Informational articles are one of the pillars of affiliate marketing content.
As time goes by and competition increases in every niche, especially competition from high-authority publications that have an easier time ranking for pretty much any keyword they set their eyes on, informational content is slowly becoming the last refuge of independent, small, and medium affiliate marketers.
That’s why it is critical for bloggers to have a deep understanding of how to create informational content that serves their audience the best, but also earns them money (or at least helps in that process), and helps build the authority of their blog and their brand.
In this guide, you will see my entire process for creating content that has the aim to educate and inform blog audiences. I’ve used this process to create hundreds of informational blog posts, and the majority of them rank on the first page of Google search results (often in position n. 1), and help my blogs in all of the important ways. We will go into every possible detail of my process, and you will watch me create an informational article step by step so that you can master and replicate my process with ease.
- What to know before writing an informational blog post
- How to use this guide
Informational blog post process
- Pick the topic or the keyword you will cover
- Start a new post
- Enter the placeholder title (same as the keyword)
- Research the competition and determine the requirements for your blog post
Research the topic
- Gather data and perform independent research if it makes sense
- Think about your own experience and expertise
- Think laterally
- Research Google Scholar, and cite and quote authorities on the topic
- Research Youtube videos
- Research relevant forums and online communities
- See Google’s autocomplete options for your keyword and use the alphabet soup
- See Google’s “People Also Ask” section for your keyword
- See Google’s “Related Searches” section for your keyword
- See Google’s keyword research planner results
- See the results from AnswerThePublic
- Research competing blog posts
- Let the research marinate in your mind
- Create the header structure
Write the content
- Add the data if there is some, explain the research process, and extract conclusions
- Fill out all the content for every header
- Add links as you go
- Use lists and tables
- Write the introductory paragraph
- Write the second paragraph to win the Google search result snippet
- Write the summary and call to action
- Place the “Table of contents” widget before the first H2 header
- Select the category
- Add images and their alt-tags
- Create graphs, charts, infographics, and illustrations (if applicable)
- Add the featured image
- Add some strategic bolds
- Correct spelling, proofread, and edit
- Read the article one more time as a whole
- Prepare the final title using the keyword and adding some detail, usefulness, or intrigue
- Set the permalink
- Add internal links to your post from other articles on your blog
- Promote the blog post
- Create a video for the blog post
What to know before writing an informational blog post
Before we dive into the specifics of exactly how to write the perfect informational blog post, there are a few things you should know.
What is an informational blog post?
An informational blog post targets keywords that come from searchers primarily looking for information or education on a topic. The keywords will often be phrased as questions (often starting with the phrase “how to”), or the search queries will include some qualifiers that indicate this is a query that’s seeking information, such as including the words “guide” or “tutorial”, for example.
So, typically, any query that is a question or a requirement for a guide of some sort can be considered an informational query, and it will be best targeted by an informational blog post.
Informational blog posts and the buyer’s journey
Usually, searchers that type in these queries are beginners in the topic, and it is our job as experts in the field to provide them with as much useful information on the topic as possible.
Since the searchers are often beginners, they will not be too familiar with the products, solutions, ideas, and concepts in the niche, and in fact, often, they may not even be sure exactly what problem they are trying to solve yet.
That’s why we can safely assume that the vast majority of searchers will be in the initial phase of the buyer’s journey, or the awareness phase. They will usually have a problem or a need, since people rarely do search engine queries without those. But, interestingly, they might not even be capable of identifying or articulating the problem they have, so they are seeking education on the topic first.
That’s where informational blog posts come, which is on top of the buyer’s journey inverted pyramid.
Understanding searcher’s intent
Searcher’s intent is one of the key concepts you need to understand in order to build successful blogs. This is one of the concepts that Google and other search engines focus on the most, especially in the last few years, and a lot of the algorithm updates have been trying to refine the ways in which searcher’s intent is evaluated.
Basically, if your informational blog post clearly addresses the problem presented by the searcher’s query, and provides an answer or a solution for it, then your blog post has satisfied the searcher’s intent, and both your readers and search engines will value your blog post because of that.
If you’ve seen some of my other guides on the other types of blog posts, you will notice that they are much more formulaic and straightforward than this one. That’s precisely because the searcher’s intent plays a huge role in informational queries, and getting it right is not always an easy task. In the other guides, I suggest taking a few minutes to empathize with your readers and try to look at things from their perspective, but in this guide, that time should be much longer than a few minutes.
What level of depth and detail should you go into with informational blog posts?
As a general principle, you should go as deep as possible in every informational blog post, until you’ve covered the topic fully and have exhausted every related question and angle you could think of.
There is an idea circulating around the Internet that the attention spans of people are getting reduced and nobody reads long blog posts anymore.
And that may even be true to a large extent, and I can’t even disagree.
But I also believe that to a large degree, people have become somewhat better at evaluating a piece of content from a longer distance. Think about it – it may be true that you will never read an entire 5.000-word blog post from start to finish, but that’s because you don’t have to.
You simply know how to scan the blog post first.
That’s what a huge part of blog post readers are doing. They are scanning the blog post first, and maybe occasionally stopping to read the parts they believe will be of interest to them.
Which is why you should still write as detailed guides as you can. The only thing you should become better at is organizing your content and the headers of your blog post, which is what we’ll cover in great depth in the process below.
Search engines, and Google, in particular, will often rank blog posts in the search results based on the authority and expertise of the authors.
