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How We Write Articles that Convert Prospects to Leads and New Clients

Every business and business owner is an expert in what they sell. It's what sets a business apart from your competitors. As an expert, small business owners also know why their prospects buy from them in the first place. And more importantly, what makes those new clients become repeat customers and refer new business.

The trick to sharing that expertise online through articles and posts that actually help to convert prospects who are searching for your products and services.

Here is a guide we followed from WikiHow that we use to create SEO optimized content tp be published on our client's website, Blogs, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, and other digital touchpoints.

Step one. Choose a clear, succinct title that answers one of the questions below

  • What special skills or training do you have?
  • What do you do that most of your competirors haven't?
  • What do you or your business do that receives compliments?

Next, we want to simply and clearly tell the reader what the article will do for them. Folks today are picky and selfish with their time - most of the time, they'll pick a search engine results that appears to offer quickest and easiest answer their search. An easy-to-digest article title will give you an instant advantage over one with an overwritten title. A good converting SEO optimized title should:

  • State clearly what will be learned by reading the article.  A remodeling article on picking a kitchen design shouldn't be titled simply "Kitchen Remodeling." The reader can't tell from the title what kind of article this is - is it a generic landing page for a remodeling company? An in-depth look at designs for remodeling?
  • Be written using targeted keyword phrases or SEO terms and use good grammar. Capitalize every word except words like "a," "an," "the," etc., unless they capitalize they are the first and last words.
  • Us as few words as possible. "Top 6 Kitchen Remodeling Layouts" is much more attractive than "Kitchen Remodeling and Kitchen Renovation."
  • Avoid using jargon and acronyms.  (for more technical topics, this may be unavoidable.)

Step Two. Target Your Audience.

How-to articles can be long or short, funny or serious, specific or general, technical or casual - there's no hard and fast rule. However, you'll want to tailor your article to be as legible as possible for the kinds of people who are most likely to read it. Change your writing style and even the content of your article to make it as useful as possible for your target audience without being boring.

  • Here's one example: An article on making paper spitballs is going to be read mostly by bored teenage students looking for laughs and people who, for whatever reason, want to vicariously experience that frame of mind. A lengthy section about the effects of air resistance on projectile motion will bore your audience to tears. In this case, keep the article short, sweet, and lighthearted.
  • An opposite example: An article on solving differential equations shouldn't have much in the way of jokes - people who read this article are likely trying to educate themselves or complete a homework assignment. They're definitely not reading this article for laughs. For this article, the tone should be academic and professional.

Write an introduction that summarizes your article.

Readers read an article's introduction to make sure it's right for their needs. Your readers are tantalizingly close to the body of the article, so don't lose them here! Be brief - you shouldn't need more than a paragraph for basic how-tos. Also be sure to include the purpose of the article (forgetting this is a common writing pitfall.) Background information and/or scene-setting is acceptable, but try to keep it to a sentence or two. Above all, don't meander! A directionless introduction can kill an otherwise informative article.

  • One well-worn trick is to include a question in the opening line to capture a reader's interest. For example: "Have you ever wondered how to write an engaging introduction?"
  • It's also useful to phrase the last sentence so that it acts as a transition into the body of the article. For example: "Here's how to do it in a few easy steps:"

Add a list of supplies, if needed.

If you're writing a how-to article about a process that requires certain tools or supplies to complete, list them before you dive in to the main instructions. Be thorough, but use common sense - for instance, you don't need to list "One oven" in the "Ingredients" section of a recipe how-to.

  • Here's an example list of ingredients for an article on how to make a pesto sauce:
    • Two cups fresh basil, packed.
    • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated.
    • 1/2 cup olive oil.
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts.
    • One clove garlic.
    • Salt and pepper, to taste.
  • You shouldn't list these things:
    • One food processor (mention it in the actual instructions)
    • Pasta (you're not making a pasta dish, just the sauce)
    • A can-do attitude (things like this usually come across as cheesy)

Cite any sources you've consulted. When writing, you should always express ideas in your own words. However, even if you completely understand the process you're writing about, how-to articles will often require you to research outside sources for specific information. Always credit any sources you used to avoid plagiarism. If you must reprint copyrighted content verbatim, obtain explicit permission from the original author.

One general rule when researching for an article is to preferentially consult primary (rather than secondary or tertiary) sources. For a good guide on understanding primary sources, see our article on finding primary source documents.Many publications have specific procedures for properly citing and attributing sources.

See: How to Reference Sources on wikiHow.

Add additional tips or advice. After the main steps, you have an opportunity to add tidbits that didn't warrant a place in the body of the article. Provide alternative supplies or solutions to common problems with the process.main steps, you have an opportunity to add tidbits that didn't warrant a place in the body of the article. Provide alternative supplies or solutions to common problems with the process.

Clarify common mistakes or misconceptions. Warn the reader about any potential danger involved with the process.

  • Tips and warnings should be as explicit as possible, especially if your process is potentially dangerous. You can even use bolded text to call extra attention to especially important warnings.
  • Here's an example warning for an article on how to install a fan in a computer: Caution. Turn the power off and disconnect the power cable before removing the exterior casing. Serious electric shock can result if the computer isn't completely powered down.

Add photographs or drawings to enhance your steps. Pictures in a how-to article can range from "nice to have, but not essential" to "absolutely vital." Many articles must use a visual reference to clarify certain concepts. An article on building a chair needs pictures - it's very difficult to convey the precise positions of the interlocking wood pieces through text.

If you have a good-quality camera or know how to draw, you can provide pictures for the article yourself. If you can't draw, don't have a good camera, or the process is too complicated to recreate for the purpose of obtaining pictures, you might want to hire a professional illustrator.

Proofread for errors. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, "There is no great writing, only great rewriting." No first draft has ever existed that didn't benefit from intelligent editing. Review your spelling, punctuation, grammar, and overall style. Omit any information that isn't necessary. Pare your article down to the bare minimum necessary to convey your information.

  • It can be difficult to see flaws in your work immediately after you've written it. Take a break for a few hours or go to sleep before editing. When you return to your work, you may find many improvements that can be made.
  • Get a friend whose opinion you respect to proofread your work. See if they can understand your instructions - a good how-to article should make sense to people besides its author.

Direct users to other articles. A well-written how-to will pique readers' interest in the article's subject, while a poorly-written one will send readers running for other sources of information. In either case, it can be useful to include links to other how-to articles that cover related topics. Generally, these links will be in the form of a short list at or near the end of the article. These articles should cover articles whose information overlaps with your own and/or articles about processes from the same general field.

For instance, an article about how to "perm" hair might include links to articles on how to:

  • Care for permed hair
  • Get rid of a perm
  • Braid Hair
  • Give someone a Jeri Curl
  • Use a curling iron
  • Apply mousse