How to Write an Article: A Proven Step-by-Step Guide

Tom Winter

Are you dreaming of becoming a notable writer or looking to enhance your content writing skills? Whatever your reasons for stepping into the writing world, crafting compelling articles can open numerous opportunities. Writing, when viewed as a skill rather than an innate talent, is something anyone can master with persistence, practice, and the proper guidance.

That’s precisely why I’ve created this comprehensive guide on ‘how to write an article.’ Whether you’re pursuing writing as a hobby or eyeing it as a potential career path, understanding the basics will lead you to higher levels of expertise. This step-by-step guide has been painstakingly designed based on my content creation experience. Let’s embark on this captivating journey toward becoming an accomplished article writer!

What is an Article?

what is an article

An article is more than words stitched together cohesively; it’s a carefully crafted medium expressing thoughts, presenting facts, sharing knowledge, or narrating stories. Essentially encapsulating any topic under the sun (or beyond!), an article is a versatile format meant to inform, entertain, or persuade readers.

Articles are ubiquitous; they grace your morning newspaper (or digital equivalents), illuminate blogs across various platforms, inhabit scholarly journals, and embellish magazines. Irrespective of their varying lengths and formats, which range from news reports and features to opinion pieces and how-to guides, all articles share some common objectives. Learning how to write this type of content involves mastering the ability to meet these underlying goals effectively.

Objectives of Article Writing

Objectives of Article Writing

The primary goal behind learning how to write an article is not merely putting words on paper. Instead, you’re trying to communicate ideas effectively. Each piece of writing carries unique objectives intricately tailored according to the creator’s intent and the target audience’s interests. Generally speaking, when you immerse yourself in writing an article, you should aim to achieve several fundamental goals.

First, deliver value to your readers. An engaging and informative article provides insightful information or tackles a problem your audience faces. You’re not merely filling up pages; you must offer solutions, present new perspectives, or provide educational material.

Next comes advancing knowledge within a specific field or subject matter. Especially relevant for academic or industry-focused writings, articles are often used to spread original research findings and innovative concepts that strengthen our collective understanding and drive progress.

Another vital objective for those mastering how to write an article is persuasion. This can come in various forms: convincing people about a particular viewpoint or motivating them to make a specific choice. Articles don’t always have to be neutral; they can be powerful tools for shifting public opinion.

Finally, let’s not forget entertainment – because who said only fictional work can entertain? Articles can stir our emotions or pique our interest with captivating storytelling techniques. It bridges the gap between reader and writer using shared experiences or universal truths.

Remember that high-quality content remains common across all boundaries despite these distinct objectives. No matter what type of writer you aspire to become—informative, persuasive, educational, or entertaining—strive for clarity, accuracy, and stimulation in every sentence you craft.

What is the Format of an Article?

What is the Format of an Article?

When considering how to write an article, understanding its foundation – in this case, the format – should be at the top of your list. A proper structure is like a blueprint, providing a direction for your creative construction.

First and foremost, let’s clarify one essential point: articles aren’t just homogenous chunks of text. A well-crafted article embodies different elements that merge to form an engaging, informative body of work. Here are those elements in order:

  • The Intriguing Title

At the top sits the title or heading; it’s your first chance to engage with a reader. This element requires serious consideration since it can determine whether someone will continue reading your material.

  • Engaging Introduction

Next comes the introduction, where you set expectations and hint at what’s to come. An artfully written introduction generates intrigue and gives readers a compelling reason to stick around.

  • Informative Body

The main body entails a detailed exploration of your topic, often broken down into subtopics or points for more manageable consumption and better flow of information.

  • Impactful Conclusion

Lastly, you have the conclusion, where you tie everything neatly together by revisiting key points and offering final thoughts.

While these components might appear straightforward on paper, mastering them requires practice, experimentation with writing styles, and a good understanding of your target audience. 

By putting in the work to familiarize yourself with how to create articles and how they’re structured, you’ll soon discover new ways to develop engaging content each time you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!). Translating complex concepts into digestible content doesn’t need to feel daunting anymore! Now that we’ve tackled the format, our focus can shift to what should be included in an article.

What Should Be in an Article?

What Should Be in an Article?

Understanding that specific items should be featured in your writing is crucial. A well-crafted article resembles a neatly packed suitcase – everything has its place and purpose.

Key Information

First and foremost, you need essential information. Start by presenting the topic plainly so readers can grasp its relevance immediately. This sets the tone of why you are writing the article. The degree of depth at this point will depend on your audience; be mindful not to overwhelm beginners with too much jargon or over-simplify things for experts.


Secondly, every article must have an engaging introduction—this acts as the hook that reels your audience. Think of it as a movie trailer—it offers a taste of what’s to come without giving away all the details.

Third is the body, wherein you get into the crux of your argument or discussion. This is the point at which you present your ideas sequentially, along with supporting evidence or examples. Depending on the nature of your topic and personal style, this may vary from storytelling forms to more analytical breakdowns.

Lastly, you’ll need a fitting conclusion that wraps up all previously discussed points, effectively tying together every loose thread at the end. This helps cement your main ideas within the reader’s mind even after they’ve finished reading.

To summarize:  

  • Critical Information: Provides context for understanding
  • Introduction: Sheds further light on what will follow while piquing interest  
  • Body: Discusses topic intricacies using narratives or case studies
  • Conclusion: Ties up loose ends and reemphasizes important takeaways

In my experience writing articles for beginners and experts alike, I found these elements indispensable when conveying complex topics articulately and professionally. Always keep them at hand when looking to produce written material.

How should you structure an article?

How should you structure an article?

Crafting a well-structured article is akin to assembling a puzzle – every piece has its place and purpose. Let’s look at how to create the perfect skeleton for your content.

The introduction is your article’s welcome mat. It should be inviting and informative, briefly outlining what a reader can expect from your writing. Additionally, it must instantly grab the readers’ attention so they feel compelled to continue reading. To master the art of creating effective introductions, remember these key points:

  • Keep it short and precise.
  • Use compelling hooks like quotes or intriguing facts.
  • State clearly what the article will cover without revealing everything upfront.

Moving on, you encounter the body of your piece. This segment expands on the ideas outlined in the introduction while presenting fresh subtopics related to your core story. If we compare article writing to crossing a bridge, each paragraph represents a step toward the other side (the conclusion). Here are some tips for maintaining orderliness within your body:

  • Stick closely to one idea per paragraph as it enhances readability.
  • Ensure paragraphs flow logically by utilizing transitional words or sentences.
  • Offer evidence or examples supporting your claims and reinforce credibility.

As you approach the far side of our imaginary bridge, we reach an equally essential section of the article known as the conclusion. At this point, you should be looking to wrap your message up neatly while delivering on what was initially promised during the introduction. This section summarizes the main points, providing closure and ensuring readers feel satisfied.

