Have you ever stared at a blank screen for what felt like hours, trying to think of what to write next? If so, you’re not alone. For content writers, coming up with new ideas and then fleshing them out into full-fledged articles can be a real challenge. That’s where outlines come in.
The key to any successful project lies in its planning and execution. Similarly, planning your content is crucial in this digital world, as content dominates all spaces. Often called an article outline, you get to sit and draft an idea of how your content will be structured.
If you are wondering how to make an outline, you should first understand that a content outline varies with the type of content you are creating. For instance, if you are planning for web pages, the content is different from the content on your blog or social media post. So, it is important to know how to create a content outline based on the content you are planning to create. But there are several general procedures you can use for any content.
Here is a general guide explaining the key steps in creating a perfect content outline for any type of content.
What is a content outline?
A content outline of an article is a roadmap for your content. It’s an overview of what content it will include. It will create a rough sketch of what your content will be about. In today’s content-driven world in digital space, keywords are also included as part of your content outline.
Apart from the keywords, a content outline will have headings and subheadings of the article, the aim of the article, the number of words, examples, or stats to be included, and others. In addition, the outline will also address the unique selling proposition (USP) of the piece, the brand, or the product it is talking about.
Why should you create an outline for an article?
One of the key things people always ask is how important or why you need an outline for an article. Some might consider it time-consuming or a process that’s unnecessary. But you’re mistaken. An article outline is crucial for the final output – a well-structured article with the right keywords and all the important details. So, check out these few reasons why you should have an outline for an article.
Structure and flow
If you directly start writing an article, you might miss out on crucial elements or sometimes mess up the flow. Your content might be all over the place without any proper structure. This might hamper your quality as it might be difficult for the reader to follow. So, when you have a content outline, you can plan your structure and write the content accordingly.
Scale up the quality
When you have a well-planned and laid-out outline for your article, you have more scope to come up with a well-written article that is of high quality. So, a good content outline can help you scale up the quality of your article.
Ensuring SEO optimization
Having a perfect article outline gives you the training to have the right keywords ready. So, when you write the article later, you will already know the proper keywords to include in the article.
How to write an outline for an article?
When you write an outline for an article, there are different formats you can follow. Since there is no rigid template, you can always play around based on what you need and how you plan to work on it.
Sample content outline
For starters, here is a sample outline for an article. The outline should include:
- Topic – working title
- Headings and Subheadings (content structure)
- Critical points under the subheadings, if needed
- Target keywords – categorized into most important to least important
- The goal of your content
- Target audience
- The tone of voice – formal, informal, or any other specifics
- The unique selling proposition of the content or brand
It would help if you always started your content outline with the article’s topic. Then, after you identify the topic, search for the right keywords. Of course, the keywords are crucial in different ways. But the first thing you can try is to include an essential keyword in the title of the article. After that, you can plan your headings and subheadings after doing a little research about the topic.
You can use the keywords within the article. Sometimes you can use them as subheadings as well. After you get the keywords right, decide on the article’s tone. Besides identifying the title and subheadings, you should also clearly know what the goal of your content is because the goal is also what determines the tone and structure of the article. You should also make sure you know who you are writing it for. As in, who is your target audience? Finally, it would help if you also learned about the USP of your content to highlight it in the article and get better reach.
There is no single way to do your outline, but including these elements in the outline will make your article much easier to write.
Optional ideas for a content outline
Here are the optional ideas to add:
- Create introduction and conclusion – It is easier to write when you already have an introduction ready while drafting the outline. For most of us, writing content and starting to write takes a longer time. Starring at a blank page is something we all dread. So, you can come up with an intro when you sit down to write the outline. Clearing writer’s block or starting trouble away from your path, you can quickly start writing the article. Write a conclusion also, so it makes the writing process simple.
- Add data or visuals – You can add additional data, links, or visuals to your outline that will later help you build an article. When you have stats or links, you can add them to your article outline. So, you will know what other details you can include in the content.
- Add details you think of – You can always have random thoughts and ideas when you think of the topic. Sometimes when you sit down to write, you might forget the details you had thought of. But you don’t want to forget those details while writing later. So, write these details in the outline and ensure you don’t miss the information or details.
When should you create an outline?
It is worth creating an outline for any type of content. You can use it for a blog post, article, or any type of page on your website. It structures the thoughts and makes it easier to walk your reader through the main points.
How to outline content?
Poor word choice and poor formatting might be the biggest reasons for an average blog post to fail among its readers. The flow and structure should be perfect to create more readable content. Of course, you can jot down quick points while doing your research to know what to include in your article. But you can also take the extra effort to create an outline for your blog, ensuring proper flow.
Here is a step-by-step guide to outlining a blog:
Add takeaways into large sections
Let your ideas flow naturally, and write down the key takeaways of your blog. What are the takeaways? This is basically what you want your readers to know through this blog. Write different key takeaways that help you get multiple ideas and unique content. Suppose you write about an outline. You can always think of ideas like whether you can include visuals, what is a basic template for the content outline, how to write a content outline for a post, etc. You can use these takeaways to add headings to your content.
Build out your sections
Write the sections you need and SEO requirements. A basic section outline would look like
- Heading 2
- Heading 3
- Heading 3
- Heading 2
- Heading 3
- Heading 3
Analyze top-ranking articles
When you analyze the top-ranked articles in your topic, you will be able to understand what template reaches the audience, what kind of content resonates with the target audience, and other key details. It will also help you develop a unique angle that has yet to be explored.
Check the “people also ask” section
This helps you know what the readers are looking for on the internet. Suppose you type a perfect content outline. You might find questions like how to outline a blog, why a content outline is necessary, etc. This will help you understand what other details you can include in your blog.
