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Why you should use your focus keyphrase in your introduction

When you write a post or page, we advise you to use your focus keyphrase in your introduction. Why? In short: Mentioning your focus keyphrase in your introduction makes it easier for readers and search engines to find your content. And figure out what it’s about. In this post, we’ll explain in depth why mentioning this is so important. And we’ll also tell you how Yoast SEO, our WordPress plugin as well as our Shopify app, can help you!

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Did you get a red or orange light for the keyphrase in the introduction assessment in Yoast SEO? Here, we explain what the check does, and how you can improve your introductions and get a green light.

What is a focus keyphrase?

A focus keyphrase is a phrase that you want your post or page to rank for.

Let’s say you want to write a post about how to make a sourdough starter. To find the optimal keyphrase, you’ll need to do some research and discover what people are looking for and what words they’re using. This will increase your chances of getting found. FInally, you might end up with a keyphrase like “make sourdough starter”. Then, when people search for instructions on how to make it, they might find your post in Google’s search results (very much depending on what the competition does, of course).

Starting off your texts with the focus keyphrase

Writing a good, informative introduction is crucial. With just a few lines, you need to grab the attention of your readers and get them to stay on your page. It is worth remembering that most people scan pages rather than read them with complete attention. So if you include your focus keyphrase right at the start, you’ll make it easier for your readers to understand what your page is about.

What about search engines?

Readers are not the only ones you need to woo with the introduction. Search engines like to “read” introductions too. So if you include your focus keyphrase at the start of your text, you’re giving search engines clues about the topic of your post. Moreover, Google sometimes uses your first paragraph to create a meta description. So you’ll do yourself a huge favor by including your focus keyphrase at the start.

Sounds easy enough, right? Simply add the focus keyphrase at the start, and you’re done. But wait, there’s more! How you write the rest of the introduction is also vital. So let’s see how Yoast SEO can help you, and what you’ll need to do. 

How does Yoast SEO help you?

Yoast SEO comes with a keyphrase in introduction check. So, how does it work? After you tell Yoast SEO what your focus keyphrase is, this check scans to see if you’ve included it in the introduction of your text.

Preferably, you should use your focus keyphrase in the very first sentence to make your topic clear immediately. But it’s also important that your text has a natural flow, so try not to force anything. Yoast SEO Premium (for WordPress) also allows you to add keyphrase synonyms, and it will take these synonyms into account when analyzing your introduction. 

Where can I find the keyphrase check?

The check is part of the SEO analysis tab in the Yoast SEO sidebar and meta box at the bottom of your post editor.

What if my keyphrase check light is orange or red?

If the check light is red or orange, it may be due to these reasons: 

  • You’ve mentioned your subject, but not your focus keyphrase;
  • You started with an anecdote to attract attention, but the anecdote doesn’t include your focus keyphrase;
  • You’ve mentioned your keyphrase (or its synonyms), but not within the same sentence;
  • You’ve used a synonym for your keyphrase in the introduction, but not told Yoast SEO Premium it is a synonym.

Yoast SEO gives you a green light when it thinks you did a good job with the focus keyphrase in the introduction.

An image showing a green bullet for Keyphrase in introduction

How can you write good introductions that include the focus keyphrase? 

Great question! A good paragraph and introduction start with a core sentence, which is a sentence that includes the most important message of that paragraph. If you can, add your focus keyphrase to that core sentence. Next, use the rest of the paragraph to discuss what readers can expect from the post. You can also mention the post’s purpose, and explain your structure in your introduction.

And don’t forget that your audience doesn’t only consist of returning visitors who are familiar with your stories and products. Always take the perspective of a new visitor. Ask yourself: Does my introduction give new visitors enough clues on what my post is about?

Stay on topic

Another thing to keep in mind: Be concise and precise. Try not to wander or start writing about an irrelevant topic. One way to keep yourself from digressing too much is to use the inverted pyramid writing style. This method encourages you to get to the heart of the matter immediately. Your readers will be thankful for it.

What if you can’t use the keyphrase at the start?

Sometimes, you won’t be able to use the focus keyphrase at the very start. For example, you might want to catch your readers’ attention with an anecdote or a question. In such cases, follow up with your focus keyphrase as soon as you can. This way, you still make it clear what your page or post is about.

Don’t overdo it

Be careful not to overuse your keyphrase, since it can make your text repetitive. Luckily, Yoast SEO Premium can help you avoid this! If you use the feature that allows you to add synonyms and related keyphrases, the plugin will be able to recognize them and include them in the analysis of your introduction. If you see the orange or red light, you might’ve used your keyphrase too much.

Tip: Yoast SEO Premium also gives you access to all of our SEO courses, including the SEO copywriting course. This course can help you write great introductions and texts that include your focus keyphrase.

Go Premium to get access to this feature!

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Save the best for last

Are you still struggling to come up with your introduction? No worries. You don’t have to write the introduction first! It might even be easier to write after you’ve finished the full post. Why? Because you’ll have a better idea of the angle and content of the post, which makes it easier to write a great and enticing introduction that masterfully includes your focus keyphrase.

Need some guidance on writing a good introduction for your post? We’ve also written a super practical post with a recipe for great introductions!


In this post, you learned that it’s a good SEO practice to include your focus keyphrase in your introduction. Of course, just adding the keyphrase won’t do much, unless your whole introduction (and post) is well written. So what does a captivating introduction look like? It’s concise, and it introduces the reader to the topic straight away. Alternatively, it answers a question a reader may have. So, invest some time in writing excellent introductions. For both your audience and Google. It will be worth it.

Read more: The ultimate guide to SEO Copywriting »

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2 Responses to Why you should use your focus keyphrase in your introduction

  1. Kelly Clark
    Kelly Clark  • 9 months ago

    I LOVE the Yoast plugin… it helps me structure my writing and feel confident about my posts. I’m definitely a better writer thanks to Yoast! And great tip about (and modeling of) sprinkling the focus keyphrase in our introductions. THANK YOU. This post got me thinking… After I publish a blog post is it best to immediately send a newsletter out to my list linking to my post OR is it good to publish a post… wait a week and then send the link to my list so my post gets sort of a “second hit” of people reading the content? Which is better for SEO? Thank you!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 8 months ago

      That is great to hear, Kelly! Thank you for using our plugin :) For your question, it doesn’t matter that much to be honest. I would base your decision on when it’s most relevant for your audience. So for example, when it’s a very current topic I would share it as soon as possible, but if it can wait a bit and you want to send out your newsletter a few days later that’s also fine. Making these decisions based on your audience’s interest eventually benefits your SEO.