How to create a guide that is optimized, useful and comprehensive

Guides are all over the web. Google any word + “guide,” and you’ll probably find someone has written about that topic, no matter how obscure.

But there’s a good reason for this: Well-written guides are extremely valuable pieces of content.

When your audience encounters your guide at the right place and time, it can be life-changing. Your guide may be the cornerstone or the turning point in their experience of a particular topic.

You could teach them valuable skills, introduce them to a vital concept, expand their knowledge, or help them understand a complex subject.

As you’d imagine, a good guide can help build a strong trust between a person and a brand.

And trust contributes to the customer experience. It can eventually translate to profitable action like converting a casual reader into a subscribed follower or turning a fan into a customer.

That’s why it’s time to learn how to create optimized, useful, and comprehensive guides – so you, too, can build trust with your audience through high-quality content.

What is a guide?

A guide is a comprehensive piece of content that aims to educate an audience by:

  • Introducing them to a topic or subject.
  • Teaching them a set of concepts or ideas.
  • Walking them through a process to achieve an end goal.
  • Showing them the steps to complete an action.

Quite simply, an effective guide will teach you in some way.

But, the best of this content type will meet you at your level of understanding, speak to you in terms you understand, and take you to the next level to broaden your knowledge.

How to create a guide, ultimate-style

1. Understand the knowledge level of your target audience

To write a great guide, you need to understand your audience and know their knowledge level about your topic.

  • What do they already know?
  • Where are they starting from? (Are they beginners? Intermediates? Experts?)
  • What do they not know?
  • What are their top challenges?

These points are crucial to understand because you will use them as a benchmark for where your guide will begin and what it will cover.

Not understanding your audience’s knowledge level about your topic will lead to a less useful guide.

For example, starting a guide on baking bread with information about buying mixing bowls will be helpful only to true beginners who don’t have the right equipment yet. It won’t be helpful for baking enthusiasts who have moved beyond acquiring tools.

So, if you’re unsure what your audience knows or doesn’t know about your topic, you’ll need to do some research

When all else fails, ask them directly. Post a poll or survey on social media, or post a question asking for feedback on what your audience would like to know about X topic.

2. Research and outline your topic

Now it’s time to start drafting your guide. 

I always start with an outline and jot down everything I know the guide should include.

Then I research the topic to see

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