How to Use the Inverted Pyramid for SEO Content Writing
SEO content writing can benefit from the use of the inverted pyramid structure. It is a widely used scheme in the field of journalism that has proven to be effective in digital channels. In this article, we will explain how to build an inverted pyramid and why you should consider using it to create engaging content.
In this post, we'll cover:
What is the inverted pyramid
The inverted pyramid is a structure that guides the organization of information. When it was introduced, it brought a fundamental change to the way information was delivered to readers. It clearly differentiated the boundaries between news writing and other genres, such as chronicle and narrative.
The base of the pyramid, which is now the top, contains the title, the subtitle and the first paragraph of the news item. In journalism, this is called a lead. This section addressed the readers’ basic questions and highlights key facts. These are known as the 5Ws, from the initials of the interrogative words who, what, where, when, and why. Later on, how was added to explain the cause of the event narrated.
The term inverted pyramid refers to its graphic representation. The larger base contains the most important data and the supplementary details are arranged hierarchically in descending order.
Origin of the inverted pyramid
The Greek rhetorician Hermagoras of Themnos established the seven circumstances that should be addressed when investigating a fact or topic. This is the first antecedent of the 5W.
Communication researchers date the establishment of this narrative structure to the American Civil War. The precarious technical conditions of the time caused continuous interruptions of telegraph transmissions. Therefore, reporters made sure to put the most relevant data at the beginning of their articles. It is also claimed that newspaper editors were largely responsible for the structure. As it was difficult to calculate the length of the texts, the final lines were often deleted when the article was too long.
Its application became popular and eventually became the standard for news writing. This structure is still studied in all journalism schools today.
Why use the inverted pyramid structure?
The inverted pyramid structure is ideal for creating web content because it is attractive to search engines as well as the audience. In this sense, it responds both to the characteristics of human behavior and to the particularities of technology. Specifically, it effectively addresses the following 5 conditions:
Digital content consumption
The information overload resulting from the democratization of the media has forced people to be more selective in how they consume media. The web offers countless resources, and users need to filter information. Users’ attention is fleeting because, from a practical standpoint, it is impossible to analyze each publication in detail.
To engage your audience, you need to give them what they are looking for right away. If the reader is forced to dig through your content to find something useful, they will leave the page. Upon opening a website, the reader performs a quick scan of the information available. The reader will only continue to read if they detect relevant content.
The inverted pyramid provides clues that encourage the reader to scroll through the content of the publication. At a glance, you can find out what the text is about and whether it will be useful for your search. The structuring of ideas in the inverted pyramid attracts the audience. It engages the audience from the first lines and encourages them to continue reading to learn about the unfolding details.
Additionally, the structure ensures that the reader gets the key message, even if they don’t consume all the content on your page.
Keyword prominence refers to the proximity of a keyword to the top of the page. For search engines, this is an indicator of the importance of that keyword in the content. That’s why the algorithms reward it with a better positioning in the results.
Consequently, it is no exaggeration to say that the inverted pyramid responds to SEO parameters. It also makes it easy to include all the main keywords.
Another criterion of the search engine algorithm is based on content blocks. Web crawlers scan blocks of content for answers to user questions. Content that matches your search terms can be selected as featured snippets or answer boxes. These occupy the zero position on the results page.
The foreseeable consequence is an increase in web traffic to your site. They are also very accessible for voice searches because both Siri and Alexa are able to read the answer boxes.
Predictably, your engagement rate will improve. If your audience recognizes you as a valuable content provider, they will be more willing to interact. This is an important parameter when evaluating brand positioning.
At the same time, it’s an invaluable tool for getting to know your audiences. It will allow you to find out what content they prefer and what are the most effective channels to reach them.
Readability and comprehension
The hierarchical structure of the messages and the concise wording that characterizes the inverted pyramid model facilitate the understanding of the content. They also favor readability due to the absence of complex literary resources. This translates into a more positive perception of the usefulness of the content.
When to use the inverted pyramid structure
Despite its undeniable advantages, the inverted pyramid structure is not a panacea. Like any other method, it has specific applications. For example, certain contents work best when developed from a storytelling perspective. That is, the structure follows the natural order of beginning, middle and end or takes a chronological approach.
The inverted pyramid is very effective for arousing curiosity and attracting a new audience. It gets straight to the point and uses key ideas that are of interest to the reader. A piece created with the inverted pyramid method can be the first step of an inbound marketing strategy.
In addition, the inverted pyramid efficiently synthesizes the content. Moreover, digital materials have the advantage that they can integrate complementary resources through hyperlinks. In this way, you allow the user to decide which aspects to focus on but ensure they always get the most important message.
