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How to Write an SEO Blog Post Outline? Complete SEO Outline Guide

Create SEO optimized blog post outlines with Outranking?

What is a blog post outline?

A blog post outline is a structure that helps you plan your content. It provides an overview of the points you want to make in relation to the main topic and supporting information such as the benefits of your product.

The blog outline plays the most crucial role in winning with search engines, guiding the writing process, and making the content useful to the audience that reads it. 

Outlines consist of H2, H3, and strong tags for a blog post. You can go as far as H4 or H5, but that’s usually too complex for most users to follow in a blog post.

What are SEO Outlines?

Blog post or webpage outlines that are optimized for search engines using related keywords, google NLP terms and questions that make up the intent of the search query. If done properly, SEO optimized outlines can help a webpage rank higher and rank for many keywords.

What are content briefs?

Content briefs are the guidelines that consist of Title, Description, Outlines, Keywords, Tone, Audience and all the research that enables the content writer to create full blog post. It is essentially the research that is needed to create good content that brings engagement and ranks. See the content brief creation and automation post for details.

Why are blog outlines important for SEO?

Because outlines consist of the most emphasized text on a web page, they tell Google what your content is all about. The Google algorithms try to match the intent of many long-tailed keywords to the emphasized tags on a blog post starting at H1. Thus, optimizing the outlines in the right way can not only keep your readers interested but also help your content reach more search engine results pages (SERPs). 

To build outlines, it’s important to understand some important tips to make sure that what you create is rock solid.

Step #1: Answer the 5 W’s and H

Now that you understand what your audience needs, let’s break it down into some questions and answers your users can follow. The best way to go about creating an interesting story with your outline is by answering the 5 W’s and a critical H.

These should be your high-level outlines (H2).

Let’s look at some examples for Content marketing strategy:

  1. Who needs a content marketing strategy?
  2. Where can you find more information?
  3. What is a content marketing strategy?
  4. Why do you need a content marketing strategy?
  5. When do you need a content marketing strategy?
  6. How do you create a content marketing strategy?

For example, you can potentially elaborate on the What for the search “15 best coffee makers” by having a structure like this:

(H2) What are some of the best coffee makers?

  • (H3) Item 1 
  • (H3) Item 2 
  • (H3) Item 3 

Some of the above questions might not always be relevant for the keyword you are using to create an outline, but it’s critical to answer some or all of these questions.

How do I create questions in Outranking’s Outline Builder?

  1. Choose an outline idea to get related questions and click the AI icon
Outline Builder

2. This generates a few questions.

3. Double-click the questions to edit them.


4. In the next step, we will elaborate on these questions and add more details using data from ranking pages.

Step #2: Understand what the user will find useful for the given focus keyword and curate outline ideas

The first place to start when building an outline is understanding what the users need from the search. 

What is someone searching for “best hot pot coffee makers” looking for?

Carefully examine the SERP data for this keyword search:

Focus Keyword

What’s the common theme?

Lists of different types of coffee makers. Bingo! 

Now, you can see that there are lists of 7 and 11. Try creating a list of 15 with better details. 

SERP analysis is a crucial part of outline creation. We analyze this information and create the best outlines to blow competing web pages out of the water. 

So, examine the data and find what the users will find the most valuable, then create outlines based on that. 

What will you write and why?

  1. List
  2. Comparison
  3. Educational article
  4. Product guide
  5. How-to with steps

Start by collecting ideas from competing web pages to fill out the title of your blog post in the most comprehensive way. 

Being comprehensive is the key here.

How do I add outline ideas using SERP data in Outranking?

  1. After you have added your primary questions, start adding more information under each section using outlines from competing web pages.
  2. To add ideas, click the Copy icon next to the outline. 
  3. To view the content of the heading before adding, click the View icon.
  4. Add everything that you think is relevant to the topic. We will optimize these headings in later steps.
Add Outline Ideas using Outranking

5. To group the subheadings that you just added under the primary heading, open the H2 that is the parent and drag the subheading to inside the dotted box.

Subheadings Added under Primary Heading
Drag subheading

Step# 3: Add questions from Google PAA

What is PAA and why PAA?

PAA stands for People Also Ask, referring to the curated list of questions shown for each search term. These questions directly align with what users might find useful. 

Using these questions or better variations greatly increases your chance to rank for the People Also Ask box on Google.

How many questions should you add?

Outranking recommends that you have at least 4 questions to your outline, but add as many as you can that are relevant to what you are writing about. 

Click the Google PAA tab to find all the questions people are asking on Google and add as many questions as you can. Many might be similar, so it’s okay to ignore those that sound repetitive.

Related Keywords

Related keywords are keywords that are closely related to the focus keyword. To comprehensively cover the topic and reach the maximum number of ranking keywords for a single blog post, it’s important to include the related keywords in the most emphasized tags of your content (your outline).

Using related keywords in your outline can help you bring a substantial amount of additional traffic.

Do you need to use all the suggestions?

You are the best judge of what makes sense for your content, but we recommend that you use at least 80% of the suggested keywords for the best possible organic reach.

  1. To identify how the competition is using related keywords in their outlines, click one of the ideas in Keywords. The outline that contains that keyword is shown with a gray background.
Optimize related keywords in Outranking

2. You can also double-click the headings you added and insert the related keyword where it makes sense.

Insert Related Keyword

Step #5: Optimize outlines using Google NLP topics (SERP data)

What are Google NLP topics in outlines? (Highest frequency keywords)

Google NLP topics are keywords or phrases extracted from the outlines of ranking web pages to understand what information is emphasized most commonly. 

Why should you include them?

These keywords and phrases (or as some say topics) align with the most common search information from the users, at least according to the data. Thus, including most of the suggestions can increase the likelihood of answering the user intent, at least in the eyes of a search engine. This can also suggest that your content has similar depth to ranking pages.

Optimize Related Keyword
  1. To identify how the competition is using these keywords in their outlines, click an idea in Keywords. The outline that contains that keyword is shown with a gray background.
  2. You can also double-click the headings you added and add the keywords or topics where it makes sense.

Step #6: Edit your headings and make them unique

1. Make them keyword-rich but not too wordy

2. Don’t do keyword stuffing

3.Try converting them into questions when possible

Step #7: Arrange your headings in the right order

1. Converting H2 to H3

To convert an H2 heading to an H3 heading, open up the H2 box you want to group these subheadings into and drag the H2 inside the parent. Make sure to drop the subheadings between the dotted lines.

2. Moving H2

To move an H2 heading, simply drag the H2 and drop it in the position where you want it. The outline item it replaces in the order will be moved to below it.

3. Moving H3

Drag and move the H3 up and down. Make sure to drop the H3 in the position you want it to replace, not above or below it.

4. Converting H3 to H2

To convert an H3 heading to an H2 heading, simply press the H2 with the up-arrow icon and the H3 will pop out to become an H2.

Convert H3 to H2

Generating outlines with and without a first draft

First Draft

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