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Cracking the Nut Graph for Successful Content Marketing

The most effective law firm blog posts are the ones that summarize their main points in the introductory sentence, are consistent with the law firm’s brand identity but substantially different from others on the site, and are formatted so that the reader can understand them at a glance but will want to read them in detail. Ann Gynn of Content Marketing Institute, some of which she learned from Michael Bugeja, a professor of journalism at Iowa State University, makes these points in a recent article. She frames the article as a set of questions readers should ask themselves before choosing a blog post topic and writing a lead sentence for the article. Gynn and many other content marketing experts agree that an informative lead sentence and an intuitive layout are important components of effective legal blog content.

The Art of the Nut Graph

According to Gynn, the ideal opening sentence for a blog post directly tells you what you will find out by reading the blog post; in this regard, it is like an abstract of an academic article. Of course, the fact that this post is on your website instead of anywhere else on the Internet also communicates something to the audience about your brand; it does not need to say the name of your law firm to do this effectively.

A stand-alone topic sentence at the beginning of a blog post is sometimes called a nut graph, because it summarizes the entire post in a nutshell. A nut graph is certainly not the only way to get the audience’s attention; other popular ways of starting blog posts include rhetorical questions, controversial or counterintuitive statements (such as “congratulations on your divorce”), or interesting anecdotes. Nut graphs have an advantage over all of these for SEO, though, because they naturally include keywords relevant to the topic of the post. In this regard, they are uniquely suited to blog posts; no one would start a novel or a standup comedy routine with a nut graph, but they are appropriate for business blog posts.

What Do Readers See First, If Not the First Sentence?

If the nut graph of your blog post achieves its goal, the reader will be convinced that your post contains information that they want to know. People often access law firm blog posts from their mobile phones when quickly trying to find answers to law-related questions. In one eyeful, the reader should see not only the nut graph, but also an outline of your post that will let them know where to look next if their buddy is demanding an immediate answer about how much child support he will have to pay and the reader needs to find this out by the time the traffic light turns green. (Of course, you are not encouraging distracted driving, just being realistic about the way people use mobile phones.) You can accomplish this through informative subheadings.

Trust the Professionals for Nut Graphs, Longform Content, and Everything in Between

The professional legal content writers at Law Blog Writers can provide custom-written blog content that gets to the point immediately but makes the reader want to stick around to read more.



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