How to Write a Detailed Blog Post Outline for WordPress (10 Steps)

Creating an outline is one of the most important steps to take before sitting down to write a blog post. Taking the time to organize your thoughts into a structured outline sets your post up for success from both a writing and an SEO perspective.

After 15 years of blogging and outlining hundreds of posts, I‘ve learned firsthand just how critical outlines are for crafting high-quality content optimized for search engines and readers alike.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share my proven 10-step process for creating effective blog post outlines in WordPress based on my experience as a webmaster. Whether you‘re a rookie blogger or a seasoned content marketer, this process will help take your outlining skills to the next level.

Why You Absolutely Must Create a Blog Outline

I know it can be tempting to jump straight into writing a post without any outline at all. But through years of trial and error, I‘ve learned that outlines are invaluable.

Here are some of the biggest reasons why taking the time to outline will improve your blog posts:

Overcome Writer‘s Block

Staring down the blank page or screen is intimidating for all writers. Trying to compose posts off the cuff without an outline inevitably leads to writer‘s block.

Outlines break down posts into digestible sections so the writing process doesn‘t feel so overwhelming. Having a plan of attack ahead of time beats struggling to come up with each sentence on the spot.

Create Logical Post Structure

Well-outlined posts have a logical narrative flow that‘s easy for readers to follow. The sections build on each other to gradually introduce concepts. Outlines provide the skeleton to structure posts properly.

Without outlines, it‘s easy for posts to become disorganized or jump around haphazardly between points. Readers get frustrated when posts lack cohesive structure.

Include All Necessary Information

Outlining requires you to critically evaluate whether a post fully covers a topic. You‘ll identify holes in the content where additional details or sections are needed to thoroughly teach readers.

Pieces without outlines often miss crucial information. Readers leave confused and unsatisfied because the posts fail to answer their questions.

Frontload Research

No one likes being interrupted in the writing flow because they need to stop and look something up. Outlining allows you to conduct research ahead of time before drafting so you have all the information you need.

You can preload outlines with sources, quotes, statistics, and links so it‘s all at your fingertips. This prevents wasting valuable writing time on research rabbit holes.

Receive Feedback Early

Peer reviews on outlines are much easier than completed posts. Colleagues and editors can provide feedback on structure and content gaps early in the process when it‘s easy to make changes.

Waiting until a full first draft is complete leads to more rework if you need to alter the fundamental structure or add new sections based on feedback.

Rank Higher with SEO Optimization

Outlines allow you to map out SEO details like title structure, meta descriptions, keywords, and internal links before writing. This results in highly optimized posts.

Without planning for SEO in the outline, it‘s unlikely you‘ll organically include optimizations in a way that flows well within the content. Outlines bake in SEO best practices from the start.

Write Faster with an Existing Plan

Having a detailed outline expedites the actual writing process since all of the legwork is done upfront. You have your sections planned out, resources compiled, and major points outlined.

Then it‘s just a matter of putting sentences and paragraphs together instead of constantly pausing to decide what to cover next. You‘ll be shocked at how quickly writing goes with a strong outline.

Consequences of Skipping the Outline

Neglecting to create any sort of outline comes with a cost:

  • Subpar writing: Posts lack focus and seem all over the place without clear structure.
  • Missed topics: Relevant points and entire sections get overlooked without planning ahead.
  • Incomplete research: Drafting without required data leads to gaps that disrupt the writing flow.
  • Weak metadata: Titles and meta descriptions fail to incorporate keywords when created mid-writing.
  • No internal links: Forgetting to link back to relevant internal content damages SEO efforts.
  • Reader confusion: Disorganized posts make it hard for visitors to absorb information.
  • Lower rankings: Pages don‘t rank as high without SEO considerations built into the outline.

Simply put: outlines are required to produce high-quality blog content optimized for both readers and search engines.

