Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
Creating an outline for your blog post has a lot of great benefits, which I’ll get to in a moment. You can set up an outline in HTML quite easily, but how do you do it in WordPress Gutenberg? Today, we’ll go over setting up outlines and how you can use them effectively.
This is the same process I use to write content for GreenGeeks and how I am still at the top of search results for several articles on this website.
Thanks to how WordPress Gutenberg is set up, planning out your blog post has never been easier.
Creating Your Blog Post Outline
You can outline just about any type of content. Whether you’re working on a 300-word article or a 3,000-word masterpiece, setting up its flow can help you narrow down what it is you’re trying to convey.
In my case, it’s helped me create some of the best pieces of content I’ve ever published. You can actually tell which articles I’ve outlined as they are the ones that usually get the most traffic.
In this example, I’ll walk you through an actual article I am going to publish on one of my other blogs.
Step 1: Know What You’re Going to Write About
Having an idea about what you’re going to blog about is going to guide you when setting up an outline. This is when you focus on keywords, phrases, and search intent.
Now, there are a lot of ways you can go about finding great blog ideas for articles that will drive traffic. For instance, you can use free keyword tools to look for popular topics.
This includes prevalent tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to see what’s popular on the search engine.
In this case, I’m using Rank Tracker. It’s a free app from Link-Assistant you can use that comes with a lot of great features. Right now, I am comparing my health and fitness blog against competing sites.
In this example, I found a keyphrase I haven’t covered before that helps a competitor rank in Google. It’s something I know a bit about and feel confident in writing.
Step 2: Survey the Competition (Optional)
Because of the nature of the Internet, it’s unlikely you’ll ever come across an idea that hasn’t been done in one form or another. However, there are always ways to improve on what someone else created.
So, you’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re essentially making it puncture-proof while using your own blog post outline.
Take a look at what others are doing with their articles. Why is it on the first page or two of Google? What kind of information are they sharing? Most importantly, what does the layout of the posts look like?
What I found from my example keyphrase is that the competing article is a simple list. I already know I can add more to the article to make it better. Especially if I use the “People also ask” section of Google while using the keyphrase from Rank Tracker.
Now, you don’t have to do recon work for competing articles. Sometimes you already know exactly how you want the article to flow.
Just keep in mind that sometimes you can get some great inspiration from what others have written.
Step 3: Add Headers to Gutenberg
Here comes the meat of your content. It’s time to set up the blog or article with an outline that breaks down what you’re going to write.
First, you’re not going to need to worry about H1. In WordPress, the H1 header is primarily used for the title of your blog post.
When creating your title, try to use the keyphrase as best you can. You’ll also want to make sure you’re creating a catchy title to inspire people to click during a search.
Next, start laying out the headers you’re going to use in the post. For instance, if you’re simply creating a listicle, then you’d put the points that are going to be in your list.
NOTE: Keep in mind you can add or remove headers at any time. You don’t have to stick with what you just created. I often change blog posts around depending on whether I want to add or remove irrelevant topics.
Step 4: Correctly Adjust Header Sizes
So, here is where it gets a bit tricky. You need to understand how the hierarchy of headers is used in blog posts. This helps with SEO as well as making the content easy to read for visitors.
Essentially, H1 is your primary topic. Use H2s to highlight points of the H1. Then, use H3s to highlight points of the H2.
If the WordPress title is a title of a book, H2s are the chapters.
For example, let’s say I have an H2 header of “Best Weight Loss Cardio Workouts.” Under that section, I am going to use H3 headers for each “workout” under that heading.
Any major point you want to make under an H2 heading starts with an H3.
In Gutenberg, select the header text you want to change by clicking it. Then, click on the paragraph symbol for the block.
From the drop-down list, click the option for “Heading.”
By default, WordPress Gutenberg will make the line an H2 heading. Since this is the first heading in our content, that’s what we want.
Next, we’re going to change the subheadings that go under this H2. Click the next topic you have directly under your H2 heading. In my case, it’s the first in the list I am creating.
Click the paragraph symbol and change the line to a heading.
Now, this time, click the “H2” icon for the block.
