When creating SEO content, quality matters.
This holds true regarding accuracy, clarity, writing skill, keyword usage, thoroughness, links, images, and more.
But I bet I can name one more factor that affects SEO content quality, and thus your SEO rankings — one you’ve never thought about.
What are they, and why are they integral for great readability, content, and SEO?
What are Transition Words?
Think of a transition word or phrase as a bridge.
The purpose of transitions is to help text flow from one idea to another while showing a clear relationship between sentences, paragraphs, subjects, actions, and concepts.
Transition words can be singular words, such as “because” or “finally.” They can also be a phrase, like “in other words” or “without a doubt.”
Let’s look at an example:
I hit the snooze button this morning. As a result, I overslept and was late for work.
Starting a sentence with “as a result” tells the reader that what happens next is a direct outcome of the actions in the first sentence. It intrinsically ties the two sentences together into a clear cause-and-effect relationship.
Transition words are often at the beginning of a sentence, but they don’t have to be. They can also be used at the end of a sentence or in the middle when combining two clauses.
I have the best dog ever. She snuggles with me every night, for example.
I love playing with my dog because it’s a great way to relieve stress.
The vet says she’s a black lab, and although this may be true, I suspect she also has some German shepherd in her bloodline.
Let’s take a closer look at the different categories for transition words to see what they can do.
Types of Transition Words with Examples and When to Use Them
This type of transition is merging two or more ideas together and showing a corresponding relationship between them.
- Example Transition Words: again, also, and, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, in addition, lastly, next, nor, moreover, what’s more
- Example Sentence: I propose a change to the chore schedule. Furthermore, I would also like to increase the kids’ allowance.
2. Cause & Effect
When one event directly triggers another, this cause-and-effect transition lets the reader know that the two occurrences are directly linked.
- Example Transition Words: as a result, consequently, hence, next, therefore, thus
- Example Sentence: I overslept this morning. Consequently, I missed the bus.
Sometimes we need to rephrase what we’ve already said in order to clarify an original statement. This might be to simplify a complicated point or provide emphasis.
- Example Transition Words: in other words, that is to say, to clarify
- Example Sentence: We have no idea where we are. In other words, we’re lost.
4. Compare & Contrast
This transition shows a relationship between two ideas that are being compared to each other based on similarities or differences.
- Example Transition Words: after all, although this may be true, but, compared to, conversely, however, in contrast, likewise, nevertheless, on the contrary, on the other hand, similarly, where, whereas, vis a vis, yet
- Example Sentence: I’m a cat person. Compared to dogs, cats are much quieter and self-sufficient.
6. Exception / Contradiction
Contradictory transitions happen when an action that had an anticipated outcome instead ends with a different result. Leading with a transition warns the reader to expect the unexpected.
- Example Transition Words: despite, however, nevertheless, in spite of, of course, once in a while, sometimes
- Example Sentence: I studied every night for the final exam. Despite my hard work, I didn’t pass.
An emphatic transition demonstrates the narrator’s certainty and conviction. It establishes a sense of authority.
- Example Transition Words: absolutely, always, certainly, definitely, emphatically, in any case, in fact, indeed, never, surprisingly, undeniably, without a doubt, without reservation
- Example Sentence: Working from home has many benefits. Without a doubt, the extra time saved from commuting helps to maintain a better work-life balance.
This transition connects a statement to a follow-up example that illustrates the point being made.
- Example Transition Words: as an illustration, for example, for instance, in another case, in this situation, on this occasion, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate
- Example Sentence: I like to exercise after work. For instance, I often walk the dog or run in the park.
Sometimes, especially when information is important, we repeat it to ensure the lesson sticks. A transition serves as a red flag to the reader so they comprehend the significance of the repetition rather than assume the writer wasn’t paying attention and made the same point twice.
- Example Transition Words: again, as I have noted, as I said, I repeat, in brief
- Example Sentence: Use transition words in your blog posts. As I said at the beginning of this article, they’re important for SEO.
9. Time, Order, and Sequence
Transitions can help a reader grasp the passage of time, which is especially important in narrative works. These types of transitions also establish order and sequence. Instructional how-to articles often rely on sequential transitions to ensure the reader is following the steps in order.
- Example Transition Words: after, after a few hours, afterward, and then, at this time, before this, concurrently, eventually, finally, (first, second, third…), formerly, immediately, in a while, later, next, previously, soon, then, thereafter
- Example Sentence: We’re going to the party at 3. After a few hours, we’ll meet the family for dinner.
10. Summarize or Conclude
A concluding transition signals the reader that they’re nearing the end. It usually summarizes the most important points and leaves the reader with key takeaways.
- Example Transition Words: accordingly, as I have shown, as a result, consequently, in brief, in conclusion, in short, hence, therefore, thus
- Example Sentence: In conclusion, the importance of transition words for SEO cannot be understated.
Why are Transition Words Important for SEO?
Now that we have a solid grasp on what transition words and phrases are, you might be wondering, “Why are transition words so important for SEO?”
It’s not the words themselves that are important. Rather, it’s the function they serve.
Transition words improve the overall readability of your content by guiding the reader from Point A to Point B with a bridge that helps them understand the relationship between the connecting points.
Readability is one of many SEO best practices to take into consideration. If your content is easy to read with ample headings, subheadings, lists, and transition words, search engines are much more likely to reward you as your content demonstrates higher quality.
Of course, other aspects of the content still play a crucial role. Poor content that’s well organized still isn’t going to rank well.
Neither is good content that is poorly formatted and stuffed with transition phrases and keywords in the hopes of wooing Google.
How to Improve Your Transition Words for SEO
Transition words are meant to enhance the flow of your sentences and ideas.
The good news: most writers already use them. We rely on transitions when we speak, and they naturally slip into our writing as well.
The bad news: finding the goldilocks of usage – not too few, but also not so many that the writing becomes awkward and unnatural – can be a challenge. So can using transition words correctly.
More good news: SEO apps and plugins can help you keep track of your transition words in addition to other SEO basics. Yoast and All-In-One (AIO) SEO are two of the most popular.
Below is a screenshot of an AIO SEO analysis of a blog post on WordPress:
Screenshot from AIO SEO, July 2021
As you can see, it alerted the writer that more transition words were needed to achieve proper SEO readability. Tools like this can help you stay on track.
In order to successfully use transition words in your content:
Know the Transition Words and Phrases
You know Google loves transition words, but if you don’t know what they are, you’ll have a hard time successfully using them to boost your SEO.
This problem tends to affect non-native speakers much more than native speakers, but even if you’re writing in your first language, a refresher could be helpful.
Skim through a list of transition words and consider how their meanings might change depending on the context.
Understand the Relationships Between Separate Ideas, Thoughts, and Actions
When you’re writing, you should have at least a basic grasp of how your topic points fit together.
If you struggle with this, do some research and read content from other authors to analyze how they tied their ideas together with transitions.
Drafting outlines for your projects can also help you to visualize the structure of your content.
Know How Transition Words Should Be Properly Applied in Context
You may have noticed that some of the same transition words were listed in multiple categories above. That’s because the same word can have multiple meanings.
It all depends on the relationship of the thoughts being bridged. Pay attention to your context and make sure you’re choosing the transition that best suits the relationship you’re attempting to establish.
Using transition words and phrases successfully is just one small way you can support content quality and give your rankings a boost. Improved readability on its own is a compelling argument to use transitions.
If you’re not comfortable with transition words yet, practice, practice, practice! Soon, they’ll be second nature.
Featured image: Inspiring/Shutterstock