What is storytelling and why should you use it?

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Wende. She was incredibly intelligent, yet she had difficulty learning things by heart. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t memorize the solar system’s planets. One day, she asked her teacher what she should do. In response, he told her a story about the planets. A story about how the sun was lonely; Mercury was his first friend, and Mercury fell madly in love with Venus, which made Planet Earth jealous. After telling her the story, Wende could remember all of the planets in the proper 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’ll tell you what storytelling is and why it’s an important tool to use in the texts on your website.

What is storytelling?

The word storytelling speaks pretty much for itself, right? You tell stories. But storytelling is also about using stories to engage your audience or make something clearer since stories are much easier to remember than simple facts. That’s why Wende from the story remembered the planets. In addition, stories are enjoyable; they stimulate your imagination. That’s why parents tell their children stories and why we like watching movies and reading books. People love stories!

You can also use photos, pictures, and film to help you tell a good story. You can even create your very own digital story with storytelling.

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!

The four elements of storytelling

Now you know what storytelling is. But there’s more to it than simply telling a story. Otherwise, anyone could write a best-selling novel. To tell a good story, you usually have to include four elements: a character, a problem, an action, and a solution. Let’s dive a little deeper into these.

Every story needs a main character with a problem. Why? Because if someone is happy, there’s not a story. Take Wende, for example. She wasn’t happy because she couldn’t memorize the solar system’s planets. That was the problem of the story. Next, you need action. Because a main character who doesn’t do anything to fix their problem isn’t fun to read about. In my example, Wende asked her teacher to help her. The teacher then told her a story, which made it easier for her to remember the planets. So, the story was the solution.

Why use storytelling?

Using storytelling in your blog post will make it more engaging if you do it right. Your post will become something people want to read. In other words: Stories increase the attention of your audience. But they will also help you to communicate your message. My story about Alice (see the text below) is written to help people understand the importance of a clean site structure, which can be a complex subject to grasp.

Most important, however, is that people remember stories. This means that if you use storytelling, people will also remember the message of your post or even your brand. You could inspire people to take action, like cleaning up their website or getting started with storytelling in their blog posts and presentations.

Here’s an example of a story I used to clarify a topic:

Your site will get cluttered as you write more blog posts or add more product pages. You must organize it neatly to ensure your visitors, and Google can find what they want. But why is that? Well, let me tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was this young woman. Her name is Alice. Alice gets up every morning, sits down at her desk and starts to write a beautiful story. She writes one story every day. Alice types all her stories on this beautiful old-fashioned typewriter. Whenever she’s done writing, she pulls the paper out of the machine and puts her lovely new story on her desk. As you can imagine, her desk will slowly get cluttered with all these sheets of paper. After a year of writing, she’ll have 365 sheets of paper on it. After three years of writing, she’ll have more than a thousand. Alice will not be able to find her favorite story, because of the abundance of stories on her desk.

Conclusion: If you don’t structure your stuff neatly, your stories, blog posts and product pages will get lost. In addition, your visitors won’t be able to find what they’re looking for, and Google will also get lost (which is bad for your SEO).

When can you use storytelling?

Storytelling is a great and versatile tool. You can use it for posts, product pages and even presentations! I first got the idea to use storytelling for presentations in 2017 when I visited a conference and 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 used this inspiration for my talk at a WordCamp.

In addition to presentations, you can use storytelling in writing. But it’s not limited to a particular type of blog. Many travel blogs or personal blogs use storytelling throughout their posts. Geraldine DeRuiter has a really funny blog about travel and many other things. Every post is a little story. 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 same story as in my presentation at WordCamp.

In this series

For this series, I’ve focused on using storytelling in your writing. For instance, I’ve written about how to use storytelling in a blog post, which discusses the elements necessary for a good story. The post also reveals practical tips and examples of storytelling integration into your blog posts! We also dove into the connection between storytelling and SEO, and discussed how to use storytelling on product pages.

If you have nice examples of your 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!

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

  1. constructor estimator
    constructor estimator  • 1 year ago

    I appreciate the depth of research you put into this article.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 1 year ago

      Thank you! That’s good to hear :)