How to Write a Blog Post Outline in 7 Steps (+ free template)

How to Write a Blog Post Outline in 7 Steps (+ free template)

how to write a blog post outline

A blog post outline lays a foundation for a solid and well-structured content strategy.

This initial step puts you and your writer on the same page, ensuring everyone understands the content’s direction.

But, when writing an outline, prioritize content structure and layout over perfect grammar, detailed brand voice, or SEO strategies—these can come later in the process.

In this article, I’ll explain how to write a blog post outline in 7 practical steps.

I’ll also provide an easy-to-use template based on real-world experience, helping you streamline your writing process and produce compelling content.

Step 1: Determine Article Positioning

An article positioning refers to the specific angle the writer takes to present a topic in an article.

Positioning differentiates one article on a subject from another, providing a fresh viewpoint or insight.

For example, for a topic like “sustainable living,” different angles could be:

  • Exploring the cost-effectiveness of sustainable living practices
  • The role of technology in advancing sustainable living
  • Personal stories of families transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle

Each of these angles offers a distinct perspective on the broader topic, providing unique insights and focusing on different aspects of sustainable living.

How to Determine Article Positioning?

Article positioning is usually reflected in the meta titles of the top-ranking pages of your target keyword.

Go to Google.com and search for your target keyword.

Skim through the meta titles and take note of what is ranking.

  • Are they blog posts?
  • Product reviews?
  • How are they positioned?
  • How are they structured?

For example, when searching for “best checking accounts,” you’ll find results titled “Best Checking Accounts [Month] [Year].”

how to write a blog post outline

The month and the year indicate that current, updated information is a key focus in this area.

Or, if you search the keyword “how to write a blog post”, you’ll find listicles with a certain number of steps to write blog posts.

how to write a blog post outline

When you see that all articles have the same positioning, like Best Checking Accounts [month] [year] or How to Write a Blog Post in [X] Steps, that usually means that it is going to be a strong positioning.

Warning

Simply copying the existing position will likely not work, especially if the other websites are more established than yours.

In this case, you have three options:

  • Leapfrog the competition’s positioning—a longer list of steps to write a blog post. Instead of five steps, do seven steps.
  • Try a different positioning—make the list sortable or have some other way you structure the content that makes it stand out. For example, categorize the steps into three high-level categories.
  • Adding additional positioning—you can stack positionings. For example, when you search for “Types of golden retrievers”, you’ll see results with several different positioning—”How To Tell Them Apart”, “8 Types”, and “Types with pictures”

how to write a blog post outline

4 Types of Article Positioning to Consider

The positioning you choose will depend on the most significant pain points or desires of your target audience.

  • Ease/simplicity/speed—if your article describes a process that involves a certain number of steps, you want to make it easy to follow and understand. For example– “Step-by-Step Guide,” or “In 7 Easy Steps,” or “How to Write a Blog Post Fast
  • Authoritativeness/experience—if you’re writing blog posts about YMYL topics, you’ll want to demonstrate authority. For example, “How to Make Money Blogging: Advice From Actual Millionaires” or “How To Swim: Advice From Michael Phelps”
  • Recency—for topics where people care about having up-to-date information, like best checking accounts, or best smartphones, you have to include the year and sometimes the monthl. Especially relevant for product reviews.
  • Features/UX—if the article will have notable features like a videos or photos, you can indicate that in the positioning. For example, “w/ Photos” or “video breakdown” or “w/ Pros & Cons”.

Step 2: Craft the Meta Title and Page Title

The meta title and the main blog title need to represent the content and context of the page while also considering SEO (search engine optimization) best practices to improve search rankings and engagement.

How to Write a Meta Title

To craft an engaging meta title, use the following format:

[Target Keyword] + [Positioning]

For example, The meta title of this article is “What Is a Blog? Types & How to Create One (+ Examples)”

  • What Is a Blog? Is the target keyword.
  • “Types & How to Create One” is the first positioning.
  • “Examples” is the second positioning.
Tip

Title length is determined by pixels and not characters. Use tools like SEOmofo to evaluate the length of your title.