Remember this golden rule when writing the conclusion: follow the  “Describe what you’re going to tell them (Introduction), tell them (Body), and then summarize what you told them (Conclusion).”  It’s a proven formula for delivering informative, engaging, and well-structured articles. 

One final tip before moving on: maintaining an active voice significantly enhances clarity for your readers. It makes them feel like they’re participating actively in the story unfolding within your article. In addition, it helps ensure easy readability, which is vital for keeping your audience engaged.

Tips for Writing a Good Article

Tips for Writing a Good Article

A persuasive, engaging, and insightful article requires careful thought and planning. Half the battle won is by knowing how to start writing and make content captivating. Below are vital tips that can enhance your article writing skills.

Heading or Title

An audience’s first impression hinges on the quality of your title. A good heading should be clear, attention-grabbing, and give an accurate snapshot of what’s contained in the piece’s body. Here are a few guidelines on how to create an impactful title:

  • Make it Compelling: Your title needs to spark interest and motivate readers to delve further into your work.
  • Keep it concise: You want to have a manageable heading. Aim for brevity yet inclusiveness.
  • Optimize with keywords: To boost search engine visibility, sprinkle relevant keywords naturally throughout your title.

By applying these techniques, you can increase reader engagement right from the get-go.

Body of the Article

After winning over potential readers with your catchy title, it’s time to provide substantial content in the form of the body text. Here’s how articles are typically structured:

Introduction:  Begin by providing an appealing overview that hooks your audience and baits them to read more. You can ask poignant questions or share interesting facts about your topic here.

Main Content:  Build on the groundwork set by your introduction. Lay out detailed information in a logical sequence with clear articulation.

Conclusion:  This reemphasizes the critical points discussed in the body while delivering a lasting impression of why those points matter.

Remember that clarity is critical when drafting each part because our objective here is to share information and communicate effectively. Properly understanding this approach ensures that the writing experience becomes creative and productive.

Step By Step Guide for Article Writing

Step By Step Guide for Article Writing

How do you write an article that engages your readers from the first line until the last? That’s what most writers, whether beginners or seasoned pros are trying to achieve. I’ll describe a step-by-step process for crafting such gripping articles in this guide.

Step 1: Find Your Target Audience

First and foremost, identify your target readers. Speaking directly to a specific group improves engagement and helps you craft messages that resonate deeply. To pinpoint your audience:

  • Take note of demographic attributes like age, gender, and profession.
  • Consider their preferences and needs.
  • Look into how much knowledge they are likely to possess concerning your topic.

Knowing this will help you decide what tone, language, and style best suits your readers. Remember, by understanding your audience better, you make it much easier to provide them with engaging content.

Step 2: Select a Topic and an Attractive Heading

Having understood your audience, select a relevant topic based on their interests and questions. Be sure it’s one you can competently discuss. When deciding how to start writing an article, ensure it begins with a captivating title.

A title should hint at what readers will gain from the article without revealing everything. Maintain some element of intrigue or provocation. For example, ‘6 Essentials You Probably Don’t Know About Gardening’ instead of just ‘Gardening Tips’.

Step 3: Research is Key

Good research is crucial to building credibility for beginners and experts alike. It prevents errors that could tarnish your piece immensely.

Thoroughly explore relevant books, scholarly articles, or reputable online resources. Find facts that build authenticity while debunking misconceptions that relate to your topic. Take notes on critical points discovered during this process—it’ll save you time when creating your first draft.

Step 4: Write a Comprehensive Brief

Having done your research, it’s time to write an outline or a brief—a roadmap for your article. This conveys how articles are written systematically without losing track of the main points.

Begin by starting the introduction with a punchy opener that draws readers in and a summary of what they’ll glean from reading. Section out specific points and ideas as separate headings and bullet points under each section to form the body. A conclusion rounds things up by restating key takeaways.

Step 5: Write and Proofread

Now comes the bulk of the work—writing. Respect the brief created earlier to ensure consistency and structure while drafting content. Use short, clear sentences while largely avoiding jargon unless absolutely necessary.

Post-writing, proofread ardently to check for typographical errors, inconsistent tenses, and poor sentence structures—and don’t forget factual correctness! It helps to read aloud, which can reveal awkward phrases that slipped through initial edits.

Step 6: Add Images and Infographics

To break text monotony and increase comprehension, introduce visuals such as images, infographics, or videos into your piece. They provide aesthetic relief while supporting the main ideas, increasing overall engagement.

Remember to source royalty-free images or get permission for copyrighted ones—you don’t want legal battles later!

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Article Writing

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Article Writing

Regarding article writing, a few pitfalls can compromise the quality of your content. Knowing these and how to avoid them will enhance your work’s clarity, depth, and impact.

The first mistake often made is skimping on research. An article without solid underpinnings won’t merely be bland – it might mislead readers. Therefore, prioritize comprehensive investigation before penning down anything. Understanding common misconceptions or misinterpretations about your topic will strengthen your case. 

Next, sidestep unnecessary jargon or excessively complex language. While showcasing an impressive vocabulary might seem appealing, remember that your primary objective is imparting information efficiently and effectively.

Moreover, failing to structure articles effectively represents another standard error. A structured piece aids in delivering complex ideas coherently. Maintaining a logical sequence facilitates reader comprehension, whether explaining a detailed concept or narrating an incident.

A piece lacking aesthetic allure can fail its purpose regardless of the value of its text. That’s where images come into play. Neglecting them is an all-too-common mistake among beginners. Relevant pictures inserted at appropriate junctures serve as visual breaks from texts and stimulate interest among readers.

Lastly, proofreading is vital in determining whether you can deliver a well-written article. Typos and grammatical errors can significantly undermine professional credibility while disrupting a smooth reading experience.

So, when pondering how articles are written, avoiding these mistakes goes a long way toward producing high-quality content that embodies both substance and style. Remember: practice is paramount when learning how to write excellent material!

How to Write an Article with SEOwind AI Writer?

How to Write an Article with SEOwind AI Writer

Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence has been a major step in many industries. One such significant tool is SEOwind AI Writer , which is critical for those curious about how to write an article leveraging AI. In this section, I’ll cover how you can effectively use SEOwind AI writer to create compelling articles.

Step 1: Create a Brief and Outline

The first step in writing an article revolves around understanding your audience’s interests and then articulating them in a comprehensive brief that outlines the content’s framework.

  • Decide on the topic: What ideas will you share via your article?
  • Define your audience: Knowing who will read your text significantly influences your tone, style, and content depth.
  • Establish main points: Highlight the key points or arguments you wish to exhibit in your drafted piece. This helps create a skeleton for your work and maintain a logical flow of information.

With SEOwind:

  • you get all the content and keyword research for top-performing content in one place,
  • you can generate a comprehensive AI outline with one click,
  • users can quickly create a title, description, and keywords that match the topic you’re writing about.

As insightful as it might seem, having a roadmap doubles as a guide throughout the creative process. SEOwind offers a user-friendly interface that allows the easy input of essential elements like keywords, title suggestions, content length, etc. These provide an insightful outline, saving time with an indispensable tool that demonstrates the practicality of article writing.

