How to quickly and easily write a knockout blog post outline
When you get a great idea to blog about, it’s often tempting to just sit down at your keyboard and type away. But be careful!
Attempting to blog like this will most often lead you off track and down a rabbit hole that typically doesn’t take your reader down a logical path with next steps to follow.
This is where your knockout blog post outline comes in. When you start with an outline, you’ll discover that you actually write faster, have a clear message your readers can follow, and get far better SEO and quality lead results for your efforts.
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But where do you start with your blog post outline?
Hopefully, by the time you start writing your blog post, you’ve identified your target audience. You’ve done some research to know what information they’re looking for and how your expertise and blog posts can inform and help them.
RELATED: How to Identify Your Target Audience
What’s the purpose of an outline?
Outlines help you create well-organized, interesting pieces of content. Your outline also makes your research process quick and efficient. Once you have it mapped out, it’s a simple process of filling it in with content copy afterward.
Let’s dive into creating your knockout blog post outline.
Be flexible with creating an outline. It shouldn’t be set in stone and should allow for changes as you put it together and do further research.
Start with your headline.
This is the topic of your blog post and what drives the content you’re ultimately going to create. And in Google-friendliness terms, this will be your H1 header. It’s the most important text in your post. Make sure you’re doing your SEO/keyword research ahead of time and use your exact keyword here.
Google likes posts that have a clear hierarchy.
This means you’ll want to nestle subtopics into your main points. Doing keyword research in advance will help you build your outline with subtopics for your post. Be sure not to skip this important step.
Include your exact keyword within your H2.
Start your post with an H2 header. This is the beginning stage of building your Google hierarchy. Basically, you’ll slightly change your H1 title (blog post headline) to create your H2 title. You don’t want to be too repetitive and do want to limit the H2 to only one per post. This sends a clear signal to Google of what your post is about and what readers will get when they read your post.
Once your headline is crafted, outline your subtopics — your main points.
These will be the H3 subheaders of your blog post. You can include your target keyword with H3s, but it’s not all that necessary. For SEO purposes, you want to keep your keyword count relatively low, so your post isn’t identified by web bots as keyword stuffing — a post loaded with keywords for the sake of keywords to rank in search engines. They don’t make much sense if you come across one and start to read it.
Overdoing your keywords will make your post seem unnatural. You want it to flow like you’re having a conversation with someone face to face.
The other point to creating H3 subheadings is that people will initially want to scan your post to make sure it’s covering key points they’re interested in before diving in to read.
Keep the wording of your outline’s H3 subheadings clear and concise.
You’ll turn readers off if your H3 subheadings are cryptic and/or unclear. After all, you want to keep your readers, not turn them away.
Prepare for your rough draft.
Once you have your H3 subheaders mapped out, it’s time to start filling in the blanks with a little more detail. Review your subheaders and make notes under each to ensure you’re covering things that make sense.
If you have someone else to review your initial stages and provide feedback, definitely take advantage of that. It’s always a good idea to make sure your ideas make sense to someone else before getting down into the nitty-gritty of writing things out.
Now that you have all of your initial thoughts in place, create a powerful intro.
This is the most important piece of your blog because it hooks the reader in. Your intro is the best opportunity to grab your readers’ attention, have them read to the end, and then take action once they get there.
I like to follow Neil Patel’s “Ultimate Guide to Writing Blog Post Introductions”. There are three important elements to his structure:
- The Hook – pulls your reader in
- The Transition – connects the hook to the body and clarifies the title
- The Thesis – summarizes the topic and emphasizes why the reader should continue
Neil’s guide also provides seven strategies for hooking your readers in. Here, I’ll recap the strategies in condensed form for you.
- Begin With a Controversial Opening — This creates a quick way of connecting with your customer.
- Offer the “Why” of Your Content — Ask yourself:
- Do I have a strong reason behind my content?
- What benefits am I presenting? (Remember that benefits drive your messaging and sell your products, while features focus on the makeup of your product.)
- Lead In With a Memorable Story.
- Get Readers Nodding “Yes” by Stating the Obvious.
- Use an Analogy, Metaphor, or Simile — This keeps you from sounding boring and helps simplify complex ideas for your readers.
- Cite a Shocking Statistic — Readers love stats!
- Open With a Thought-Provoking Question. It’s simple, human nature to keep reading after that.
Now that you have an intriguing opening sentence or two, create a smooth transition from your intro to the main body of your post. Keep it brief and entice the reader to read further.
Next, create some concluding points in your blog post outline.
Jot down enough information so you have a clear idea of how you potentially want to end. Basically you’re recapping your content, leading the reader to the next step, and then take action… your call-to-action (CTA). Always keep it very clear and concise on what next step your customer should take.
Remember that you’re leading your customers through a sales funnel with each piece of content you create, no matter which part of the buyer’s journey you’re creating content for. Your blog posts are no different.
And once you have a knock-out blog post outline, you’ll have a clear direction within which to fill in the spaces and help your customers down a solid path that works for them, for you, and your business.
And PS: This also works for planning YouTube videos as well. 🙂