We as digital marketers will probably never know the innermost details of how the search engine algorithms work exactly, but we can be fairly confident that authority and expertise as Google and other search engines measure them can be reverse-engineered so that we can figure out how to improve upon those.
To put it simply, search engines almost certainly measure authority as the number and quality of websites other than yours linking back to your content. Increasing the authority of your blog posts then simply means building links to your content, which is something that’s not a part of the process of writing the blog post itself, and that’s why we’ll cover it in another guide.
Expertise is a bit more tricky. First of all, it’s entirely possible that search engines still don’t have a good way to precisely measure expertise, and they mostly rely on approximations. While sophisticated search engine algorithms can probably understand your content to a degree, they still can’t be 100% certain on whether or not it’s true, and they probably have no choice other than to look at other factors to build a better picture of the expertise of the piece of content.
Based on the consensus of several well-known digital marketers, bloggers, and SEO specialists, as well as my own personal observations and intuition, the following are the factors that determine the expertise of an author, and subsequently a piece of content:
- depth and completeness of the content piece itself
- volume of other content related to the topic
- original research performed for the creation of the content piece, as well as data gathered
- relevant research from other high-authority websites cited in the content piece
- additional media that’s relevant to the topic, including Youtube videos, infographics, charts, pictures, etc
As we can see, pretty much all of those are factors that we have control over, and we can often do a very good job of presenting our expertise on the topic. The process will show you exactly how to do that.
Why create informational blog posts?
Blogging and affiliate marketing have changed somewhat dramatically in the last few years, mostly because more and more large publications that were traditionally viewed as journals or even newspapers have entered the field. Most of them have banked pretty heavily on the fact that they were viewed as very authoritative by search engines, and have used their authority to cross over to consumer-related niches and create the type of content that was traditionally created by smaller affiliate marketing blogs, most notably product reviews and list articles.
Obviously, because of their existing authority, they have often had very little trouble outcompeting (or even completely obliterating) smaller affiliate blogs. That has even been true in tons and tons of cases when the smaller blogs have had much, much greater expertise on the topic than the larger publications.
Chances are, if you type in a search query for a review of a popular product, or a list of the best products in a popular niche, the top results will be dominated by huge media houses.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do product reviews or list articles (although you will have to be more strategic about that, which is demonstrated in my other blog post processes). But still, you will get traffic to those pieces of content in several different ways, and getting tons of traffic from search engines will only be a fraction of the traffic for those content pieces.
Informational blog posts are different.
Well, because large publications still don’t create them on a large scale. They probably are not worth the effort, as they don’t really have a lot of search volume most of the time, and they have very little commercial intent behind them, which probably makes them unprofitable for the big publications to ever bother with them.
As an independent affiliate marketer, you should rejoice because of that. That’s your chance to shine.
First of all, as a general principle, I believe that you should fully exhaust your niche in terms of informational content. Cover even the topics that you believe will have very little search volume and won’t bring you much traffic, as that helps you with the expertise of your blog, and with your authority to a degree as well.
But other than that, informational blog posts can (and often should) send your readers to the rest of your content, a lot of which will be more commercial and will help your readers take the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Plus, revenue from display advertising has only been increasing over the last few years, and every blog post you write that gets traffic is simply more money in the bank for you.
And, of course, informational content will help you beat the competition in indirect ways. Since larger publications will usually not cover informational keywords, you have a chance to present your blog to readers that are just getting familiar with the topic. In many ways, you will be forever linked to the topic in their minds (I still remember the first blogs I read on some topics even from decades ago). Later, if your audience searches for something else related to the topic, and they see your blog in the search results, they will be more inclined to click it, even if it’s a few positions below the article from the big publication.
How to use this guide
This guide is part of a combo pack that also includes a Youtube video guide, where you can watch me demonstrate the entire process from A to Z.
I will assume complete unfamiliarity with blogging on your part, as this guide is meant for complete beginners. In fact, the video will show me writing every single word in real time, which is something that I wish I had at my disposal when I first started blogging but I couldn’t find anywhere.
I recommend reading this guide at least once, watching the video at least once as well, and then using this guide as a quick reference (re-reading it one more time will be incredibly useful as well).
For the purposes of this guide, I will create a full-blown informational blog post as an example. The blog post will be live on one of my blogs.
If you’ve seen the previous guides for the other blog post types, you’ll know that I’ve selected the niche of minimalist wallets. We will continue with that niche for this example as well.
The topic/keyword I will use for this example will be “what is a minimalist wallet?”.
This guide will assume a basic level of familiarity with the WordPress editor. If you’re totally new to WordPress, see my guide on how to create a blog post in WordPress first.
Note to Digital Marketing Empire team members
If you’re not a member of the Digital Marketing Empire team, then first, seriously consider joining the team, especially if you’re looking for free training on blogging and guidance to building your own passive income stream, but otherwise, the following will not apply to you.
If you are a member, then some of the steps below will already be done for you, but not to the same extent as with the other blog post types.
The success of informational blog posts depends on the research process to a great degree, and it will be your job to perform that part diligently. You will have some guidance upfront, but you will also have to demonstrate proactivity as well.
Informational blog post process
What follows is a detailed guide into my informational blog post writing process, broken down into atomic, actionable steps that you can easily follow. The process is supposed to be easy to replicate, but you should also adapt it to your own niche and blogging style.
