The Ultimate Guide to Writing Ultimate Guides - Part 2: Build Links, Leads and Legacy
By publishing an informative, high-utility Ultimate Guide series you earn links, drive leads and lay the foundation of an enduring content legacy in your industry. In 62 Queries for Writing Ultimate Guides that Build Links, Leads and Legacy we outlined a process for mapping out a market's "categories of concern" using The Worksheet for the Ultimate Guide to Writing Ultimate Guides. In this installment we show how to create a master document that your writers can use to write your Ultimate Guide series, and include a step-by-step, templated guide they can use to get started.
Tools for Phase 2 of the UG2UG Process
Kayaking: Our Example
To better illustrate this process, we've chosen "kayaking" as a Market Defining Keyword, and we will create a linkable content strategy for an online kayaking store that targets North Carolina. We'll call it Kayakalacky. Our interest in kayaking traces back to the imaginary business we mentioned at Search Engine Watch).
As an example we filled out the worksheet for the [kayaking] keyword space using the UG2UG process. We only looked at the top 10 results in Google for each query.
5 New Informative Content Queries
In researching the [kayaking] space we found a few more useful "informative content" queries. And you will too as you begin your own research. In fact, each space you dig into will likely uncover more.
- [MDKW] "common sense"
- [MDKW] skills
- [MDKW] dangers
- [MDKW] warnings
- [MDKW] solutions
Kayaking Categories of Concern
We found 82 different kayaking resources in our initial research. Our hope is that this is enough for us to flesh out the highest-level categories of concern that writers have addressed for the kayaking market. We grouped the resources we found into the following distinct categories that roughly define the concern areas for kayaking.
Core Kayaking Concerns
- [Water Type] Kayaking
- Kayaking Safety (+ Kayaking Injury Prevention)
- Where to Kayak
- Buying/Choosing a Kayak
- Basic Kayaking Skills
- Kayaking Maneuvers
- Kayak Paddling Techniques
- Kayaking Gear (+ Building Your Own Kayak Gear)
- Kayak Storage + by-Vehicle Transport
Kayaking "Plus" Concerns
- Kayaking and Camping
- Kayaking with Your Dog
- Kayaking and Fishing
- Kayaking and Photography
Kayaking Extended Concerns
- Kayaking Events
- Kayaking Sports (Racing/Polo)
- Kayak Building
- Kayaking with Disabilities
- Recovering Lost/Stolen Kayaks
- Kayaking Teaching Tips (how to teach others to Kayak)
- Kayaking for Women
If you're NOT a subject matter expert, your categories of concern list would be a good thing to have an expert take a look at. Your main question is "what's missing?" Your second question is "does this organization make sense?" Your third question is "so hey, when can we schedule time for a quick interview on (category of concern)?" We also recommend looking at the Table of Contents for well known books on the subject, as well as the top nav of prominant industry sites.
Further, it's important to note that each of these categories is really just a starting point, and can be broken down into smaller and smaller distinct pieces. For example, the "Kayaking Maneuvers" category could have as many distinct Ultimate Guides as there are maneuvers. Further still, you could group your maneuvers according to skill level and water type. The best Ultimate Guides are narrow and very, very deep (thus all the research!).
Here are some conceptual "moving parts" that we will have to solve for as we develop our linkable content strategy and calendar for Kayakalacky.com:
- Water Type (defines kayak type to some extent)
- Skill Level (also will define kayak type, and will impact what water types are relevant)
- Buying/Choosing (depends on water type + skill level)
- Maneuvers (depends on water type + skill level)
- Storage + Transporting (depends somewhat on kayak type)
Expanding Categories of Concern into "Ultimate Guide" Titles
Our logical starting point for Kayakalacky.com is in buying guides - for now, the site is going to make money as an ecommerce affiliate site. With that in mind we'll demonstrate "blowing out" ultimate guide titles as they relate to kayak buying guides. We'll find our first batch of link prospects for our guides based on who's linking to other guides. How you select your first ultimate guide topic should depend on your business and link target goals.
Our first step now is to determine the *types* of kayaks for which buying guides have been written. We need buying guide keywords and kayak types.
Buying Guide Terms:
- buying guide
- buying advice
- buyers guide
- first time
ProTip: Google's auto-complete query suggestions can do a great deal of this work for you. Pay close, close attention to them as they will provide an excellent starting point for well established "types" of just about anything.
So our blow out of the Buyer's Guide category of concern looks like this:
- Sea/Touring Kayak Buyer's Guide
- Inflatable Kayak Buyer's Guide
- Fishing Kayak Buyer's Guide
- Whitewater Kayak Buyer's Guide
- Recreational Kayak Buyer's Guide
We could have gone much deeper with our list above - there are different types of Kayaks within each of the categories above. There are also waveskis, creekboats, playboats, tandems, and more. Narrower categories are almost always better, but for the current exercise, this is plenty deep. The more specialized kayaks don't have standardized buyers guides either, which makes them tougher to jump in with. Depending on demand, this could also represent a content gap you could fill.