It is also suitable for the processing of current or urgent information. If you often need to update your content, the inverted pyramid structure will speed up the work. It will only be necessary to modify the upper part of the text, keeping the complementary details intact or only reworking it with slight changes.
Calls to action (CTAs) can be communicated with inverted pyramid wording. With this model, you explain directly to your audience the reasons why it is in their best interest to take a step forward.
How to write using the inverted pyramid structure
The integration of the inverted pyramid in SEO content writing implements a well-defined method. Many years of application have enabled us to identify the steps to correctly write a text that complies with these characteristics. Before you start writing, you need to organize your ideas.
Step 1: Make an outline
Identify the central ideas of the content and the message you want to get across to your audience. These are the most important aspects that summarize the key points of the publication. Plant them as a direct response to a concern, desire or need of the reader.
Step 2: Hierarchize the information
As an expert in the subject, you will probably be tempted to add a lot of supplementary information. You can do this, but it will need to be prioritized. Remember that the order of significance is descending. Think of a funnel and place data that may be of interest to a wider audience at the top. As you develop the content, you can add more specific details.
Step 3: Link the ideas
Make sure the information is connected and the structure of the message is logical. You can use subtitles to organize the content. This makes it easier to understand the ideas.
Step 4: Get straight to the point
SEO content writing is direct and concise. Try to use simple language. Structure the text in short sentences and paragraphs. Highlighting content in bullets and making lists improves the readability of online texts.
Step 5: Review and edit content
Check that the order of your message responds to the search intentions of your audience. If necessary, reorganize your content. Remember that the story should begin with the main idea. The text should provide useful information from the first line. Write a descriptive title. Complement it with subtitles that give more depth to the content.
Example of an inverted pyramid
The inverted pyramid scheme can be used for all types of texts although it is not always the most effective method. We can find many examples in the pages of any newspaper. However, writing is a creative activity, which allows itself certain transgressions. Many news media outlets use literary devices to narrate events. Furthermore, great authors have, consciously or unconsciously, applied the inverted pyramid in their work.
At the very least, we can say that it is curious that already in the seventeenth century, the inverted pyramid structure was applied by Miguel de Cervantes. In his novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha, we come across a perfect inverted pyramid paragraph:
“In a place in La Mancha, whose name I don’t want to remember, not long ago there lived a nobleman with a lance in a shipyard, an old-fashioned buckler, a skinny rocín and a running greyhound. A pot of something more cow than mutton, salpicón on most nights, duels and quebrantos on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, some extra pigeon on Sundays consumed the three parts of his estate …”
With a single sentence, Cervantes answers 4 of the 5Ws:
- Where: in a place in La Mancha
- When: not long ago
- What: lived
- Who: a nobleman of the lance in the shipyard
Tips for creating persuasive SEO content using the inverted pyramid
Although content writing needs a creative component, applying storytelling methods have proved worthwhile in improving SEO performance. Drawing a parallel with cooking, we could say that the intrinsic value of the messages is equivalent to the quality of the raw material. The inverted pyramid would be the recipe, which indicates how to combine the ingredients to create a gourmet dish.
The importance of paragraphs
The first paragraph should focus on the central points of the message. Whether your audience will continue reading or leave the page depends on the quality a content of this first paragraph. In a literary or advertising text, the first sentence should grab the reader. In SEO content writing, you should also hint at the value of the rest of the information. A witty headline or phrase can arouse curiosity. This, however, is not enough. The first block of text should contain clues to determine the usefulness of the content being communicated.
On the other hand, you may want to write each paragraph as a modular structure. Each block of text should state a main idea in its first sentence and then develop it in the following lines. This will make it easier for the reader to understand the message and will also simplify the editing of the text. Often, during final revisions we discover that the message needs to be reorganized. The task can be complicated when text blocks are subordinate. On the other hand, if they are independent, simply the order of the paragraphs needed to be changed.
Delve into the relevant details
As you develop the text, you should provide details that enrich the content. But make sure it’s useful information and not superfluous data. SEO positioning can be affected by the lack of conciseness and the use of filler words. Feel free to remove rambling text and empty phrases while editing.
Towards the end of the text, you can add complementary data which serve to frame or contextualize the information. These may be aspects not directly related to the central idea. For example, explanations about the origin or possible consequences and interactions of an event can be addressed here. Any reader truly interested in the subject will gain new insight that will encourage them to pursue the subject further. Anyone who just needs a one-off answer will probably have found it before getting to this point.
Recap the main ideas
When dealing with long content, in particular, it is a good practice to include a summary at the end. Additionally, adding bullet points in an article helps to direct the reader’s attention to key points. These also serve as clues for search engines which improve SEO positioning.