These are the steps of the process:
- pick the topic or the keyword you will cover
- start a new post
- enter the placeholder title (same as the keyword)
- research the competition and determine the requirements for your blog post
- research the topic
- gather data and perform independent research if it makes sense
- think about your own experience and expertise
- think laterally
- research Youtube videos
- research relevant forums and online communities
- research competing blog posts
- research Google scholar
- see Google’s autocomplete options for your keyword
- see Google’s “people also ask” section for your keyword
- see Google’s “related searches” section for your keyword
- see Google’s keyword research planner results
- see the results from AnswerThePublic
- let the research marinate in your mind
- create the header structure
- write the content
- add the data if there is some, and extract conclusions
- fill out all the content for every header
- add links as you go
- use lists and tables
- write the introductory paragraph
- write the second paragraph to win the Google search result snippet
- write the summary and call to action
- place the “Table of contents” widget before the first H2 header
- select the category
- add images and their alt-tags
- add the featured image
- create graphs, charts, infographics, and illustrations (if applicable)
- add some strategic bolds
- correct spelling, proofread, and edit
- read the article one more time as a whole
- prepare the final title using the keyword and adding some detail, usefulness, or intrigue
- set the permalink
- add internal links to your post from other articles on your blog
- promote the blog post
- create a video for the blog post
Let’s go into each one of them individually and see exactly how to perform them.
Pick the topic or the keyword you will cover
This step actually has a lot more to do with keyword research than with writing the blog post itself, as typically, you will have a list of keywords you should write about before starting with the writing.
We won’t cover it in much depth here, as that will be a separate guide that will be released soon.
In case you don’t have a list of keywords to pick the topic from, you can use one of the following techniques:
- think about some questions you had about the topic when you were a beginner
- check some online forums and communities on the topic and see the most popular questions
- enter the name of your niche or some of the most popular products into Google Keyword Planner, Answer the Public, or type it into Google and see the augocomplete, the “related searches”, and the “people also ask” section
- check your competitor’s blogs or Youtube channels
Additionally, I also like to take the keyword I will write about and check it into Google Keyword Planner, and see what kind of search volume I get for it. I’m just doing this as an orientational step, as sometimes I end up getting hundreds or even thousands of monthly page views on articles for which the tool suggests there are 0 to 10 monthly searches. Still, most of the time, the search volume will be pretty much correct, and you can know what to expect more or less.
For our example, I’ve chosen the topic “what is a minimalist wallet?”.
Start a new post
The only step that feels better than hitting the “Publish” button is hitting the “Add new” button. Every great blog post article has started like this, so let’s pay homage to the tradition.
Hit the “Add new” button in WordPress.
Enter the placeholder title (same as the keyword)
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to try and create the final title before we’ve written a single word in the article. The final title should be a reflection of the blog post and it should market it as best as possible, but trying to do that before we have any idea what the blog post and the conclusions will end up being is almost futile.
Still, it feels very strange writing a blog post without any title.
That’s why we add a placeholder title, that’s simply just the topic we’re writing about.
Research the competition and determine the requirements for your blog post
Researching the competition for informational articles is a step that should mostly help you decide how much effort you should put into your blog post.
Most digital marketers advise completely avoiding writing about topics that are beaten to death by the competition. I advise on taking the exact opposite route here, and practically ignoring the competition except for gathering some data points and header ideas from them.
Never fear competition when writing informational articles!
There are a few reasons why I’m confident in making such a strong claim.
First and most important, even after decades of affiliate marketing, we still have a very vague idea of how search engines work, and we still observe results that are “irrational”. To this day, it happens fairly often that a blog post that shouldn’t rank for an informational keyword ranks for it. Your blog post can be that blog post!
Second, high-authority websites and big publications will rarely cover informational keywords. Most of the competition will come from blogs similar to yours, which means, you have a reasonable chance of beating them.
And third, by following my process, you will always end up creating superior content, or at the very least, content that is more detailed and more in-depth. You may outrank everyone, or you may end up on position 9, but you will have the most detailed blog post on the topic, and it will often happen that you get some decent traffic because of it, plus it can be very helpful if you’re doing skyscraper link building.
Now, there is a fair point to be made for trying to go for the unexploited keywords first, as you will simply start getting more traffic sooner that way. But eventually, it will probably be your best bet to exhaust the niche and cover every possible informational keyword, and the effect of which keywords you cover first, while possibly noticeable in some niches, will likely not be that great.
So, it’s still better to go for the low-hanging fruit here and cover the keywords that have no or low competition for them first.
Anyway, when researching the competition, you should:
- open a new incognito browser
- set the language to English
- set the search region to the US
- type the keyword in Google
- open each of the relevant search results into a new tab (some might not be relevant at times, ignore those)
- take note of all of the headers and subheaders of the competition (we may use some of these)
- take note of the word counts of every article and find out the biggest number, and that’s usually our goal to surpass with our own article
Reading the articles from the competition can also be useful, but I consider that to be part of the step of researching the topic itself.
Also, a note about the word count point – it’s not always necessary to write the biggest, longest article out there, but I’ve been observing (quite consistently, in fact) that when you do that, you tend to rank well. I wouldn’t necessarily say that word count is any factor, but depth of content almost certainly is, and longer articles that are well-written and relevant will always be deeper and more informative, which will give them an edge in the search rankings.
Research the topic
Researching the topic for informational keywords is probably the most important step in the entire process. When the research is done right, the writing itself will be very easy and it will practically happen by itself (it won’t, but you get the point).
On the other hand, if you procrastinate on the research, or skip it altogether, your chances of ranking will be much worse.
That’s why my sub-process for topic research is this long and detailed.
Gather data and perform independent research if it makes sense
One of the most valuable forms of research in my opinion is an independent research, and if the research is hard to reproduce, that will be even better.
