Content Marketing: how to rank for an how-to guide in 2019

Updated: Feb 21

In this post, I am going to show you EXACTLY how to rank on Google for your guides and how-to articles.

In fact, in 2 months my Definitive Guide on Career Change published on Future Fit Training got 1,146 unique page views from Google and growing every week.

Definitive Guide Stats - 2 months views
Definitive Guide Stats - 2 months views

So if you want to get more organic traffic to a guide, you will love this...(excuse my repetition) guide.

These are the tools you need to rank your guide on page 1 on Google:

1- SEMRush paid account - you can do with a free account but you have limited functionalities

2- Photoshop account to build the Guide cover for lead generation

3- Unbounce account for building the perfect landing page. If you don't want to pay for Unbounce, you should have a different landing page tool

4- Excel for comparing SERP results

5- Obviously Word for writing the guide

6- PDF for creating the download resource.

7- If you want to create leads form your guide, you need also a form with a welcome email to send the guide.

Step 1: how to find the right topic for your guide

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here is some background on this Definitive Guide on Career Change. I have worked on a new content project for Future Fit Training, the UK leading training provider in fitness and nutrition and I wanted the website to rank for "career change" and "career change ideas".

When the guide was first published, it struggled to get any organic traffic. I tracked 143 views the first week and 48 views the second week from organic traffic.

Fast forward today, my guide is ranking on position 2 / page 1 on Google for the term "career change ideas".

Google SERP

Also, because I have created a PDF of my guide with 87 pages and a landing page to create new leads, I have gained 148 extra leads worth £ tens of thousands in revenue for the business in 2 months ( I cannot reveal the exact amount for privacy reasons).

Now that you know what I am talking about, let's get into the details of how to write a Definitive Guide on a topic.

eBook Cover

I quickly realised that users interested in starting a course with Future Fit were also interested in a career change. So this is how I got my ideas around this definitive guide.

First thing first, I have started keyword research to make sure that career change and career change ideas were popular topics on Google.

...and SEMRush showed me these numbers:

- 12,100 searches a month for "career change" (big volume)

- 590 searches a month for "career change ideas"(small to average volumes)

SEMRush keywords volumes

When you have such a strong domain authority as Future Fit has (DA 45 on Moz) and a great reputation in the industry, you need to seize the opportunity to write something extraordinary that outrank all other competitors and make sure you leverage the DA.

Even if other keywords were having bigger volumes such as "career change at 40" I have excluded them from the Guide because Future Fit's target audience demographic is 20 to 30 years old.

Step 2: optimise for keywords

One of the key activities around writing a guide is to optimise the keywords for SEO because as you can probably imagine there are lots of other competitors ranking already for a long time.

In particular, you want to target low competition keywords. This is even more crucial if your website doesn't have a great domain authority. If you choose high competition keywords, your guide will suffer from bad rankings and will be buried into search results.

How do you check this?

I have used SEMRush and if you have SEMRush too, go to Keyword Analytics report.

keywords competition

The Results in SERP number indicates the number of websites in Google search results about the career change topic.

Another check you can do is on Google directly, very easy.

Type the keyword and check how many results:

career change serp results

For "career change" 1.5 Billion results.

Too many!

For "career change ideas" just 583 Million.

career change ideas serp results

3 times less!

This is the keyword I want to rank for.

Step 3: analyse your competitors on top 10 SERPs

What you need to do next is analyse SERP results to find opportunities for optimisation.

To execute this step, I have analysed the top 10 results on Google around those keywords and built an Excel file to compare and contrast, in an attempt to understand why they are ranking on Page 1.

I have compared the 10 SERP results according to 7 criteria:

1- H1 and H2 titles and characters length

2- Meta description length

3- Image optimisations

4- Number of words

5- Number of backlinks guide/ page

6- Number of comments

7- Videos (Yes or No)

Then I have realised that these pieces of content are missing some of these criteria. This was an excellent opportunity to seize.

It helped me to realise which articles are more competitive and which are less competitive, and become ready to crush them on ranking.

In this situation, you want to target those articles that have a smaller number of criteria. For example, they don't have a video? You add a video.

They are missing backlinks? You add backlinks.

How do you check all this?

All you need to do is check every one of the 10 results and read what they wrote. Let's take the number 1 result for "career change ideas", put the URL into SEMRsuh and get this result:

Backlinks analytics

You can see 120 backlinks to this article only. This number represents the total number of links to this article and 65 Referring Domains represents the number of domains sending traffic to this article.

As you know for sure, backlinks is still a key ranking factor in 2019, so this is also the reason why this article is ranking number 1.