Effective SEO copywriting requires not only a deep knowledge of how to write for your target audience but the skill to craft content optimized to rank in Google.
This delicate balance between engaging readers and optimizing for search is a game marketers play often – sometimes well, and sometimes… not so much.
Applying the Inverted Pyramid from journalism to our writing can help SEO copywriters create content that is readable, scannable, and SEO-friendly.
In this column, you’ll learn all about the Inverted Pyramid model and how to apply it in your own content.
What Is the Inverted Pyramid?
The Inverted Pyramid is a model used by journalists to describe an article structure in which the most important information is presented first.
Applying the inverted pyramid means you structure your content to highlight the most important principles and keywords in the first paragraph, then gradually create a hierarchy of content throughout the page.
Essentially, your introductory paragraph subtly leads into deeper topics, more complexity, and finally a summarizing conclusion.
Front-Loading Your Content
In the inverted pyramid model, you front-load information in your content to grab the reader’s attention as quickly as possible.
This can have positive implications for your website’s SEO and engagement metrics, as readers are more likely to be hooked on your content than to venture elsewhere.
Benefits of the Inverted Pyramid Model
There are many benefits to adopting an inverted pyramid writing strategy. These benefits include:
- Establishing an easy-to-follow content framework to follow in all of your SEO blog articles.
- Increasing user engagement by grabbing users’ attention in the first paragraphs.
- Improving the readability of your content with a scannable structure and hierarchy.
- Driving more organic traffic through search engine optimized content, rich with your target keywords.
- Encouraging readers to scroll and read the entire article.
- Implementing a highly effective strategy for attracting readers who are likely to go elsewhere if not immediately engaged by your content.
It can take some time and practice to adopt this structure, as it runs contrary to what we are used to.
Example of Inverted Pyramid Structure
The logistics of implementing an inverted pyramid writing structure are quite simple. It’s helpful to break this structure down into three blocks: the lede, body, and tail.
This is the beginning paragraph of your article. And it’s where you should include an immediate hook to grab the reader’s attention. This can take the form of a thought-provoking question or engaging story.
For SEO purposes, you should also include the target keyword for your article within the introductory section of your article. This is where you will also address the “who, what, when, where?” of the topic you will be covering in your post.
The body provides rich detail and crucial information. You’ve front-loaded your article with the most important information first and now will expand on that, rather than revealing new concepts or details throughout.
The body will also contain any relevant statistics, case studies, examples, evidence, or stories that support what you introduced in the lede. You can also include expert quotes, videos, graphics, photos, and more.
In the inverted pyramid model, the tail is not simply a conclusion. Instead, it includes relevant and helpful resources that complement the value provided in previous sections. It may also include the writer’s overall assessment of the topic and/or provide extra context for readers to understand what was covered previously in the article.
How to Use the Inverted Pyramid for Writing SEO Copy
Following an inverted pyramid structure with your SEO content may seem a bit backward compared to your usual style, but the process is made much easier once you have the right steps in place.
Below, we cover how to write with this SEO content model in mind from start to finish.
1. Create a Topic Hierarchy
The inverted pyramid model is all about putting your high-priority content first, so this requires you to set priority to the topics you wish to cover.
Most often, the key point you are aiming to make will be right there in your target keyword. Then, your lower priority points may be subtopics of your focus keyword.
For example, if your target keyword is “what is digital marketing,” it’s pretty obvious that the main point of your article should be to define what digital marketing is.
So, your topic hierarchy may go something like this:
- What is Digital Marketing? – Definition
- Why is Digital Marketing Important?
- Benefits of Digital Marketing
- Types of Digital Marketing
- How to Measure the Results of Your Digital Marketing
- Digital Marketing Tips for Your Business
Figure out which points are most important to your audience. Then, follow this hierarchy as you write your article.
2. Write Your Hook
A hook is a tagline or slogan that grabs the user’s attention right away. Your hook should be at the beginning of your article as a teaser that entices users to keep reading.
Often, your hook will also include your target keyword so you make it super obvious to readers (and to Google) that they are in the right place.
You can get creative, though, when it comes to telling a story or writing something punchy that draws readers in.
Here are a few examples of some great hooks:
- FreshBooks: Essential Tools to Help You Work Remotely”– Appeals to peoples’ struggles working remotely without the right tools to drive productivity and efficiency.
- Lifehacker: How to Clean Your Coffee Maker – References cleaning your coffee maker in regards to spring cleaning; states how “gross” it can be if you neglect cleaning it.
- HotJar – 18 Product Workflow Red Flags – States that delivering products users love is simple… right? Creates intrigue and concern.
3. Set Priority for Target Keywords
Just as you set priority for the topics you want to cover, you’ll want to set priority for the keywords you are targeting, as well.