Tips for writing a meta title

  • Get creative—use shortened words and lowercase letters such as “w/” instead of “with” or “&” instead of “and”.
  • Use parenthesis—to increase click-through rate and drive curiosity.
  • Do not include the company name—this is almost always weak positioning unless your brand is extremely well known.

Here are some examples of great meta titles:

  • 35 Top Freelance Careers 2024: Earnings Potential & Challenges
  • 50 Affordable Franchise Opportunities Under 20K (+ selection tips)
  • 15 Remote Work Opportunities for Retirees in 2024 (quick start guide)
  • Investing During Market Downturns: Benefits, Risks, and Strategies

The page title is the main title of the article. It can be similar to the meta title, but you don’t have to worry about space restrictions for the page title.

Step 3: Make a List of Potential Sections and Subheadings

The step aims to figure out what you need to cover in your article. The process involves analyzing search results and competitors and researching secondary and semantic keywords.

You’ll later use these keywords as subheadings, incorporate them into the text, or use them as frequently asked questions (FAQ).

The following steps ensure your outline is well-structured, competitive, and aligned with what your audience is searching for.

Analyze Top-Ranking Search Results

Existing top-ranking pages can serve as inspiration for your subheading. Since they frequently cover specific subtopics, it strongly indicates that these points matter to your audience.

Start by searching for your primary keyword on Google. This will bring up the highest-ranking pages for that term.

  • Look at the sections and subheadings—Are there specific topics or questions that repeatedly appear in these articles?
  • Assess how in-depth these articles go into the subject—Are they surface-level overviews or detailed analyses?

These insights indicate important areas readers are interested in or consider valuable by search engines.

Leverage LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords

When searching for your target keyword on Google, check the “Related Searches” section at the bottom. This shows terms and phrases related to your primary keyword.

For example, when searching for “how to write a blog post”, you’ll find keywords like

  • Blog post template
  • Blog writing format
  • Blog post examples

how to write a blog post outline

Use SEO Tools to Find Related Keywords

Use your main keyword as a starting point. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs can provide insights into related keywords.

You can use Ahref’s Keyword Explorer tool to find terms related to your main keyword. If the keyword is too long, you can try a shorter version, for example, “write a blog post” instead of “how to write a blog post”

how to write a blog post outline

Reverse-Engineer Competitors

Look at what keywords your competitors use in their content, especially those ranking well for your primary keyword.

You can use the “Organic Keywords” report in Ahref’s Site Explorer to find your competitors’ keywords.

how to write a blog post outline

Use The Suggested Keywords Under the Search Bar

When you search for your primary keyword, pay attention to the terms displayed below the search bar.

These terms can provide clues about commonly searched phrases related to your main keyword.

For instance, if your primary keyword is “yoga classes,” you will see phrases like “for beginners” or “perspectives”. This method is a quick and straightforward way to identify potential keywords without delving into comprehensive keyword research.

Suggested Keywords Under the Search Bar

Find Relevant Questions in the Google “People Also Ask” Section

Google’s “People Also Ask” section is a feature in search results that displays common questions related to the user’s query.

Start by searching your primary keyword in Google.

For example, when you search for “beginner yoga routines”, you’ll get highly relevant questions you can add to your blog post outline:

  • How should a beginner start yoga?
  • What is the best yoga program for beginners?
  • Is 30 minutes of yoga a day enough?
  • How often should I do yoga as a beginner?
people also ask example

Clicking on these questions often reveals additional, related queries, providing deeper insights and more specific angles for your content.

Click the bottommost option until the questions are consistently irrelevant to the keyword.

people also ask example

Copy the most relevant questions to your list of potential sections and subheadings.

Google doesn’t automatically select content for the “People Also Ask” section. The content is chosen based on relevance, clarity, and the authority of the source.

Tip

To optimize your content for the “People Also Ask” section, prefer to answer questions where you can easily replace the existing answer.

If the existing answer is unclear and comes from content published long ago on a non-authoritative website, your chances of replacing this answer are very high.