Step 2: Write an AI Article using SEOwind

Once you have a brief ready, you can write an AI article with a single click. It will consider all the data you provided and much more, such as copywriting and SEO best practices , to deliver content that ranks.

Step 3: Give it a Human Touch

Finally, SEOwind’s intuitive platform delivers impeccably constructed content to dispel any confusion about writing an article. The result is inevitably exceptional, with well-structured sentences and logically sequenced sections that meet your demands.

However, artificial intelligence can sometimes miss the unique personal touch that enhances relatability in communication—making articles more compelling. Let’s master adding individualistic charm to personalize articles so that they resonate with audiences.

Tailoring the AI-generated piece with personal anecdotes or custom inputs helps to break the monotony and bolster engagement rates. Always remember to tweak essential SEO elements like meta descriptions and relevant backlinks.

So, whether it’s enhancing casual language flow or eliminating robotic consistency, the slightest modifications can breathe life into the text and transform your article into a harmonious man-machine effort. Remember – it’s not just about technology making life easy but also how effectively we utilize this emerging trend!

Common Questions on how to write an article

Delving into the writing world, especially regarding articles, can often lead to a swarm of questions. Let’s tackle some common queries that newbies and seasoned writers frequently stumble upon to make your journey more comfortable and rewarding.

What is the easiest way to write an article?

The easiest way to write an article begins with a clear structure. Here are five simple steps you can follow:

  • Identify your audience: The first thing you should consider while planning your article is who will read it? Identifying your target audience helps shape the article’s content, style, and purpose.
  • Decide on a topic and outline: Determining what to write about can sometimes be a formidable task. Try to ensure you cover a topic you can cover effectively or for which you feel great passion. Next, outline the main points you want to present throughout your piece.
  • Do the research: Dig deep into resources for pertinent information regarding your topic and gather as much knowledge as possible. An informed writer paves the way for a knowledgeable reader.
  • Drafting phase: Begin with an engaging introduction followed by systematically fleshing out each point from your outline in body paragraphs before ending with conclusive remarks tying together all the earlier arguments.
  • Fine-tune through editing and proofreading: Errors happen no matter how qualified or experienced a writer may be! So make sure to edit and proofread before publishing.

Keep these keys in mind and remain patient and persistent. There’s no easier alternative for writing an article.

How can I write an article without knowing about the topic?

We sometimes need to write about less familiar subjects – but do not fret! Here’s my approach:

  • First off, start by thoroughly researching subject-centric reliable sources. The more information you have, the better poised you are to write confidently about it.
  • While researching, take notes and highlight the most essential points.
  • Create an outline by organizing these points logically – this essentially becomes your article’s backbone.
  • Start writing based on your research and outlined structure. If certain aspects remain unclear, keep investigating until clarity prevails.

Getting outside your comfort zone can be daunting, but is also a thrilling chance to expand your horizons.

What is your process for writing an article quickly?

In terms of speed versus quality in writing an article – strikingly enough, they aren’t mutually exclusive. To produce a high-quality piece swiftly, adhere to the following steps:

  • Establish purpose and audience: Before cogs start turning on phrase-spinning, be clear on why you’re writing and who will likely read it.
  • Brainstorm broadly, then refine: Cast a wide net initially regarding ideas around your topic. Then, narrow down those areas that amplify your core message or meet objectives.
  • Create a robust outline: A detailed roadmap prevents meandering during actual writing and saves time!
  • Ignore perfection in the first draft: Speed up initial drafting by prioritizing getting your thoughts on paper over perfect grammar or sentence compositions.
  • Be disciplined with edits and revisions: Try adopting a cut, shorten, and replace mantra while trimming fluff without mercy!

Writing quickly requires practice and strategic planning – but rest assured, it’s entirely possible!

Tom Winter

Seasoned SaaS and agency growth expert with deep expertise in AI, content marketing, and SEO. With SEOwind, he crafts AI-powered content that tops Google searches and magnetizes clicks. With a track record of rocketing startups to global reach and coaching teams to smash growth, Tom's all about sharing his rich arsenal of strategies through engaging podcasts and webinars. He's your go-to guy for transforming organic traffic, supercharging content creation, and driving sales through the roof.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is an Article?
  • 2 Objectives of Article Writing
  • 3 What is the Format of an Article?
  • 4 What Should Be in an Article?
  • 5 How should you structure an article?
  • 6 Tips for Writing a Good Article
  • 7 Step By Step Guide for Article Writing
  • 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Article Writing
  • 9 How to Write an Article with SEOwind AI Writer?
  • 10 Common Questions on how to write an article

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A Brief Guide To Writing Your First Scientific Manuscript

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I’ve had the privilege of writing a few manuscripts in my research career to date, and helping trainees write them. It’s hard work, but planning and organization helps. Here’s some thoughts on how to approach writing manuscripts based on original biomedical research.

Getting ready to write

Involve your principal investigator (PI) early and throughout the process. It’s our job to help you write!

Write down your hypothesis/research question. Everything else will be spun around this.

Gather your proposed figures and tables in a sequence that tells a story. This will form the basis of your Results section. Write bulleted captions for the figures/tables, including a title that explains the key finding for each figure/table, an explanation of experimental groups and associated symbols/labels, and details on biological and technical replicates and statements (such as “one of four representative experiments are shown.”)

Generate a bulleted outline of the major points for each section of the manuscript. This depends on the journal, but typically, and with minor variations: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. Use Endnote, Reference Manager, Mendeley, or other citation software to start inserting references to go with bullets. Decide from the beginning what word processing software you’ll use (Word, Google Docs, etc.). Google Docs can be helpful for maintaining a single version of the manuscript, but citation software often doesn’t play well with Google Docs (whereas most software options can automatically update citation changes in Word). Here’s what should go in each of these sections:

Introduction: What did you study, and why is it important? What is your hypothesis/research question?

Methods: What techniques did you use? Each technique should be its own bullet, with sub-bullets for key details. If you used animal or human subjects, include a bullet on ethics approval. Important methodologies and materials, i.e., blinding for subjective analyses, full names of cell lines/strains/reagents and your commercial/academic sources for them.

Results: What were your findings? Each major finding should be its own bullet, with sub-bullets going into more detail for each major finding. These bullets should refer to your figures.

Discussion: Summarize your findings in the context of prior work. Discuss possible interpretations. It is important to include a bullet describing the limitations of the presented work. Mention possible future directions.

Now read the entire outline (including the figures). Is it a complete story? If so, you’re ready to prepare for submission. If not, you should have a good idea of what it will take to finish the manuscript.

Writing your manuscript

You first need to decide where you want to submit your manuscript. I like to consider my ideal target audience. I also like to vary which journals I publish in, both to broaden the potential readers of my papers and to avoid the appearance of having an unfair “inside connection” to a given journal. Your academic reputation is priceless.

