How to Write A “How-to” List

How-to lists provide your readers with genuinely useful information (aka the “quality content” that we’re always going on and on about) and helps to transform your business website into a helpful resource for your clients. Crafting the ultimate how-to list requires a little thought and some homework. But once you follow these handy pointers, you can generate an open-ended treasure trove of content that is beneficial to your clients—and your business.

Pick effective topics.
Choosing topics that resonate with your readers will get more clicks. Ideas include:

  • Ask your company’s customer service department to give you a list of questions they most often receive from clients.
  • Write down a list of basics about your service or industry (you’d be surprised how much “101” knowledge your clients are seeking). Each item becomes its own how-to list.
  • Address the fears and concerns that your clients might have (example: “How to Reduce Your Chances of a Tax Audit”).

Keep it simple.
After writing your rough draft, be aggressive with your editing pen. Wordy posts can be difficult to follow and are overwhelming for readers. Also, if what you are explaining is complicated, create a multi-part tutorial. This gives you a reason to cross-link to other pages or posts within your site and also encourages readers to return to your website in the future.

Use clear headers.
Clear and simple headers (like the ones you’re seeing here) make it easier for your readers to scan the post for useful, at-a-glance information. The text under each header should explain why that step is important.

Include screen-grabs or images.
If you’re explaining something complicated or technically oriented, use screen-grabs or images to illustrate your point. Instead of spending too much text explaining what the viewer should be seeing, use the image to get the point across, then explain the importance of what it means.

Answer your readers’ questions before they ask.
When crafting the steps of your how-to list, address questions or hesitations your readers might have. Things like “Be sure to check your…” or “Don’t forget to…” are truly practical additions to your list.

Cross-link within your site.
Using your how-to list to promote other pages on your website will support a successful content marketing plan. This helps your SEO efforts and also gives readers a reason to further engage with your website. Seek opportunities to link back to your company’s service offerings or products. If you have a multi-part how-to series, always be sure to link to the other sections in your intro paragraph so readers can access the rest of the series if they’re interested.

Ask someone else to review.
Before publishing your how-to list, give it to a friend or associate for review. Outsiders often find overlooked information or bring up useful questions that you can incorporate into your article before posting.

Ask for feedback from your readers.
End your how-to article with a call for questions from readers. If there are pertinent questions, edit your post or create a new “Updated” version and release it as a new how-to. However, never cut and paste the entirety of your old content into your new article (search engines hate that). Write a new post with a new slant and you can use some excerpts from your last post.

Constructing a series of helpful how-to lists will generate interesting, quality content to engage your readers. Just remember to keep it simple and interesting, and you’ll soon find your readers coming back for more.


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