Use AI Tools like ChatGPT

You can use ChatGPT to generate starter ideas for sections and subheadings. You can also use ChatGPT to explore different angles on your topic and get suggestions for related questions that your audience finds interesting.

To get the best results, use clear and specific prompts. Here are some examples

  • What are some important questions to address in a blog post about [Your Topic]?”
  • What are the current trending subtopics in the field of [Your Topic] that I should consider for my blog post?”
Note

Note that ChatGPT doesn’t do a great job of coming up with SEO-optimized and clearly phrased subheadings.

Make sure to review and optimize its suggestions based on your own industry knowledge

At this point, you should have a full list of keywords that you can use as subheadings or inside the body text.

StatementsSearchesQuestionsSearches
Benefits of yoga for beginners1800How to start yoga for beginners?800
Mountain Pose2,000What are the best beginner yoga poses?1,100
Morning Yoga Sequence1,200Is yoga good for beginners?900
Evening Relaxation Yoga1,800How often should beginners do yoga?700
Warrior Pose1,600
Successful yoga practice600

Step 4: Organize Subheadings in a Logical Hierarchy

Structure your blog post outline draft in a way that flows naturally and makes sense to the reader. This logical flow helps Google understand your content and keeps the reader engaged.

1. Start with an H1 title for the page title. This should only be used once per page.

2. Below the page title, include an introduction that sets the stage for your topic.

It should offer a preview of what the reader can expect.

3. Add the potential subheadings and sections you found earlier to the body of the blog post.

  • Each subheading should focus on a specific aspect of the main topic.
  • Organize subheadings in a way that each point builds upon the previous one, maintaining a coherent narrative or argument throughout the post.
  • Use H2 for major section headings. They can be seen as the main subtopics under the main title.
  • Aim to answer the main search intent as fast as possible – typically the first H2.
  • Use H3 for sub-sections under H2, and continue the pattern with H4, and H5, if needed.

4. Conclude with a section that summarizes the main points discussed in the post.

The conclusion should reinforce the main message and provide a call-to-action or suggest further reading.

5. Integrate the keywords into subheadings.

Subheadings are one of the best places to incorporate primary, secondary, and LSI keywords naturally.

Make sure to use the keywords you found in step 3. Some of the keywords from step 3 may not be suitable as a subheading on their own, but you can still incorporate them into subtitles.

Thelps search engines understand the relevance and context of your content, and it can make the content more scanable for readers.

For example, instead of a generic subheading like “Things To Keep In Mind,” you can use a subheading such as “Essential SEO Strategies to Remember.”

This subheading incorporates a specific keyword, “SEO Strategies,” making it more informative and directly related to the content that follows.

The initial draft of the blog post should look something like this:

H1: Beginner Yoga Routines: A Complete Guide for New Yogis

Introduction

  • Notes about the introduction

[Article Body]

H2: Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners

H3: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

H3: Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

H3: Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)

H2: Simple Yoga Routines to Get Started

H3: Morning Yoga Sequence for Energy

H3: Evening Relaxation Yoga Routine

H2: Tips for a Successful Yoga Practice

H3: Importance of Consistent Yoga Practice

H3: Listening to Your Body and Modifying Poses

Conclusion

Step 5: Identify Internal Linking Opportunities

Internal links connect your current post to other relevant content within your site. This interconnectivity allows search engines to crawl and index your site more effectively.

As a result, the SEO value of your pages improves thanks to the spread of link equity, helping your site’s overall ranking.

Use the following search function in Google to come up with internal linking ideas:

site: “yourdomain.com” [target keyword or variation of target keyword]

If a page seems like it would be a natural fit, include it in the suggested internal links section along with any suggested anchor text.

If you come across any valuable external links to non-competitor sites in your research, feel free to include them as well.

Step 6: Incorporate Writer Guidelines

Many content marketers ignore this important part, but writer guidelines in your article outline will:

  • Help writers understand exactly how to write different sections of your blog.
  • Help writers keep consistent style and branding.
  • Help writers create high-quality content by setting clear standards.

Writer guidelines should be customized for each brand and company to align with their unique style, tone, and voice.

