Why How-To Guides Should Be an Essential Part of Your Content Strategy
Karl Kangurmarzo 17, 2022
In 2022, the consensus is that people have the attention spans of goldfish. And so, most brands look for ways to create short-form content that immediately grabs attention and provides value within a short time frame.
Snackable content is on the rise, especially as more than 50% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. However, it’s safe to say that long-form content isn’t going anywhere either.
In fact, despite its seemingly outdated nature, long-form content still offers some serious gains.
So, if you’re ready to start investing in your digital marketing in a way that guarantees a high ROI, this is why how-to guides should be an essential part of your content strategy.
One of the most significant advantages of including how-to guides in your content strategy is, without a doubt, the fact that they give you a unique opportunity to boost your SEO. And not just because long-form content gives you more room to repeat your focus keyphrase and include long-tail synonyms in your copy. Additionally, it also helps you win better positions on SERPs and get more backlinks from high-authority domains.
In fact, there are two studies you need to be aware of that expertly show the value of investing in long-form content.
For one, there’s the fact that Google’s algorithm prioritizes longer articles. Backlinko’s study from 2020 discovered that the average Google first-page result contained 1,447 words. But that’s not all. Another analysis from Backlinko and BuzzSumo found that articles with more than 3,000 words got 77.2% more backlinks than short-form content of under 1,000 words.
These studies are crucial for business owners because they successfully highlight the value of insightful articles.
So, if you’re looking for ways to upgrade and future-proof your digital marketing strategy, consider investing resources into insightful content like ultimate guides and other forms of educational content (which happens to make people 131% more likely to convert).
Help Create a Market for Your Product
Traditionally, beginners guides target consumers who are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. And, on the surface, investing in long-form content aimed at people who aren’t even conscious of their need for your products/services may seem like a waste of precious resources. However, this is a misconception.
Rather than being a waste of time or money, creating high-quality long-form content that introduces people to a concept or process provides a unique opportunity to present them with your solution as well.
In other words, by publishing how-to guides on your website’s blog section, you can effectively create a market for your product and introduce it to a larger audience than if you were waiting for people to search for that product by themselves.
A great example of an ultimate guide that does precisely this comes from Aura. Writing about retail arbitrage on Amazon, the brand isn’t necessarily targeting people looking for repricing software. However, the content strategist behind this article is aware that anyone looking to make money through Amazon is a potential customer of Aura.
So, by investing in content that benefits these people, the article effectively opens up a door for future conversions, subtly mentioning the benefits of repricing software that might come in handy once the readers have moved on past the basics of retail arbitrage.
Create Authority and Credibility for Your Brand
Credibility and trust are essential contributors to brand success. According to Adobe, almost two-thirds of consumers will stop buying from brands they don’t trust in 2022. Knowing this, it’s not a bad idea to explore ways to encourage brand trust with content marketing.
How-to guides can help you do just that.
They provide ample physical space to show your experience and expertise. Moreover, they can help you prove that you’re a trustworthy source of valuable information in your industry.
For an excellent example, check out this step-by-step guide to selling a house from Mrs. Property Solutions.
Even though it deals with a sensitive and vitally important topic, this piece of content allows the brand to build consumer trust by showcasing expertise. As it covers several ways of selling a home, it gives readers actionable advice on what to do. Plus, it warns them about the potential pitfalls of the three methods discussed, further establishing the brand’s position as a trustworthy resource for information about home sales.
Great for Introducing Your Product
Building brand trust is not the only high-value goal you can achieve by making how-to guides a part of your content strategy.
This type of article can also help you circumvent a problem that affects most businesses nowadays: consumers hate and distrust ads.
By giving you a space to provide insightful, valuable, and relevant information, ultimate how-to guides can also give you the chance to introduce your products without coming off as too sales-y or irritating your readers.
For a great example, check out Optimal Workshop’s guide to card sorting.
Essentially, this long-form article talks about the brand’s software. But much more importantly, it takes an educational approach to describe a product feature, thus ensuring that readers don’t come away feeling like they’ve read a 6,500-word advertisement.
Instead, the guide reads like a much-needed set of instructions on categorizing information, which teaches potential buyers everything they need to know about a particular method. And, it happens to do so by using Optimal Workshop’s solution as the example.
Ideal for Showing Customers What Life Would Be Like Without Your Product
Sometimes, the best way to utilize content to boost conversions on your site is to paint a picture of a world in which your solutions don’t exist. Sure, this may sound like a confusing way to approach lead generation. However, consumer psychology shows that it’s actually a great marketing strategy.
You see, one of the best ways to appeal to consumers is to employ emotional messages. Traditionally, brands have tried to do this by creating happy commercials (think Coca-Cola) to push a connection between their products and positive emotions. But, studies have shown that negative emotions present benefits as well. In fact, they can cause consumers to cling to brands that offer some “light,” in the form of comfort or a solution.
So, essentially, by reminding your target audience of their pain points (and the ineffective solutions they’re currently using to solve them), you can position your product as the answer to all their needs. And what better way to do it than with a long-form ultimate guide?
As an illustration of the method, you can check out this guide to using Google flights from Scott’s Cheap Flights.
This 3,800-word article describes the steps it takes to find an affordable flight through Google’s service. And for those consumers ready to do the work, it’s an excellent resource (which is why the article wins the top position on SERPs).
But in addition to offering consumers value, this article also highlights that searching for cheap flights with Google is a time-consuming and tedious process. And so, the alternative, which comes in the form of the brand’s service, suddenly becomes a much more appealing solution. It’s not only user-friendly but also provides savings at no additional costs.
Allow You to Go the Extra Mile
Finally, don’t forget that insightful articles help demonstrate to your audience that your brand cares about their experience.
As you go out of your way to help your potential customers receive the best possible experience from your brand, you’re effectively creating a positive vibe around your company and products. Thus, you’re making it much easier for people to choose you when they enter the final stages of the buyer’s journey.
So how exactly can you use how-to guides to go the extra mile?
Well, you can enrich them with multimedia, as PresetLove did. The brand included helpful GIFs to help their readers learn the process of installing Lightroom presets more easily.
Or, you can turn some of your articles into explainer videos, further encouraging website visitors to engage with your content and ensuring that they retain as much information as possible. You might even include new data in your ultimate guides, enrich them with social proof, or do something completely original that will grab your target audience’s attention.
Long-form content that provides readers with detailed information is an excellent investment for most businesses. And, considering that these resources rely on the knowledge you and your team already have, they’re relatively easy to create.
Of course, when writing how-to guides, don’t forget that they also have to be engaging, entertaining, and provide exceptional value.
So don’t hesitate to take the time to find a unique approach to the next topic you cover. It can be anything – perhaps a humorous tone, next-level visuals, or new information that your readers won’t get anywhere else.
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