How Does the Inverted Pyramid Help with SEO in Content Writing?

Typically, when you’re writing content, you follow the basic Introduction-Body-Conclusion formula you were taught at school.

For sure, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional way of structuring the text. It allows you to organize all your thoughts logically, and such texts are definitely easier to read.

But what if we told you that this well-known formula is not that great for your position in search results?

What if the best way is to put essential information first and then follow with less relevant details?

The ‘essentials first’ formula is also known as the inverted pyramid, and today we are going to take a closer look at how it can help with SEO in content writing.


More on Inverted Pyramid Method and Its Advantages

What’s the connection between the inverted pyramid method and SEO?

How to Use the Inverted Pyramid for SEO

  1. Grab Your Readers’ Attention
  2. Make Your Content Easy to Understand
  3. Use the Right Keywords

More on the Inverted Pyramid Method and Its Advantages

Let’s go straight to the inverted pyramid definition.

The inverted pyramid method is the strategy used to prioritize details in a copy, starting from the most important and ending with less relevant information. It originates from journalism and copywriting.

Here’s one of the variants of the inverted pyramid structure (with the explanation of all the fancy words involved in this method):

The meaning of the inverted pyramid is metaphorical. Of course, no one is drawing a pyramid when they are writing content, though it could be helpful for beginners.

When it comes to writing a copy, the inverted pyramid method has a few cool benefits. Here are some of the top ones:

  • better text comprehension
  • the idea of the copy is clearer
  • the text layout is more organized
  • the most important points are highlighted right away
  • the flow of details is easier to understand

Now you have a more or less clear understanding of what the inverted pyramid is and how it works. But the main point is still not conclusive enough.

What’s the connection between the inverted pyramid method and SEO?

Think about the way you consume the written content on the web. How often do you actually read a full article? You probably just scroll through, searching for the information that is relevant to you at a particular moment.

And you’re not alone in this. The Norman Nielsen study confirms that people rarely read web pages word by word – only 16% of people do that.

The majority of readers (79%, to be exact) skims the text, picking individual phrases and keywords that briefly describe the contents of the text.

Now, a traditional way of writing a copy (Intro-Body-Conclusion) does not usually work out well to get the reader’s attention right away. But the inverted pyramid method will do precisely that.

What’s the outcome for SEO?

Readers will spend more time on your web pages. The inverted pyramid makes the text more captivating by addressing the most important points right away. Thus, the reader will be more tempted to stay on the content page for longer. And more time on a page equals better SEO.

What else?

A bit earlier, we’ve mentioned that the inverted pyramid improves the structure of the text. In terms of SEO, this structure helps highlight the most prominent keywords in title tags, headlines, and the text itself.

On top of that, the inverted pyramid method encourages scrolling. Since the additional details of the story don’t appear right away, the interested reader will have to scroll down to the bottom of the content page. It will be a signal to Google that readers actually find this content page valuable.

How to Use the Inverted Pyramid for SEO

Theoretically, the inverted pyramid method can work well to help your content rank higher in search results. But how to apply all this theory in practice?

Let’s take a look at some actionable tips.

1. Grab Your Readers’ Attention

You already know that the point of the inverted pyramid is to capture the reader’s attention right away. But how do you do that?

If you remember from the graph we shared a bit earlier, there are two top sections in the pyramid – the heading and the lead (we’ll call it lead because it’s more common among non-journalists). These two sections are responsible for grabbing the reader’s attention, so let’s discuss them one by one.

Inverted pyramid headlines

Introducing the most important facts right away – this is the goal of a headline according to the inverted pyramid method.

So, basically, you need to give the most important point of your copy in the headline right away. This way, you’ll establish a rapport with a reader and grab their attention.

But how do you write a headline that captures the attention but doesn’t give away too much information?

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Ask a question. This way, you’re starting a kind of conversation with a reader. But since they are unlikely to know anything on the topic yet, they will be inclined to click on the headline and find out. This approach also plays on the readers’ curiosity.

Credit: The New York Times

  • Use a quote. Even though it might seem taken out of context, a quote provides some insights into a story without giving too many details away. As a result, the reader suspects what the copy is going to be about but still needs to read more:

Credit: The Mirror

  • Take advantage of demonstrative pronouns. Words like this, that these, and those create suspension and work perfectly to spark the interest. The hint at the main detail, but don’t give it away:

Credit: The New York Times

A headline plays an important part in the inverted pyramid method. But while you keep yourself busy writing it, don’t forget to optimize its length for SEO.

Your headline should properly appear in search results, so it should not be very long. The official recommendation is to keep it 50-60 characters, which would guarantee that your headline will display properly.

Also, don’t turn your headline into click-bait. A bit earlier, we’ve mentioned that an inverted pyramid headline should keep suspension, but it should not bamboozle the reader. Besides, Google algorithm will be quick to notice this fraud and devalue your web page.

