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What Is A How-To-Guide?
A how-to-guide is typically an informative piece of writing (or series of writing) that shows your reader how to perform a task through step-by-step instructions.
How-to guides are a great and interactive way for new and potential customers to test out your product and service prior to purchasing.
Besides, creating a valuable, step-by-step guide is a great way to attract traffic, backlinks, and social shares to your website or blog.
In this post, we share important insights on why you need to incorporate how-to guides into your content marketing efforts. Let's get started.
How To Guides: Key Takeaways
- How-to-guides are distinct from tutorials
- A how-to-guide answers a question that only a user with some experience can formulate
- The title of a how-to-guide should tell the user what exactly he will achieve
- When writing how-to-guides, remember practical usability is more valuable than completeness
How Do How-To-Guides Work?
How to guides take the reader through the steps required to solve a real-world problem. Therefore, how-to guides provide directions to achieve a certain end.
In that regard, the guide needs to be goal-oriented, while assuming that the reader already knows how to do certain basics and can use the basic tools.
How-to-guides are incredibly valuable opportunities to reach the target audience with useful and high-quality content.
Considering how people search for information on google and other search engines, writing how-to guides can be a great way to drive traffic to your website.
These search queries demonstrate that people turn to google to learn. Therefore, whether you are in a B2C or B2B business, creating how-to guides needs to be a component of your lead generation strategy.
Best Practices For Creating Your How-To-Guides
The following guidelines will help you to come up with a compelling how-to guide.
- Address the target users directly
- Start each step of guide writing with a verb
- To make the instructions clear and concise, use an active voice
- Identify the logical order and use a numbered list
- Label different stages using headlines
- Use visual media like images and videos
- Write concise phrases to make the content understandable
Real-World Examples Of The Best How-To Guides
Starter Story Creates How-To-guides That Provide Valuable Insights To Readers
At Starter Story, how-to guides are a staple for content creation.
We've created extensive guides on how to start a business, which has been very valuable for our customers.
In addition to breaking down exactly how to get started step-by-step, we also showcase how to launch, grow, and run a business based on real-life examples from founders we've interviewed.
Since these guides are so extensive, we built a scrolling table of contents to help users navigate the guide easily:
The goal is to provide customers with extensive knowledge on a particular subject, while still providing information in a comprehendible and approachable way.
How McCormicks Creates Neatly Organized How-To Guides
Our second example of using how-to guides to engage your target audience comes from McCormick`s.
Their well-organized how to guide enables the readers to figure out what is needed, and how long the process takes.
If a reader already knows the instructions needed, she can go to the instructions sections and start right away.
Besides, McCormicks provides a link to a video, so that readers can navigate right away if they prefer watching videos rather than reading the instructions.
From this example, we can learn that when structuring your how-to-guide, consider organizing it in the best way possible so that the reader can navigate easily. Perhaps you can add an outline at the top so that readers can determine what suits them easily.
Steps For Creating How-To-Guides
- Understand the target audiences concerns and challenges
- Define your mission and goals
- Establish the KPIs
- Assess the current situation
- Figure out the best content channels
- Structure your steps in the correct order for the reader and provide screenshots where necessary
- Tell readers why it matters and provide links to relevant content
- Measure results and repeat
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- David Gitonga, Writer @ Starter Story
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