Once you’ve chosen your journal, look at the journal’s article types. Decide which article type you would like to submit and reformat your outline according to the journal’s standards (including citation style).

Convert your outline (including the figure captions) to complete sentences. Don’t focus on writing perfect prose for the first draft. Write your abstract after the first draft is completed. Make sure the manuscript conforms to the target journal’s word and figure limits.

Discuss all possible authors with your PI. If the study involved many people, create a table of possible authors showing their specific contributions to the manuscript. (This is helpful to do in any case as many journals now require this information.) Assigning authorship is sometimes complicated, but keep in mind that the Acknowledgements can be used to recognize those who made minor contributions (including reading the manuscript to provide feedback). “Equal contribution” authorship positions for the first and last authors is a newer option for a number of journals. An alternative is to generate the initial outline or first draft with the help of co-authors. This can take a lot more work and coordination, but may make sense for highly collaborative and large manuscripts.

Decide with your PI who will be corresponding author. Usually you or the PI.

Circulate the manuscript draft to all possible authors. Thank them for their prior and ongoing support. Inform your co-authors where you would like to send the manuscript and why. Give them a reasonable deadline to provide feedback (minimum of a few weeks). If you use Microsoft Word, ask your co-authors to use track changes.

Collate comments from your co-authors. The Combine Documents function in Word can be very helpful. Consider reconciling all comments and tracked changes before circulating another manuscript draft so that co-authors can read a “clean” copy. Repeat this process until you and your PI (and co-authors) are satisfied that the manuscript is ready for submission.

Some prefer to avoid listing authors on manuscript drafts until the final version is generated because the relative contributions of authors can shift during manuscript preparation.

Submit your manuscript

Write a cover letter for your manuscript. Put it on institutional letterhead, if you are permitted by the journal’s submission system. This makes the cover letter, and by extension, the manuscript, more professional. Some journals have required language for cover letters regarding simultaneous submissions to other journals. It’s common for journals to require that cover letters include a rationale explaining the impact and findings of the manuscript. If you need to do this, include key references and a citation list at the end of the cover letter.

Most journals will require you to provide keywords, and/or to choose subject areas related to the manuscript. Be prepared to do so.

Conflicts of interest should be declared in the manuscript, even if the journal does not explicitly request this. Ask your co-authors about any such potential conflicts.

Gather names and official designations of any grants that supported the work described in your manuscript. Ask your co-authors and your PI. This is very important for funding agencies such as the NIH, which scrutinize the productivity of their funded investigators and take this into account when reviewing future grants.

It’s common for journals to allow you to suggest an editor to handle your manuscript. Editors with expertise in your area are more likely to be able to identify and recruit reviewers who are also well-versed in the subject matter of your manuscript. Discuss this with your PI and co-authors.

Likewise, journals often allow authors to suggest reviewers. Some meta-literature indicates that manuscripts with suggested reviewers have an overall higher acceptance rate. It also behooves you to have expert reviewers that can evaluate your manuscript fairly, but also provide feedback that can improve your paper if revisions are recommended. Avoid suggesting reviewers at your own institution or who have recently written papers or been awarded grants with you. Savvy editors look for these types of relationships between reviewers and authors, and will nix a suggested reviewer with any potential conflict of interest. Discuss suggested reviewers with your PI and co-authors.

On the flip side, many journals will allow you to list opposed reviewers. If you believe that someone specific will provide a negatively biased review for non-scientific reasons, that is grounds for opposing them as your manuscript’s reviewer. In small fields, it may not be possible to exclude reviewers and still undergo expert peer review. Definitely a must-discuss with your PI and co-authors.

Generate a final version of the manuscript. Most journals use online submission systems that mandate uploading individual files for the manuscript, cover letter, etc. You may have to use pdf converting software (i.e., Adobe Acrobat) to change Word documents to pdf’s, or to combine documents into a single pdf. Review the final version, including the resolution and appearance of figures. Make sure that no edges of text or graphics near page margins are cut off (Adobe Acrobat sometimes does this with Microsoft Word). Send the final version to your PI and co-authors. Revise any errors. Then submit! Good luck!

Edited by Bill Sullivan, PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine.

how to write your first article

Michael Hsieh is the Stirewalt Scientific Director of the Biomedical Research Institute and an Associate Professor at the George Washington University, where he studies host-pathogen interactions in the urinary tract. Michael has published over 90 peer-reviewed scientific papers. His work has been featured on PBS and in the New York Times.

Your article is wonderful. just read it. you advise very correctly. I am an experienced writer. I write articles on various scientific topics. and even I took some information for myself, who I have not used before. Your article will help many novice writers. I’m sure of it. You very well described all the points of your article. I completely agree with them. most difficult to determine the target audience. Thanks to your article, everyone who needs some kind of help can get it by reading your article. Thanks you

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How to Write a How-to Article Step-by-Step (+Free Template)

How to Write a How-to Article Step-by-Step (+Free Template)

Have you ever had to explain how Zoom video calls work to family-members or how to get from point A to point B to someone visiting your neighborhood?

If so, you’re already halfway to being able to write a helpful how-to article. But to get that extra bit of structure, flair, and inspiration you’ll need to hold your reader’s attention, keep reading.

Below, I’ve put together an eight-step guide to writing the perfect how-to article online, along with some additional tips on writing and optimizing ​eye-catching Informational articles for search engines and readers alike.

I’ve even included a free-to-download how-to article template – the end result of years of testing and trials using Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence – to get you started.

Remember, you can skip around this article to the parts that are most useful from your point of view. First, we’re starting with the what behind the how.

What is a how-to article?

Refreshingly, the name doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

A how-to article lays out exactly how to do something. A how-to ​blogger might walk readers through how to buy, use, or troubleshoot a product, or focus on a wider, more general topic instead, like how to bake a chocolate cake.

What sets a how-to ​article apart from the rest of the content on the internet is user intent . People clicking on how-to guides aren’t necessarily looking for info around what a topic is, or why they should be interested. They already know, and they already are – your job is to show them how.

How to write a how-to article in 8 simple steps

A good article should provide practical and clear takeaways that the reader can put into practice. They should avoid jargon, and be made up of a list with easy-to-follow steps and bullet points in chronological order.

  • Choose a Topic
  • Put yourself in the audience’s shoes
  • Research keywords
  • Plan your article’s structure
  • Keep your steps snappy and straightforward
  • Give your guide a unique selling point
  • Set your page up for SEO success
  • Monitor your page’s metrics – and keep optimizing

Let’s start with step one.

1. Choose a topic

The logic’s infallible – you can’t begin writing a how-to article if you don’t know what you’re going to be writing about. So first, you’ll need to select a topic .

The topic you pick will depend on what you want to achieve, your industry, and target audience .