In fact, this is the part that will likely take you the most time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it means that the competition will be less likely to go through the pain of it as well.
You will not be able to perform such research on all the topics and keywords, but whenever possible, you should really try and go for it. As it so happens, in the case of the keyword we’re using here for the example, there’s not really that much original research we can perform, as it’s a fairly simple keyword that should only provide some instructions.
But still, always keep your eyes open for this, as this will be one of the most valuable components of your informational blog posts.
I’m typically doing one of the following three forms of research when it makes sense to do some of them:
- gather data about a certain aspect of the niche and extract conclusions from it
- outreach to people relevant to the topic and interview them if possible
- perform the lab tests and the research myself
Gather data about a certain aspect of the niche and extract conclusions from it
This is probably the easiest form of research you can do, and it may also be the most common depending on your niche.
For me personally, this is the most common form of research I do, and I recommend it as the minimal form of research you provide. It will usually require some effort on your part, but by no means any significant effort, and you can really go very, very far by just doing this form of research and not even touching the other two forms.
In our example, it doesn’t really make sense to gather data for the keyword “what is a minimalist wallet?”. It’s a fairly straightforward keyword that will require a fairly straightforward answer, preferably one based on experience (although pure theoretical knowledge could work in this particular case as well), so there’s not much we can do here.
However, this type of research would be ideal if we were writing an informational blog post on the keyword “how much do minimalist wallets weigh?”, for example.
In fact, that’s the perfect example of a keyword that requires gathering as much data as you can, presenting it in a table form in the article itself (I would go with a simple table with two columns with just the name of the wallet and its weight in both ounces and grams), and then extracting as many conclusions and results as you could think of.
If we were to cover that keyword (which I definitely will on the blog at some point), I would simply gather the data for all of the weights of all the minimalist wallets, add it as raw table data in the article (Google loves this), and then extract the average weight, the median weight, the minimum and maximum weights, the weight clusters even, then classify the wallets as lightweight, medium, or heavyweight, and simply go as far as I can with the data and draw as many conclusions from it as I can.
Another excellent way to perform this type of research is an analysis of the reviews of products. For example, if we were to write an article about “how often do minimalist wallets break?”, or “how long do minimalist wallets last?”, there would be no better place to gather data about the defects than looking at the 1-star and 2-star reviews of the products. This will be a more difficult task, as it will require going through a lot of text (sometimes dense and poorly written text, written by a very angry person), but the data you will gather from this will be invaluable and it will be ammunition for excellent research and answers that nobody else has.
As we can see, this type of research will be ideal for keywords that are asking some quantifiable question, something that can clearly be measured and expressed in numbers or data.
Outreach to people relevant to the topic, and interview them if possible
In some ways, this step is similar to the previous, but instead of data, you are gathering answers, or, again, data in some cases, from topic experts or enthusiasts.
A good example for this niche might be if, for example, we were to write an article about something like “do people regret switching to a minimalist wallet”, or something of that sort. In that case, we could try and reach out to as many owners of minimalist wallets as we could find (you can find them on social media), and simply ask them about their experience so far.
Another example here would be something like “most used tactical features of minimalist wallets”.
One time, I identified a keyword in my niche that had a ton of search volume and practically no competition on it. The keyword was simply “[product name] insurance”. Now, since the product is not insured that often, and getting insurance on it is not that common, I had almost no success in trying to gather data from the websites of insurance companies. That’s why I had to resort to outreaching to various people in the various insurance companies and asking them about insuring the product directly. Of course, not all of them responded, but the ones that did, did provide me with a lot of useful data, and the blog post became very successful. That’s another example of when you can do this type of research.
Perform the tests and research myself
I’ve very rarely done this form of research, as it will typically require access to a lot of different products or various resources, and it’s definitely the most difficult one to pull off. I much prefer sourcing the data from people that already have access to it, and I only do this as a last resort.
However, precisely because of that, this form of research will typically be the most valuable and it will tend to perform the best.
In the niche we’re covering, I could think of several great examples for keywords and topics for which doing the research yourself.
One such example would be “does RFID blocking in minimalist wallets really work?”. I would simply gain access to the most popular wallets, either by buying them, buying and return them, or borrowing them, and then find an RFID scanner and see if the wallets really offer RFID protection, and how effective are they.
As you can see, this is definitely the most involved form of research you can do, but you will tend to get better results when you do it. The main problem here is that most new bloggers are probably broke, and also struggling with learning the technique of blogging itself, and acquiring a ton of different items will not sound like a good idea. The good news here, however, is that you can get really far without ever doing this (I’ve certainly done it), and that’s the approach I recommend to novice bloggers, while advanced bloggers should definitely consider this.
Think about your own experience and expertise
In many cases, your own expertise and experience on a topic are probably just as valuable as doing research, if not more.
Obviously, the best-case scenario is already being an expert on a topic and then doing some research on top of it, as that would make your blog post unstoppable, and I’m fairly certain that if you do that with the majority of your informational blog posts, you will certainly become one of the top blogs in your niche.
In any case, topic expertise and experience come in very handy when you can’t do research for the topic, or you simply make a strategic choice not to do it.
As a matter of fact, my experience with my own personal minimalist wallet will be exactly what I rely upon for creating the blog post for the example. As it just so happens, I’ve owned a minimalist wallet for about 6-7 years now (actually I owned two of the same model), and I feel like that’s more than enough experience to answer the question of how minimalist wallets work with authority.
