How to Write Better Blog Post Introductions
Most writers would agree that the hardest section of a blog post to write is the introduction.
Given that we do not use introductions in spoken language, they can often feel forced rarely add any value to the article as a whole.
As someone who has written north of 500 blog posts, I am going to explain what makes a good blog post introduction, and offer an easily applicable system for creating good introductions quickly and consistently.
What is the purpose of an article introduction?
One of the reasons why we see so many poor, fluffy blog post introductions is because writers fail to understand the role that an introduction plays in a post.
Writers often seem to think that an introduction is supposed to outline and contextualize an article - they therefore offer obvious facts or pointless trivia about the topic being written about in an attempt to “set the scene” for the post.
While this type of introduction may be encouraged for academic essays at school or college, they are not suitable for an online article.
Instead, a blog introduction should do the following:
- State what question the post will answer
- Demonstrate why you are well placed to answer this question
- Provide a very quick summarised answer to the question being addressed in the post (if possible).
The more efficiently you can hit these three criteria, the better your introduction is likely to be.
How to structure an article introduction
At our copywriting agency, we use a loose template to write blog introductions to ensure that as little fluff or filler gets in as possible.
The template roughly runs as follows:
Line 1: A fact or statistic that demonstrates why you are writing a post
Line 2: A 1-2 sentence explainer that summarises the key “answer” being covered in your post
Line 3: One sentence explaining why you an authoritative source to give this answer.
Line 4: A summary of all the points being covered in your article. Feel free to use a list if this is the quickest way to give this information.
Let’s cash this out by writing an introduction to the article: “How to improve your website’s loading time”
Line 1: A website’s speed can greatly impact its conversion rate. A study by Google suggests that each additional second of loading time can reduce conversion rates by 20%.
Line 2: The two main factors that affect a website’s loading speed are the complexity of code supporting a page and the server that it is hosted on. Reducing such complexity and increasing server space should therefore improve your site’s speed.
Line 3: As someone who has worked on over 150 web development projects, I will share the four most important ways to improve your website’s speed.
Line 4: These factors are:
- Ensuring that your website is cached properly
- Removing unnecessary code from your site
- Minimizing any images on your website
- Using a dedicated host
This template can be tweaked if it doesn’t quite fit the article that you are writing.
The key is just to ensure that every sentence of your introduction either helps answer the question that your post is addressing or helps to build trust with your audience by demonstrating why you are the right person to answer that question. Anything extra is probably unnecessary.
Avoiding the one mistake that plagues introductions
There is one mistake that gets made time and time again in article introductions and that is providing information that the reader already knows.
The reason why we see this so regularly in article introductions is rooted in the way that we were taught to write essay introductions in school. For essay introductions, we were generally told that we needed to “define our terms”, that is explain what all the concepts that we are going to write about are on a basic level.
This is a terrible way to write an introduction for a piece of online content because most posts are found via search.
If someone is searching for a question within a topic nine times out of ten they will have knowledge of the basic terms within the topic that they are searching.
Therefore defining these terms in your article introduction provides nothing of value to the reader. Either the reader will have to skim through your introduction until they find something of value (a poor user experience) or they will click off and onto a more succinct article (you lose your opportunity to engage a potential customer).
Going back to our example of an article on site speed, someone who is searching for information on speeding up their website does not need information on what site speed refers to or what the average speed of a website is. All they need to know are the factors affecting the speed of a website and what they can do to optimize them.
Any information that does not address these two points risks turning off a reader.
The mindset of an intro pro
While the template offered gives you an outline of an excellent article introduction, there are a few habits that are worth getting into if you want to consistently write articles with high quality introductions and want to do it quickly.
The first habit that is worth getting into is writing your introduction after you have written the rest of your article. The content of the introduction really depends on what the rest of the article says. As introductions are generally more difficult to write than the rest of a post, its worth writing after you have written the body of your article as this makes the process of writing the introduction much easier.
A second habit that can improve your article introductions is trying to make them as short as possible. People don’t read articles for their introduction. The most important information, as far as a reader is concerned, usually lies in the body of the article. Introductions therefore need not be long, and when writing your introduction you should always be asking yourself: “Do I really need to include this sentence?”.
Brevity is a key component of a strong introduction so be ruthless deleting unnecessary sentences from it.
This article was written by Oli Graham. Oli is the Marketing Manager of content and copywriting agency RightlyWritten.