It seems a bit strange to say that this is a “how to” guide on writing a “how to” guide, but that’s exactly what it is. While creating SEO content for our clients, we can’t help but notice just how many “how to” guides are out there on the internet, but the reality of the matter is that they aren’t all made equal. You might already know this if you have struggled to find the information you need online before.
The guide pages that are consistently referenced and lure in reader after reader, while gaining thousands upon thousands of views, likes, comments, and shares, are those that have something a little extra to offer the reader. And we are about to teach you just how to create that kind of guide page. If you don’t know how to write a guide, you’re about to find out.
What is a guide?
Many business owners trying to capitalise on content marketing ask “what is a guide?” and the answer is quite simple. A guide is a “how to” document that includes everything a person needs to know about a specific product or process. It’s provided typically in step by step format or with a logical flow that’s easy to follow. It aims to answers all the questions a consumer has about a product before and even after they buy it.
11 Steps to Creating a How to Guide That Grabs the Reader’s Attention and Keeping It
Want to know precisely how to write a guide? There are just 11 steps to creating the ultimate how to guide. See them featured below.
1. Define your target audience for your products.
You need to know how to write a how to guide that appeals to your specific target audience, otherwise it is going to fail. For instance, if you write a very technical and in depth “how to” guide for a children’s product, chances are that children won’t have any interest in it. Kids require pictures, basic language and an element of fun. That’s the type of how to guide that works for a child. A guide for adults will be quite different.
2. Carry out extensive research before you begin.
Have you ever spent a frustrating amount of time Googling for an answer you just can’t seem to find? Your ultimate how to guide is going to solve that problem for your target customers. Think about what your guide is on and take the time to download a sample how to guide published by your competitors on similar products, to use as a point of reference. Reading other businesses “how to” guides can help to spark some new creativity, so that you can write a guide that blows all other related guides right out of the digital water. It can also help you to see areas that they might have missed that you can cover thoroughly.
3. Create a rough outline that follows a logical flow.
Before you start writing, make sure that you jot down the outline of your page and information so that you have a logical flow of information. This just needs to be rough outline of main sections, so that you don’t forget anything once you begin, and so that you can follow the correct sequence when you get into the thick of writing. You can reference published sample how to guide formats and outlines to use as a guideline.
4. Ensure that the guide covers everything the reader needs to know.
When writing the guide, you need to make sure that you are writing for a broad group of people. Some readers might be beginners while others might be experts. You need to make sure you are catering to both without sounding condescending to either. You need to put as much research as possible into your topic to make sure that your guide is a one-stop place for all the information that the reader needs. There should be absolutely no need for them to head off to another resource to find something out, or look something up.
5. Ask your existing customers what questions they want answered.
If you are writing an ultimate how to guide for your customers, chances are that they would greatly appreciate one. You are in a great position to get the various sections for your guide quickly pieced together, simply by asking your existing customers what they would like to know, what questions they would like answered, and what sections they feel need the most coverage. Consider this market research. You can ask these questions on social media platforms and via personalised emails sent out to customers.
6. Follow a pre-determined format or template.
Formatting a how to guide is actually quite important for readability. If you present a block of information without breaking it up into easy-to-understand bite-size portions, the reader is going to feel overwhelmed. Your guide should provide step by step guidance in bold. Each of those steps can contain sub-steps and elaborations on what is required and why. Follow a similar format throughout the document.
7. Do your keyword research once you have a rough idea of what your guide will include.
Many people make the mistake of researching their keywords first and then creating content around those keywords. The result is content that doesn’t flow easily and seems to have been written for an algorithm instead of human consumption. Google, who you are trying to impress with your content for good search engine rankings, frowns upon content that seems to be trying too hard in terms of keywords. The more natural the piece is, the more helpful it will be to readers – and that’s the type of content Google shows preference to. You can strategically use keywords in your headings and subheadings, and also keep in mind that long tail keywords are the most effective when it comes to modern SEO practices.
8. Use graphics, statistics, and plenty of examples.
How to guides can become complicated without diagrams and images. Include as many as you can, whether they are infographics, sketches, or real-life photographs you have taken to illustrate your point. Even if your instructions and steps sound simple to you, to someone else, the concepts can be confusing. Statistics are a great way to get your message across, as well as examples. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of these in your guide.
9. Consult with a professional graphic designer.
You might know what you want to say, but a graphic designer knows how to present the content effectively. You can of course include a plethora of free images and diagrams, but there’s probably a way to create a visually attractive infographic or images that are unique to your business, products, and concept. Tie the designs in with your company colours and ensure that any product images you use are professionally taken and edited to truly show them off effectively.
10. Get a copywriter or editor involved.
At Dojono, we actively create SEO content and website content on a daily basis. For us, it is second nature, but for you it might be your first time creating such a long and intensive document. Once you have pieced together your content, you can really benefit from hiring a copywriter or editor with a keen eye and creative flair, to go over the content and work on wording it just right for your target audience.
If you don’t want to hire a copywriter or editor, you can use the Grammarly plugin to check your grammar and spelling and then spend some time reading the content aloud while considering it from the perspective of the intended reader. Is it easy to understand? Is it witty and well presented? Is there a lot of waffle or is the document jam-packed with nuggets of valuable information? These are all important questions to ask.
11. Keep revising and updating the content.
When learning how to write a guide, one of the most important points to note is that your guide should never really be “finished”. Once the how to guide is published, it is important to keep updating it on a regular basis. Things change and evolve over the weeks, months and years. Perhaps there is an update on the product, new information on it, or a new and innovative use for it – make sure you keep mentioning this and adding to your guide page. This doesn’t just provide customers with new and helpful information (which is the ultimate point of regular updates), but it also reminds customers of your presence and keeps them in touch with your business.
Creating the perfect guide page isn’t going to be the most difficult thing you ever do. It is just going to require a lot of planning, forethought and time. Want a bit more information on how to write a guide? If you need any professional advice on the process, the SEO content team here at Dojono is standing by to assist.