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Should You Include Your Target Keyword In The First Paragraph?

If you’re well-versed in the world of SEO, you’ll know that keywords are essential to content marketing. However, determining if a target keyword in the first paragraph is important tends to be a point of contention among us digital marketers… Strategy, systematic insertion, keyword density, precision… Is it all that important?  

Numerous SEO plugins, such as Yoast and Rank Math, suggest keywords embedded in your first paragraph will elevate your SEO performance. *That dreaded traffic light system haunts us daily

With this blog, we will investigate if keyword placement matters and if it is a strategy worth following.  

The Magic Of Keywords In SEO  

Perhaps ‘magic’ is not the correct term, but then again, a good keyword strategy does work wonders for SEO!  

Search engines, like Google, are an expansive and complex set of interlocking algorithms. All that data is leveraged to analyse and rank every webpage based on every query, on an ongoing basis. Google are constantly innovating complex nuances in their algorithm so that they can provide searchers with the most compatible answer. 

Here is where keywords come into play… 

Keyword strategy is embedding phrases and keywords (funnily enough) in written content that are commonly used by your target audience. Successfully using relevant language for your audience will help boost your search visibility… Just like magic.  

With that said, it is not as simple as jamming a bunch of target keywords into your content and saying ‘Aye presto! Jobs a gooden.’ Keyword strategy is about tailoring your content to reach relevant searchers, generate traffic, and convert your audience to active customers. 

Every content page on the internet uses keywords. It’s impossible to produce comprehensible writing without them. They are just common phrases at the end of the day. All sounding a bit less ‘magical’ now, isn’t it?  

Image of marketing team creating content with a target keyword in the first paragraph

Target Keywords In The First Paragraph  

Imagine Google is eating your content. Weird analogy but stick with it. Google chews your content, so it can easily digest it. It then identifies key ingredients based on how much of it you have used. Sections become paragraphs, paragraphs become sentences, and sentences become words. All this works to help Google understand your content. 

If we run with this eating analogy, a target keyword in the first paragraph is like the top note of Google’s palette. They are the strongest flavour, setting the tone for the dish… You get it. 

The function of a first paragraph is to introduce your topic, which should be based on your keyword. Therefore, it makes sense to introduce your topic with your keyword in the first paragraph. 

(A lot of SEO is about not overcomplicating things) 

Keywords are given more weight depending on where they are used. Wherever a keyword best provides context to your writing is the best place for it to be. It’s unlikely a user will read on if what they have searched for does not appear in the introduction or title.  

Natural Vs. Strategic Placement  

So, we have established that a target keyword in the first paragraph is necessary for your keyword strategy. But is it enough? There is a lot of talk among content writers that the best way to use keywords is naturally. This, we agree with.  

According to Google’s helpful content update, they are shifting focus toward content written for people, not search engines. Google became wise to digital marketers generating keyword-dense content in a bid to boost their searchability, as opposed to delivering what searchers needed. The trick is to naturally optimise on keywords… But what does that even mean? 

You’ll use keywords without noticing if you’re covering a topic well. The more you try too hard and focus on targeting a keyword, the more likely you are to over-optimise. It’s about striking a balance between what is natural and strategic. Google doesn’t like a try-hard.  

How To Use A Keyword In The First Paragraph 

  1. Consider New Traffic 
Image of content writing with a keyword in the first paragraph

Not everyone visiting your website will understand what you do, who you are etc. Remember, the reason for creating content is to grow traffic (pardon the pun). Does your introduction give enough context for new visitors?  

  1. Concise And Precise    

You don’t want your introduction to run off on a tangent, or you’ll likely lose audience engagement and forget to use your keyword. Keep on topic.  

  1. Work From The Bottom Up 

If you’re struggling to write your introduction, don’t stress. It is advised that you do this last, so you can accurately sum up your content once you know what it covers. If you have written your content ‘chronologically’, then be sure to go back and check your introduction is still relevant (we writers do tend to change direction quite a lot).  

  1. Don’t ‘Fake It Til You Make It’ 

As we know, Google wants us to write as authentically as possible. So, if it doesn’t make sense for your keyword to be in your first paragraph… don’t force it.  

For example, if you’re starting with an anecdote, which leads into your topic, then just make sure your keyword comes as close to the top of your content as possible. This is an example of naturally written content which is also strategic.  

Keyword Strategy With GrowTraffic  

As SEO specialists, our advice is to not force anything when it comes to SEO. While having your keyword in the first paragraph is an obvious indicator of your topic, it’s equally important to write naturally.  

At GrowTraffic, we cover the holy trinity of SEO- on-site, off-site, and content. If you’re reading this feeling like you don’t know where to start with your keyword strategy, or just can’t work out where you’re going wrong… don’t worry, we are here to help!  

Get in touch via our website, call us on 0161 706 0012, or email info@growtraffic.co.uk.  

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