A well-written introduction has significant implications for search performance, reader engagement, and the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing content. It should be clear, concise, and compelling enough to engage the reader. In spite of an intro’s importance, many writers will tell you it is the hardest bit of content to write, but taking a methodical approach can help. Follow our formula for composing a strategically structured opener, and then use our tips for writing engaging introductions for blog posts and other digital marketing copy.
Structure Blog Post Introductions Strategically
Structure your post’s introduction so that it draws in the reader. In search engine optimized (SEO) blog posts and other types of content, a well-written introduction includes three primary elements, in the following order:
- Lede or Hook: An attention-grabbing, keyword-optimized first sentence that compels the reader first to click through and then to continue reading.
- Background Information: A sentence or two that expands upon the hook. This could be an engaging anecdote, contextual information, or a fact or figure that supports your main point.
- Thesis or Conclusion: The final sentence of an introduction should reinforce your argument and communicate the value your content will provide.
4 Tips for Composing Effective Introductions
Whether you’re writing for traditional media, content marketing, or SEO, introductions are tricky to write—and tricky to get right. Follow these tips for writing a flawless introduction to a blog post, category copy, or other digital content.
Don’t Bury the Lede
Any journalism student worth their weight in words knows the number one rule for writing introductions is “don’t bury the lede.” An opening sentence should succinctly and clearly capture the leading idea or topic of your content, including your primary keyword. Burying the lede—or including the primary point farther down in the copy, often in an attempt to generate anticipation—can lead to a disengaged reader and less effective content. This matters because when a reader decides your content isn’t worth their while, they’ll bounce. And while we know Google doesn’t use bounce rate specifically as a ranking metric, there is anecdotal evidence it does ultimately influence where your content lands in the search results.
Being kind to your reader by serving up an effective introduction is also simply a good practice in general. For example, a person whose dog was skunked in the backyard at 11pm, when all the stores have closed, is desperately searching for the ingredients and formula for making soap to neutralize the odor and soothe the sting—right now. So if your copy on the topic rambles on in its introduction about how we’ve all been there, or just how terrible it smells, the reader will go on to a more promising result—they already know the misery. This is especially important for a user scrolling on a smaller smartphone screen.
So instead, put the most important information first, and then build upon that initial hook to write a strong introduction. In that skunk post, for example, you’d start with something along these lines: Make your own dog shampoo to neutralize skunk odor using a simple solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid dish soap.
The Link Between Ledes and SEO: Including the keyword in the opening sentence has long been considered best practice for optimizing digital content. Note that Google has recently started pulling the first sentence of copy from a page—if it determines that sentence best represents what’s on the web page— to use in lieu of the meta description, making it even more important for the lede to hook a reader and encourage them to click through.
Include Keywords Throughout the Introduction
While marketers should write for readers instead of search engines when composing digital copy, using keywords effectively will always be important. This is especially true for introductions. An optimized lede includes the primary keyword, but you should also include a couple of semantic match and secondary keywords throughout the rest of the paragraph to strengthen your introduction. The introduction to the post you’re reading now in fact follows this paradigm; in the screen grab below, the pink-shaded terms are primary keywords, and green-shaded terms are synonyms or secondary keywords:
Pro Tip: Include target terms strategically, but steer clear of keyword stuffing. Too many keywords can flag the content for search engines and make it flow unnaturally, ultimately harming its ranking in the search results page.
Leave Clues That Compel the Reader To Continue
Your lede will grab the reader’s attention, but the balance of the introduction is also important. The reader or customer landed on your web page because your pitch (or lede) sounded promising, so use the rest of your opener to make a convincing argument about how you’re going to deliver on that promise. Using broad brushstrokes, paint them a picture of what’s to come—and make it compelling enough to keep them going.
Write Your Introduction Last
Introductions are tricky, but that’s not why you should wait to write them. Composing the introduction last means you already have a clear idea of the shape of your piece. You know exactly which topics you’ll cover, how they will be presented, and what sort of value you have to offer the reader. Use this established context to inform your approach and write a strong, engaging introduction to your content.
A compelling, well-optimized introduction is a key component of effective copy, whether you’re writing a footer for a category page or composing a new blog post. Eight Oh Two is a proven leader in search engine and performance marketing focused on driving superior results by leveraging best-in-class technology with the best in human intelligence. Contact us today to learn how we can help optimize your content from the intro on, and boost your blog conversions.