Do you know that since 2004, the number of searches including the phrase “how to” has grown by more than 140 percent? Readers’ increasing interest in learning how to fix things or complete tasks makes how-to guides an essential tool in content marketing.
How-to guides provide in-depth and clear step-by-step instructions for doing something.
Here’s how to create a comprehensive how-to guide/tutorial without breaking a sweat—even if your competitors have covered the topic already.
Perform Keyword Research
Besides helping you rank better on SERPs, keyword research can help you uncover what your target audience wants to learn about the subject. The keyword tool will show all the different subtopics related to your topic. Analyze the subtopics and select the most relevant ones to help you cover the subject exhaustively.
For instance, if you want to create a guide for making banana bread, you can include a nut or moist banana bread recipe subtopic.
Google SERPs will also give you more ideas of what to include when creating a guide. All you have to do is type your main keyword on Google Search Box and check the following:
- Suggestions that are provided as you type
- People Also Ask section
- Related Searches section
Checking these sections will help you identify other relevant questions that readers have about your topic.
Check Your Competitors’ Content
When you create a comprehensive or ultimate guide, you promise the reader that your post has the best in-depth information for that topic. To make such a post, you need to look at what the existing content from your competitors offers. Just type your main keyword on the search engine and go through the top ranking posts.
When looking at your competitors’ posts on the chosen keyword, the goal is to identify what they are doing right, capitalize on it, pinpoint content gaps, and use the insights to make your content better.
Research the Topic
Even if you are an expert on the topic, it’s essential to supplement your knowledge with research. You may find additional information to help you create specific content explaining your audience’s questions. If you want to teach your audience how to take a screenshot on a laptop and you only know two methods, coming across a post with ten approaches can help you add more value to yours.
You can also identify other tips related to your topic that will benefit your reader during your research. For instance, if you are writing about how to create a website, you can include tips like:
- How to pick the right domain name
- How to choose the best web hosting company
Such tips will make your guide resourceful and provide an opportunity to link the related content on your site.
Survey Your Audience
A comprehensive how-to guide seeks to answer all the relevant questions about the topic. What’s the best way to discover your audience’s challenges and concerns about the topic? You can ask them by sending surveys to your subscribers or asking questions on social media. Analyze the answers and include them in your guide.
Some of the questions you can ask include:
- What are your burning questions about X
- What are your challenges when dealing with X
- Have you tried to solve X, and if yes, how?
Answering the audience’s questions and addressing their concerns will help you create content that meets their expectations.
Structure Your Guide in Logical Steps and Use Visuals
Since your audience wants to learn something, you should deliver the solution fast and correctly. Your audience and topic will determine how you structure the guide, but generally, you should:
- List the required materials (if applicable)
- List all the necessary steps or actions the reader should take
- Organize the stages with headings
Remember that the order of events is vital in a how-to guide. All the steps should be organized in the order the reader will complete them. You can also try to do it again—even if you do it regularly—and consider each step. If you bake banana bread often, you may take parts of the process for granted, which someone who wants to make the bread at home may not know.
Use visuals like screenshots, videos, infographics, or other images to support your text whenever possible. Such visuals are particularly important when it comes to complicated steps. Also, the visuals can help you repurpose content for multiple platforms, for instance, using the videos on your YouTube channel.
Write With Your Audience in Mind
When putting your guide together, you must think about the people searching for the topic. Understanding them in terms of their level of knowledge on the subject will help you to adjust the language, details, structure, and style accordingly.
For instance, a banana bread recipe for expert bakers will differ from the same how-to guide created for people without baking experience who want to make the bread at home. The one directed to people without baking experience should be more detailed without baking terminologies.
Remember that a comprehensive how-to guide is only useful if it helps your audience complete something successfully.
Include Examples Statistics,and Case Studies
Whether you want to establish yourself as an authority in your field, generate subscribers/leads, or achieve any other content marketing goal, ensure that you support your claims. You can use statistics, research studies, case studies, or examples. Besides helping you achieve your content marketing goals, you will provide the reader with further information to help them take action. Examples are beneficial in making the reader understand how to apply the knowledge in their businesses or lives.
Follow the Guide Yourself
Before you post your how-to guide, use it yourself to ensure accuracy. You should assume it’s your first time and follow the steps as the reader will. Rectify any errors you find, for example, you can discover that you missed an obvious step or the order is wrong. Have another person follow the steps and provide feedback on how easy it was to complete the task, if possible.