Also, as we mentioned previously, it simply doesn’t make too much sense to try and do any research on a topic as simple as this, which is a perfect reason why relying on experience will usually be even more useful to you as a blogger.
Thinking laterally, also known as thinking outside of the box, can be a very, very useful step when creating informational blog posts. It is an optional step, and you can do fine without it, but when applied properly, you can strike gold with your posts and give your content a lot of advantages.
The somewhat bad news here is that this may be quite difficult to train for. You will need to already have at least some form of knowledge or experience that is outside of the topic but still related to it.
Also, it is quite preferable if you are already good at connecting seemingly unrelated ideas and concepts in a useful way. This is also quite difficult to train people in.
I believe the best way to illustrate this is through examples.
If you don’t have any authority on a topic per se, your next best move will be to “borrow” some authority.
What that means is simply linking out from your content to websites with a lot of authority, and more specifically, to content on those websites that are relevant to the topic you are covering.
Remember, relevance is a key thread that goes through pretty much everything we do as bloggers today, and the only time you should link out to any piece of content is when that piece of content is highly relevant to what you are talking about and will expand on your argument.
Now, what follows is a nuanced point, and I was hesitant of whether to include it in an article aimed primarily at beginners, but I decided to still include it as I believe it can be very valuable while not having a lot of downside to it.
The point is this: you should actually try fairly hard to link out to authoritative content, especially in the early stages of your blog. When a new blog links out to an established one, the new blog seems to gain an advantage in the search rankings compared to the competition that doesn’t link out to high-authority websites. The evidence for this is murky at best, but it still makes a lot of sense, and it will encourage you to expand on your content and go into more depth and detail.
I recommend using Google Scholar for this. Enter your topic and several keywords in there, and see if some relevant research pops up. If it does, do your best to link out to it from your content. Even add a section or two to your content from where it would make sense to link out to the research or the study or the paper, and even consider sacrificing a tiny bit of relevance in order to achieve this. Again, this is a nuanced point – don’t try to force the external links by any means necessary, but a small concession in relevance might be the right way to go in a lot of cases.
Citing studies, papers, and other data-heavy research is probably the best way to borrow authority. Make sure to clearly summarize the conclusions of the resources you cite in your content, and even go a few steps further and explain them in your own words, or draw a few other unobvious conclusions from there as well. After doing your own research, this is the next best thing.
Research Youtube videos
One of the most common ways you will perform research will involve consuming a lot of video content, typically found on Youtube (although other video platforms like DailyMotion, Vimeo, Rumble, etc, may often have some excellent resources as well).
You will not only watch videos directly related to the topic you are covering, but I recommend watching a lot of videos that are tangentially related and may help you round up your argument even better.
Watch several videos from different creators. Watch as many as you can, start with the videos from the bigger channels and more views, but also go through the medium and small videos as well, as that’s where you’ll often find the most value and the best information. If you have time, go through the comment sections as well and see what’s going on there, you can also pick up a few things there, or at least you will see how actual audience members and people interested in the topic talk, what language and vocabulary they use, etc.
Take notes. You will forget things if you don’t do that, and sometimes you will forget important things as well, so watching the videos without taking notes will result in some waste of time.
I usually watch the videos at a speed of x1.75, and sometimes even at x2 if the person talks slowly. This saves me a lot of time while costing me absolutely nothing.
You can embed some Youtube videos in your content, although usually I prefer to link to the videos themselves, as I believe that’s less distracting for my audience, and also the embeds require loading some additional web resources that slow down the page.
Research relevant forums and online communities
I prefer doing research on Youtube first, as you’ll probably get a better education on the topic and you won’t have to exert that much mental effort, as learning through video is easier for most people than reading.
However, it’s still important to research as many forums and online communities as you can on the topic, as you will definitely find nuggets of information there that are very, very interesting and useful, and not available anywhere else.
First, you should know beforehand the main forums for your topic. I’m talking old-school forums here, with conversational threads that often span for several pages, and admins and moderators that have a very protective attitude towards the forum. These types of forums are not that common today, but they still do exist, and if they don’t, you should probably consider hosting one on your own domain.
Research the topic using both the forum’s search functionality and by typing “[topic] [forum name]” in Google.
After you’ve gone through all of the forums, move on to other online communities that host discussions in formats similar to forums. I usually recommend the following three as the minimum:
- Facebook groups
Do the same type of research there – use the website’s native search functionality, but also cross-reference it by doing a Google search for the topic and then the name of the platform.
Take note of what you learn here. I don’t recommend linking out to these resources unless you strongly feel you should.
See Google’s autocomplete options for your keyword and use the alphabet soup
There are no better ways to check what search engines consider relevant to your topic than to use the search engine’s additional features when you type the query.
One of those features is the autocomplete option.
Simply type the topic or keyword into Google, then hit the spacebar, and see what comes up as autocomplete ideas. Take note of the relevant results.
Repeat the same for the keyword but then add the letter “a”, then “b”, etc, until you run out of letters. Again, take note of the relevant results.
You’re probably noticing that word again, “relevant”. Don’t just add any autocomplete phrase to your notes, make sure it is relevant first.
The notes you take here may become headers in your content, or they may help you with additional points or ideas.
If you’re not using an incognito browser, remember to turn off personalized results, as you want to see results that will closely match the ones your audience will see.
As an additional note, you may do the same for slightly different keywords or topics to get more ideas, although be careful with this as you may end up adding content that belongs in an entirely different article.