You might, for instance, be a company that sells a fairly technical product, so you’d want to publish an article that offers honed, specific advice as to how to use it. In this case, the how-to guide services a specific business need – educating the customer. In this case, the topic will be dictated by your product catalog, for example:

  • How to Assemble an IKEA Kallax
  • How to Set Up a Samsung Neo TV
  • How to Use an Amazon Echo

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you could be publishing a how-to content offering additional tips around a more general subject, such as:

  • How to Blow Up a Balloon
  • How to Defrost a Chicken
  • How to Change a Lightbulb

In the case of these examples, you’re probably writing the content either to build your brand, or make money via display ads or affiliate marketing .

But still – that doesn’t mean your choice of topic for your how-to article should be random. Y ou should always pick topics that fit within your particular niche or industry. ‘How to Blow Up a Balloon,’ for instance, is a great choice of topic for a party supplies website – but not for one specializing in digital marketing.

So, think carefully about what you want to write about. If it ties into your brand’s sector and niche, it’s good. If it addresses a direct business or customer need, it’s great. And if you have experience with the topic – and are passionate about writing it – it’s even better! Tweet this

2. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes

Now you’ve chosen what you’re going to write about, you’ll need to figure out who you’re writing for . You’ll have to start thinking like your target audience – that is, the people who will read your how-to guide – and tailor the content accordingly.

To craft quality content, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What do they already know?
  • What new information can I offer?
  • What knowledge gaps are they expecting this article to plug?

Even better, you can use audience analysis tools , like Similarweb Research Intelligence to dig into the data. On this foundation, you can start building up a comprehensive ‘user profile’ of your article’s intended audience. This’ll then lead to more advanced considerations, like:

  • What other sites do they frequent?
  • What topics or products do they search for online?
  • What is the best channel to promote this content for my audience? (i.e. social media, email, PPC, organic, etc .)
  • What demographics are my readers (location, age, etc.)

Knowing your audience is crucial for striking the right balance when it comes to your article’s tone, content, and technicality.

An article entitled ‘How to Build a Model Airplane,’ for instance, shouldn’t alienate the beginners among its readership with overly complicated terminology. Similarly, ‘How to Deal With a Breakup’ should adopt a more compassionate, conciliatory tone.

3. Research keywords

Now that you know your topic and your audience, you’ll need to find the right keywords – particularly if you have any aspirations to get said audience’s eyes on your how-to article organically.

Keywords are words and phrases that people enter into search engines like Google and YouTube to find what they’re looking for online. Here’s an example, using Similarweb Keyword Research Tool  found related keywords to ‘How to blow up a balloon’:

Similarweb Keyword Generator shows the top related keywords to “how to blow up a balloon”.

Now you can see what are the related keywords and questions to get more ideas while brainstorming the sections to include in your piece. You can also select secondary keywords to rank using the “Trending” keywords filter.

In this case, the root keyword “Balloons” shows that “birthday balloons” and “balloons online” are both very strong terms to include.

Similarweb Keyword Generator shows the top trending keywords related to the term “balloons”.

Once you’ve identified the primary and secondary keywords you’re hoping to rank for, you are ready to create your outline.

4. Plan your article structure

The order in which you write your article is completely up to you. You can start with the first paragraph, or fill out your steps and main points before tackling the introduction and FAQs.

But whichever angle you come at your how-to article from, there’s one thing you’ll need in place before your first draft – a structure!

Here’s what we recommend:

Similarweb template detailing how to plan your article structure

For a more detailed deep dive into what content, headings, tips, FAQs, and CTAs you need to include in your piece, I recommend downloading our how-to article template.

It’s free to download, and will get you on the fast-track to how-to article success.

Pro tip : To take your how-to article to the next level, create a short video covering the main steps you go over. Not only can this increase engagement with your article, but it can help more people find you on YouTube.

5. Keep your steps snappy and straightforward

Remember, no one’s here for an essay. So make sure that each step of your article says what it needs to, without ever becoming overlong or bogged down in detail. Less is more, being clear and concise and engaging is key to keeping your target audience engaged (and coming back for more). Moving on…

6. Give your how-to guide a unique selling point

Remember, people learn in different ways. Some will be readers, while others will prefer to absorb information via watching, listening, or engaging in hands-on interaction.

With that in mind, be sure not to load your how-to article up with too much copy. Break up those text walls with videos, infographics, tables, music, or quizzes, instead. Trust us – it’s not just the visual learners in your audience that’ll thank us.

Plus, there are plenty of other ways to bestow a unique selling point upon your content. You can, for instance, give your article a special angle, or hook. For instance:

  • Is your guide ‘step-by-step’ or ‘no-nonsense’?
  • Does it offer ‘everything you need to know,’ or is it simply the ‘ultimate guide’ to the subject matter?
  • Would you brand it for beginners, or for those with a more advanced understanding?

Case studies, ‘top tips,’ and expert comments – which you can source from PR databases such as Response Source or Help a Reporter Out – are also great ways of infusing your how-to article with unique, value-adding (and original!) quality content.

7. Set your page up for SEO success

You wouldn’t spend a night out on the snowy tundras of Alaska without bundling up warm.

So before you push your article out into the unforgiving wilderness of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), you’ll need to arm it with all the gear it needs to survive – and thrive – in an online environment.

Now, you already started equipping your how-to article for SEO survival when you researched relevant SEO keywords using our keyword research tool and integrated them naturally into your copy. But before you hit ‘Publish,’ you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the rest of the basics downpat, too:

  • Include the keywords you found in the page content
  • Ensure your page has value-driven titles and meta descriptions (with the right character count – about 60 for the title and 160 for the description)
  • Link to other, thematically relevant pages on your site, as well as external sources that will elevate user experience
  • Compress any images on your page to reduce their file size, and drive down the amount of time your how-to article takes to load

And that’s just the on-page stuff. There are so many more factors – from the layout and speed of your website to its linking structure and backlink profile – that’ll affect how your page performs.

For more SEO tips, skip down to the dedicated section on it below, or check out our comprehensive guide to creating an SEO strategy .

And please don’t forget to proofread before you press publish.

8. Monitor your page metrics – and keep optimizing

Congratulations – your page is live. All that planning, research, penmanship, and SEO-ing has furnished you with a how-to article worthy of top-tier SERP real estate.

But alas – the work doesn’t stop there.

Now begins the perpetual process of study, evaluation, and iteration that comes with being the proud author of web content.

Among the metrics you’ll want to keep tabs on are:

  • Session duration (can you increase this with a video or infographic?)
  • Bounce rate (can you reduce this with a more engaging introduction?)
  • Page views (can you boost these organically , or with paid advertising?)

Ultimately, there’s always something you can do to make a page better. So test, tinker, and never be afraid to experiment – that’s how breakthroughs are made.

How to optimize your how-to page for SEO

We touched on the basics in Step 7, but – for your how-to article to really get a tune out of Google’s rankings – you’ll want to dabble in the following:

Marking up your page with how-to schema

In the words of Google, “structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content.”

In the words of the layman: it’s code that makes it explicitly clear to Google that your article is a how-to guide, specifically – and not some other piece of content with a contrasting intent.