Write intro and conclusion or the first section
Writing the intro and conclusion or the first section where you get to talk about the bigger picture helps you understand your blog post. So when you later sit down to write, you will already have a clear idea. This will also help you get away from the blank page syndrome.
Include links, examples, or data
You can include the examples you want to write or add data you have collected. This means you have identified some good arguments to support your point. So, adding links or data to your section will keep you organized, and you can support your claims. This process will also save a lot of time when you write your blog.
Create a content outline with SEOwind
When you try to draft a perfect content outline, it is vital to focus on keywords and data-driven topics and create more content that brings more profit. Then, you can add content on autopilot mode and drive quality traffic. But to do all these, you need more than just human resources. An AI-powered tool like SEOwind will help you make SEO-supported content outlines more quickly and easily.
Streamlining your content creation process is essential and will aid in faster target reach. In addition, you can create a more reliable space that will generate profit. SEOwind offers a detailed content brief along with keywords which helps your content writers and copywriters not only draft a perfect content outline but also produce quality content that will help your website rank higher.
Tools like SEOwind will act as an SEO keyword generator and an AI content writer. This combination helps curate SEO-optimised content. SEO data is often difficult to filter and use. But with SEOwind, you can get filtered, analyzed and ready-to-use hints that can help your brand explore different topics and establish a better relationship with the customers.
Just have a look at what creating a content outline looks like.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out the SEOwind tool and take your content marketing game to a whole new level.
How to create content outline with SEOwind – Step-by-step guide (with Example)
Let’s dive into how to use SEOwind for creating content outline.
Start with keyword
This journey starts with defining the focus keyword. Once you make this decision, log in to the SEOwind application, click the “Create brief” button, and choose the Location you are aiming to target.
Let’s choose the following primary keyword: “types of coffee beans”.
Now relax while the system analyzes dozens of SERP data.
Look through SEOwind data
All starts with thorough research. Let’s see what data SEOwind gets at your disposal:
Check the competitive landscape for your content. Content that beats the average has a higher chance of ranking in the top SERP.
We provide you with top SERPs including their title, description, URL, organic keywords, and a number of words.
We analyze top SERPs and provide you with data on the organic keywords they rank for. Often pages that get to the top positions in Google, rank for dozens of keywords. Why is that important? It can provide you with additional ideas on what kind of topics you should include.
Here you can see a sample of keywords the article Types of Coffee Beans and What Sets Them Apart ranks for.
Analyze how top SERPs are building their outlines. It can be a great source of inspiration and ideas to structure your own outline.
Questions To Answer
Looking at commonly searched questions can help you understand what kind of topics they would like to explore, what interests them, and what answers your audience is looking for. Find natural ways to answer these questions in your content.
Crafting quality content means making sure you cover topics your audience is interested in reading about. Use these secondary keywords to help you create a comprehensive piece that is relevant to your audience. You can also look though the content and see in what context certain keywords were used.
Once you understand what content ranks for the chosen keyword, you can make a conscious decision about what your content should be about.
Write the title and description
Come up with the title for your content. You can either do it on your own or use our AI recommendations. You just choose 3 or more competitor titles that match your targeted search intent and we will provide you with a couple of title ideas.
The same goes for the description. We have AI recommendations at your disposal.
Use General article recommendations
Wondering how long the blog post should be, and how many headings and images the post should have?
We are making the recommendations based on top SERPs analysis so you can be sure that you’re not bringing 500 words article to 2500 words fight.
Create a blog post outline
You have all the data to create your own outline. You can use SEOwind editor to create your content outline. Take inspiration from top SERPs and add your own value on top. Go through the Questions To Answer section to enrich your content.
Bonus: If you use any of the headings from competitors once you copy the brief to the doc or google doc file you will also get sources they were taken from.
Choose secondary keywords to expand your reach
Choose the keywords by going through:
- Competitive Analysis section where you can find secondary keywords for top SERPs
- Secondary Keywords section where you can find how often certain keywords were present in SERPs along with the context they were used.
Share the content brief with your content writer
Once you have your content brief ready you can share it with your content writer. Just share the link or copy it to google docs.
Frequently Asked Questions on creating a content outline
1. Should you add visuals to a content outline?
There are two types of visuals you could add to an outline, which will be of great use. First, you can either add the infographics and images you have collected for the article. This type of visual will help you draft better content. The second type of visual or visual reference makes the content more memorable for you.
2. What does a content structure include in general?
The standard content structure should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.
3. How to build an outline for a website?
A website content outline is a draft of your website’s appearance and what it includes. When you build an outline for a website, you should include the name of the website, SEO metadata, content description for each page, contact information to include on the page, and the slogans and captions you write to capture the audience.
Tools like SEOwind can help you with an outline for your website.
4. Is it important to determine the number of words of subheadings in an article outline?
Yes, it is vital to include the number of words for the total article and split it into an introduction, subheadings, and conclusion. Having a word limit for each heading will help you prioritize the critical content and eliminate unnecessary ones.
The content outline is like the skeleton of your content piece. So, it is crucial to draft a good content outline. It can help you write better content and boost your marketing efforts. It has several advantages, including structuring your article, saving time, helping you get away from writer’s block, and skipping unnecessary content.
But to write better content, you should be able to know your target audience, brainstorm the content, and research well. Only proper research will help you write a better outline and finally aid you in drafting the perfect article. Content outline is like the foundation of your building your article and other pieces of content. So, follow the above-mentioned steps and draft a perfect content outline that will boost your article quality and drive more traffic.