See Google’s “People Also Ask” section for your keyword
Another feature that we will use to see what the search engine believes is related to the topic will be the “People Also Ask” section.
By typing in the keyword and simply seeing what appears in the “People Also Ask” section, you get a good approximation of the questions that people usually search as well when they research the topic you’re covering. That’s why it’s very smart to consider these phrases as additional ideas or points and subheaders in your article.
The “Related Searches” feature of Google is the final search engine feature that can help you add relevant content to your informational article.
I’m not exactly sure if this section is based on actual searches from real people, or are they just phrases that the search algorithm believes are related to the topic, but we do know that they can be very useful additions to your content.
Again, don’t just include anything you see here, make sure you are adding only relevant phrases and ideas.
See Google’s keyword research planner results
The Google keyword research planner is by far my most favorite SEO tool out there (in fact, it’s the only SEO tool I’m using).
What’s even better is the fact that I’ve seen almost no other marketing teachers and experts recommend it and use it, and that makes me love it even more.
But what’s more important is that this is an incredibly useful tool, and not just for estimating the search volume for a keyword, but also for seeing related searches and keywords as well.
In fact, it’s one of the best tools for that job. It can happen so that you enter your main keyword in there, and the tool spits out hundreds or even thousands of related keywords. Not all of them will be relevant, of course, but a ton of them will be, and when that happens, you will often end up having the best article on the topic, and you will rank n.1 easily.
See the results from AnswerThePublic
Most people usually recommend AnswerThePublic while not mentioning Google Keyword Planner.
In my experience, AnswerThePublic is significantly inferior, and it often provides just a fraction of the results that Google Keyword Planner does, and it almost never includes any results that the Google Keyword Planner will not have.
Still, use both, just to make sure you are covering everything. Simply enter your topic or keyword in AnswerThePublic and use the results as inspiration for points in your article.
Research competing blog posts
I save researching the competition’s content for last because I want my research to be as fresh, innovative, and original as possible.
Still, when competing against existing websites, one of the angles you will often want to cover with informational articles is completeness. In order to make sure you are not missing out on an important point, it’s best to check out all of the informational content that your competitors have.
Go through all of the content that’s ranking on the first page of Google for your keyword. Take note of points that you still haven’t covered, and then think about how you can go a step further and expand on them even more.
Let the research marinate in your mind
Possibly half of the time you spend on creating informational articles will be spent in the research phase. For some topics, it will be even more, and you will tend to consume a lot of information in this phase.
Let all of that information stabilize in your mind and organize itself.
Take a break. I usually recommend going for a walk.
You will be surprised by how well you will be able to organize the information later, and also by how many new angles and ideas you will come up with.
Create the header structure
Creating the header structure for your informational articles is the most strategic part of the entire process.
At this point, you will probably have a lot of notes and points you want to make in your article.
Take the time to organize them well.
Go for a hierarchical approach. In fact, add as much hierarchy as you can, starting with H2 headers for the most general points of the article, and diving into specific points with H3, H4, and sometimes even H5 headers if needed (although I rarely use H4s in practice, and I almost never use H5s).
The content header structure should resemble a nice tree structure.
The title of the article itself will be the only H1 header in the article (this is by default with most WordPress themes).
I try to have at least 5 H2 headers, and typically, the more an article has, the better it performs, although sometimes you will have less (at times I only have 2).
Group the points as best as you can. Only make a point into an H2 header if you can’t fit it under an existing H2 or H3 header.
The order of the headers is also important. Try to sort the headers in some logical or progressive way. You can also go from more general to more specific, or order them in a chronological way or as the questions would naturally occur to a beginner.
Go back to this step several times if needed, it is important to get the headers right, as that will make writing the content a lot easier.
Write the content
Once your research is all done and your header structure is all set, it’s time to execute and start writing.
Add the data if there is some, explain the research process, and extract conclusions
Start by adding the data first.
I like to add the data as a table, and usually, it’s the best possible format to add it in anyway. There may be times when the data is best added as a list. Also, you may include the spreadsheet or some other file as a downloadable resource in the article itself.
Typically, the data can live either under a separate header, or sometimes under an H2 header that’s the keyword itself if it makes sense, or simply under a header that is the keyword plus the word “data” or research.
Make sure the table has headers with meaningful titles, and also add footers that either show the sum or the average of the values for that column.
Some articles will not have data, but for the ones that do, the majority of the article will revolve around the data itself. You will extract as many conclusions from it as you can, and you will often even paraphrase them in several different ways, such as providing answers to questions posed in smaller subheaders.
Fill out all the content for every header
If you’ve seen my other guides on product reviews and list articles, you may already know that writing the content under each header can often be very simple, as it usually involves following a formulaic approach.
That’s not so much the case with informational articles. That’s why they can be a bit more challenging to write at times.
You will still have the header structure to rely upon, and writing the majority of the content will still be providing clear, concise, useful information for the point that the header is trying to make. Go into as much detail as you can, but at the same time, avoid having a large number of paragraphs under one single header (if that happens, it usually means you need to break that header down into several subheaders).
Also, often times, the headers themselves will be questions, in which case you will want to provide a detailed, complete answer to the question in 2 or 3 sentences, in a very straightforward manner, but also by providing all of the content needed so that the answer itself is independent and the reader would understand the answer even if they haven’t read any other part of the article (usually, this means something like using specific words instead of pronouns, using the product name instead of saying “the product”, etc).
This is probably one of the core fundamental skills of writing successful blog posts. Your writing abilities will come into play the most here, as there’s only so little blueprint you can rely upon. Be prepared to practice here, as you will have to write a number of articles before you start getting good, usually at least two dozen articles as a minimum.