Adding this schema to your page will also help optimize it for voice searches – such as those made through Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa – and assist Google in extracting your article’s rich media and showcasing it in the SERPs (pictured).

An image showing the page schema and related video content for the term “how to blow up a balloon”.

Structured data can be added with code or a programming language, such as JavaScript, or – if you use a content management system – via a plugin.

Write conversationally

This piece of advice is to help you avoid one of the most common mistakes: too much jargon. You won’t find the key to writing good web copy in the thesaurus – so drop the big words, the long sentences, and the unnecessary wordiness.

Instead, write conversationally – that is, in a way that reflects how you actually speak, and how your readers will read and interpret your content. Address your readers as “you,” ask questions, use the active voice, and use analogies and storytelling to forge a connection with your audience.

In addition to helping your reader empathize with you – and understand your content – conversational copy and specifically copy that is readable is thought to be preferred by users (and Google), and will also help your article rank for voice searches. After all, when people are saying their inquiries to Google – rather than typing them out – they tend to search as they’d speak.

E-E-A-T: Why the author matters

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It’s one of the factors Google uses to rate the overall quality of a how-to article and is tied specifically to the content’s creator – in this case, you!

E-A-T content is a high level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Here, Google’s looking to understand three core elements about you as an author:

  • Experience: Do you have relevant personal experience on the subject? Does your personal experience reflect in the content?
  • Expertise : Are you an established expert in the topic? What kind of experience do you have in the field?
  • Authority : Do you – and the site you’re publishing on – have recognized authority in the space? Is the content you’re writing original?
  • Trustworthiness: Are you trustworthy? Have you checked your sources? Do you rely on expert knowledge? Why should Google rank your content?

So if you have all the right credentials to be talking about your topic, don’t hold back. Include a bio of yourself with your how-to article, explaining your experience and motivations, and reaffirming why Joe Public and Google alike should trust you.

Equally – if you don’t have that standing just yet – don’t fret. You can build up your E-A-T by:

  • Accruing (and responding to) user reviews
  • Collecting quotes from expert sources (see Step 6 above for more!), then getting those expert sources to mention you
  • Regularly reviewing and updating your content
  • Building up your website’s backlink profile

How to write a how-to article: conclusion

“ Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality”

The Dalai Lama

With these eight steps, you have everything you need to share your knowledge with the world; to turn an idea into a fully-fledged how-to article, and achieve SERP immortality.

Now, all that’s left is to… get started. To commit to an idea, use your expertise to develop it, and – through your passion for the content and subject matter – share it with the world.

So go show ‘em how it’s done!

Enjoy 360 Visibility 24/7

Get the data you need to adapt to market changes and industry trends in an instant.

A how-to article explains exactly how to do something and assumes they already know the what.

How should I structure my how-to article?

Always try to format your how-to article in a step-by-step format (Google loves it, as will your reader), with an introduction, conclusion, and FAQ section. If you have room, you can also include additional content – such as a ‘What Is,’ or ‘Top Tips for’ sections – to add value.

How can I download a free how-to article template?

Simply download Similarweb’s free, no-strings-attached template to walk you through structuring and formatting your how-to guide, with helpful hints around writing CTAs and FAQs, too.

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how to write your first article

Advice on Publishing your First Scientific Journal Article

Advice on Publishing Your First Scientific Journal Article

by Dr Lizzy Lowe

Once you have completed the experimental stages of your research and compiled all of the statistics, it’s time to think about publishing your paper. Putting together a scientific manuscript from scratch can be very daunting the first few times. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details or to have difficulty knowing where to start. This article presents a few tips about publishing your first scientific paper in order to make the process easier.

While this advice applies to most of the sciences, the structure and content of scientific papers vary significantly between fields. This article has been formulated with the biological and environmental fields in mind and is not an exhaustive list of steps for preparing a manuscript. But hopefully it will help you on your way to publishing your research. If you would prefer to watch a video on how to write your first scientific journal article , you can do so on our YouTube channel .

Selecting your target journal

Once you have an idea of the overall findings of your study, it’s a good time to select the journal that you would like to submit to. There are many rules on structure and format specific to each journal—the length of the paper, use of line numbers, the number of figures and tables allowed, the amount of detail expected for the introduction and the location of the methods section. There are also the rules regarding which referencing system to follow and how to format the article correctly for submission. It is thus crucial to know these rules from the onset, and each journal should have an information page for authors. (For an example, see this page for the journal Ecology .) Read over the instructions from your chosen journal and familiarise yourself with their guidelines; it’s much easier to follow these specific rules from the beginning rather than engage in a lengthy edit of the format, layout and length of your journal article at the very end.

It is also important to consider the scope of your selected journal and ensure that your study complies with the journal’s key focus areas. If it does not, your article is likely to be rejected without review and may require extensive reworking prior to being submitted to a different journal. Even though impact factor is no longer the only metric for ranking journals, it is still important to consider the calibre of the journal you are submitting to. Aim high, but make sure your study is appropriate for the journal in terms of impact, interest to the readership and themes. The last thing you want to do is waste the editors’ time (or yours!).

Writing: Don’t start at the beginning

Naturally, it’s important to have done an extensive review of the literature before you start your research, but don’t make the mistake of writing the abstract or introduction of your manuscript first. While the introduction may seem like the easiest place to start, it depends strongly on your results and conclusion(s), and can therefore change during the development of your journal article. You may find a simpler interpretation of your results or decide to add extra analysis halfway through writing your manuscript, which could completely change the scope of the paper. Therefore, it is best to leave the writing of the introduction until the end.

One thing you should do when you are researching the literature is make a bullet-point introduction. Make a note of the major themes your article will cover, and include lots of subheadings and statements with references. These bullet points are much easier to rearrange than a full introduction, and enable you to keep track of any useful references and the statements they support. When it finally comes to writing your introduction, you will have all of the points you need and you can pick the themes that best relate to your results and your chosen journal.

Winning results

Your finalised results (including all of the figures and tables that you would like to include) form the basis of your article. Figures present your data in an organised and easy-to-understand manner, as well as reducing your word count (important for journals that have a lower word limit). One well-made figure is vastly preferable to a large paragraph of text—just remember not to double-up by presenting data in both a figure and in the text. It’s recommended that you present the most exciting results of your study in your figures, because they are normally the first or second thing a reader (and reviewer) will look at.

While it’s tempting to show the readers every little bit of data that you have collected, a paper does not always have to (and, in fact, will rarely) include all the results from your experiment. This does not mean cherry picking data to support a particular result or outcome, but rather being selective of the results included in your paper—include all of the results that are relevant to your story, but exclude anything that does not help to explain your findings.

Telling your research ‘story’

A journal article is essentially an exercise in storytelling, and should thus be as clear and easy to follow as possible. Keep your sentences short and concise, avoid complicated language and try to make your ideas flow. Starting each paragraph with a topic sentence—a sentence that outlines what you will cover in the paragraph—greatly aids the flow of your writing, and will help you stay on track by encouraging you to only include information that relates to this theme.

