to weave your keywords into your entire introduction to offer a more comprehensive explanation of your post’s topic.
Think about your engagement metrics
An engaging introduction will convince your visitor to keep reading. The longer a person stays on the page contributes to your overall engagement metrics. Google uses ‘bounce rate’ and ‘dwell time’ as ranking factors.
- What is a bounce rate? Bounce rate refers to the % of visitors that choose to navigate away from your website after only viewing one page.
- What is dwell time? The amount of time a visitor will take when analysing a web page before returning to the search results. It likely shows that the content on that page did not equal the search intent of the visitor.
So the more engaging and intriguing your introduction is, the more time the user is likely to spend browsing the rest of the article. In addition, the user is probably more likely to check out some of your other blog posts or pages on your website if they liked what they saw from the start.
Goal Conversion Benefits
Whilst you have one eye on the search engines, you also want to have another on any possible opportunities for goal conversions. If a solid introduction is followed up with an interesting article then you might be able to achieve the following on-page goals:
- Email sign-up & other form captures – Granted that conversions from first-time blog reader to newsletter subscriber are a relatively low occurrence. You’d be amazed, however, at the success a well-placed data capture form can be on the web page. If the reader is interested and is then provided with a sticky lead magnet as they read – your chances of conversions grow considerably.
- Product browse – whether the content of your article covers your products/solutions or not, a well-written piece can build brand trust. The consumer may consider purchasing from you and could go on to browse your online catalogue.
Remember, reading the majority of your article is a big win in itself as the consumer will gain more awareness about your brand as a result. Great job!
Top tips and tricks to wow your reader and boost your SEO at the same time
Drop an interesting statistic straight away
People love a statistic. Stats are digestible snippets of information that concisely provide context to whatever you’re writing about. What’s more? They’re incredibly trustworthy. Stats don’t lie! Unless you make them up… which we fervently discourage you from doing.
If you’ve mapped out your content to the user’s intent correctly, the stat will directly capture their intention as it will relate to something the reader knows about. If you’re a fashion blogger and you begin a blog with ‘48% of fast fashion brands are now investing in sustainable materials’ then your readers will inevitably respond as the information is both shocking and convincing. Full disclosure: This stat was made up as an example.
Pose a question about a pain barrier in your industry
How do you engage with someone in the real world? You ask them a question. When most people are presented with an issue that they cannot solve straight away they turn to Google for a quick fix. If they then see a question regarding their issue, they expect an answer to follow. For example:
“Do you struggle writing awesome introductions for blog posts?”
One can then assume that the solution to that grievance is about to follow. Boom – reader engaged.
Tell people about a pain barrier in your industry
Same idea, different framework. Use the opening paragraph to relate a problem you had with the same issue the reader is currently having. For example:
“In 2019, Soar struggled with crafting blog introductions. Today we have boosted our traffic and engagement metrics five-fold. Here’s how”.
Hello engagement my old friend.
Outline the mistake of your readers straight away
When experiencing an issue, people will often type into Google what they are doing wrong. So an interesting way to start an article, to map the intent behind this type of search, is to instantly point out the mistake they are making.
For Example, “Long-winded headlines don’t work. Here’s why”.
The user will understand their mistake straight away, and continue to read to find out the solution.
A bullet point introduction
Whilst long-form, high-quality content is preferred by Google, the statistics show that people still like to skim articles to find the information most relevant to them. This is where structure plays an important role.
Begin your blog post with bullet points about the sections that are coming later in the article. For example:
- Why a good title is so important
- The power of an opening paragraph
- Tips and tricks to writing an awesome opener
- Key takeaways
If someone is adamant about getting their information quickly, they roughly know how far down the page to go to retrieve their information.
List questions about the blog topic
There is a good chance that the reader has been experiencing the problem they are having for some time. So if your blog is about solving a particular issue, then it may be wise to list the questions around that issue that your readers may have experienced. For example,
“Do you struggle with optimising your blog introductions for SEO? Are your creative juices not flowing when outlining the blog topic? Are you struggling to weave the intro into the rest of the article?”
The visitor to your blog will then go, ‘Yes, Yes and Yes’. You’ve then caught the attention of the reader as you’ve proven to him that your article is the perfect piece of content to solve ALL of his or her grievances.
In a nutshell:
A well-crafted blog introduction that has been optimised with your keywords will likely engage your reader and compel them to carry on consuming your content. The visitor will feel reassured that the content topic matches their search intent.
Goole and other search engines will also note the relevance of your blog post, will understand its topic and theme, and in turn, will index the page correctly.
By successfully engaging readers to view your blog in its entirety you are boosting the engagement metrics of your entire website, flagging to Google that the content you provide is of high quality.