How to Create a Content Outline (And Write Better Content!)
Is writer’s block getting you down? Not sure where to start in delivering your content strategy? We have a secret weapon that’ll make writing and publishing your blog and website content easier than ever — content outlines!
Learning how to make outlines part of your team’s practice will help you set clear goals, include targeted keywords, and organize your thoughts.
Whether you’re the writer or you’re passing on your ideas to a freelancer, starting with a content outline is the way. It’s a great first step to letting your ideas flow onto your blank screen.
What Exactly Is a Content Outline?
Ever feel like you’re wandering around aimlessly when you start to write? A content outline lets you explore a new topic with a map and compass (pun intended!).
It’s a structured overview of your blog or content article that includes an intro, body copy, and conclusion. Your outline should include keywords to boost your SEO ranking, headings, and important points you want to make in your final draft.
Come At it From an Angle
The hardest part of writing is getting started. Before writing down your title or first heading, the first step to your outline is stating the goals of your content. This will make it easier to have cohesive content that answers any questions your audience may have.
Your overarching goal may be increasing your website traffic through a blog or activity description. But it’s also important to think about smaller goals such as providing trustworthy information on a given subject matter and increasing your ranking on targeted SEO keywords.
Make sure to focus on your topic and know which angle you’re coming from to ensure your content outline will guide you or your writer in the right direction.
Pro tip: Identify your target keywords and list them at the top of the page so the writer can incorporate them throughout the content.
Include Your Research and Resources
When you’re first diving into a topic, you may find yourself with too many tabs open on your browser. An easy way to keep track of your sources and the golden nuggets of information you find is to include links to the articles you plan on referencing the most in your content outline.
Especially if you plan to send your outline to a writer, including articles to reference with key takeaways as well as competitor insights will help make sure you’re both on the same page.
You’ll also want to note links in your outline for your link-building strategy. Along with internal and external links, any graphics or images you want included in your content can be added into your outline.
Follow This Structure
Here is a basic structure that’s a great place to start for your content outline. Feel free to change this up as needed for your content needs.
- List your SEO targeted keywords.
- Give a brief overview of your main point.
- Engage your audience with a question or interesting fact.
- Highlight why the topic is important.
- Encourage your audience to read more about the topic in the following body copy.
- List your headings or <H2> copy for each paragraph or the main idea that will be discussed.
- Under the headings or topics, list a few key points you want to make sure are addressed.
- Include any keywords and links you want mentioned under each paragraph.
- Give the reader a brief summary of what was discussed.
- Include any important points you want the audience to remember.
- Give the audience a call to action such as, “Book our (activity name) today!”.
- Link any additional resources or information on your company you want the audience to go to next.
Now that you have the tools to get started, there’s nothing stopping you from writing effective content outlines that lead to quality content. You just have to stick with it and believe in the process.
Any writers you work with will thank you for setting them up for success. To take your content writing to the next level, check out these five tips from the Compass team.