It seems like just about everyone in the content marketing and SEO realm is constantly looking for the “magic bullet” to SERPs mastery, and very few end up finding it. That’s because there really is no such magic bullet. Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a load of something best suited to fertilising a field.
Regardless, one of the most effective tools in any marketer or SEO’s arsenal is the ultimate guide. They can be found everywhere on the web and are an easy way to gain traffic, engage followers and boost rankings in one fell swoop.
Why Ultimate Guides?
Broadly speaking, an ultimate guide is any resource that provides an overview of a topic to its readers, assists them in understanding it and gives them step by step instructions on how to hopefully master it. It can be an e-book in PDF, Mobi or ePub format, or a more interactive visual production such as a video or multimedia presentation.
Whatever format you choose, ultimate guides are highly popular for a number of reasons. There’s a certain psychology to the format which capitalises on our innate human desire to get easy answers to complicated problems. Furthermore, it’s a useful example of content curation being used for online promotion.
Living Up to Expectations
If you’re going to put the word “ultimate” into the title of any guide you push, you’d better live up to the hype. Using rich media, superbly detailed instructions and the most up-to-date information is the way to roll.
The first priority is, you guessed it, quality. When people decide to take a chance on an ultimate guide, they expect an authoritative blueprint for solving their problems. Meeting or exceeding their expectations is imperative. If your audience feels that your guide was worthwhile, they’ll most likely reward you with increased engagement, newsletter subscriptions, or social shares.
I’ve personally seen this in action recently with our dog names guide, which includes an infographic and a custom written list of the best dog names out there. Thousands of page views, high engagement, loads of inbound links, and great social metrics. What more could you ask for?
SEO Implications & Advantages
Few understand the complexities of ultimate guides vis-à-vis content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation. That’s ironic, as the SEO possibilities of ultimate guides are the primary reason to put so much time and effort into a topnotch production.
These search engines love ultimate guides because they give users exactly what they’re looking for on any given topic. Using rich media in conjunction with solid content takes the SEO power of the ultimate guide to another level.
Ultimate Guides in Practice
Do a quick, generic search on an ultimate guide to anything and you’ll find plenty of fine guides to emulate. In particular, sites like MakeUseOf, Mashable, Search Engine Watch and the like are great places to find ultimate guides.
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Social Media Update Scheduling on Lifehacker for inspiration. It details the best ways to organise a social media marketing campaign for maximum efficiency. It’s a good read, and it demonstrates the most important attributes of any highly effective ultimate guide: clarity, brevity, value and accessibility.
Tips, Tricks and Advice
The most important thing to consider when crafting your ultimate guide is your target audience. Remember who you’re writing, streaming and recording for when you put together your magnum opus. Make sure to approach the material from the point of view of the readers so that your guide resonates with them.
Nowadays, incorporating an ultimate guide into your content marketing strategy is easier than it’s ever been. Using open source desktop publishing software like Scribus, one can produce an ultimate guide that’s of high quality quickly and cheaply without much effort.
Why You Should Use Them, Ultimately
An ultimate guide alone is unlikely to automatically vault you into the stratosphere of blog or content marketing stardom. Regardless, it’s an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to climbing the SERP rankings, raising your profile and boosting overall conversions.
For some, an ultimate guide is a product in and of itself. For others, it’s part of a broader strategy to deliver value in the hopes of future business from interested clientèle. Either way, an ultimate guide can be an immensely powerful SEO and content marketing tool when used correctly.
Matt Beswick is a UK based SEO Consultant, and the co-founder of Pet365. Find him on Twitter – @mattbeswick
See my disclosure about advertising and affiliate links