In this tutorial I’ll walk you through how I created a list post from scratch using Conversion.ai, a little bit of elbow grease and Google Sheets.
I’ve heard a lot about AI recently, particularly GPT-3. And like a lot of writers, initially I thought:
Ain’t no robot going to take my job.
And then I thought, maybe it can actually help speed up and improve my writing.
So, to put it to the test, I wanted to see if a robot could write an article from scratch, with as little input from me.
AI + Google Sheets = SEO List Posts
I decided I’d create a list post (more on them later) and use Conversion.ai/Jarvis…
WTF is Conversion.ai?
Conversion.ai (or Jarvis to his friends) is our future robot overlord.
Actually, let’s give Jarvis a chance to explain who (or what) he is:
Jarvis had always been a tad too curious for his own good. He would take apart anything and everything, just to see what made it work. It was this curiosity that led him to the forbidden lab when he saw the light on in there one night…
(Generated using the Creative story template)
Okay, so Conversion.ai, or Jarvis is an AI tool (GPT-3) for writing high quality copy for ads, emails, websites, listings, blogs, and more…
Btw, if you want 10k free credits, go here: try out Conversion.ai
So what is a list post (+ why are they good for SEO)?
A list post (or listicle) is a blog post that includes multiple items.
These posts usually include a title and then each item in the list with its own heading. The purpose of these types of posts is to help readers quickly scan through them and find what they need, instead of reading every single word on the page.
There are a lot of benefits to using list posts when it comes to SEO. First of all, they’re easy to write and read. They’re also great for grabbing people’s attention. Use them along with relevant images!
The main benefit of list posts is that they can be read through quickly. That makes them great for people who are pressed for time or just like to scan articles instead of reading every word.
(btw, Jarvis wrote that!)
If you’ve somehow never read a list post, here are some examples:
- 50+ Data Studio Templates
- 10 Actionable Things You Can Do With Ahrefs
- 11 Best Pizza Toppings, Ranked
6 Steps for using AI to (quickly) write a list post
In the following steps, I’ll show you how I went from a blank Google doc to a finished article in under an hour.
You will need:
- A copy of the list maker Google Sheets template*
- Some patience
*NOTE: If you want to edit the Google Sheet, go to File and hit Make a copy. DO NOT request access. If you do, I’ll ignore it and won’t invite you to my birthday party 🙂
I used some additional tools when creating the post, but you don’t have to.
- Ahrefs (for keyword research)
- Clearscope (for optimising your finished article)
Step 1 – Create an outline of your post
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be creating an article targeting the keyword: ‘free link building tools’.
The article will be published on Loganix.com. Check them out, they are pretty cool.
Outlining your post doesn’t have to take ages. Your goal here isn’t to create a super polished article. But to lay out the foundations for you to build on.
Here is what my outline looked like:
You can check out the outline here if you want to. As you can see it’s pretty scrappy.
Nothing fancy really. Given that this is a list post the info I wanted in this outline was:
- The actual list items to include (aka the actual free link building tools)
- Links to the tools
- Subheadings with keywords in them
- Some placeholder text if inspiration struck
When it comes to list posts, here’s a basic structure you can use:
- Introduction – introduce the topic
- H2 subheading – add in a variation on your target keyword here if you want
- H3 subheading – your list items followed by a brief description of the thing
- Summary – quick conclusion.
Once you’ve got an outline done, you can work out what content you need to generate
Step 2 – Organise what you need in the list maker sheet
Now you’ll need to make a copy of the List Maker spreadsheet I made for this experiment (Google Sheets template).
You’ll get a blank sheet but here is what it looks like when filled in:
- List item – the list item you want to include (in a subheading) in your finished post
- URL – self explanatory
- Meta description – auto pulled from your list item sites*
- Output – where you’ll drop the content Jarvis creates
- Word count – auto counts your generated content
Basically just fill this sheet in with the items you want to include in your list.
*Why use meta descriptions? Well these should be the quickest way to understand what a page is about and therefore give Jarvis the best chance of creating useful content.
If you are using the list maker sheet, meta descriptions are automatically pulled in using IMPORTXML. Although as you will see, this is not foolproof and can sometimes error.
If it errors, you’ll have to go to the page and find some useful text to drop into Conversion.ai instead of a meta description.
Don’t overthink it. Just grab a sentence or two that says what the tool (or list item) is.
Step 3 – Generate content and add to sheet
Conversion.ai has a growing library of templates (pre-set AI automation for creating content):
For this tutorial, you want to use the Product description template to generate your list content.
From the list maker sheet:
- Add List item to the Company/Product Name field
- Add meta description (or the info you gathered yourself if the formula broke) to the Tell us about the product field
You can fill in Tone of voice + Output language if you want something specific, but I didn’t.
Give your content to Jarvis and hit ‘Generate AI content’ to let him work his magic.
Once your content has been created, add it to the relevant output column. COLUMN G will do the word count for you, so you can keep track of how long your post will be.
A few things to note:
- This tool is VERY impressive but it isn’t perfect (yet). So now is your time to tweak the outputs.
- If you are generating content for an industry you know well, you’ll probably spot a few things that are a little off, so tweak them.
- This method does speed up writing list posts. 20+ descriptions were generated, edited and added to a doc in under an hour for me. A LOT quicker than writing from scratch.
Step 4 – Repeat the process for all your list items
So now you need to work through your list items and generate content (using the Product description template) for all your list items.
Generate the content, edit and tweak it, add it to your sheet and repeat.
I suggest listening to some music whilst you do this. Grab a coffee, wear your special work hat or do whatever gets you in the zone for doing some industrial strength copy and pasting.
Once you’ve generated content for all your items and added it to the sheet, you’ll get a total word count for the list sections.
Step 5 – Add some introductions
To be honest, you could end the process there if you wanted to. You’ve got your item descriptions, so you’ve technically got a list post waiting to publish.
But we can make it better. Or at least, Jarvis can.
Let’s add some introductions.
This time, we want to use the Blog post intro paragraph template:
Remember those subheadings you drafted in your outline? It’s time to create intro text for them.
Add the company/product name + audience into Conversion.ai and then add the subheading (input) into the blog post title field.
The goal here is to generate intros to drop under your headings to help with the flow of the content.
Why bother with this?
Because it makes the reading experience better for users. And Google likes that.
In the sheet there are dropdowns to markup the different types of ‘intros’ to generate. I used these but feel free to play around:
- Intro – your first introduction of the article
- Sub-section intro – the shorter intros for using under subheadings
For the summary/conclusion, just use an output from the intro that works the best as a wrap up.
Step 6 – Assemble your post
Now it’s time to pull your various bits of content together into a single, coherent list post.
Now you have a finished list article!
Extra steps for SEO
Like most content I want to rank, I run it through Clearscope to assess if there are any topic gaps or general improvements I can make.
For the generated content (with a minimal edits), it came back with a respectable content grade of B+:
That’s really pretty good. I’ve had content back from freelance writers with lower grades than this.
After 15 minutes of tweaking, I bumped the grade up to A- which for the purpose of this experiment will do:
So, what does the finished article look like?
You can check it out for yourself here:
I think it looks pretty good. And it reads like a proper article (written by a human). I did add images for each of the list items, which is optional, although I do think it is worth doing
This article turned out better than I thought. Turns out Conversion.ai is a pretty sweet tool for writers and content marketers.
Go get yourself some credits and take it for a spin.
Ultimately, I still think that content needs a human involved. But for now…