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How to Write a How-To that Will Rank High and Generate Traffic

How-Tos are an opportunity for sites to educate visitors and improve SEO visibility and traffic. This asset type is less competitive than FAQs because they are more involved to develop and markup. This is Milestone's playbook on how to create and gain traffic with HowTos. Note the How-To should be the main focus on the page it resides on.
Google Webmaster explains: "A how-to walks users through a set of steps to successfully complete a task, and can feature video, images, and text. For example, ‘How to tie a tie or "How to tile a kitchen backsplash'. If each step in your how-to must be read in sequence, it's a good sign that HowTo structured data could benefit your content. HowTo structured data is appropriate when the how-to is the main focus of the page. Properly marked up how-to pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search and an Action on the Google Assistant, which can help your site reach the right users."
How to Write a How-To that Will Rank High and Generate Traffic
1. Know what questions your target audience wants to have answered. You can find this information by typing related queries into the search engine. Look at the People Also Ask options. You can also look at Question/Answer platforms such as Quora and social media to see what questions people ask related to your industry.
2. Use the exact question language in your heading. When returning answers in an Answer Box on Google, the search engine likes to closely match the language of the query to the language in the content. This level of precision is even higher than typically seen in general on-page SEO. Use that language as a heading once you have identified a question you want to target for a How To.
3. Build your How-To based on likely user intent. Know how Google interprets the user intent for your type of query. For example, do people generally want to read instructions, or do they want to watch a video? Knowing how people typically want to engage with content related to your query can help you build out your How To content in a strategy that aligns with user interests.
4. Use straightforward, clear writing. Your How To should be easily digestible. It is not the time to go on tangents or otherwise detract from the answer you provide. Instead, focus on answering the question.
5. Structure your How-To with clear steps or lists. Your How To should walk people through what they need to do to achieve their goal, step by step. Providing this guidance means that you will need to structure the How To with a list of actions or numbered items. If you want your answer pulled for a Google Answer Box, then numbering your list can also make it clear to the search engine that you provide step-by-step instructions.
6. Use structured data. Structured data can help you make the type of content you have clear to the search engine. A HowTo structure will let Google know that this content gives steps to complete a task. The markup is specifically for pages with the steps of a How To as their primary focus. With structured markup, a HowTo can include various types of material, including videos, images, and text. If you have one step of your How To that has multiple steps itself, you can use the HowToSection markup as well. To add this markup to your How To, you will want to add the required properties to the markup language. You will then insert the markup into the code for your page. Once you have inserted the markup, use the Rich Results Test to validate the code. You can also use the URL Inspection tool to see how Google reads the page and ensure that everything is formatted correctly. Full schemas for HowTo are available at
7. Include images or video. Step-by-step images or a how-top video will help the reader. Use structured data to clarify the steps and how they might be labeled. In videos, use structured data to mark the points in the video that map to the how-to steps.
How to Write a How-To that Will Rank High and Generate Traffic
8. Focus on authority and expertise. When the search engines provide How To answers to users, they single out a particular website to highlight as the one the user should listen to. Therefore, the search engine wants to be confident that readers can trust this website. Focusing on trust and authority on this page and throughout the site will help you nurture this reputation. Even if much of your content is subjective, make sure the sources you cite and rely upon are widely respected.
9. Optimize the rest of the page. Finally, the How-Tos that Google highlights come from web pages that rank on the first page of the SERP, and the higher you rank, the better off you will be. Therefore, in addition to structuring a helpful How To, you also need to make sure the rest of the webpage, and the website, have been well optimized. This optimization can improve the visibility of the site overall. As the site rises in the rankings, it will increase the chances of getting highlighted in an Answer Box and attracting visitors interested in learning how to achieve that goal.
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