Content creation tools
I’m going to use a ton of different tools in order to create this blog post and blog post outline:
- Sumo’s Headline Generator;
- Readability Testing Tool;
- MOZ Title Tag Tool;
- Sumo’s List of Power Words;
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer;
- ClickMinded Content Analysis Worksheet and Outline Template—you can get those through the form at the top of this post.
A couple of other tools I like using when I write a new post include Hemingway App (great for improving your content’s readability) and Grammarly (which can help you spot mistakes and syntactical errors easily).
Doing some research
Before getting started you’re going to want to do a few things:
- Define your goal: is this post meant to attract new top-of-funnel traffic? Or is the objective to nurture existing leads into converting?
- Your target audience: who is this post targeting? Ideally, you already have an idea of who your customer persona is—you should think of them when you write this.
- Your main keyword and the searcher intent behind that: if you want to attract any organic traffic, you will need to target something people are already searching for.
As an example, I’m going to explain the process of creating an outline for a blog post about “hair loss” and “hair loss treatments.”
Analyzing Similar Content
Before you start working on the blog post outline, you should do a brief analysis of similar content on the same topic.
There is no shortage of content on ANY topic on the internet—your objective has to be to create the best piece of content for that searcher intent.
So the first step is to look at the posts that are already doing great and try to create something better.
There are two ways I do this: using BuzzSumo and using Google.
- Go to BuzzSumo and sign up for a free trial account.
- Type your keyword in (in my case, it was “hair loss treatment”)
- Look at the results, see what performed best on the social networks and get some inspiration.
In my example, I found a post on IFLScience with 35,000 Facebook engagements. I opened that one up, as well as a couple of other articles (one from Ivy Times with 32,000 engagements on Reddit.)
Buzzsumo gives you a view of the content that does well on social media. Next, we’ll look at content that’s getting search traffic.
Go to Google and just enter your primary keyword in there. Open up some of the posts that look most interesting in the top 10 results.
Throw these ranking posts and the viral (BuzzSumo) ones into a document and try to find patterns between them.
- Are they using a similar headline?
- Are they coming to a primary conclusion that’s very similar?
- Are they doing something in the copy that seems to be working?
You do this to find out what they are doing so well—and what you absolutely HAVE to do on your own post.
We created a template for you to do this, which you can get through the form at the top of this post:
As you can see in the image below, I took a couple of links from Buzzsumo and Google search results and I listed some of the things I can analyze here:
- Type of content (walk-through, list, interview, etc.).
- Is it actionable or not?
- Does it offer great examples?
- What’s the age of the content?
- Are the design and structure any good?
Once you do this, you will start to see what the quality and content of your post should be, based on what other sites have done already.
Another thing you can do before you get started is to use a readability test tool.
Very simply, this tool allows you to input a URL and then it will tell you how difficult the language on that page is and what kind of level certain people will be at in order to comprehend and understand what you’re writing.
For example, I found an article on natural hair treatments from Draxe.com. I added the URL into a Readability Test Tool and it showed me that this page has an average grade level of 8 and that it should be easily understood by 13 to 14-year-olds.
This is a great tool to help you figure out how technical your post should be and whether or not you need to “dumb it down” a little bit.
Crafting the Headline
Next, you’re also going to want to make sure you put a lot of time into your headline.
Headlines are massively important—but most people put little work into them.
I’ll put it this way: Even if you create the greatest blog post of your time, no one will read it if they are not compelled to do so by the headline.
There are a few great tools here that you can use to test your headlines:
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
This is a great resource to determine which headline, among several variations, has the best chances to succeed in getting people to click.
When you input a headline into CoSchedule’s analysis tool, you will get a score, as well as a bit of feedback on how I might want to make this a little bit better.
Sumo’s Kickass Headline Generator
This is a very valuable and interesting way to generate the headline.
This generator has different headline formulas it uses to generate automated headlines based on the information you input. They have numbered lists, how-to’s, explanatory, strong, controversial, fun, and playful headline generators.
For instance, in the case of the “numbered lists headline” formula, the tool generates numbered list headlines based on the info you give them: the topic, the desired outcome, the undesirable outcome, and the points you’re making in the content.
Sumo’s Power Word List
This blog post lists out these really great power words (or marketing power words if you prefer to call them like that).
I use these all the time because they’re very, very helpful to write headlines.
Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool
This tool will allow you to input a title and get a preview of how it would look in Google search results—this is a great way to easily check if your headline will be truncated in search results (you definitely want to avoid that!)
Creating the Blog Post Outline
OK, so we’ve done quite a lot of work leading up to the actual creation of the blog post outline.
Now you’re ready to go to the outline template and fill it in, get it through the form above, make a copy of it, and then add your information—according to the analysis you’ve run before.
First, you’ll need to write the basic structure your blog post will follow.
In my example, for my post on “hair loss treatments”, I went with:
- Known causes for hair loss
- Scientific research (include facts about the active ingredient of the treatment)
- Present the treatment
- Bonus – food items that help minimize hair loss
Next, you’ll work on your lede—these are the first couple of sentences of your post, which tell readers what it is about and what to expect.
You want to write something that compels them to keep reading.
A good post lede meets the following criteria:
- Is specific – explains exactly what your post is about
- Contains a teaser – E.g. “You are going to find out how the best hair loss treatment works and, as a bonus, what superfoods you need to eat to reverse hair loss. One of them may not taste like cherry pie, but it works.”.
- Short and crisp – 1 – 2 sentences, but no fluff. Right to the point, tangible and interesting/funny/creative.
- Contains the keyword and data/numbers
In my example, the lede will focus on “new treatment that has shown great results in fighting hair loss + food items that minimize hair loss”.
If you want to make your job easier, plan your content even further.
- Write down the concepts the user needs to understand in order to understand the post and aim to define them.
- You should also follow a basic Q&A structure in your text body. Establish the questions the user might have and aim to answer them in your post.
- Go from very broad to very specific (talk about the problem in general and then go deeper and deeper).
When you’re done with your outline, use the checklist provided and check things off as you go along.
- Do you have a compelling headline?
- A compelling lede?
- A call to action?
- Testimonials, relevant data, or supporting evidence?
- How long is it?
- Do you have a relevant giveaway that makes sense?
- Does it have good readability score?
- How is it structured?
- Is there video?
- Are there high-quality visuals and/or short paragraphs in your content?
You should pay special attention to your headline:
- Do you have number, stats, or data in there?
- Is it written in second person?
- Are you targeting the primary keyword?
- Are you communicating very clearly what the blog post is about?
- Do you have a power word?
- Are you using the active verb
- Is the headline under 65 characters?
Finally, remember to keep on-page SEO as you write your blog post.
External links sending back to your articles, internal links, the keyword you use in your headline and in the blog content, how compelling the meta description is—can all help your post rank higher in search engines.
You can check our on-page SEO guide for an in-depth walkthrough.
That’s it! If you follow this process, you’ll write create powerful blog post outlines, write better blog posts, and attract more traffic and sales to your website with content marketing.