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Ultimate guides are everywhere. You’ve probably read your fair share, and maybe you’ve even written a couple.
They can be a great way to get traffic, build links, and increase your authority, but they’re far from easy to create. The issue most people run into is the sheer amount of content out there nowadays. How do you create an ultimate guide if there are already tons of posts on your chosen subject?
In this post, we’ll look at the steps to creating the ultimate guide on just about anything.
What turns a lengthy blog post into an ultimate guide? Well, there are a few things that almost every in-depth guide has in common:
Apart from that, what you put in your ultimate guide and how you design it is up to you.
If you didn’t know how powerful ultimate guides are already, here’s why you should start creating them right now.
The length, depth, and authority that go into ultimate guides make them a fantastic weapon in your SEO arsenal. The fact that they are so detailed means they should rank for a huge number of keywords. Including internal links to your other blog posts boosts their rankings, too.
A big, in-depth resource like an ultimate guide can be a fantastic source of links. Not only can you use it to go out there and request a backlink as part of your link-building process, but other sites naturally start linking to an authoritative resource, too. So much so that your ultimate guide can continue to attract links for years to come.
There are few pieces of marketing collateral better at positioning your brand as an authority in your industry than an ultimate guide. This is your opportunity to showcase how much you know about your subject to the world and go above and beyond what has previously been written about your topic.
Picking a topic can be a huge stumbling block for many aspiring writers. Don’t get bogged down overthinking it, though. Here’s how you can find the perfect topic quickly.
This first point is obvious, but it needs to be said. You need to know your topic inside and out if you want to write an excellent guide. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a freelance writer to help you out, but you should give them a thorough brief and create the outline of the guide yourself.
Not every guide needs to be written with the express purpose of ranking in Google, but it can seriously help drive traffic and generate customers. That’s why I recommend you enter your topic ideas into a tool like Ubersuggest to see the keyword volumes of the main topic and the volumes of every other related keyword.
Don’t just pick the topic that has the main keyword with the highest search volume, however. You may find another topic has so many more related keywords that it could actually generate more traffic overall.
Ultimate guides are successful when they’re written about trending topics. When people are excited about a topic, they want to consume all the information they can find about it. Your guide should be a part of that, too.
That’s not the only reason you want to focus on what’s trending, though. The newer your post is, the better it might do in search results if someone is searching by posts made within the last week, month, and so on.
With your topic picked, it’s time to get to work creating your guide. Here’s how I recommend you go about it.
Even if you’re an expert in your field, you’ll still want to read blog posts on your topic before you start writing. Doing so will help you understand the level of content currently out there, the common threads writers pull, and the things you need to mention.
Pay attention to the results that Google serves up, too. You’ll find that specific formats are more popular than others, and you’ll want to try to mirror these when it comes to writing your content.
While you’re reading other people’s content, make a note of everything that’s missing from the posts. If you’re writing a how-to post, be sure to go through the steps yourself after reading posts by others.
Then, jot down things you notice during the process that others might have missed or not explained thoroughly. It also might help to sit down with someone who is unfamiliar with your topic and see what questions they come up with.
You can write an ultimate guide off the back of your expertise alone—but you can make it stand head and shoulders above everyone else’s content if you conduct your research.
For some, this is a case of canvassing their colleagues and contacts for their opinion on a certain topic. Others might want to commit to more detailed research and partner with a market research company that’ll carry out a study on their behalf.
The more effort you put into the research, the more valuable and link-worthy your ultimate guide will become.
To create your ultimate guide, simply combine the basics plus the additional details you found were missing from other posts and your research. This way, people coming across your guide as the first piece of content they have read about a topic will get all of the basic information, and people who have read many other guides will be wowed by all of the missing pieces that you included.
An ultimate guide is no good if no one reads it. Considering the amount of time and energy you have spent on your ultimate guide, you owe it to yourself and your readers to promote it well. Do so by:
If you want to take your ultimate guide to the next level, bear in mind these four tips when writing.
You don’t have to be Hemingway to write a great ultimate guide, but take a lesson from Ernest regarding clarity. Short, clear, punchy sentences win out here, especially when writing thousands of words on your topic. Long, convoluted paragraphs may help you get your message across, but they’ll only cause the reader’s mind to wander.
Formatting will also help in this regard. Clearly labeled titles and subheadings will make your guide much more digestible. Short paragraphs will, too. Don’t forget that most of your audience will be reading your advice on a screen, so consider how they might skim it for the information they’re looking for.
One thing I sometimes find missing from other ultimate guides is good screenshots. Take yours using your account of the topic as opposed to generic stock photos. This will make it easier for others to follow along and visualize the process.
Once you have the basics and missing pieces down for your ultimate guide, look for some good examples of your tips in action. If you’re talking about creating great timeline cover photos, then include some examples from pages in different industries.
If you’re talking about using Pinterest to drive traffic, then link to top Pinterest users who are doing things right. Think about your target audience and find examples that they can easily relate to so they feel they must follow your advice to be successful.
There is a lot of advice out there suggesting you should take long posts and break them up into a series, so you can get people to come back to your website over and over again. However, I find that if someone hits a piece of content that says 101 Tips on ___, and the post only includes steps 1–20 with the promise of more to come, they move on to find everything they’re looking for elsewhere.
People want to consume information now, not wait for it. When they read the words ultimate guide, they’re going to expect to get everything in one chunk, so unless you are planning to write 5,000+ words on a topic, keep it in one piece.
There are a lot of great ultimate guides out there, but here are some of my all-time favorites.
If you’re looking to grow your startup, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a huge amount of value out of my ultimate guide on the topic.
With 12 chapters and virtually every angle covered, there’s no reason to read another guide before creating your logo.
If you’ve ever wondered why shoppers are leaving your website at checkout, this mammoth guide by VWO will answer all your questions.
Ultimate guides don’t have to be about marketing, as this guide by Eevi Jones proves.
While Tim Urban hasn’t called this an ultimate guide, you’re unlikely to find a more thoughtful or detailed blog post on picking a career anywhere online.
This blog post isn’t exhaustive by any means. If you want to dive deep into creating high-quality long-form content, then check out these five resources:
You don’t have to write your ultimate guide yourself. If you’re hiring a freelance writer to write your guide for you, here’s how you can create a spec they can follow with ease.
A top-level overview can help a writer quickly get to grips with the topic and goals of the ultimate guide.
Take the initiative and write an outline that includes all of the major points you want the writer to talk about. This makes sure all of the gaps you identified in other pieces of content get covered.
If improved rankings are one of your main goals, then highlight the keywords you’re aiming to rank for.
Where appropriate, make notes for the writer to help guide them. Alternatively, you can record yourself talking about the topic.
Highlight a handful of top-quality resources your writer can turn to for inspiration.
Expect an ultimate guide to take a fair bit longer to write than a standard blog post.
There isn’t a defined length for an ultimate guide, but most are at least 3,000 words in length.
You can use social media and email to get your ultimate guide in front of your target audience.
Absolutely. Ultimate guides offer a lot of value in terms of SEO and building your authority, so you should write as many as you can.
Ultimate guides can be used at any part of your funnel, but they’ll be most useful towards the top. They are great at attracting users into your funnel and converting them to email subscribers.
Ultimate guides are an incredibly valuable marketing resource. I’ve used them to generate huge levels of traffic, build my reputation as an authority in the industry, and improve my site’s SEO.
Follow the advice I’ve given above, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your content goals while sharing valuable insights about your chosen topic.
Have you created an ultimate guide on your website or blog? What other tips would you add to making your ultimate guide a success?
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