Why text structure is important for SEO

Why text structure is important for SEO • Yoast

Marieke van de Rakt

Marieke van de Rakt is the founder of Yoast SEO Academy and CEO of Yoast. Her favorite SEO topics are SEO copywriting and site structure.

The structure of the texts on your site is important for SEO. If your content is clearly structured, your chance to rank well in Google will be higher. In this blog post, I’ll tell you why text structure is essential.

How do people scan a text?

Before deciding whether or not to read something, people tend to scan a text. They want to know what your text is about, before starting to read it all the way through.

There are some parts that people look at or read specifically when scanning a text. Headings and subheadings are really important, as is the first paragraph of a text. But, also the first sentences of every new paragraph catch the eye of scanners.

How does Google “scan” a text?

Just like people scan texts in a certain way, so does Google. Let me give you 3 examples of how Google uses text structure for its ranking:

  1. Google defined, in some of its patents, ranking signals such as semantic closeness. Semantic closeness refers to the proximity of related words in a text while taking into account the formatting of that text. To be able to understand semantic closeness of words, your text’s structure must be clear.
  2. In another Google patent, “the reasonable surfer“, Google explicitly talks about headings. Headings containing certain keywords are important for the topic of a given page.
  3. With the Hummingbird update, Google became a lot better at recognizing synonyms.

There are more patents that hint at using a text’s structure to understand the text. Google, over time, has become much better at analyzing content. The better you write, the easier it becomes for Google to understand your content and therefore to rank it. Plus, Google is working hard to truly understand language. For example, in 2019, Google introduced BERT, a Natural Language Processing (NLP) model that helps Google understand language better in order to serve more relevant results.

Setting up articles with clear structure has a positive effect on the ranking for another reason as well. Well-structured texts have lower bounce rates and higher chances to receive social media attention. This, in itself, leads to higher rankings.

Tips on improving the structure of your text

If you want to improve the structure of your text, you need to pay attention to:

1. The first paragraph of your text
2. Your headings
3. The first sentence of every new paragraph. 

Some time ago, I wrote an article on how to set up the structure of a blog post. Make sure to read that article if you have trouble setting up the structure for a text.

First paragraph

You should clearly formulate what your post is about in the first paragraph. In printed texts, a writer usually starts off with some kind of teaser, but there is no time for that

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This article was written by Marieke van de Rakt and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.

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