We’re going to change the header to the smaller, H3 size. Click the option for the H3 header.
Do this with each subsequent point that is under the H2 heading.
Do this for all of your major topic points within the article. The next major point of the article is going to be H2. If there are any important points that I want to make under those other H2 headings, I would use H3 as I did for the list.
Preview the Post
When you preview the post, you’ll see how much of an impact your headers make on a live article.
In the sample of my blog post outline above, you can see that the H3s are indented under their H2 heading. This is a feature of many table of contents plugins and helps viewers identify what information is relevant to the H2’s topic.
So, kind of like sub-chapters under the main chapter.
Step 5: Move Headers into Position (Optional)
One of the nice features of Gutenberg is the ability to easily move your blocks. In this case, the headers.
Let’s say you wanted to move one of your headers up one spot in the blog post outline.
Click the header you want to move. Now, click the up and down arrows to move the block a single position.
You can also grab the “Drag” icon and move the block anywhere you want in the post.
Moving the headers isn’t necessary, especially if you have them planned out exactly how you want. However, I wanted to point out that you have the ability should you want certain points to be closer to the top of the blog.
Because in reality, most people aren’t going to read more than 50 -75% of the blog post. Usually, visitors just want the info they’re looking for and then will move on.
This is why it’s important to get to the point of the post as quickly as possible.
Step 6: Write the Content of your Blog Post Outline
All that’s left to do now is write the content. Make sure that you’re providing information relevant to each header.
For instance, in this blog post outline sample, I would write content that is only relevant to the cardio aspect of “swimming” under its heading. It’ll prevent search engine bots and visitors from getting confused about the subtopics.
How much information you add under each heading is completely up to you and the information you plan to deliver. You could offer quick but detailed information or dive deeper into the topics.
It’s really up to you and your readers.
5 Reasons Why You Should Outline Your Blog Post
Now that I’ve shown you how to set up the headers in Gutenberg, why does it make a difference? Why put in the effort for outlining a blog post in this fashion?
Although the following are more centered around personal preference, an outline still has quite a bit of potential.
1. Helps Organize Your Content
When setting up an outline for a blog post, you can keep the information and your thoughts organized before you even start writing. It gives you a chance to set up any subtopics and highlights regarding your primary topic.
This is especially helpful when you’re trying to one-up the competition with a more detailed article.
2. A Blog Post Outline Keeps You On Topic
A lot of us can easily get sidetracked or add a bit of filler and fluff to a blog post just to hit a certain number of words. When you have a plan for the article, though, it helps keep you on topic longer.
For example, I’m less likely to go off on a tangent if I see that I am purposely writing under a certain heading.
3. Makes it Easier to Add Relevant Information
When planning out a blog post outline, it’s easier to see what you have and what you may want to add to flesh it out a bit more. Again, this is most useful when comparing your article to the competition.
What can you include that will add value to the piece as opposed to what your competition put together? Then, add those points as necessary.
4. Fleshes Out Certain Points
When you have a good outline in place, it helps you flesh out the topic much further than just a quick 300-word article. It gives you a chance to add contextual meat that may be of great interest to the reader.
You can also use H4 headings if you want to add more to the H3s that are under the H2s. For instance, I could add H4 sections under “swimming” for types of swimming or ways to add more cardio while in the water.
This is exceptionally beneficial if you’re trying to reach a high minimum number of words without filler. Instead of a 1200-word tutorial, adding relevant subtopics can easily turn it into a 1900-word, highly detailed article.
5. Helps You Remember What Points to Make Later
Perhaps one of the most valuable to me is the ability to remember what I was writing about at a later date. This is because I don’t often get to finish a blog post in one sitting.
Sometimes it’ll be days before I can finish a post. Having the headers in place from the beginning helps me remember what I want to write.
An Outline Can Vastly Improve a Blog Post
There is really nothing wrong with “winging it” when it comes to writing a blog post. However, setting up a proper outline can ultimately improve how effective the blog post is at informing visitors.
After all, that’s the primary purpose of a blog, right? To capture the attention of your readers?
Never underestimate just how much further you can take a piece of content with a good outline. Especially when you’re in a very competitive niche.
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