Step 1: Decide on a Blog Post Topic

The first step in outlining a new post is choosing which topic you‘ll cover. Here are some strategies to help zero in on compelling blog post topics:

  • Leverage your niche knowledge: Identify holes where your expertise can provide unique value to readers.
  • Research keyword data: Use tools like Semrush to find topics with steady search volume and low competition.
  • Survey your audience: Ask customers and email subscribers what content they want to see next.
  • Analyze competitors: Review what rival sites are (or aren‘t) covering related to your products or services.
  • Evaluate existing posts: Check Google Analytics to see which of your posts get the most traffic and engagement. Find complementary topics to cover.
  • Monitor trends: Stay on top of hot topics by checking sources like Google Trends, Reddit, and Quora.

Once you‘ve narrowed down some ideas, validate them by searching for the topic yourself. Look for gaps where competing content could be improved so your post can better answer reader questions.

Pro tip: Try to align topics with your overall business goals. For example, a post like "Beginner‘s Guide to X" can attract new leads.

Step 2: Determine the Optimal Format

Next, decide which format will allow you to cover the topic most effectively:

  • How-to: Perfect for tactical, step-by-step guides. Example: "How to Start a Podcast"
  • List posts: Share tips, product/service recommendations, etc. Example: "7 WordPress Plug-ins Every Site Needs"
  • Comparison: Contrast two or more products side-by-side. Example: "WordPress vs Wix – Which Is Better?"
  • Beginner‘s guide: Explain a concept simply to newcomers. Example: "Affiliate Marketing Explained for Beginners"
  • Q&A: Provide in-depth answers to common reader questions. Example: "Will Changing My Domain Name Affect SEO?"

Check search results to confirm readers are looking for content in your chosen format. Matching the expected structure will boost click-throughs.

For example, if search results primarily contain comparison posts around your topic, choose that format instead of a standalone how-to.

Step 3: Analyze Existing Top Content

Conduct in-depth competitor research by reviewing current top-ranking content around your topic. Outline elements that make their content successful along with gaps where you can improve.

Analyze factors like:

  • Headings structure: What main and subheadings are used to structure information? Does the sequence make logical sense?
  • Length: Is top content longer and more in-depth than lower-ranking pieces?
  • Visual assets: Are visuals like charts, photos, and videos incorporated well?
  • Key takeaways: Does the post answer reader questions and highlight the most important information?
  • Opportunities: Are there weak points or areas you can expand on with original research and insights?

Make notes on effective outline elements to model in your own post. Identify weak spots in competing content that present opportunities to improve.

For example, a top post may lack visual assets to break up long blocks of text. You could create charts or graphics to better illustrate concepts in your outline.

Step 4: Craft a Compelling Title and Meta Description

You‘ll need an SEO-friendly title and meta description before creating the outline structure. These will inform the narrative and keywords to focus on throughout the post.

Create a Title That Grabs Attention

Your title is the first touchpoint readers have with your content, so it needs to pique interest. Follow these best practices:

  • Use keywords: Include your main topic keywords naturally where possible.
  • Unique value proposition: Convey the core value readers will get from the post.
  • 60 characters or fewer: Keep titles short and scannable in search results.
  • Emotional wording: Trigger curiosity by using words like "never" "always" or "best".
  • Power words: Incorporate words like "tips", "steps", "guide" and "how-to" to indicate the format.
  • Active voice: Use active verbs like "Boost", "Build", "Create" and "Find".

Tools like CoSchedule‘s Headline Analyzer can score titles and suggest improvements. Run different options through the analyzer until you have an optimized title.

Craft a Clickable Meta Description

Your meta description appears under the title in search results. Follow these tips to write an effective one:

  • Match intent: Include the keywords searchers are using to convey your content will meet their needs.
  • Compelling preview: Summarize the essence of your post in 1-2 concise sentences.
  • Call to action: Close with a CTA like "Read more" or "Learn why".
  • 160 characters or less: Keep descriptions short to avoid Google truncating the text.
  • Unique: Avoid copying competitors‘ descriptions. Write your own compelling preview.

With a solid title and meta description in place, you‘re ready to map out the body of your post.

Step 5: Map the Post Structure

Outline the structure of your post with the main headings and subheadings. Organize sections logically based on the narrative flow that introduces concepts clearly.

Here is a standard structure that works well for most long-form blog posts:

  • Introduction
    • Hook readers with an interesting stat or question
    • Briefly explain the topic and purpose of your post
    • Provide a simple overview of the value readers will get
  • H2 Headings – Divide content into logical sections
  • H3 Subheadings – Break down each H2 section further
  • Conclusion
    • Recap key takeaways
    • CTA to share feedback, subscribe, contact you, etc.

