How to Write an Effective SEO Blog Outline (Bonus: Free Template Example)

Do you need an SEO blog outline to grow your knack for writing into a profitable content creation business?

It’s an exciting time to be a writer and creative entrepreneur. You can use your aptitude with words to jump online and sell marketing, SEO, and writing as a service. Or, simply drive leads to yourself using SEO content. To do any of it, you just need to learn the basics. 📚

It’s modern, exciting, and can be quite simple once you’ve got the right creative and business skills under your belt.

SEO-driven content skills are in demand more than ever before. And there’s no slowing down – research shows the content marketing industry will be worth a jaw-dropping $600B by 2024.

At my writing agency, I was involved in over 40,000 content projects and oversaw a team of 80+ people. This is where I realized the profound impact of using an SEO blog outline for every single article.

So, before you write a word (or your hired content writer starts writing) you need to have an outline.

Ready to learn how to write SEO-friendly blogs?

Let’s dive in.

seo blog outline

What Is an SEO Outline?

Blog outlines are a general plan of what you intend to write in your articles. They help you or your content writer follow a simple and repeatable creation process. ✎

These quick summaries help streamline the content creation process, and, if executed properly, SEO-optimized outlines can get higher search engine rankings for blogs for many reasons.

Here’s an example of what this could look like once you start writing, in something as simple as a free app like Google Docs:

seo blog outline example

They’re essential — if you want to earn traffic from a blog article, you need an SEO outline before you start writing it. Before you use any template, you’ll need to master these practical steps to create the perfect SEO writing format template for your unique blog, ideal business persona, and brand.

We’ll dig deeper into the “why” behind blogging outlines below, but generally speaking, they help you avoid the big no-no’s in modern content marketing, including things like poor flow, keyword stuffing, and lack of organization. 🤯

seo writing freebie cheat sheet

Need to learn SEO writing? I teach step-by-step writing for search engines inside my powerful video course, The Expert SEO Content Writer. Get started with my free cheat sheet.

How to Use This SEO Blog Outline

Toward the end of this article, you’ll find a link to my free blog SEO outline template. But before you use it, it’s important to understand the why behind it, so start with these steps.

Once you’ve got your process down, you can make your content creation much more automated and seamless (helping to prevent burnout). Here’s how:

I use this outline by sending it to my writers inside of their task descriptions. I copy and paste from a saved SEO blog article outline template doc I use over and over again… with amazing results. It can truly be this simple with the right skills down, and we’ll cover exactly what those are up next.

7 Steps to Writing an SEO Blog Outline

A good outline makes it very hard for your SEO writing to go astray. Let’s get you one.

Still asking yourself, “How do I make an outline for a blog?” Follow these steps to get yourself (or your content writer) organized and off on the right foot when writing a lead-generating blog.

Step #1: Pick Your Keywords Carefully

Your keyword research can and should be part of creating your structure and outline. 📓

1. Start with a Focus Keyword

The true opportunities to make content that converts lie in your focus keyword.

You don’t want to simply guess what your audience wants; you need to understand it. You can do this by deeply researching what is stopping your audience from success and writing around these pain points.

For example, let’s say you’re wanting to blog for a small business that sells orthopedic running shoes. Without keyword research, you might think to pick the obvious focus keyword: running shoes.

high KD keyword

But here’s the problem with that.

Not only is this keyword way too difficult to target (Nike and other giant brands will likely dominate the first spot for the foreseeable future), but it doesn’t really solve a specific problem. 🤷

Instead, you’d want to consider a long-tail, pain-point specific keyword such as: best running shoes for ball of foot pain.

low KD keyword

Stepping into your leads’ minds and using search intent to generate high converting blogs this way is one of the biggest content trends of 2022 I predicted — and it’s only getting stronger. 💪

Need to know how to research keywords that target exactly what your audience wants AND write SEO content like a pro? There’s in-depth SEO content writing training inside my coaching program for creative entrepreneurs just like you, The Content Transformation System (enrolling now).

topic area for content

2. Use Other Keywords for Structure

During your keyword research, you’ll need to look up relevant keywords to include in your post that will let your SEO blog outline really take shape.

