I’m a publisher for numerous sites. I HATE many of your articles. Here’s why I hate your first paragraph and what you can do about it.
First paragraphs are a huge issue with me. Better to have died a small child than get this one wrong. If you can get just this one thing right, your publication rates will go through the roof. Unfortunately, almost nobody does it correctly.
The entire issue comes down to meta tagging. When I create a page on a site for an article, I have to enter the meta title and meta description. Your headline is the meta title and your first paragraph should be the meta description. If your first paragraph doesn’t fit my meta description needs, I will blow by your articles like a debutante on Rodeo Drive with a new credit card. I don’t have time to re-write your masterpiece. Don’t make me.
Here is what I want:
1. No more than 38 words.
2. Preferably two sentences.
3. Your keywords in the first sentence.
Now, that seems easy enough, but none of you do it. Instead, you charge right into the body of your article and write these truly horrific 10 line first paragraphs. I HATE these. I will not publish you. I may decide to never look at your articles again.
Writing articles can be a challenge. Often, the best way is to just start writing. I have no problem with this approach. All I ask is that you write a two-sentence introduction after you have finished the article.
Scroll back up to the first paragraph of this article. What do you see? Three short sentences totaling 26 words. The keywords, “publisher” and “first paragraph” are contained within the three sentences. When I publish this article, I will copy the first paragraph and slam it into my meta description.
Wham! Bamn! I’m off to the next article.
This approach has a huge benefit for you as well. When I publish articles in this format on sites, the articles will appear high in the search rankings for Google, Yahoo and MSN. Put another way, you will be able to piggyback my high ranking sites and get your article in front of your target audience. This means traffic for both you and me, which should make us both happy.
The first paragraph is extremely important. I will look past crappy headlines and ungodly spelling errors if you write a good first paragraph. I am a lazy person. Make my job easy and you will benefit.