Buying guides are, on the surface, self-explanatory; they're written, instructional pieces of content meant to help a reader make a better, more informed purchasing decision. They also happen to be one of the best pieces of content you can create for your site.
In case you aren't familiar with them, it's a good idea to look at some examples and see what we're talking about.
Some guides, like Laptop Mag's guide on how to buy a laptop, walk you through all the different considerations you need to make when evaluating products in a given category.
Others, like Software Advice's breakdown of CRM platforms, give you an apples-to-apples comparison of different competing products on the market. Still others give specific pieces of advice for specific needs, such as Limoges Collector's guide on how to tell if a Limoges box is authentic.
So why is it that buying guides are so important for your website's success, and how can you make the perfect guide?
Why Buying Guides Are So Powerful
These are a few of the main reasons buying guides are such a powerful form of content:
People who seek out buying guides aren't in the early stages of investigating; they've usually already made up their mind that they're going to buy a specific product, and are looking for enough information to feel confident in their final choice. This makes buying guides a promising opportunity for capitalizing on customers ready to move forward with a purchase.
Buying guides are also powerful pieces of content for search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Buying guides and similar types of content are often searched for, and if your guide is specific and/or high-quality enough, you shouldn't have trouble carving a niche for yourself in the rankings.
Control of the message
If you're reviewing your own product and comparing it to others, you'll have the ability to fully control the message. You can choose exactly which strengths and weaknesses you want to highlight, and spin things ever-so-slightly in your favor. Just make sure you aren't too promotional, or you could lose consumer trust.
Reputation and trust
Speaking of trust, buying guides are an important opportunity to win some. If you give your customers the full information, thoroughly and honestly covering your top competitors, they'll think more highly of you, and they'll be more willing to read and engage with your other content.
Buying guides make it practically conducive to include more calls-to-action (CTAs). Each product you review in the guide can offer a link to a product page, and if you come up with an "editor's pick" or similar "best of" recommendation, you can forward most of your traffic to one final choice.
Tips for Your First Buying Guide
If you need help getting started on your first guide, follow these important tips:
Review the competition
Don't just give readers a buyer's guide on how to buy your products. If you don't list any competitors, your guide will come off as overly promotional, and readers will no longer trust what it has to say.
You also need to preserve trust by remaining as objective as possible in your review. If one of your listed products has nothing but strengths and the other has nothing but weaknesses, it will be clear even to the most na‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√≤ve reader that bias is playing a role in the content.
Include as many details as possible, including screenshots, photos, and videos of each product, as well as some user reviews (if you can).
Write with your audience in mind
Remember, buying guides are targeted toward customers who are ready to make a purchase. Which features are most important to them? What do they care about?
Play with different formats
Buying guides are usually written, but can also come in the form of a chart, an interactive video, or an infographic. Experiment with different mediums and see what works best for you.
Support your guide with promotion and syndication
Even the best-written buying guide won't get much traction unless you support it offsite. Circulate your guide on social media, and consider promoting it within audience segments you know will appreciate the content.
Buying guides are both an art and a science, forcing you to replicate the qualities of the most successful buying guides on the internet while at the same time challenging you to come up with something unique.
However you choose to approach them, make sure you build them on a foundation of transparency and value; by giving customers valuable information, you'll be able to build your reputation and visibility-and hopefully make a few extra sales in the process.