Here are a few general guidelines you can include:

  • Introduction guidelines—Specify whether the writer should include a hook, a brief overview of the topic, and a clear thesis statement.
  • CTAs guidelines—Detail the type of CTAs you want in the content, such as encouraging readers to subscribe, share, or explore related articles.
  • Conclusion guidelines—Mention whether the writer should summarize key points, restate the main idea, or suggest next steps.
  • FAQ guidelines—If applicable, instruct writers on how to incorporate an FAQ section into the content. Explain the importance of addressing common reader questions.
  • Further reading guidelines—Specify whether writers should include links to related articles or resources. Provide guidelines on how to select and format these links.
  • Brand style & voice guidelines—Describe your brand’s style, tone, and voice. Include examples or link to a dedicated style guide document.
  • Guidelines for visuals—Decide where you want to include images, graphics, or videos to enhance your post and illustrate key points.

You can also include a brief overview and description of the article to help the writer fulfill the objectives of the article effectively.

  • Detailed Description—Include a detailed description of a few sentences on competitor positioning, how you want the article positioned, and any notes.
  • Target Audience—State who the article should be targeting.
  • Goal—Explain what the goal of the article is. Backlink-bait? Traffic? Leads?

Step 7: Use a Blog Post Outline Template

After completing the above steps, gather all the information in a well-organized and effective template.

Use this outline template liberally in your content marketing projects.

Meta Title: Beginner Yoga Routines: Your Ultimate Guide

URL Slug: /beginner-yoga-routines-guide

Internal Links: Link to related articles on your website, such as “10 Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners” and “The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Relief.”

External Links: Include authoritative sources like Yoga Journal or WebMD for additional information.

Target Word Range: 1,500 – 2,000 words

Target Reading Level: 9th grade or below.

CTAs: “Ready to begin your yoga journey?”

“Start with our beginner-friendly poses” (link to poses article)

Detailed Description: This article provides a comprehensive introduction to yoga for beginners. It covers the basics, benefits, and step-by-step routines to kickstart your yoga practice.

Target Audience: Newcomers to yoga, individuals interested in improving flexibility and reducing stress, and anyone looking to start a healthy lifestyle.

Goal: To educate and inform beginners about the fundamentals of yoga.

H1: Beginner Yoga Routines: A Complete Guide for New Yogis

Introduction

  • Notes about the introduction

[Article Body]

H2: Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners

H3: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

H3: Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

H3: Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)

H2: Simple Yoga Routines to Get Started

H3: Morning Yoga Sequence for Energy

H3: Evening Relaxation Yoga Routine

H2: Tips for a Successful Yoga Practice

H3: Importance of Consistent Yoga Practice

H3: Listening to Your Body and Modifying Poses

Conclusion: Summarize key points, and suggest next steps.

Conclusion

A blog post outline helps you organize the main ideas, connect thoughts logically, and maintain a consistent tone throughout your articles. By following the steps discussed, you can effectively outline your blog posts and make your writing process more efficient.

To continue improving your skills, practice regularly and stay updated with the latest SEO and content trends.

Additionally, analyze the performance of your content and make necessary adjustments.

With a well-structured outline in hand, you’ll not only save time but also ensure the quality and engagement of your blog posts.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Blog SEO

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a blog post layout?

To write a blog post layout, start with a clear structure. Begin with an attention-grabbing title and an engaging introduction. Organize the main content into sections with descriptive headings. Use bullet points and numbered lists for easy readability. Include relevant images and media. Conclude with a summary or call to action. Proofread and edit for clarity and coherence.

How do I format my blog post?

To format your blog post, maintain a clean and consistent style. Use a legible font, appropriate font size, and consistent spacing. Use headers (H1, H2, etc.) to structure your content. Incorporate visuals with captions. Include internal and external links. Proofread for grammar and spelling. Preview your post to ensure it looks good on different devices.

What are the best blog outline generators?

Some popular blog outline generators include HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator, SEMrush’s SEO Content Template, and Outwrite’s Blog Post Title Generator. These tools can help generate ideas and outline your blog post, but remember to tailor the outline to your specific topic and audience.

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