Paragraphs? Isn’t that what you get when you insert a white space after a bunch of sentences? Do you need to think about where to put that whitespace? Or can you just put one in whenever you feel like it? Well, writing correct and clear paragraphs is really important for the readability of a text. And, as Google ‘reads’ text too, it’s also important for Google! So in order to get that great content, you’ll need to give your paragraphs some extra SEO love! In this post, I’ll explain why paragraphs are important for SEO and I’ll give tips on how to write clear and SEO-friendly paragraphs.
Why are clear paragraphs important for SEO?
Paragraphs give structure to a text and help readers understand the meaning of a text. They divide a text into little chunks and make clear which sentences belong together. Readers use that structure to make sense of the text. When written properly, paragraphs help readers to understand the connection between the topics that are presented in the text. Paragraphs make a text easier to read, especially if they are accompanied by the right subheadings.
As Google is trying to mimic a human-like experience, writing clear paragraphs is really important for SEO as well. Google wants to present the user with well-written text. Google wants the reader to be able to understand the text. And, Google itself will have a much easier time understanding your text and assessing the topic, if that text is written well.
When deciding whether or not to read a certain article, people tend to scan through a text. While scanning, they tend to read the first sentences of every paragraph. I usually refer to these sentences as core sentences. These core sentences are the most important ones in your paragraph and should contain your most important message. Lots of English writers call them ‘topic sentences’, but I like the term ‘core sentences’ (this shows that I am native Dutch, as I translated the Dutch term into English). The idea is that if someone reads the first sentences of all the paragraphs in a well-written article, they’ll understand what the article is about. They’ll understand the core of the article.
The existence of core sentences or topic sentences is not unknown to Google. Google understands that readers pay extra attention to those, Google knows that writers will use these sentences to get their message across. So when you’re writing, use these sentences for SEO! If possible, make sure to put your focus keyphrase in that first sentence of a paragraph.
What does a clear and SEO-friendly paragraph look like?
A paragraph is more than just a bunch of sentences and whitespace. So what does a clear and SEO-friendly paragraph look like? Let’s explore some characteristics!
Address one topic
A paragraph should always be about one topic, one aspect, one thing. It should have one message. You should not try to address multiple things in one paragraph (unless you’re summarizing). A paragraph should really be a thematic union. The sentences of a paragraph should belong together and when you want to start talking about something else, you should start a new paragraph.
Make them complete
Your paragraph should be complete. That means that you should not go one about the same thing in the next paragraph. Everything you are going to discuss about a certain topic should be in one paragraph. After a whitespace, there should be a change in the focus of the text.
Keep them short
An SEO-friendly paragraph should be rather short. Try to keep paragraphs to a maximum of 10 sentences. You can have some paragraphs that are longer. Mixing up shorter and longer paragraphs makes for a good read. If a topic is too large, you may have to cut it up into two categories and make two paragraphs out of it. In that case, make sure to critically assess your topic. If you are writing about something for more than 10 sentences, you’re probably addressing different things. Make sure to divide your paragraph in a smart way.
Add subheadings to your paragraphs to help readers to understand what that specific paragraph is about. Subheadings really help a reader to grasp the main message of your text. People use subheadings to determine whether or not to read your article. And, they use them to understand the argumentation of the text.
Start with your core sentence
An SEO-friendly paragraph always starts with a core sentence in which the message of the paragraph becomes clear. After that, a good paragraph has a few supporting sentences that are all about that same message, but elaborate upon or bring nuance to that main message. The paragraph optionally has a concluding or a transitional sentence, which rounds things up or creates a bridge to the next paragraph.
Short recipe for a clear and SEO-friendly paragraph
So, let’s make this practical. Let me give you a short SEO love recipe for clear paragraphs. And let’s make them SEO-friendly while we’re at it!
- Decide what the message of the paragraph is. What is it that you want to say in this specific paragraph? What is the central topic in this paragraph?
- Get that message into a sentence. That’ll be the first sentence of that paragraph. Is it possible to use your focus keyword in this sentence? That would be awesome! Will it make you sentence weird? Don’t use it.
- Write a few supporting sentences in which you elaborate on that first sentence. You could also bring nuance or a different view. But make sure to stay on topic.
- Optional: write a concluding sentence in which you round things up. You could also write a transitional sentence to make room for your next topic.
- Assess whether or not your paragraph is too long. If the paragraph is rather lengthy (more than 10 sentences), consider splitting it up into two paragraphs.
- Do you need a subheading for this specific paragraph? If so, write one. When in doubt, use a subheading. People generally don’t use enough subheadings in their text. And if it makes sense, try to use your focus keyphrase in the subheading.
- Re-read that paragraph. Does it make sense?
- Last checks: make sure you don’t use too many long sentences. Avoid passive voice as much as possible and check whether or not you used enough transition words.
Love your site and write clear paragraphs
You write posts and articles because you want people to read them. You want people to understand them too! And you want Google to rank your content high in the search engines. Writing clear paragraphs really helps make your texts more readable. And, it will help Google understand your texts as well. So, give those paragraphs some of your SEO love. Especially those first core sentences deserve some extra SEO love. That could really make all the difference. And it’s not hard work. It’s just a little love. Let’s spread that SEO love!
Read more: How to write an SEO-friendly introduction for a blog post »
How to write clear and SEO-friendly paragraphs – Yoast.