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The principle of the inverted pyramid

Using the reverse pyramid principle will help you create compelling web content. Learn the basic rules of text composition and make your content well perceived by readers and search engine algorithms.

The principle of the inverted pyramid – is a way of segregating information inside a functional text in order to obtain and maintain the user’s attention for as long as possible.

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The principle of the inverted pyramid – the goal

The “Pyramid” is derived from the doctrine of modern journalism. The recipient of the media message (in our case, the Internet user) is constantly bombarded with various types of information. No wonder he began to “immunize” against them.

His defensive reaction is expressed by clicking the “back” button. The inverted pyramid principle prevents the back button from being clicked. The task of content creators is to limit this phenomenon as much as possible.

A user who leaves the site without any interaction is a failure for any webmaster. Therefore, the content must prove in a few seconds that we offer exactly what the Internet user is looking for.

According to the inverted pyramid principle, the most valuable information is placed at the beginning of the text. The introduction to the work (referred to as “lead” in journalistic jargon) should only be used to briefly inform the user what to expect from the following content.

In this case, we do not start the text by introducing the reader to the basic definitions related to the issue in question (as in textbooks) or by delineating the place of action and profiles of the characters (as in prose). We come straight to the heart of the topic under discussion.

A well-constructed lead resembles a movie trailer. On the one hand, it shows what genre (substantive level, overtone, character) of the content we are dealing with. On the other hand, it leaves a certain amount of dissatisfaction that will make the user continue to explore the site.

Lead: Are you wondering how to replace the light bulb in the car? Read the photo-guide, thanks to which you will solve your problem. In the article bonus – learn about 3 activities that you pay the mechanic for, and you could do them yourself.

That’s all. Three sentences are more than enough. A lead constructed in this way will help the reader assess whether he or she has found an article that interests them. Even if not – the announcement of useful advice has a chance to make him at least quickly scan the text. After a few sentences of the lead, we go directly to the essence of the content.

The inverted pyramid rule indicates that as you go deeper into the work, the attractiveness of the information may decrease. Using the above example, first we should present our photo-guide, then fulfill our promise to describe the three activities, and then ponder whether LED bulbs or ordinary ones are better for the car.

The reverse pyramid principle and SEO

By using the appropriate content composition, we consciously influence the evaluation of our website. From the point of view of search engines, keywords and user experience are the most important here.

In accordance with the principle of the inverted pyramid, we try to provide the reader with the desired content as soon as possible. We should do the same with Google robots.

– The keywords and phrases of interest to us should already be included in the title of the article,
– It’s also important to include them in your meta description,
– and in the url.

At this point, it should be emphasized that Google is very effective in recognizing the inflection of words and the general subject of the text. Therefore, in the article being created, we do not always have to use key phrases in their original (often difficult to integrate into a natural-sounding sentence) form.

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The keyword’s original form matters when it comes to pretzel and back-end texts. These songs are mainly used as a link carrier (the keyword becomes anchor text).

You can read more about the use of anchor texts in the SEO Basics article. User experience is expressed in two basic elements – the average duration of the session and the bounce rate. By applying the principle of the inverted pyramid, we influence both of these aspects at the same time.

By placing the most attractive information at the beginning of the text, we limit the number of users who click the “back” button immediately after entering our site (the bounce rate drops). By using the appropriate “dosing” of information, we make the reader stay longer on our website (the average duration of a session increases).

The concept of using the pyramid follows almost all rules for evaluating Google algorithms. Except for one. Currently, the volume of composed articles is of significant importance. The pyramid dates back to a time when most websites were using articles 300-500 words long. In the case of longer articles, it is necessary to correct the approach to the way the content is composed.

The inverted pyramid principle and the graphic design of the website

The content of a website is not just text. Most users “watch” the pages they visit than “read” them. This applies in particular to Internet users who have visited our website for the first time.

Just like managing information inside a text – the graphic design of the content must show the reader what he is dealing with.

Remember a situation in which you tried to find any information on the Internet. Analyze your behavior while browsing the search results. When you select a result from the list of proposals, in a fraction of a second you are able to recognize the type of page you came across. You can specify if it is a news page, message board, blog. You get a first impression of whether it is a commercial website or a hobby website.

Based on the visual experience, Internet users are able to determine the approximate age of the site and whether it looks “professional” enough.

According to the principle of the inverted pyramid – we put the best in the most visible place. If we have prepared charts, photos, infographics for the reader – it is worth moving them to the top of the page.

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Commercial use of the inverse pyramid principle

Due to the increasing use of the adblock plugin (and, consequently, a decrease in advertising revenues) – some webmasters decide to introduce paid access to content.

On many websites you may come across information such as “78% of the content available only to registered users remains” or small padlocks next to the titles of interesting articles. This most often applies to online editions of popular press titles.

This way of earning money on your website is entirely based on the principle of a pyramid scheme. The beginning of a paid article will be used as a “free sample” to convince the user to subscribe. Therefore, we need to put the most attractive (not necessarily the most important) information there. Find out how to start earning money from creating web content.

The principle of 5W content composition

Once we know how to segregate information in the text – it is worth considering strengthening its substantive value. According to the assumptions of modern journalism, the information text should answer the following questions: who, what, where, when, why.

– Who – the information contained in the text must specify who will be its subject,
– What – information about the activities undertaken by the entity,
– Where – information that specifies where the event took place / takes place,
– When – information about when the given event took place,
– Why – information about the causes of the event.

By providing answers to the above set of questions, we can be sure that our informative text will have decent substantive value.

The 5W Principle is used to create event reports, product reviews and classic news. From the point of view of SEO copywriting, the answer to these specific questions is not very important. However, this principle can be treated as a valuable hint regarding the expectations of recipients.

The 5W response makes the article exhaustive. This is exactly what users expect. Especially considering the nature of the organic traffic. A well-written article is supposed to make the recipient, after reading it, have the knowledge they were looking for. When our title promises the user 5 tips on a selected issue, we cannot stop at 4. If we are creating a guide on replacing a light bulb, we cannot stop at the stage of removing the reflector housing.

Effectiveness of the inverse pyramid principle and the 5W principle

Many copywriters are so focused on the pyramid and 5W that they do not notice the drawbacks of these solutions. After entering the meanders of effective composing of internet content – we are in for a real disappointment.

5W is only suitable for works of an informative nature, while the inverted pyramid principle is effective for relatively short texts (and these are less and less popular).

If our website receives an internet user who is moderately interested in its subject, we will probably lose him. No matter what tricks we use. In addition, thanks to the pyramid, our regular users will get into the habit of half-reading the content.

When creating content, it is important to ensure as long as possible for the user to stay on the website (UX element). Attractive content is able to raise this factor to a value within 10 minutes (on average). This is a powerful signal to Google that our website is important in the selected issue and should be displayed high. Even if we “stand on our head”, we will not achieve such results with an accidental user.

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The most effective way to compose web content

Content composed in layers is much more effective.

We start the same way as in the case of the pyramid – except that after “firing” the first valuable information, we delve into its details and open the first “valve” for people who, for various reasons, are not entirely convinced to continue reading.

The valve is usually a link to another article (looser, less specialized). It can also be advertising (internal or external). At this point, we use all the elements that propose the reader to enter into any interaction with the site.

Then we try to pick up the pace again. This is a gift for all those who are actually interested in the article. They are the most important here. We are fighting for them.

We repeat this pattern over the entire length of the article. Our flagship content should resemble the show’s script – once the main character seems to be dying – the plot twists and we get a new season. Want to know other ways to keep your readers’ attention?

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