Referencing the example in Step 1, many of these topics likely align with keywords, like [benefits of digital marketing] and [digital marketing tips].
Decide what topics you want to tackle first and then use the relevant keywords in these sections of your article. Tools like Semrush and Surfer SEO can also help you determine roughly how often to include these key terms so you stay on par with what’s already ranking.
4. Write for “Skimmers”
Research shows that most people don’t read blog articles the same way they read novels. In fact, over 80% of people merely skim the content they find online.
Readers scan the page looking for certain words or phrases that match what they’re searching for. This means writers have to grab readers’ attention in a matter of seconds.
A few ways to do this are to use visual cues that include bold and italicized text, numbered or bulleted lists, and images. You should also keep your paragraphs to roughly 2 to 3 lines of text to make them easier to skim.
H2 and H3 headings can be used to identify important sections in your article. Be sure to include relevant keywords here, as well as descriptive text that notes what the paragraph is about.
Further, the opening paragraph of your article is another area where you can place important information. Make this section count with concise paragraphs, descriptive texts, and bold keywords.
5. Add “Bucket Brigades”
Bucket brigades are short phrases that add conversational value to your content. They are used to catch the reader’s attention, keep them reading, and direct them to other sections of your article.
Content getting a bit dense? Use bucket brigades to break up your paragraphs and make your content flow. Here are a few examples you can use:
- Here’s how it works:
- What I mean is this:
- Here’s an example:
- You may think X, but in reality…
These are most often followed by a hard return (press Enter twice on your keyword) and then the related paragraph text. Use a few bucket brigades throughout your articles to improve readability and reader retention.
6. Utilize Numbered and Bulleted Lists
One of the goals of the Inverted Pyramid (and SEO content writing in general) is to make your content more easily readable by users and search engines.
Including bulleted and numbered lists helps you organize your content so it’s easier to scan and may even allow you to optimize for Featured Snippets.
During the keyword research stage of planning your article, do a Google search for your chosen keywords to identify possible Featured Snippet opportunities and/or chances to format your content as a bulleted or numbered list.
Again, this empowers readers to find the information they are searching for much faster, which encourages them to continue reading your article.
7. Add Context and Helpful Resources
When we talk about providing “value” to readers, we don’t mean fluffy content they can find anywhere else. To make your content stand out, you must provide context, reputable resources, and cite your sources.
Readers are looking for information from sources they can trust. If you make a claim, be sure to back it up with studies, statistics, and data.
Even better, if you can direct users to case studies on your own website, this can be a way to keep them on your site longer.
Note: When deciding what resources to add, determine which points are supportive, but not essential to your article. Don’t send your readers all over the place. Keep your content aligned with the main focus of the article.
8. Include Questions in Headings
Your SEO keyword research will likely reveal specific questions your readers have about a particular topic. Google’s “People Also Ask” section is also a good source of these questions.
These questions (and corresponding keywords) can be formatted as H2 and H3 headings to:
- Help readers find the information they are looking for.
- Better organize your article.
- Give you various opportunities to include your target keywords.
Including questions in your headings also makes your article easier to skim so readers know whether you’re covering the topics they are interested in as soon as they land on your article.
9. Lead Paragraphs With Your Core Sentence
You don’t want to bury your main point in the middle of your body paragraph. Instead, begin your paragraphs with your main point to, again, make it easier for readers to identify the information they are searching for.
Do: “Digital marketing is online marketing that allows businesses to generate more traffic and sales online. It encompasses social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, PPC, and more.”
Don’t: “Many businesses don’t know what digital marketing is or why it matters. They may try traditional marketing and find out it doesn’t work in this digital age. If you’re tired of outdated methods, try digital marketing. Digital marketing is online marketing that…”
10. Make Your Conclusion Count
The conclusion is often treated as a throwaway paragraph that quickly summarizes the content in the article, but there are many ways to make your conclusions more concise, effective, and informative.
For one, you can include additional resources to direct readers to your website. You can provide further context that supports the points you made in your article. Or you can even reference a free downloadable where they can find even more information.
If you are going to summarize what you covered in the rest of your article, make your points super concise. That way, if a reader skims the page and reads the conclusion first they are likely to read the rest of your article knowing you covered the topics they are interested in.
When Should You Use the Inverted Pyramid?
The Inverted Pyramid model is best suited for structured SEO writing. It is not, for example, the best fit for superfluous opinion pieces, poetry, or sales copy.
The primary goal is to structure your content so readers can skim your article and so search engines can easily make sense of what your article is about.
If you’ve been following the traditional style of blog post writing, it might be time to try something new.
Consider adopting the Inverted Pyramid style to see whether it improves engagement or conversions on your site.