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5 Reasons Why “How To” Articles Are So Sticky
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Originally uploaded by Darren Hester

Recently we talked about the amazing reader appeal of 'list articles', and I would say that the 'How To' article is right up there in terms of popularity with readers.

Why are 'How To' articles so sticky? 

1) We are a very DIY oriented society, aren't we?

Especially with the advent of the internet, we're "doing it ourselves" more and more. Where do we find our guides for how to do a particular project? The internet! 

Searchers want instructional information–how many times in the last month have you done a search that was 'How To' oriented?

If you're writing 'How To' articles you are naturally appealing to search engine customers, which is actually what what we're going for!

All the time I hear folks speculating about how to best catch Google's attention. They come up with all sorts of ideas, some of them very technical and complicated and some of them kind of far fetched, but really if you want to catch Google's attention all you have to do is something very simple:

Cater to the search engine customers (which are really your customers).

And I don't mean stuffing your keywords all over the place. Tons of keywords in an article doesn't serve the searcher–providing excellent information does. Since we know that folks are often looking for information on how to do stuff, why not write articles telling them how to do things associated with your niche? 

Are you a Financial Advisor?

Tell readers how to create a budget, how to balance a checkbook, how to create a savings plan.

Are you a retailer for children's clothing?

Tell readers how to select classic clothes that can be passed down from child to child or how to pick versatile shoes as part of your child's wardrobe.  

Now I know that some types of businesses find it more challenging than others to come up with 'How To' ideas for articles, but we will go further into how to craft a how to article in the next post.

2) How To articles can be done in list form (which is easy reading).

There is so much content floating around the internet, if you really want to get your article read you need to make it as reader-friendly as possible.

Recently we talked about how to craft a great list article–A list is basically like providing a built in road map for your readers to navigate your article (and it's true that we usually skim content that we read on the web, isn't it?).

A list makes it easier for a reader to grab the basic facts and to take away a few points of value. 

List articles are hot, and How To articles are smoking–why not do double duty and make your How To article into a list? 

3) How To articles demonstrate your expertise. 

Being able to show a potential client that you really know your stuff and provide trustworthy information is priceless!

Think about this–how do you think people get it into their heads to do a search for a site/service/product like yours? 

Well, I think that first they develop a need–They need financial advise, or they need to know how to paint kitchen cabinets, or they need to know how to market their business. 

Then they do a search, et voila–they find your article! 

They read your article, and they think they've found the info they need. They implement your advise and see excellent results.

They think, "Hmmm, that person knows their stuff! I think I'll go to her/him for more info. If he/she helped me this time, maybe they can help me with this other related matter."

Establishing yourself as an expert in your field is one of the top perks of article marketing, because it builds customer confidence

4) How To articles are reader-centric (not sales-y or promotional) .

One of the problems I see over and over again is when an author approaches an article like it's a sales letter. When an article mentions the person's business, website products and basically screams "me, me, me!", it's called a "promotional" or "self-serving" article. 

Most quality publishers will outright reject articles that are self-serving and mention your own business, products or website.

Sometimes authors who are prone to write promotional articles ask me, "Well, then what should I write about?"

I always tell them to write a How To article, as it's very hard for a How To article to be self-serving.

I suppose you could make an article that was promotional, but odds are if you're really focused on just providing educational information to your target readers then you can do so without mentioning your own business. 

Do you have a tendency to want to write promotional articles–well, start writing HowTo articles instead, and I think you'll find yourself cured. :-)  

5) How To articles are easy to write.

In the same way it's easier for a reader to read a How To article, they're also easier to write.

Their structure is pre-determined–step 1 goes before step 2, obviously!

  • When you're writing your "How To", first write down a brief note of each step.
  • Of course your steps will be arranged in order (it's kind of easy to get them in order since our brains tend to function in a 1-2-3 order anyway).
  • Then flesh out any steps that need more explanation. 
  • Write a brief introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph, and you're set! 

I find that almost all of my articles are of the 'How To' variety–I just like the idea of teaching folks and find that I am able to convey my best information when I give instructions on how to accomplish a specific objective. 

Pretty soon we'll be going over some more tips on how to write a great "How To", but for now–what about you guys?

Do you like to write "How To" articles? Why?

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

5 Responses to “5 Reasons Why “How To” Articles Are So Sticky”

  1. Dy Witt says:

    I love to write How-To articles about dog training because dogs are so wonderful and their lives are so short, anything I can do to help people enrich their dog’s life and create a happy relationship I will do. Much of dog training is intuitive, therefore people tend to not think things through, and a little help on the side from someone who obviously loves dogs will hopefully be welcome.

  2. Gary Marsh says:

    How-to articles help the individual learn and fix the problem they may have. You can give immediate action to your article and this alone will set you apart from 90% of all other writers in your niche market. The secret to internet success is to offer your best information to the reader. You win with expert status and your reader wins by getting a solution!

  3. Kathy says:

    I am a teacher and a career coach. I have been teaching adult continuing education courses recently. Your article and the one that follows provided great tips for me to repurpose my course content. Thanks!

  4. Excellent article and high quality content. Articles is a great way to put part of your traffic on autopilot without costing any money. Free to write and post, then it is the marketing strategy that keeps on giving! Traffic that is!

  5. Rajesh Kumar says:

    Thanks for your valuable ideas.
    I will like to add that we can get the ideas from Q&A forums like yahoo about the topic that is in hot demand. Then we may write about the questions related to our niche, asked in these forums. Isn’t it?

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