An Expert's Guide to Creating Amazing How-To Content

An Expert’s Guide to Creating Amazing How-To Content

About a month ago, water from my bath started leaking through my kitchen ceiling. It was frustrating to say the very least.

In a desperate attempt to fix the problem, I turned to Google for guidance. I asked how to diagnose and fix a leaking ceiling.

I soon discovered that most of the content returned offered pretty general advice. Each promised to tell me the top tips and tricks for repairing a ceiling, but the problem was that either the content didn’t make sense to me, or didn’t provide me with truly valuable information.

I was left feeling none the wiser about what I needed to do. In the end, I called a plumber.

The internet contains endless amounts of how-to content, but a lot of it misses the point. If you’re a brand or writer looking to create how-to content to improve the number of time users spend on site, return visits, and increased traffic through digital (and verbal) referrals, you should think about the following areas.

Understanding value

Understanding the unique things a brand can offer should be the first thing to think about when creating how-to content. If you’re a freelance writer then work closely with your client to get their expertise.

Let’s say you’re looking to educate readers on how they can fix a bathroom leak. Other than the obvious, what else can you add? What expertise can your brand offer? What’s your unique approach?

Ask yourself:

  • What are the pitfalls your readers should be aware of?
  • What useful shortcuts or tips do you know that will benefit the reader?
  • Do you have any research that proves that your technique is better than the methods others are suggesting?
  • Can you get more creative with your format (e.g. video or infographic)?

Once you know the answers to the questions above, you can start to look at similar content – and work out how to make yours better.

How to research your competitors

For every piece of how-to content you’re planning on publishing, it is essential to conduct research. How you do that depends on the aims of the content.

For example, if you’re looking to improve organic traffic, perform a quick search using the relevant keywords – look at the how-to content around your topic that’s ranking highly. Tools such as Google Analytics, Linkdex, SEMrush, and Searchmetrics can help with your competitor research, they can tell you which terms you receive traffic for and which pages people are visiting.

If you’re looking to produce content to increase social engagement, tools such as BuzzSumo, Brand Watch, and Crimson Hexagon can help determine what the top performers are on social media. Look at what pieces are getting the most engagement and how they approach your topic.

Educate your Audience with Helpful Information

What are the first things you do when you need something to fix? If you give your audience a guide on “how to” do something, first you should educate yourself and have a full understanding of the topic you are speaking about. 

If you want to deliver value to your audience, you should provide relevant information. Let’s see, over 4 billion people in the world search for something on Google. Who wants to spend time reading something meaningless? Giving reliable and checked information to your audience will help you to attract readers and improve your ranking on search engine result pages.

To make your content interesting to the audience, you can show the details through a video as well. Let’s see we have two different articles: one with a video tutorial, another without it. The majority of searchers will choose the option with a video, as it is proven that video is the leading source of web content now, with about 82.5% more reach compared to other content types. To be brief, it will let your readers have a more personal feel to your message. Another study shows that “how-to” content with video tutorials helps to increase user understanding.

On top of everything, if you want to make sure your article meets the highest standards, it needs to be SEO-Optimized. When writing an SEO-friendly article, make sure to follow these instructions:

  • Create catchy titles to attract readers
  • Write for your audience first. Don’t chase SEO perfection and make your content natural
  • Provide decent structure with headings and organize them in the correct logical order
  • Ensure proper keyword optimization with optimal usage frequency
  • Refer to original and useful sources 
  • Use content writing tools which will help you write SEO-optimized content. There are a lot of free SEO Extensions that will elevate your content marketing.

Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

To keep your “how-to” content both interesting and engaging, you should understand some basics:

– What is your message to your reader?

– What are your steps to deliver the right message?

– How are you going to do it?

If you understand these three simple elements, it will be easier to meet your content goals.

Having a strong content marketing strategy and plan will help to increase engagement, 72% of marketers claim. A solid plan will help to improve your targeting goals and do something better. Let’s face it, that there is too much similar information on the internet. Why spend time creating something similar that no one will read? Make sure to plan all your steps and thoroughly plan an approach that will ensure to set you up for success. 

What is your reason to write “how-to” content? 

No matter if it is for attracting new audiences, sharing your ideas in different forms, or selling something, it can become a big tool to engage people. For businesses, a well-planned content strategy can mean big money. For instance, you are selling something, and give detailed information on “how to” use it. If your content is interesting, it can directly impact buying decisions. Hence, if you write content, you have much to research, discover, understand, plan and then write it.