To help you create a clear and cohesive story, create a separate reference document that includes a summary of your results (3–5 main points) and a short list of the implications of these results. This summary may well form part of your abstract once you have finished the rest of your paper. By referring to this at different stages during your writing, you will ensure that you stay on topic and that you are addressing all of the central topics in your discussion and introduction.

Writing the methods

You will probably have the majority of your methods written in some form (e.g. from your research proposal or planning stages). Therefore, the majority of the work for this section will be ensuring that the tense is correct, all relevant information is included and the flow is easy to follow. It is often helpful to use the last paragraph of the methods to describe the statistical analysis you used (without actually stating any of the results). This ensures the reader knows how you produced your results and sets the stage for the reporting of the analyses in your results section.

Have your results summary on hand to ensure that you only include the methods of the experiments included in your paper. Some journals put the methods at the end of the article, in which case don’t include any information in the methods that is essential for the interpretation of the results. Instead, present this information before your results.

As the methods are a relatively simple component of the paper, it can be useful to save this part of the writing for a time when you are overwhelmed by the rest of the article. Getting stuck into the methods at this time means that you continue to make progress and helps you feel more in control of the writing process.

Writing the discussion

The first paragraph of the discussion is normally a brief summary of the most important results of your study and how they fit into the broader literature of your field. The following paragraphs then explain your results in the context of the literature. For example, you can start a paragraph with a description of the result and then explore why you think this occurred, using examples from other studies to back up your ideas. Try to discuss only one result per paragraph, and (depending on the length of the manuscript) limit the discussion to three or four themes that best explain your results. If your paper requires more than four themes, it may be worth splitting these across multiple articles.

Once you have a well-formed argument around the themes that best explain your results, you can start thinking about how to present these themes in the introduction.

Writing the introduction

If you followed our earlier advice, you will have a list-style introduction with the themes of your research and the important references. Go through this list and select the themes that you covered in your discussion. When it comes to structure, a formula that is often followed in biological papers is to: start with a very broad background paragraph, then have 2–3 paragraphs describing previous work relating to your themes, then have a paragraph explaining your study system and/or study organisms, and finish with a paragraph outlining the aims and hypothesis. This last paragraph should not read like the methods, but should give the reader an idea of all the key experiments undertaken for this study.

Submitting your journal article

Once your final draft is finished, you’re on the home stretch, but the process of submitting a paper can take longer than you think. In addition to your manuscript, tables and figures (which often need to meet very specific requirements) and supplementary material, you will also need a cover letter, all of the affiliations of your co-authors and their funding details, up to three suggested reviewers and, often, a statement outlining why you have chosen to submit to this particular journal. Many journals will also ask you to provide your raw data or analyses as supplementary material or in an online data repository.

These final steps cam be quite demanding the first few times you submit a paper (and for a couple more after that), but take the time to do them well. The information you submit along with your paper influences the editors’ decision to send your paper out to review—this is important, considering that many journals reject more than 50 per cent of submitted manuscripts before the review stage.

Cover letters

A cover letter is a short (less than one page) letter to the editor(s) that helps them decide whether your paper is suited for the journal. Start with a statement such as, ‘Please accept the submission of our manuscript entitled [title] for consideration for publication in [name of journal]’. In the second section, make the most important findings of your study as clear as possible; say why your research is new and how it adds to the knowledge of your field. It is also important to emphasise why the readers of this particular journal would be interested in your study. It can be helpful to request some recent cover letters from your supervisor in order to get an idea of the content required in your field.

Tips for becoming a better writer

Learning to critique journal articles is an excellent way to improve your own writing skills; it makes it easier to stand in the reviewers’ shoes and look at your own paper with a critical eye to detect any details that may need refinement. A great way to gain experience as a reviewer is to ask your supervisor if they have any papers you could review, or ask if you can look at any reviewer comments that have been written or received. Supervisors will normally jump at the opportunity to pass on some reviewing duties.

A final piece of advice: make a collection of well-written papers in your field (EndNote groups are a good way to do this) to refer to when you are unsure how to structure your paper. Simply reading through these papers is a good way to get inspiration and help guide the way you would like your paper to read.

Article by Dr Lizzy Lowe Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellow Centre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity The University of Auckland

Woman named Dr Lizzy Lowe giving a lecture

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How to Write a ‘How-To’: A Step-by-Step Guide to Our Contest

We walk you through how to brainstorm a topic, interview an expert and write your own original “How to ….”

An illustration of a question mark over two conversation bubbles with drops of sweat dripping off.

By Natalie Proulx and Katherine Schulten

“If you want to know how to do something, don’t just search the internet,” advises Malia Wollan , the longtime writer of Tip , a how-to column that ran weekly in The New York Times Magazine for seven years. “Instead, find a person who already knows how and ask them.”

That’s the challenge we are posing to students in “How to … ,” our new informational writing contest for teenagers : Interview an expert about (almost) any skill and then write an engaging and informative essay explaining it to readers.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to do that, with advice from the how-to expert herself, Ms. Wollan. You’ll start by getting familiar with the Tip format. Then you’ll brainstorm a topic for your own piece, find and interview an expert and, finally, put it all together.

When you’re ready, you can submit your completed how-to essay to our contest , which is accepting submissions through Feb. 14.

A step-by-step guide:

1. read some “tip” articles to understand the form., 2. look more closely at one piece., 3. brainstorm your topic., 4. find an expert., 5. conduct the interview., 6. put it all together..

What does a how-to essay look like? There are, of course, many ways to write one. For instance, you may have consulted wikiHow in the past, whether to learn how to make a realistic New Year’s resolution , fold a fitted sheet , reheat rice or do one of the many, many other things the site can teach you.

But since the inspiration for our contest comes from the Tip column in The Times, spending some time examining how it works is the logical first step in constructing your own.

Start by reading any three Tip articles of your choice.

If you don’t have a Times subscription, this guide can help. If you click on any of the 40-plus Tip topics we link here, you can access them for free, as long as you open them directly from this page. (Note to teachers: If your class does have a Times subscription and you are working from the column itself , be aware that some articles may not be appropriate. Please preview before sharing.)

Here are some options to help you choose:

Maybe you’re interested in learning a physical skill, such as how to build a sand castle , skip a stone , do the splits , tackle someone , spot a shooting star , crack a safe or find a four-leaf clover .

Or maybe you would rather up your emotional intelligence by, say, learning how to laugh at yourself , let your mind wander , recover from being ghosted , build an intentional community , be less fearful of the dark or forgive .

Perhaps you want to know how to do something practical, like break in boots , fix a brake light , mend a pair of jeans , use emojis , put out a grease fire , read faster , survive an avalanche , ask for an extension or find a lost hamster .

Or maybe you’d rather choose something offbeat, like how to start a family band , talk to dogs , communicate through facial expressions , make a love potion , build a fort , enjoy snowflakes , wash your hair in space or race pigeons .

