Inverted Pyramid Writing - Techiques To Help Influence A Site's Relevance

Mar 8, 2006 - 3:07 pm 0 by
Filed Under SEO Copywriting

When was the last time you brushed up on your meta-description or content writing skills? Or how about the last time you actually considered the first paragraph of the page as the top of a content pyramid of that helps define your whole site or page?

On WebmasterWorld there is an excellent thread on the topic of Inverted Pyramid Writing. What is it and how does it influence a sites relevance? According to the thread, "Inverted Pyramid Writing uses the first paragraph of a page to serve as a concise summary or abstract of the page content". So Meta-descriptions and Google snippets are also good examples of such writing. One of the members explains that in newspapers inverted pyramid writing serves a couple of purposes. One, to give readers enough info right away to get them interested in the story (or decide they're not interested, and go on to the next article), and to be sure the most important part of the story actually made it into the paper.

To further explain the use of this style, the following explanation I found helpful :

To understand what the "inverted pyramid" name means, picture an upside-down triangle -- one with the narrow tip pointing downward and the broad base pointing upward. The broad base represents the most newsworthy information in the news story, and the narrow tip represents the least newsworthy information in the news story. When you write a story in inverted pyramid format, you put the most newsworthy information at the beginning of the story and the least newsworthy information at the end.

So what are the implications to helping SEO's and webmasters do their job better. I think it makes sense in order to clarify some of basic styles the members in the thread mentions. Such as following the 5Ws (who,what,when,why,where optional which) and one H's(how) important creating inverted pyramid stories/articles. This same format can be applied in the aspect of online copywriting and the creation of descriptions. The most important information first. For many this topic might be old hat, as when writing a description I know I follow a similar format to getting the most important information out first but may not realize it at the time I am following a style. One of the interesting differences I think with SEO's is that instead of focusing on subjects like "200 people were injured, and another 50 are missing" to write about we are focused on keyword usage in the desciption. Sometimes our grammer and syntax can fly out the door as there is too much importance on getting those important keywords first.

To illustrate, think of all the new SEO's or webmasters creating meta-descriptions for the first time. Did they ever do it at first while still making it legible? Such as using the meta-description just like the meta-keyword tag is being used. Usually not, its keywords crammed in there first and then sentence structure/syntax next, and finally marketing language to intice the visitor to the site. So if we can combine all the necessary elements and look at the benefits of using an inverted pyramid writing for some pretty slick and powerful descriptions, snippets and paragraphs and articles then we can create some powerful content in which IPW and SEO/SEM go hand in hand.

To add more credence to the technique one of the members explains some additional benefits of the IPW.

" IPW and good newspaper-style copy are relevant in terms of accessibility as much as in general usability. IPW has a great influence on understanding for users with cognitive disabilities. Users that fall into this group tend to have difficulties understanding navigation, and large blocks of content can be a daunting experience. IPW helps by presenting a summary which enables the user to access enough of the information without having to tackle the entire text."

Lastly, one of the members says this is "giving away all the secrets". If its a secret then, then I would recommend checking this out if you are not familiar with the subject.

Check out continued discussion at WMW - Inverted Pyramid Writing


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