North Carolina has mountains (white water), lakes (recreational/fishing), coast line (sea/fishing) and rivers (recreational/fishing). While the amount of gear required for fishing is certainly attractive, and there's an avid and passionate (hard core) audience. However, it looks too complex to dig into for the scope of this article. So we're going to look at sea kayaking, or, rather, The Ultimate Sea Kayak Buyer's Guide. All our other types of buyers guides will become future writing projects, and form up our linkable content calendar.
Researching Your "Ultimate Guide"
Now that we've decided on the "Sea Kayak Buyer's Guide" we can begin filling out sheet 3. This means following a process very similar to the one you used for your survey of market concerns, covered in the "Discover Your Market's Categories of Concern" section here. You search, click a probable looking resource, and if it's halfway decent you grab it. Your output for this exercise is an outline, in spreadsheet format, you can send to your writer.
Concern Terms Used:
- sea kayak
- touring kayak
Buying Guide Terms Used:
- buying guide
- buying advice
- buyers guide
- how to choose
You can check sheet 3 to see all the resources we discovered using these queries.
Template for Your Writers: Tip Capture + Categorization + Rewriting for Your Ultimate Guide
Tips, suggestions, questions and considerations are the smallest informational unit of any guide. Before you can figure out a guide's structure, you have to know all the tips that fit within it. To find and extract all the tips you have to read all of the best guides with our worksheet open. The process is quite similar to that of the initial survey of market concerns - you're thoroughly capturing all the best ideas and then, once you've found them, organizing them into logical structures or "narratives of utility."
Tip capture is something that is easier to hand off to a writer once you've completed all the research (we've found that typically the research and strategy is best left to the linkable content strategist ;). What you see in sheet 3 of the Kayak Ultimate Guide Worksheet is exactly what we'd pass along. We also wrote detailed instructions for the writer, along with checkpoints for you to review their work, which we've included below for you to use if you like. You can also just do it yourself, as we certainly have often enough ;)
Tip Capture + Categorization + Rewriting Instructions for Your Writer
Your first step is a thorough survey of the existing tips, advice and suggestions about [concern].
We have conducted the initial research and provided a list of titles and URLs in the attached spreadsheet.
Your final output is a piece of written content that thoroughly addresses [concern].
Here are some attributes that this piece of content must have:
1) It must be thoroughly, relentlessly, obsessively tip-inclusive (We will cite sources at the end of the article... Citations are a PART of the overall strategy here!)
2) This guide must include a downloadable, takeaway worksheet. This worksheet will be a place for people to record pertinant information relating to a checklist of things to do in relation to [this concern]. Part of your output is recommendations for what this worksheet must include.
3) Besides citations, we will also need to include other relevant resources, from videos to further articles. This will make it much easier for people to consider citing this article. If there's anything else you reference for this that relates to [concern], please keep track of it for potential inclusion in the resources section.
4) Further, we're looking for high tip counts - that makes articles more noteworthy.
Your Workflow + Our Desired Output:
>> Step 1: Tip Capturing...
1) survey the resources we provided in Sheet 1, and copy/paste tips into your spreadsheet on Sheet 2. Please keep track of which tips came from which sources!
Capturing tips this way will help you organize the tips further on once you can see the relationships between them, or can see a compelling structure for presenting them (eg: steps to take in procedural order; steps ordered by action; steps ordered by logical process of decision making)
2) Split multi-part tips into single chunks. This may not always be possible, but give it a shot ;)
>> Step 2: Tip Categorization (as proposal)
1) Propose and outline a compelling tip structure or categorization format (step by step, action-groupings, etcetera...). this should include proposed section header titles (eg: What to Do First)
2) If proposal is approved, label and order each tip according to its appropriate position in your framework.
3) Next, suggest two or three questions, per tip category, that you think we should ask an expert about.
>> Step 3: Tip Rewriting
1) First you must give each tip a name or a title. If each tip is a step, then each step needs a name.
2) Next your task is to rewrite the tip's gist using our style sheet.
>> Step 4: Writing Category/Section Intros
1) write intro paragraph for each tip-grouping section.
>> Step 5: Write article intro, plus advise if the title no longer quite "fits" and make suggestions regarding a new title.
>> Step 6: Make Worksheet/Spreadsheet/Tool Recommendations
Ideally, each piece of highly-linkable content is accompanied by a downloadable worksheet, spreadsheet or some sort of simple web tool. This sort of "prize inside" makes content much more shareable.
Coming Soon to an UG2UGs Near You
It's (typically) not enough to capture and rewrite all the tips that have been previously written. In our next installment we'll dig into your principle value adds - that also help attract links - as well as venture into promotion!
- Quality Assurance: Interviews, Infoswag and the "Narrative of Utility"
- How to Find and Qualify Promotion Prospects
- Promoting Your Ultimate Guide