Gone are the days of random keywords being stuffed into content to try and snag undeserved rankings. Your audience (and Google) knows better. Always remember to include keywords naturally and only if they truly serve a purpose (weaving in keywords within your headers and text this way truly is an art form and a skill you can absolutely learn).

You can keep things simple and use a free DIY SEO tool for your keyword research. Personally, I love Semrush for this (and their insanely amazing reporting), but it’s advanced and the paid plan is the way to go.

semrush report example

Step #2: Pick a Format & Length

Long-form or short-form? The format and length decision comes down to your research. Once you’ve decided, make sure to include this in your SEO blogging outline. For example:

“long-form ultimate guide at 3,500 words”

You can do this research quickly by searching for your target keyword on Google and checking out the top results and comparing. 🔎

Step #3: Nail Your Title

Wondering “How do I get my blog noticed by Google?”

Have a well-researched title. 💥

Since it’s the first thing people see in the search results, don’t underestimate the power of your blog article’s title. Google also uses it to understand what’s inside your piece, so it’s incredibly important.

Because it’s so impactful, you should always include at least a title suggestion in your SEO blog post outline. In addition, here are some of the best practices to follow when researching your title:

  1. Use the top results in Google for your focus keyword as inspiration for what’s working well + how you can do better.
  2. Make the title a “suggestion” and give yourself or your writer permission to refine it after the post has been written to accurately reflect the final content.
  3. Use content marketing tools like the AMI Headline Analyzer to dig into and tweak your title further.

And remember to always use your focus keyword within your title (but naturally, of course).

Struggling with content writing? Want to jump into quick video guidance on creating your outline, researching, sourcing images, and more? Check out my “watch Julia write” 1-hour Learn to Write Online Content workshop for just $27.

Step #4: Know Your Target Audience

The goal of SEO content writing isn’t to get as many eyes on your piece as possible. 👀

It’s to get the right eyes reading, and then speak directly to their hearts. For instance, take a look at the first few sentences of this blog. Not only do they clear up exactly who should be reading this to get the maximum benefit, but it also sends away anyone else, immediately.

Knowing your exact ideal audience and speaking to them is important in SEO (and in business) because your content can’t (and shouldn’t) help everyone. And your target audience will notice right away if you’re trying to cast too wide a net — but on the flip side, they’ll also quickly notice when you’re speaking directly to their problem. This helps you:

  1. Find more keywords that target an audience and bring in the right traffic
  2. Increase your search engine rankings by lowering your bounce rate (how quickly people leave your page) 🚀
  3. Increase overall conversions, sales, and revenue
  4. Build a raving fan base by driving deep brand trust

Don’t sleep on building brand trust with your ideal audience either — it’s the second most important purchasing decision for consumers (after price).

edelman trust barometer

Step #5: Include Your Must-Haves for Consistency

Writing a fantastic blog article is all about putting in the hard work upfront (your outline). Then, writing should be a breeze. This is that beautiful balance between marketer and writer that makes content writing so cool (you get to be both!).

cool writer

So, my very cool friend, eliminating distractions via your thorough outline is key.

On top of that, you need to include what you want every single piece to contain so your brand/blog can stay consistent and cohesive (regardless of who writes the content).

For instance…

  1. You have a high-converting lead magnet, but if you forget to include it in your great article, it might never see the light of day.
  2. One article has a bright, light-hearted tone and the next has a serious, no-holds-barred angle that confuses your readers.

To avoid this inconsistency, you want to get super detailed with your SEO blog template by including everything that should be in each blog you or your writer produce, such as:

  1. Calls-to-action (CTAs): Add a hyperlink and/or image inviting readers to engage with your brand further (email sign-ups, relevant lead magnets, and landing pages to products/services are popular CTAs).
  2. Brand voice/tone: Prioritize your brand’s voice, tone, and personality so they can shine through in your articles.
  3. Target audience: We talked about the importance of including a target audience in your SEO blog outline earlier. Note that you can (and should) adjust per piece within your niche, depending on your research and what’s currently ranking.

This list isn’t wholly inclusive of your unique brand, but can be used as an example when building your blog outline.

Step #6: Don’t Expect Perfection

Even with the flood of artificial intelligence writing tools popping up to assist, don’t forget that content writers are humans. So, if you get content back that needs a tweak to be absolutely perfect, don’t think your SEO content outline failed. 😔 (This applies if you’re writing your own content or delegating.)

