Why storytelling is good for SEO

Once upon a time, there was this woman – let’s call her Mia – and she wanted to write beautiful stories for her blog. Mia noticed she was not getting much traffic from Google, while other bloggers seemed to attract a lot of visitors. She wondered what she was doing wrong. One day, at a blogging conference Mia heard about a wonderful thing called SEO. She learned that she should use the words her audience was using, she learned she needed to think about the words she wanted to be found for. And she needed to use those exact words. It was a game changer for Mia. After applying these tips, Mia attracted much more traffic to her blog. Eventually, she even started making money with her blog. Mia blogged happily ever after.  

Stories are nice to read. Storytelling is a great tactic. But what does it have to do with SEO? Is it a good idea to use storytelling if your main goal is to rank for a specific term? In this blog post, the fourth in a series about storytelling, I am going to explain how storytelling can be an effective SEO tactic.

Storytelling and SEO may seem counterintuitive

An important part of SEO is focused on using the right words – the words you want to be found for- in your text. But if you use storytelling, if you use metaphors.  If you tell a story by making an example, chances are that you are not using your focus keyphrase then.

At the beginning of the post you are reading right now, I shared a little story about Mia. In that story, I am not using my focus keyphrase – the words I want to rank with, with this particular post. I want to rank with ‘storytelling SEO’. But in the entire first paragraph, the word ‘storytelling’ does not pop up. That, in itself, is not beneficial for your SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin will definitely suggest using the focus keyword in your first paragraph. So, you’ll have one bullet that’ll not turn green. That’s okay. It is totally okay to have a paragraph – or two – that does not contain the focus keyphrase.

So why is storytelling a good SEO tactic?

Storytelling is good for SEO because it will make your post nice to read. And, creating content that people like is exactly what Google wants. If you’re writing blog posts people enjoy reading, you’ll increase your chances to rank high in Google. In my previous post about storytelling, I’ve explained how you can use storytelling in a blog post.

If people like your content, you’ll also have a higher chance that people will remain on your website. Your time on page increases and your bounce rate will decrease. These factors will help tremendously with the ranking of your post.

Next to making your blog post more fun to read, storytelling is beneficial for SEO for another reason. If people like your post, they’ll be more likely to engage with it. They’ll leave a comment; they’ll share it on their social platforms. That’ll already increase traffic to your post. But these things will also increase the likelihood Google will rank a post. Google loves content that is written with people in mind. Google will notice that people like to read your text and that will result in higher rankings in the long run.

Google Web Stories

You might not be familiar with Web Stories yet, but it definitely deserves a mention here. This storytelling format makes it possible to tell your story in a very visual way and it’s even possible to rank with a Web Story on it’s own. This means that this type of storytelling can be very beneficial for your SEO. It’s user-friendly, which means that it’s easy to add a Web Story to your site or page. Most importantly, you’ll readers will love it because it looks awesome! Read more about it in our post on how to build Google Web Stories.


Use little stories as metaphors and examples. It’ll make your content so much nicer to read. Don’t worry about having an orange or red bullet. As long as your overall bullet in Yoast SEO is green, it’ll work out fine. Stories are beneficial for your SEO, more beneficial than a perfect keyword density or keyword distribution. Storytelling will allow you to write content that is so good that people will want to stay on your page. That’s very, very good for SEO!

Other articles in our Storytelling series:
What is storytelling and why should you use it?
How to use storytelling in a blog post
Using storytelling on product pages

Read more: Using storytelling op product pages »

Coming up next!

11 Responses to Why storytelling is good for SEO

  1. Jason Stevens
    Jason Stevens  • 5 years ago

    “….So, you’ll have one bullet that’ll not turn green. That’s okay. It is totally okay to have a paragraph – or two – that does not contain the focus keyphrase. ”

    Perhaps I am way off base here but is Yoast not in essence saying that one should no longer try to write “SEO” type stories but ones that readers actually want to read and are not designed for search engines?

    If this is the case, then surely that over the long term obviates the need for SEO plugins in the first place since we are finally fulfilling Google’s stated desire of rewarding sites for higher rankings that publish high quality content thats aimed at real people not algorithmic updates?

    • Jono Alderson
      Jono Alderson  • 5 years ago

      Hi Jason, the goal has always been to write good stories, designed to attract and engage users. That’s what users want, and it’s what search engines want. That’s what our writing feedback systems (try to) help with.

      You still need an SEO plugin, though! We do a huge amount of stuff behind the scenes – from fixing technical bugs with WordPress, to adding rich structured data, to helping you manage your URLs and redirects. Your site needs to be discoverable and crawlable, otherwise Google (and other search engines) won’t be able to find, access or process your content!

  2. Will Sanio
    Will Sanio  • 5 years ago

    Marieke, I am understanding the advantages of storytelling, thank you!

    Regarding Jono’s current article on Headings as it also relates to your Storytelling article here, Yoast’s blog articles seem to not start off with a Heading / Header in the 1st paragraph, including this one.

    It appears the central question, then answer/ message comes in the 2nd paragraph in this Storytelling Article.

    If it advised to use Headers immediately in the 1st paragraph, followed by the central question & message in the 1st paragraph,
    why is that not being done here or in more Yoast articles?

    Your 2nd Paragraph
    Is it a good idea to use storytelling if your main goal is to rank for a specific term? (Central Question) ?
    followed immediately by
    In this blog post, the fourth in a series about storytelling, I am going to explain how storytelling can be an effective SEO tactic.
    (Answer = Message) ?

    Just trying to get further clarity on how to best set up an article.
    Thank you !

    • Jono Alderson
      Jono Alderson  • 5 years ago

      Hey Will,

      Our H1 is the main title of the post, which you can see at the top of the page above the large image. I think we follow our guidelines pretty closely! :)

  3. Alfred
    Alfred  • 5 years ago

    Storytelling always wins and make your content sort of readable to audience. That’s a good thing we can use some example as well.

  4. SEO-guide
    SEO-guide  • 5 years ago

    Hi, but it seems to me that not only stories should prevail in your blog. You need a comprehensive approach to SEO promotion and use all possible channels to get traffic – guest posting, crowd marketing, and so on.

  5. Martin Edic
    Martin Edic  • 5 years ago

    I’m a bit surprised Yoast is not blogging about the search journeys algorithm Google announced late last year- it pretty much upsets the applecart on keyword phrases as a focus and has google looking at content as a piece of a series following a searcher as they seek to complete a task. It has changed my approach to SEO- I no longer think of it as being a distinct skill, instead it is just a small piece of a larger content strategy. If you think about developing content as chapters in a bigger story, you’re creating a search journey and Google will like you!

  6. Charles
    Charles  • 5 years ago

    Hi, A nice article. I’m an SEO analyst and I’ve been hearing a lot lately that link building is useless in 2019. Is that true? Should I stop link building?

    • Panagiotis Kontogiannis
      Panagiotis Kontogiannis  • 5 years ago

      All big sites who show in Google SERP in heavy niches buy links or use PBN. To change this needs to change google algo

  7. Alex Sanfilippo
    Alex Sanfilippo  • 5 years ago

    Love it!!! Another great article in the storytelling series. Keep it up!

  8. sarvottamgolden
    sarvottamgolden  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing these goals. Over the next few months I’ll be focusing on Digital marketing activities, so the timing for this post is perfect.