Aim for at least four H2 headings to chunk long posts into scannable sections. More headings improve readability.

Pro tip: Add a table of contents using the block in WordPress to help readers navigate.

Step 6: Flesh Out the Sections

With your headings structured properly, start fleshing out the outline by adding supporting details under each section:

  • Summarize points: Note the main takeaway, question answered, or concept covered in each section.
  • Add research: List any quotes, statistics, or sources you‘ll reference to back up points.
  • Find visuals: Identify places to incorporate images, charts, etc. to illustrate concepts.
  • Include examples: Add real-world examples or case studies that make advice relatable.
  • SEO opportunities: Look for places to organically integrate target keywords and internal links.

Expanding on each section will prevent writer‘s block later on. Outline as much helpful detail as possible.

Pro tip: Always cite sources to strengthen credibility. Link out to supporting materials using markdown link formatting.

Step 7: Optimize with Internal Links

Enhance SEO with internal links by identifying 3-4 relevant posts or pages from your blog to link to. Look for ones covering related topics.

Revisiting old content for linking opportunities strengthens the interconnectedness of your site for search engines and readers.

To easily find internal linking opportunities:

  • Review category archives and tags for related topics.
  • Search your own site for relevant keywords.
  • Use a tool like SEMrush Related Keywords to find topics with shared audience interest.
  • Install the All In One SEO plugin and use the Link Assistant feature.

Outline exactly where in each section you‘ll add internal links so they flow naturally within the content.

Step 8: Find Relevant Keyword Targets

Research keywords and phrases related to your primary topic to work into your outline. These latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords help search engines better understand the overall topic of your content.

Find keyword targets by:

  • Reviewing related keywords from keyword research tools.
  • Checking autocomplete suggestions as you type in Google.
  • Looking at People Also Ask questions.
  • Using SEMrush Related Keywords.
  • Identifying words that commonly appear in top-ranking content.

Choose 1-2 primary LSI keywords per section to incorporate into headings, subheadings, and body content. Avoid keyword stuffing.

Step 9: Create Callouts and Graphics

Look for places within your outline where you can enhance sections with snazzy visual elements:

  • Callout sections: Highlight key statistics, quotes, or takeaways by formatting them in callout boxes.

"X% of people said they found Y content helpful."

  • Infographics: For complex topics, create a custom graphic illustrating concepts visually.

  • Charts: Turn data points from research into graphs or charts to make them more digestible.

  • Photos: Insert relevant royalty-free images to add color and visual interest to your post.

  • Videos: Embed short video explainers to further illustrate difficult topics.

Graphics and visuals break up long blocks of text and cater to visual learners. Include at least 2-3 throughout your outline.

Step 10: Review and Revise the Outline

With your full outline completed, step back and review it objectively before writing:

  • Does the structure flow in a logical sequence? Or do sections need reordering?
  • Are concepts and ideas introduced gradually at the right pace?
  • Have you supported all key points with research or examples?
  • Are there any gaps where information is missing or insufficient?
  • Is each section optimized using relevant keywords and links?

Iterate on the outline and get peer feedback to strengthen it before drafting.

Follow Your Outline to Write Faster

Now you have a rock-solid foundation to start writing your post efficiently. Follow your outline closely, using it as the blueprint to compose each section.

You‘ll be amazed at how quickly the first draft comes together when you frontload all the thinking in the outlining process.

Here‘s an example of how I utilize outlines to streamline writing:

  1. Block time in my calendar for drafting.
  2. Open my outline and reviewed post section-by-section.
  3. Flesh out each section, referring back to outline details.
  4. Move through the post linearly sticking to the outline structure.
  5. Insert graphics and other elements called out in the outline.
  6. Wrap up any concluding thoughts based on the outline.

Before I developed this outlining process, writing posts was a slow and grueling chore. Now, outlines help me efficiently produce 4x more content in the same amount of time.

I hope these tips help you improve your own blog outlining process. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m happy to chat more in the comments.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.