The Future ain’t what it used to be.
Wise words indeed.
This quote has been widely attributed to Baseball player Yogi Berra.
I guess what he was saying is that things don’t stand still and what was true yesterday may not hold true today.
And if it’s change you’re looking for, then look no further than the internet. We’re around 20 years in and it seems to be a constantly moving landscape.
But there’s one area that remains constant throughout all of this and that is our insatiable appetite for knowledge.
Demonstrating Knowledge Is Vital To Online Success
Nobody understands this better than Google.
In fact, they understand it to such an extent that it is increasingly underpinning the way their search algorithms function.
To highlight this, skip back to the very early days of Google. Someone asked the founders how on earth they were going to make money out of a search engine.
A crazy question in hindsight but it seemed to address a valid point at the time.
But their answer had a prophetic ring to it. They said - “We’re not building a search engine, we’re building Artificial Intelligence”.
Now over the years, they keep refining their search algorithm to work towards that aim. Their most recent incarnation is called RankBrain which is part of the overall Hummingbird search algorithm.
Without getting into much detail it appears that Google’s approach is increasingly looking for one major factor when it decides which web pages to present to people: Authority.
And that’s where Knowledge-based content comes in. Let’s face it, people want to work with businesses with the most knowledge and expertise.
But demonstrating your knowledge isn’t just about getting more Google traffic.
Sharing knowledge is also about helping people make informed decisions. In online marketing terms we call this Conversion.
Basically we’re helping convert browsers into buyers.
4 Proven Content Frameworks
So we’ve established that Knowledge is good for both Authority (Traffic) and Conversions. But what type of content?
Well, fortunately, there are several proven types of Knowledge-based content you can use, and in this post, I’d like to introduce you to 4 of them. They are:
- Definitive Guides
- How To Guides
- Comparison Content
- Buyer’s Guides
Let’s look at each in turn so you can use these to your advantage:
Definitive Guides are heavyweight, knowledge-intensive content. Their purpose is clearly to position you as ‘The Voice Of Your Industry.’
Someone needs to be the voice of your industry; so why not you?
If you’re creating a Definitive Guide first choose your subject. Go too wide (Marketing) and you’ll have bitten off more than you can chew.
Go too narrow (Page Headings), and you’ll struggle to find enough content.
The sweet spot is something which addresses a particular need for a particular audience (Definitive Guide to E-commerce Content Marketing).
Regarding length, we’re looking at between 5,000 to 20,000 words in length (I did say this is heavyweight content).
Now if you’re sitting there thinking ‘no way can I write that amount of content’ here’s a method you can use which breaks it into manageable chunks.
First, create a table of contents for your guide with maybe 12 chapters. For each chapter you just need to write maybe 800 to 1000 words of content - that will take you maybe one hour for each chapter.
Publish each chapter as a blog post. Just one or two a week is fine.
In the end, get all of the content you’ve created and pull it all together in one place. Just convert it into a pdf with some nice graphics and Voila! - you’ve got your Definitive Guide.
Now you’ve got something of value you can show on your website or email out to your list or share on your favorite social media channels.
But don’t stop there. You can repurpose into slideshows or videos or even podcasts.
A final point on Definitive Guides is that they will open up opportunities for you such as public speaking or guest blogging gigs. People want to listen to the industry experts after all.
How To Guides
Next up are How To Guides.
Now if you’re stuck with all this stuff then start with How To Guides.
Whatever you call them the aim here is to explain to your audience how to achieve a particular goal.
The beauty of How To content is that it’s evergreen content that positions you as a helpful expert patiently explaining stuff that you do, day in day out but which may be completely new or confusing to your audience.
To get started just sit down and create a list of possible questions that people ask you. I’m sure you hear this stuff day in day out, and it should form the basis of your knowledge-base.
Also, consider the format that you want to deliver your content in. This type of content works well in a number of different formats from written (blog posts, FAQs, pdfs) to video (screen capture, whiteboard) to audio (podcasts).
Remember that your audience will be made of people who like to consume their content in different ways so try to cover as many bases as possible.
Another angle you can exploit is the Step By Step Guide where you break your task down into small manageable chunks.
Comparison Content allows you to compare two or more options side by side and is great for getting traffic.
It works well whether it’s comparing product (iPhone X vs. Samsung Galaxy 8) or services (e.g., how to choose the best live chat software ?)
The simple fact is that folks are busy these days. They just don’t have the time to go round researching all the options.
They’ll appreciate the fact that you’ve pulled all of the data and information together in one place.
Not only that, in the absence of your competitors taking the time to do this kind of stuff (and in my experience, they won’t), they will keep referring back to your guide.
Ideally, try to come up with a verdict. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a definitive ‘this one wins’ verdict, but rather identify the winner in terms of a range of criteria (best value, best for beginners, best for advanced features, etc.).
Buyer’s Guides are powerful tools for converting browsers into buyers.
They allow you to create a benchmark in the minds of your buyers so that they subconsciously consider you as their preferred supplier.
And what’s better is that they are just so easy to create. I mean, think about all of the phone calls you’ve had or emails you’ve sent to prospective buyers.
You know this stuff inside out. It’s either in your inbox, on your hard drive or up there in your brain.
You just need to commit to getting it all ‘out there’ on your website.
Make sure that your Buyer’s Guides are benefit-heavy because that’s what motivates people to buy.
That’s not to say that features aren’t important - they are. It’s just that benefits trump features when it comes to convincing people so make sure the benefits appear high and center.
The online landscape is changing. What worked before won’t necessarily work now or tomorrow.
But one area has not changed, and that is people’s thirst for knowledge. This is increasingly important and is reflected in Google’s search algorithms.
Knowledge can be leveraged to improve both traffic and conversions through several proven forms of content such as Definitive Guides, How To Guides, Comparison Content, and Buyer’s Guides.
So are you using any of these formats? Or do you need some inspiration? Let us know in the comments below.
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