Because even if you’ve hired the best, most experienced content writer in the world, never expect perfection from a writer. You can’t leave them alone on an island of silence — they’re always going to need your guidance to deliver high-quality work for your brand.

You can access a breakdown of exactly what to look for when hiring a rock star content writer in our free guide, The Top 9 Traits of a Content Hacker-esque Writer.

content writer cover

One of the reasons I’m able to manage my writers’ work is because I believe in the power of helpful, in-depth, long-form content. Meaning, I publish 1-2x/week (in case you were wondering how often to post on your blog).

This gives my writers (and me) much more clarity and space to review, revise, and perfect everything they send over. 📝

And every piece of feedback I give also builds toward their brand knowledge and writing expertise, so it’s absolutely worth the time if you’re building your rock star team from scratch.

But in the end, remember the content that ultimately gets published needs to contain error-free text, clear and relevant images, and non-essay style writing — these are just a few of the foundational pillars for high-quality blog articles.

Step #7: Plug This into a Strategy (So You Can Repeat It for Consistent Profits)

Now that you have the needed skills to create a killer blog outline, you need to plug it into a strategy you can repeat over and over again, so you can get clarity and scale your brand. This is the final piece of your outline that so many new or struggling creative entrepreneurs forget — and it’s absolutely imperative you do this.

Your blog outline is only as successful as the content marketing strategy that it lives within. Because if you’re constantly grinding day-to-day in your business, buried in the weeds of everything you have to get done, you’ll sink. 🚢

In fact, only 43% of companies have a documented content strategy.

percentage of b2b marketers with documented content strategy

Don’t be like them.

Your strategy should be so organized and cohesive that you know exactly what you’re doing every single day — no guesswork, no burnout, no more being unorganized. Because once you’ve built your content marketing strategy properly, you’ll know exactly how to outline a blog that’s researched and written so well it brings in an avalanche of leads. ⛷️

Plus, your strategy should include how to measure content marketing ROI, so you can see exactly how well your blog outlines are working.

A lack of a crystal-clear strategy can and does lead to failure with your content writing, SEO marketing, and business efforts. Not having a strategy is a huge problem in the online coaching industry today, and that’s part of why I created my content-based business coaching system for creative entrepreneurs.

You can watch me take a deep dive into scaling your business organically through a content-based strategy in my YouTube video here:

Your Free SEO Blog Outline Template

Even though I built and successfully exited a writing agency for a 13,000x ROI, I’m a creative at heart. So, I live and breathe outlines. I know how much easier it is to write efficiently when you can keep writing without having to stop and research in the middle of your thoughts. 😵

My advice is that before you use a random free blog outline generator, use an in-depth SEO blog outline template instead. This is the exact cheat sheet I’ve used to build multiple six and seven-figure content-based brands.

Download the writer outline I send my personal SEO writers now.

seo blog outline template

Go Beyond Writing Amazing Blogs That Rank – Build a Sustainable Content Business

When you set up your SEO blog outline the right way, it will blow your mind how effective your content writing and strategy become.

But, here’s the lynchpin I’ve discovered after coaching and teaching over 1,000 entrepreneurs, teams and agencies over the last seven years.

SEO content writing that leads to real profits is MUCH bigger than just sitting down and typing up a blog here and there.

To truly win and get leads through your blog, you have to focus on strategy and sustainable, long-term success, built on the back of real skills that you’ve worked to learn.

I’ll coach you on exactly this inside the proven system I used at my agency (and continue to use here at Content Hacker) to create over $5M in gross revenue from content. You can take my exact skills, strategies, and systems and apply them to your own writing and content marketing to see massive growth and sustainable revenue from a stream of hungry leads.

Your keys to this type of freedom and impact from your business are inside my coaching program The Content Transformation System, enrolling now.

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work together? You’re already an amazing writer — let me be your business coach and you’ll learn everything you need to level up your creative AND business skills to build explosive content that sells… and a life-changing brand that thrives. Apply now to my 12-month mentorship, my most advanced program that gives you everything you need to succeed online.

cta content transformation system apply now

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.