Inverted pyramid leads

In journalism, a lead is the opening sentence or a couple of sentences in an article. The goal of a lead is to give a quick summary of the story. Writing the lead is the next step in creating an inverted pyramid copy.

A proper lead should become a continuation of the headline and set the tone for the rest of the content. Here’s how you can achieve that:

  • Give a more in-depth explanation of a detail mentioned in the headline. In the example below, the lead provides a bit more insights on the winter storm highlighted in the title.

Credit: The New York Times

  • Provide some statistics to make your headline more credible. For instance, The Mirror shows data on the rising COVID cases in several regions of the UK:

Credit: The Mirror

  • Facilitate the point mentioned in the headline. In the example below, The Mirror simply rephrases the title of the article in the lead to highlight the main detail one more time:

Credit: The Mirror

The same as with a headline, the inverted pyramid lead should be of a certain length to have a positive impact on your search ranking. It is recommended to keep it no longer than 160 characters (80 words).

Apart from that, keep in mind that the lead should be the logical continuation of the headline and give a bit more details about the story. The goal is to lure the reader into scrolling a bit further down your web page.

2. Make Your Content Easy to Understand

You already know that the inverted pyramid makes your content more skimmable. And, if the content is easy to skim, it’s also easy to scan. As a result, the reader will be more tempted to stay on the page longer and read the copy, which is good for SEO.

The ‘skimmability’ in the inverted pyramid method is the characteristic feature of the copy (the next part of the pyramid graph we mentioned above). The ways to achieve it are pretty straightforward:

  • Short paragraphs. Ideally, a paragraph should consist of one or two sentences and me no longer than three lines:

Credit: BBC

  • Bullet lists. They are useful only when you want a part of the text to stand out. But don’t confuse a bullet list with a numbered list. For instance, if your copy touches upon online writers rating, a numbered list would be a more logical solution. Bullet lists help highlight the key points of the copy, like here:

Credit: The Sun

  • Subheadings. Try to use subheadings as small versions of inverted pyramid headlines – briefly summarize the main point but don’t fully give it away. For instance, the subheading below uses a quote:


All these strategies help improve the readability of your content, which has a major impact on SEO.

According to Yoast, Google’s algorithm tries to mimic humans and the way we read. The more structured the copy is, the more natural it looks, which is a signal for Google that it can actually be helpful.

Another good point that Yoast makes on the impact of readability on SERPs is that a structured copy is good for voice search. For instance, if your copy has bullet points, the system will recognize and narrate them to the searcher.

So, the point is clear – make your inverted pyramid copy scannable and readable if you want it to improve your position in search results.

3. Use the Right Keywords

Since the point of the inverted pyramid method is to introduce the most important points in the topic right away, it means that the key keywords will most certainly appear in the first paragraphs.

As a result, the inverted pyramid method is great for improving keyword prominence. But here’s the thing – how do you optimize the number of keywords to make them look natural?

Indeed, excessive keyword stuffing can hurt your SEO. Google Search Central writes that irrelevant keywords and keyword stuffing result in a negative user experience, harming your site’s ranking.

So, naturally, an effective way to avoid keyword stuffing is to focus only on relevant keywords. Here, search intent enters the scene.

Search intent is the reason why a person is looking for information online. There are four types of search intent:

  • Informational – the searcher is looking for answers (e.g., who is Donald Trump, search intent is, inverted pyramid, etc.)
  • Navigational – the searcher wants to find a certain page on the web (e.g., Facebook login, demo, etc.)
  • Transactional – the searcher wants to buy something (e.g., buy dell inspiron, spotify premium, target coupon, etc.)
  • Commercial investigation – the searcher wants to compare products before the purchase (e.g., Samsung vs. Apple, top restaurant in New York, mailchimp review, etc.)

The goal of search intent is to facilitate value-driven SEO: when a person enters a search query, the results they get should answer the intent of the query.

Thus, search intent makes mindless keyword stuffing irrelevant and obsolete. Instead, it helps make your copy more targeted.

So, before putting keywords in your inverted pyramid copy, consider their intent. It will also help you put them in a logical order.

Content Writing + Inverted Pyramid = SEO Power

The inverted pyramid method can magically transform your copy and make it more engaging. But its coolest hidden ability is to boost the SEO performance of your content.

But, to awaken this power, you need to follow just a few recommendations:

  • Grab your reader’s attention with eye-catching headlines and leads. Don’t forget about the optimal SEO length – 50-60 characters for the headlines and 160 characters for the leads.
  • Make your content scannable. Try to use different elements that improve readability, including subheadings, bullet points, or numbered lists.
  • Enrich your copy with keywords. The inverted pyramid helps highlight the most important details first, meaning that you can put the main keywords in the first paragraphs right away. But be mindful of their intent – keywords should provide value.

So, if you find that your content doesn’t bring you the online visibility you expect, reformat it with the inverted pyramid. This method will help you build a rapport with a reader right away and highlight the value of your content, which is also important for search rankings.

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