In this little blog/video series, I started by talking about APP: Agree, Promise, Preview. This little method can do wonders for revitalizing your blog strategy. Why? Because structure helps. When you are creating content that competes, you need to leverage all of the available tools and resources. I'm going to help you write better blogs.
The second tool I want to talk about is the good ole' "How To" Blog. I've written a few of these myself. Okay, a lot. Why? Because questions are a big part of a long-tail SEO keyword strategy. But more than search rank and traffic boost, "How To" blogs can be a way of framing or reframing content. In any industry, you have a finite number of concepts that are suitable for B2B or B2C web copy.
There are a few different styles and formats you can use in “How To” blogs. I’ll review those here. Here are different kinds of “How To” blogs:
If your customer is looking for a specific good or service, a great blog is a “How to Find” blog. There are a few SEO benefits, including the fact that you can include hard-to-incorporate keywords like, “How to find an SEO writer” or “Find a writer near me.” These are great search terms that can be a bear to include organically. Hence, the How to Find blog. Here is an example.
When your business offers some kind of training or skill development, this kind of blog is a home run. But even without that on-the-nose iteration, you can leverage blogs that teach people how to do something. This doesn’t have to be “how to yo yo,” it can be a more abstract skill: “how to use adjectives,” “how to cut your own hair” (COVID-19 quarantine, anyone?), “how to like jazz music.” These blogs are a no-brainer to write if it’s your business, because what you know best isn’t natural to a beginner… and people can benefit immensely from your guidance!
There are a lot of start-ups out there that are offering unique platforms, project management systems, software integrations, etc. For you, “How to Work X” is a great idea. This would be more of a technical, operations-oriented piece. You will want lots of screen shots and very practical, actionable information. More than a generic skill, this could have a lot of brand-specific info for how someone uses your platform or software. Blogs like this will rank well against message boards or Reddit threads and have a lot of backlinking potential.
Have a language learning site? Have a tutoring business? Online teaching platform? Test prep company? All of these may benefit from a “How to Learn X” blog. This is about a knowledge-based skill, not a practical skill (like the how to [skill] above). A blog written in this style won’t have instructions for how to Tik-Tok, it’s more about a complex body of study or learning journey. Blogs like this can sell curriculum or a training video series.
First, this should go without saying, you need to have actual instructions and actionable steps for a “How To” blog. This isn’t theory, it’s application. If you put a “How To” blog that doesn’t teach someone how to do something, you’ll lose credibility pretty fast. Plus, it’s super annoying. Don’t do the whole “story of my summer childhoods before the pasta recipe” thing that “recipe influencers” try. Just get to the point. Number your steps. Use verbs. Simplify difficult concepts. You’re genuinely trying to help someone learn how to do something. Do that.
When you’re ready to sum it up, I recommend you deploy a laser-sharp call to action, or CTA. A CTA is what invites the reader to do something. Call them to take the action you want.
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