What is storytelling and why should you use it?

Once upon a time, there was a young girl. She was 9 years old and her name was Wende. Wende was incredibly intelligent, yet she had a hard time learning things by heart. No matter how hard she tried, she just could not memorize the planets of the solar system. It just did not stick in her head. One day her teacher told her a story about all the planets. A story about how the sun was lonely and Mercury was his first friend. How Mercury fell madly in love with Venus and how Planet Earth got jealous. After telling her the story, Wende was able to remember all of the planets in the right order. Why? Because of the magic of storytelling. Wende could remember the story and with that, she could remember the planets.

In this blog post, I will tell you what storytelling is and why it is an important tool to use in the texts on your website.

The other articles in our storytelling series:
How to use storytelling in a blog post
Using storytelling on product pages
Why storytelling is good for SEO

What is storytelling?

The word storytelling pretty much speaks for itself. Storytelling is about telling stories. It is about using stories to engage your audience, or to make something more clear. Photos, pictures and film of course really help to tell a good story too. You can even create your very own digital story with the use of storytelling.

Stories have always been a way to communicate. Before people learned how to write, they would tell each other stories. Stories are much easier to remember than simple facts. That’s why Wende from the story remembered the planets. Also, stories are enjoyable; they stimulate your imagination. That’s why parents tell their children stories. That’s why we like to see movies and read books. People love stories, people are addicted to stories.

Do you want to learn all about storytelling and SEO copywriting? In our SEO copywriting training, which is part of our Yoast SEO Academy training subscription, we’ll teach you how to write copy that ranks!

Some examples of (great) storytelling

In 2017 I visited a conference and I saw David JP Phillips on stage. He talked about the magical science of storytelling. I was blown away. His talk was such an inspiration for me. Two weeks later, I had to speak at a WordCamp and I was so very inspired by David’s talk, that I did some storytelling of my own.

In addition to using it in presentations, you can use it in writing. Lots of travel blogs, personal blogs or mom blogs use storytelling throughout all of their posts. Geraldine DeRuiter has a really funny blog about travel and many other things. Every post is a little story on her blog. But even informational blogs could use this principle by adding an anecdote or an example. In my post about site structure and why it is important, I use the exact same story as in my presentation at the WordCamp.


Why use storytelling?

Using storytelling in your blog post will – if you do it the right way – make your post a more engaging one. Your blog post will become something people want to read. Stories increase the attention of your audience.

If you use stories the right way, stories will help you to communicate your message clearer. Stories can help you to provide proof for your argumentation. They can add clarity. My story about Alice (see image above) is written in order to help people understand the importance of a clean site structure. This is a rather difficult subject to grasp. A story adds clarity.

Most importantly, people will remember your story, and with that, they’ll remember the message of your post or even your brand. And, if you use stories in a good way, you could even inspire people to take action. Maybe you’ll inspire people to clean up their website or to get started with storytelling in their blog posts and presentations.

In this series

For this series, I’ve focused on using it in your writing. For instance, I’ve written about how to use storytelling in a blog post. It discusses the elements that are necessary for a good story and reveals some practical tips and examples of how to integrate storytelling into your blog posts. We’ll also dive into the connection between storytelling and SEO. And, in yet another post of this series, you can learn how to use it on product pages.

If you have nice examples of your own use of storytelling, or suggestions for related topics you’d like to read more about, I would love to see those!

Read more: The complete guide to SEO copywriting »

Coming up next!

5 Responses to What is storytelling and why should you use it?

  1. Nicole
    Nicole  • 3 years ago

    I have a food blog with recipes. And one of the things that really terribly annoys me with many food blogs is that they go on and on about their grandmothers cooking or their gardens or their travels in which they found certain produce or inspirations. All very nice, but when I search for a recipe I just want to see the recipe and its instructions, quick and practical without the private blabla.
    I do know (or I have learned) that they mainly do that for their SEO.
    I wonder how I can be ‘to the point’ regarding recipe & instructions, but get as well a better SEO with better structured stories without getting into the private blabla type of writing.

  2. marion mebius de vries
    marion mebius de vries  • 3 years ago

    Love storytelling but i’m afraid i don’t know any stories! Or that I don’t have any fantasy. Or that my stories are not true. Or that i’m lying. Would love to know how i could tell stories.

  3. Franziska
    Franziska  • 3 years ago

    Thats totally new for me. Im a big fan of yoast and I must say thank you for sharing it with me and other people who are unexperienced.

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 3 years ago

      It’s never too late to learn new things, right? Good luck with storytelling!