The inverted pyramid style is a process used in journalism which inverts the logic of the way a story is told. Rather than start from the story details, you start from a hook, which is critical to get the reader interested, thus giving it a quick pay off.
- Where to start with the inverted pyramid?
- What is the inverted pyramid writing style?
- What makes an inverted pyramid such a powerful technique?
- What makes people share the content?
- Let’s wrap things up
Where to start with the inverted pyramid?
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The inverted pyramid method is a well-known method of writing in journalism that was initially developed with one aim – to grab the reader’s attention right from the start.
Being one of the most effective methods of writing, this technique can help you write incredible SEO articles, drive more engagement, boost brand awareness and social shares.
What is the inverted pyramid writing style?
When you are reading a novel, you are always in suspense what will help next and when the plot will begin to unravel.
The writer leads you through every chapter slowly preparing you for the climax.
And, this makes perfect sense when writing a novel.
However, when writing a newspaper article or an article for a web, you need to get people’s attention quickly.
- You have to have the compelling headline.
- You need to make them want to read more.
This is exactly what the inverted Pyramid writing technique lets you do…
In its core, the Inverted Pyramid Style puts the most intriguing and critical piece of the story at the beginning with the aim both to inform and engage the reader.
Big ideas come first, and details follow.
In that way, your readers don’t have to scroll down to get the main point, or even worse, jump from page to page on websites.
By giving them meat and potatoes of the story – the traditional W’s (who, what, where, when, why and how) you get them hooked, and they will instantly want to get deeper into the subject. Journalists devised this technique as a solution to the problem where their readers have a very low “committal rate.”
What’s in it there for your readers?
- Your readers need less time to get to the point
- It motivates readers to scroll down for more information and read the entire article
- It gives value to all readers even those who skim
- It improves comprehension; the essentials are at the beginning of the first paragraph
What’s in it for you?
- It gives you a full control of the structure and journey of the reader
- It allows you to edit articles more efficiently and quickly (as you have control of the structure for your articles)
- You need less time to get to the gist (as it becomes a process)
How does it work?
I broke down the process in a few simple phrases:
- Start with the lead in mind
- Get into details
- Tell the background story
Start with the lead in mind
First, think of a headline, an attention-grabbing statement or an anecdote. This is known as a lead. Your lead must answer the following questions:
For instance, if your story starts like this,
“On an early Sunday morning, I walked into a grocery store to buy some oranges, bread, milk and other things I needed to make a cake for my son’s birthday. As I was walking around the shop looking for oranges, I suddenly heard some strange noise. I turned around and saw a few guys in black pointing a gun at a girl at the cash register.”
It sounds a bit boring. However, if you put the breaking news at the beginning like:
“On an early Sunday, two men pointed a gun at a girl at the cash register.”
You will definitely draw in the reader, and what’s more, make him continue reading to find out the background of the story.
In that way, you have answered the six questions:
- Who: Two men
- What: pointed a gun at the girl
- Where: at the cash registry
- When: on an early Sunday
- Why: to take the money from the registry
- How: by using a gun
Get into details
Once you tickled your readers’ curiosity, you are ready to go into details. Your readers would want to know the background of the story: “How did they get into the store?”, “What was the girl’s reaction?”, “Did they take the money?”, “What happened next?”. Give them what they are yearning for. By providing details, you’ll keep their attention and make them want to read the whole article.
To make things even more interesting, keep paragraphs in the same format: put the main points in the initial sentence and then build on that point. This stand-out first sentence is also known as the core sentence. It gives the reader what he or she needs, and he or she can choose whether to read the rest of the article or not. Keep in mind that you should express only one point in each paragraph because it is easier for readers to follow the plot.
Tell the background story
After pointing out the details, you can move to the context. This includes the root of the problem and the reason why robberies happen so often. You can also touch on the statistics related to crime and criminal behavior in the country and, in that way, trigger speculation and even discussion on that particular issue. This adds value both to the entire article and you as the author of the article. On top of that, it raises interests and engages readers potentially in the discussion.
What makes an inverted pyramid such a powerful technique?
Three main reasons why the inverted pyramid is a powerful technique:
The inverted pyramid style helps create “block-based content”
Does a term “block-based content” ring a bell?
It should because, recently, this movement has been making an impact on search engines. Google uses the whole chunks of texts – paragraphs to answer questions in search results.
By giving the blocks the structured data needed to let search engines know what specific content is in that block, we can increase traffic on our site. Hence, one more reason to write better, compelling and stand-out paragraphs.
The inverted pyramid also adds value in terms of SEO
By structuring your questions and answers by using an inverted Pyramid technique, both your readers and search engines will digest it more easily.
In other words, when someone asks a certain question, go straight to the gist of the question and put it at the beginning of your answer.
Tell your readers what you know, move on to the details and only then get to the context. Finally, include the sub-questions, especially if the initial question is too broad and should be broken into chunks.
This will inevitably trigger the readers’ reaction. Finish the answer with some call to action and, voila, you have written the page which will potentially attract qualified leads and convert.
Attention span is a new currency. We are well aware of the fact that readers’ attention span is shrinking each year making a huge impact on the marketing in general. In terms of social media, we are given a very limited ability to grab the reader’s attention.
Is it happiness, is it a controversy or sad stories?
According to the Jonah Berger, author of the book “Contagious: Why things catch on,” the things that go viral must have an emotional hook. It’s the emotions that will make people want to talk about that particular subject for days or even months.
And, what’s the easiest way to provoke the emotion?
By writing a compelling headline (a lead), good excerpt (details) and thematic and supporting captions (context) – all the essentials of the Inverted Pyramid technique.
Let’s wrap things up
If you’re stuck and you feel you’re experiencing some writer’s blocks, it’s because you lack a writing process. There is one process which is used in journalism called, inverted pyramid style.
What’s interesting about it is that it inverts the logic of the way a story is told. In short, rather than start from the story details, you start from a hook, which is critical to get the reader involved.
This system is quite effective because it aligns both the reader and the search engine crawling the page, thus by making the page also SEO-friendly.
After the hook, you keep going with details and context, which makes the readers wanting more!
So, the next time you start writing a new piece of content, don’t bury you key information somewhere in the middle of the third paragraph.
Put it up front, give your readers what they want, and make them ask for more. It’s a sure way to a great article.
Guest Contribution by Marko Velickovic
Marko Velickovic is a certified and results-oriented SEO specialist with 10 years experience in the SEO domain. He is the founder of Serpline.com and SeoProLab. You can connect with Marko on LinkedIn.
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