Create an effective outline using Topic

Step 1: Create a compelling title and description

Titles and descriptions are critical from an SEO standpoint because they're the first thing a searcher sees. They have a major influence on click-through rate, and if people aren't clicking your title, then your content is doomed from the start. In order to have an effective title, it needs to match the searcher's intent (what they're trying to do or learn more about) while also standing out from the competition. 

Luckily, we have a couple of tools to help. The first is the Competitive Analysis table where you can look at other article titles to understand the overall search intent. This table is also useful for identifying content that is doing especially well (marked by the "interesting content" tag) or content that is the most comprehensive. 

The second tool is our Idea Generator, which brainstorms titles, descriptions, and even outlines for you. Click "Get Title Ideas" and select 3 or more competitor titles that match the search intent you're targeting, and Topic will iterate on those and come up with a list of title ideas. You may need to hit refresh a few times and sift through the options to find an idea that satisfies the search intent but is sufficiently different than the competition. You can also start with one of the generated ideas and tweak the wording to make it your own!

Step 2: Create a starter outline

Once you have a title and description, you can click on "Get Heading Ideas" and our system will generate a unique outline for you to start with. Every time you click refresh, you'll get a brand new way of organizing the content. Choose the headings that you want and add them to your outline, located under the title/description/word count on the right.

Step 3: Add headings from competitive research

Next, if you scroll down to the "Competitor Outlines" section, you'll see the outlines (headings) of top-ranking articles for your focus keyword. Why is it good to look at these outlines? Google has already tested the vast array of articles on the internet to find the ones that are engaging searchers the most. Studying how they've organized the information is a useful way to build an outline that will similarly engage your audience.

Simply click on any of the headings on the competitor outlines to add them to your own. You can organize the information in your outline by dragging and dropping, using the outline toolbar, or by using hotkeys such as arrows, tab, ctrl+click, and shift+click.

Step 4: Add common questions

Next, we show you questions related to your focus keyword which you can click to add to your outline. Answering these questions in your content makes it more relevant to your audience.

Step 5: Add topics to cover 

Finally, the last section is Topics to Cover, which shows you the specific terminology and subtopics that your audience is interested in learning more about. Topic's grading system is based on how many of these topics have been covered. This is a proxy for comprehensiveness — it can obviously be manipulated by stuffing these words into your post. But your focus should be on expanding on these topics and turning them into their own paragraphs to add value to the reader.

You can ignore any topics you find irrelevant or click on them to see how other pages are covering them. One useful tool is the "Group by Semantic Similarity" switch, which clusters the topics into groups of words that are frequently used together. This can help you see the bigger picture when it comes to the concepts that need to be covered in your article.

Step 6: Export your outline

Once you are satisfied with your outline, click "Copy to Clipboard" and paste it into the editing field on the Content Grader tab (or a Google Doc, your WordPress post editor, or wherever you prefer to work on your content) and get started on your draft. If you're working with a team of writers, this can be a great starting point for them to help craft high-quality content that has a strong chance of ranking in search.

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