As usual, standard blogging best practices apply:
- use clear and simple language,
- go for sounding professional but also friendly, like you are talking to someone you know but also someone who is not necessarily your best friend
- provide lots of data, information, and examples
- explain, inform, and give your honest opinion and recommendations
- use short sentences
- use short paragraphs
- use plenty of commas when necessary
- be as specific and as determined as you can
- avoid filler words, fluff, slang, and cursing
- avoid humor and sarcasm, maybe use them sparringly and only if you’re 100% certain it will work
By following these guidelines, you will still have an easy time crafting the bulk of your informational content.
Needless to say, use Grammarly the entire time.
You can add links after you’re done with all the writing, but I’ve found that adding them as you go is much better, as you will never ever forget adding an important link.
Simply add the external links whenever you are covering the section that’s relevant to the external resource.
For your affiliate links, I strongly recommend using a plugin such as ThirstyAffiliates. That will make managing your affiliate links a lot easier.
With internal links, it’s also best to add them as you’re writing. Typically, you will know most of the content you’ve done so far, and if you’re writing a section that’s related to an article you’ve already written, simply link out to it.
It is worth going over the finished article one more time and trying to spot some extra opportunities for internal links.
In general, I like to have my internal and affiliate links open in the same tab, but all the other external links should open in a new tab. That way, if a reader is staying on the blog or is on their way to buy an affiliate product, there won’t be any previous tabs distracting them, but if they choose to navigate away from the blog, the old tab will stay there as a reminder for them to come back.
Use lists and tables
Whenever it makes sense, use lists instead of blocks of text. I often choose lists even when I have to number as little as three items. It’s simply much better for the user experience, and the search engines can easily grab that information and show it into a snippet as well.
Tables are even better than lists in this regard, as they are simply lists with extra dimensions. I simply love using tables, and I believe they also give you great bang for buck in terms of content performance.
If you’re doing some research or you have some data, you will already have at least one table full of data.
It may be worth going over your article one more time and seeing if you can turn some paragraphs into lists or tables.
Write the introductory paragraph
I leave the intro paragraph as one of the last pieces to complete in all of my articles.
This is especially true in informational articles, as people reading these are usually not familiar with the topic at all, they are in a very exploratory mood and not exactly committed to any specific resource yet, which is why it’s important for the first paragraphs to both be very informative but also very captivating.
Still, the very first paragraph will usually be just a bridge to the second paragraph, which will be the most important paragraph in the entire article. In fact, the first paragraph will often only state the matter that will be discussed, possibly including a few phrases to demonstrate your authority on the subject or connect with your audience.
Write the second paragraph to win the Google search result snippet
As we said, the second paragraph is usually the most important paragraph from the entire article.
We always design this paragraph with a lot of attention, as it has a very clear goal – it should win the Google featured snippet for the main keyword.
Note that this paragraph doesn’t necessarily have to come second, but it usually does. What matters is that it is the one paragraph that practically sums up the entire article, signals the main conclusion or idea, answers the main question, or provides the solution to the problem.
We always do this paragraph entirely in bold, and often I also like to add some additional formatting to it, such as thin rounded borders (which make it look almost the same as the Google featured snippet).
Since the job of this paragraph is to answer the question in the best possible way, or provide the best possible solution, or summarize the entire article in the most clear and concise way possible, it’s always best to write it last.
Remember, informational articles are very dependent on the research behind them, and when we truly do research, we often have no idea what the final conclusions of that research will be. It’s not only a waste of time to try and write the conclusion before the research, but it’s also disingenuous.
The great thing about Google snippet (really the only great thing) is that they can often be won by blogs that don’t necessarily have the most authority on the topic. This is why it is critical for new blogs to always go for winning the featured snippet, as it helps them jump the queue and be in position 0 immediately.
A few pointers for writing the perfect paragraph to win the featured snippet for informational articles:
- summarize the entire concept of the article in a clear, dry, professional tone
- cut out every unnecessary word and remove all the fluff, try and only include useful information
- talk about the results or the conclusions from the research, and use data, numbers, percentages, etc
- aim for 2 to 3 sentences, that when combined don’t exceed 70 words
- add a relevant image immediately after the paragraph
Write the summary and call to action
Your final header can often be a summary of the entire article, where you can condense all of the most important information in few short paragraphs.
Mention the findings from your research again.
Finally, your very last sentences should ideally be pointing your audience to another resource of yours. This usually works out pretty well, as most informational content discusses some sort of a problem that is best solved by some product in the niche, and it makes a lot of sense to point your readers to a list of products they may want to explore.
So, usually you will end the article with a recommendation to one of your list articles, or at times another informational article, but a product review might also work well in some rare instances.
Place the “Table of contents” widget before the first H2 header
This is a purely technical step, all you have to do is not forget to add the table of contents widget before the first H2 header.
I recommend using the LuckyWP Table of Contents plugin.
Select the category
This step is also almost entirely technical, as long as your categories are already well thought of and set up properly. Since doing that is outside the scope of this article, just remember to not skip this step.
Add your article to as many categories as it makes sense.
Images for informational articles are probably the hardest ones to find, compared to the other article types.
It’s not exactly simple to find images that demonstrate the research, or answer a question, unless the answer is an object itself.
Still, in most cases, the images you use will be images from products and objects themselves
In the case of informational articles that should demonstrate how something works, we will show the object at work from several different perspectives and angles.
