When I work on creative writing projects, I try not to outline too much before I dive in. I figure its better not to limit my creativity before I even dig in. But with blog posts, landing pages and other marketing copy, I take the opposite approach. A strong outline stops me from veering off topic and helps me accomplish the overall goals of the page.
One of the best approaches to outlining I’ve found over time is to craft a question based skeleton for a blog post. Then I simply write the answers needed to help readers get the information they’re looking for. In addition to helping me stay on topic, question based kinds of posts can give blog an organic SEO boost.
The SEO Benefits of Including Questions as Headers in Your Blog Post
Questions help you capture traffic generated by long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are simply longer phrases that are used often enough to become their own keywords. In the search results snippet below, you can see a variety of search phrases related to making apple pie. In this case, how to make apple pie from scratch, how to make apple pie crust and how to make apple pie filling are all examples of long tail keywords.
People who use long tail keywords are looking for a specific result, and their intent is very clear. Under the inbound methodology, these people are super valuable leads, because they know what they want. IF you connect with them, and you’re offering what they need, you don’t need to do a lot of delighting or converting. You attract them, and they move to the bottom of the funnel on their own very quickly.
How To Create a Question Based Outline
Your first header should be the most basic question that readers totally unfamiliar with the topic would ask. In the apple pie example, my first H2 would probably be:
What is an Apple Pie?
Or, since that might be a little too basic, I might start with:
What Do I Need To Make an Apple Pie?
Next, expand a little more on the topic, with the next logical question readers might ask. In this case, if I was writing an instructional article that includes a recipe and step by step breakdown, I’d probably have the next header say:
How Do I Prepare to Bake Apple Pie?
Or, if I want to try and capture some of that search traffic from the long tail keywords I saw earlier, I might try to include one of the terms:
How Do I Make Apple Pie From Scratch?
How Do I Make Apple Pie Crust From Scratch?
I might have one last question listed on my outline that doesn’t get made into an H2 for the final article. This is the wrap up question, where I remind myself to tie up the loose ends. What else does the reader need to know? How can I work in a call to action near the end? These questions help me remember to wrap the post up neatly and accomplish the end goal of the page, whether that’s simply to inform the reader or drive them to take some action.
What technique do you use to outline blog posts, and how does it work for you?