How-to posts are some of the most popular posts on the web. The appeal of the how-to is that they provide a service. When readers want to know “how to” do something, these posts show them the way. Instead of selling an idea or a product, they offer information that people want to learn.
Writing an effective how-to post is one of the best ways to increase your site’s traffic. Here’s how to get it right:
Spend Time Crafting a Flawless Title
The title is actually more important than the body of the post you’re writing. It’s the first thing your readers will encounter. If they’re not excited, curious or engaged after reading the title, they’ll be clicking elsewhere:
A good title tows the line between the generic and the descriptive.
You don’t want to be too bare bones in your title, otherwise what’s to differentiate you from others offering the same knowledge? Nor do you want the title to be too long or you risk losing the reader’s attention before they even get started.
- Too Generic – How to Make Pesto
- Too Descriptive – How to Make the Best Pesto Ever Using the Freshest Ingredients
- Just Right – How to Make Fresh Pesto in 5 Minutes
The last one lets the reader know the important details:
- That the post is about making pesto
- That the recipe includes fresh ingredients
- The benefit of this recipe is that it’s done in 5 minutes
Load up on the benefits in the title
Readers want to know how your post will benefit them.If you can convey not only one but two or more benefits in your post title, readers are more likely to click.
Example: How to Eat Well and Lose Weight
This title suggests that dieters can both enjoy hearty meals and lose weight. It leads readers to expect nutritional advice coupled with dieting advice. Total win-win.
Write an Intro
You should write a brief introduction letting the reader know what they can expect to learn about in this post. Your introduction should also convey why this post is relevant to them. There are many introduction styles you can use:
- Quote statistics on the topic
- Make it personal – talk about your own experience with this product/skill/recipe/etc.
- Cite a famous or historical example
Include Just Enough Detail
If this is a task-oriented how-to such as fixing the plumbing, the secret is in the details. Write clear instructions. Wordiness or overly technical terms can lead to confusion. Likewise, be sure not to oversimplify or skip any instructions. Test your how-to post on a friend. See if they can perform the task adequately using your instructions. Modify as needed.
Avoid Writing an Encyclopedia
Sometimes a how-to post will be on a complicated topic that may require some background information. In this case, don’t attempt to give your reader the background. Focus on the specifics of this how-to. If other information is necessary for the reader to understand, include links and references to other sites, so they can access them if needed.
Deliver a Good Visual
Another important piece of advice for task-oriented how-to’s – use visuals. Photos, images and even labeled diagrams are key. For example, if someone’s never made pesto before and doesn’t know what a pine nut looks like, a picture will help them buy the right ingredients at the grocery store.
Use Space and Bullet Points
- Many readers will scan your instructions for the main points
- Make it easy for them by using bullet points
- Indicate a new step or idea with blank space
- Creating a good visual flow will maintain your reader’s interest
Write a Conclusion
Write a brief conclusion to wrap up your post. You may choose to:
- Summarize main points
- Introduce an interesting piece of information not mentioned before in the post
- Pose a question to inspire further investigation
A good how-to post gets the reader hooked with the title, provides detailed information in simple language and makes use of visual aids and an easy-to-follow format. This formula for how-tos should get your readers clicking!
This guest post is provided by Cari Bennette. Cari is an experienced blogger and content manager at custom writing service https://jetwriters.com/. Cari helps blogging newbies, students and website owners with her advice on blog post crafting and academic writing. Reach her on Twitter.