You will probably find yourself often using stock images here as well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not winning you that much points either, so I try to limit the use of stock images in my content as much as possible.
Create graphs, charts, infographics, and illustrations (if applicable)
While regular images are often somewhat difficult to procure for informational articles, ideas for additional types of images are often quite easy to come up, and their realization is usually not that hard as well.
The next few tips are pure gold, and very few bloggers make use of them.
If the informational article has data and research in it, I will pretty much always create an image of a graph or a chart representing the data, often even several of them with different representations. These are very easy to make and require almost no graphic design experience when using free online tools like RapidTables or even Adobe.
All of the findings, results, conclusions, answers, along with a bit of data as well, will typically go into an infographic. Infographics are a bit harder to create for a person without any graphic design experience, but they are still quite easy, especially with tools like Canva that offer a lot of free yet great looking ready-made templates.
If the informational article includes a set of steps or instructions on how to perform a specific action, then an infographic may also do the trick, but an illustration of the process will be even more helpful. Now, for this, you will either need to have some experience with design, or find someone else who does, but the result is well worth it, as most of the competitors will not go this far.
So, while regular images such as pictures of products may not be that useful in informational articles, additional images such as graphs, charts, infographics, and illustrations, can be easily created and will have a great effect.
Add the featured image
When you’re done with adding all of your images, simply pick the best one, or the one that encapsulates the article the best, and set it as the featured image for your article.
Add some strategic bolds
Make sure to emphasize the most important points of the articles with a bold font. Typically, these will be answers to the most important questions, interesting findings from the research, or steps that the reader needs to take to perform the desired action.
Correct spelling, proofread, and edit
At this point, the writing part of your article is pretty much done.
Carefully read through the article and hunt down spelling and grammar errors, but also keep your eyes open for factual, and even conceptual errors. Use Grammarly.
Editing your article will take you a considerable amount of time, but it is necessary to do a good job at it, so make sure to perform this step diligently. I usually recommend even taking a short break before starting with this step, to refresh your attention a bit.
Read the article one more time as a whole
Besides carefully editing the article, I also recommend going through it one more time after the editing is done.
This is not so much for double-editing it, but more for seeing it through the eyes of your typical reader, who, chances are, will not read it very carefully.
Simply make sure that the entire article makes sense from a broad perspective, that it flows nicely, and that it “feels right”.
Prepare the final title using the keyword and adding some detail, usefulness, or intrigue
We did the first half of the title when we started the article, and that will usually remain the same.
What we do at the end is add a second part to it that further entices the reader to choose our article over the ones of the competition in the search results.
Try to add some extra details to the title, or add some intrigue, something that sparks curiosity. The second part of the title should almost sound like clickbait, with the exception being that the content actually delivers on the promise that the title makes.
You can include hints to the answer of the question, point out something surprising, or at least promise something surprising.
As usual, use numbers, hyphens, and brackets. It’s not necessary to use camel casing (each word begins with a capital letter), but I’ve found that titles that do perform a little bit better.
The formula I like for the permalink is very simple – it’s just the main keyword for the article, with all of the empty spaces being replaced by hyphens.
Set the permalink for your article after the final title is done, as WordPress can sometimes update the permalink when you change the title.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for.
Hit the “Publish” button.
Another brick in the empire.
The details of internal linking for your blog are outside of the scope of this guide, but once you publish your informational article, make sure to add as many relevant links to it as you can from your other articles, especially from other informational articles.
Typically, you will already know upfront which other articles should link to your new article, as you would have done the keyword research before, and you would have grouped the keywords into categories, and usually, most of the other articles in the category will have a naturally-occuring opportunity from within their content to link out to the newly published article.
Promote the blog post
Promoting the blog post is also mostly outside the scope of this guide, as it’s quite a different process than content creation. I like to mention it here because I do a little bit of it immediately after every article I publish as part of the publishing process.
At the very least, share the article to your social media profiles, and possibly in some online communities or forums where it might make sense (especially if it answers a question on Quora or another forum, or directly addresses a problem discussed in some community).
Also, if it makes sense, do a small shotgun-skyscraper campaign of just a few emails, and, of course, send an email blast to your email subscribers.
Create a video for the blog post
As time goes by, I believe that video will occupy more and more real estate in the search engine results, and informational content will be no exception.
There will always be a big part of the population that prefers reading, and written words are actually superior for conveying some types of information.
Still, we’re seeing new blogs shoot up in the rankings when they also have a Youtube channel alongside them, and I strongly believe that it’s necessary to do the same for your blog if you want to future-proof it.
The process of creating a great video for your informational blog post is outside of the scope of this article, just be aware that at some point, it will be very beneficial for your business to have videos that accompany your informational articles and explain the content in a more visual and engaging manner.
That was my entire process for creating informational articles that outrank the competition, bring tons of traffic to my blog, earn me great amounts of ad revenue, and point my readers to my more commercial content.
Hope you found some value in the detailed, step-by-step approach. I truly didn’t hold anything back here, and if you master this process and then replicate or adapt it for your needs, I believe you will have great results with it as well.
This guide is meant for beginners, and they will probably find it the most useful when starting their first blogs.
Keep in mind, however, that a lot can go wrong even if you get this process down 100%. Blogging is a very complicated business, and you need to take care of a lot of other things.
If you’re looking for a way to build a passive income online, but you would like to avoid all of those risks and only worry about creating great content following simple processes such as this one, and you would like to receive free training on blogging as well, then I warmly recommend joining the Digital Marketing Empire team.