Since Google is cracking down on website scraping (even though Google is
the biggest website scraper out there giving viewers condensed content
scraped from other sites right in a box at the top of SERPs), the ‘how
to’ article has become a bit of a taboo. In reality, unless you have an
entire site built around ‘how to’ articles (i.e. eHow, Yahoo Answers and
Instructibles, etc.), you are fine to go ahead and continue using this
– Introduce the problem
– Present the benefits of your solution
– List the steps
– Provide detail
– Wrap it up and call to action
The Right Way to Write a How To
In fact, since everyone else is scared to write a ‘how to,’ you’ll be
one step ahead of the competition. Just make sure you do it correctly,
that is to say, in the following order:
1. Introduce the Problem You are Solving. Obviously, you want your
reader to know that they are in the right place to solve their problem
and that you are the person that has the solution. Make the reader
understand that even if they don’t realize they have this problem, they
likely do or will, and thus, need to read the solution.
2. Present the Benefits of Your Solution. Why is your solution
better than anyone else’s solution? Why should the reader keep reading?
Are you going to solve the problem in the blog or are you going to
provide half the steps and then a free eBook download at the end with a
comprehensive look at the solution? Are there going to be videos? Is
this a multi-part blog? Let them know!
3. Give Them the Steps. Your steps should be laid out in a list, a
screenshot, a picture, etc. Just give them them the basics and a brief
explanation. If you need to, you can get into more detailed paragraphs
or chapters on each step in later blogs or an eBook. But laying out
the steps in a numbered or bullet list will allow faster-paced readers
to skip to the sections they need. Perhaps they have half of the
solution and just need the last few steps. Remember, the easier you
make it for every single reader that comes to your site, the better it
is for you. Cater to the beginner, but also make it easy for the
seasoned pro to glean what they need and get on to the next step. Don’t
waste anyone’s time and they won’t waste yours.
4. Detail is Key. The detail to your solution is going to be key
here. For instance, if you provide a solution without an example,
what’s to say that the writer really has life experience solving this
problem? They could just be an affiliate for a product spinning content
from their associates. Graphics, step-by-step instructions, easy to
follow language, all of this falls under detail.
5. Conclusion. Your conclusion is where you wrap up the ‘how to’ and
recap the benefits that your reader now possesses. It’s important to
never forget your call to action. If you don’t have one specifically
and are just writing an informative or authoritative blog, add your
contact information and have the reader sign up or contact you for more
details. You can also link to other solutions you’ve provided, or have
an opt in or email sign up for a newsletter or eBook.
As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to abandon such a highly
effective blog format. Google is really just trying to punish ‘how to’
sites at large, not the average internet marketer.