After you’ve read three, answer these questions:

What do you notice about the structure, organization and language of a Tip column?

What predictable elements can readers expect to find in every edition?

If you did the activity above, you might have noticed some of these elements:

Tip articles are short: Each column is about 400 words and around four paragraphs long. Our challenge asks you to write something of about the same length.

The topics are usually ultra-specific: The skills described might be physical ( how to skip a stone ) or emotional ( how to forgive ), serious ( how to suture a wound ) or offbeat ( how to befriend an eagle ), but they are always small enough that they can be fully explained within the limited word count.

Each article features a single expert source: You probably noticed that each column begins and ends with a quote from an expert on the topic and that the same expert gives background and advice throughout the piece. For this contest, we are not requiring you to follow that same format, but we are asking you to find and interview an expert to inform your essay. And if you’d like to follow that format, you may.

The advice is practical, but the pieces are engaging to read. Each includes concrete tips for how to accomplish a task, but it’s never just a boring list of steps. The writer also provides context for the skill so that readers understand how and why they might use it in their own lives. And the quotes Ms. Wollan chooses from her interviews are often colorful or full of voice, as you can see in this piece about how to appreciate spiders .

They are written to the reader: The writer addresses the reader as “you,” and often uses the imperative to craft sentences that tell the reader what (or what not) to do.

Now let’s break it down even further. Choose one Tip article to read — either one you already read in Step 1 or a new one — and then respond to the following questions:

Whom does the writer quote in the piece? Why do you think the author chose this person? What makes him or her an expert in this skill? Do you think this person was a good source of information?

Look closely at when the author chooses to quote the expert and when she paraphrases the information that person gave. What is the difference? Why do you think she chose to quote the lines she did? Give some examples from the piece to explain your reasoning.

You may have been taught in school to cite your sources by using footnotes or by putting them in parentheses after you’ve referenced the information. That’s not how journalists do it, yet they still make their sources clear. Where do you see this in the piece you read? What punctuation or wording does the author use to tell us where certain facts and details come from?

Now let’s look at how the author balances explaining how to acquire a skill and showing why it’s needed: Underline or highlight in one color the lines in the piece that tell readers how to accomplish the task, and use another color to highlight lines that give context. What do you notice about the difference in language? What do you notice about the way these pieces of information are woven together throughout?

After reading this, do you feel confident that you could accomplish the task on your own? What tips, if any, did the expert share that surprised you?

When, where and for what purpose might you use this skill in your own life? What lines help readers see how this skill might be relevant to their lives?

What else do you admire about this piece, whether it’s the topic covered, the way it’s written or anything else?

Now that you better understand how to write a how-to, it’s your turn to write one!

First, of course, you must find a topic. For a Times Insider article about how the Tip column is made , Ms. Wollan and her editor, Dean Robinson, describe how they found their ideas:

She often gets suggestions. Many people ask her to write about navigating interpersonal relationships; Ms. Wollan acquiesced in the case of a highly-requested Tip on how to break up with a therapist. She thinks people come to her because “that stuff is hard to navigate and it’s also hard to Google.” Some of the more recognizable scenarios featured in Tip columns come from Ms. Wollan’s own life. She credits being a mother as the inspiration for columns on delivering babies , singing lullabies and apologizing to children . Mr. Robinson occasionally comes across ideas in his life, too. He suggested a piece on how to find a hamster in your house, he said, “because we’ve lost some hamsters.”

Brainstorm as many possible topics as you can for your how-to piece. Here are some ways to start:

Respond to our related Student Opinion forum . We pose 10 questions designed to help you brainstorm about what you’d like to learn to do, and what you already do well. We hope you’ll not only provide your own answers, but also scroll through the answers of others.

Ask for suggestions. What skills have your friends, family and neighbors always wanted to learn? What do they already consider themselves experts on? Keep a running list.

Get inspiration from the Tip column . As you scroll through the column, which headlines stand out to you? Could you take on a similar topic in a different way? Do any of them inspire other ideas for you?

Work with your class to compile as long a list as you can. After you’ve tried the three ideas above, come to class with your list, then share. Your ideas might spark those of others — and when it’s time to find experts, your classmates may have contacts they can share.

Once you’ve come up with as many ideas as you can, choose one for your piece and refine it until it is the right size for a 400-word piece.

These questions can help:

Which of the topics that you listed gets you most excited? Why?

For which do you think you could realistically find an expert to interview? (More on that in the next step.)

Which are already specific enough that you could thoroughly explain them in 400 words or fewer?

Which are big, but could be broken down? For instance, if you chose “learn to cook,” make a list of specific skills within that larger goal. Maybe you’d like to learn how to chop an onion, bake chocolate chip cookies, or build a healthy meal from the noodles in a ramen packet.

Which topics do you think might be most interesting to a general audience? Which feel especially unique, helpful or unexpected?

Maybe you chose your topic because you know someone who is already an expert at that task or skill. But even if you have, read through this step, because it might help you find someone even more suitable or interesting.

Here is how Ms. Wollan says she found experts for her column:

Ms. Wollan finds interview subjects by “just poking around” online and on the phone. Sometimes she has to talk to a few people before reaching the source she will feature in the column. She interviews most of her subjects by phone for about 45 minutes, sometimes longer. “I love talking to people who just maybe don’t care so much about being an expert,” Ms. Wollan said. Some of her favorite interviews have been with children and people in their 80s, who are often “looser and more generous with their advice.”

Who could be an expert on your topic? At minimum, it should be someone who is knowledgeable enough about your subject that your readers will trust his or her advice.

Some choices might be easy. For example, for her column on how to choose a karaoke song , Ms. Wollan interviewed a world karaoke champion; for her piece on how to recommend a book , she interviewed a librarian; and for her article on how to suture a wound , she interviewed a doctor.

Other choices, however, may be less obvious. For a column on how to breathe , Ms. Wollan interviewed a clarinet player; for one on how to slice a pie , she interviewed a restaurant owner; and for one on how to say goodbye , she interviewed a child-care worker who had bid farewell to many children during her career.

Brainstorm as many potential experts for your piece as you can and then choose one as the subject of your piece.

Your expert doesn’t have to be a world champion or the national head of an organization to have expertise. This person can be anyone with specialized knowledge of a field or topic. For example, if you were writing a piece on how to start bird-watching, you could interview someone who works at a local park or zoo, someone from a birding group in your town or a bird-watcher you know personally, such as a neighbor or teacher.

Like Ms. Wollan, you might start by “poking around online” for potential subjects. And you may have to talk to a few people before you decide on the person you want to feature in your piece.

If you are doing this assignment with classmates, now might be a good time to pool resources. Share your topics, and find out who might know someone with expertise in those areas. Remember that you are not allowed to interview your relatives — but you can suggest your woodworker grandma or your skateboarder cousin to someone who is writing about those topics.

When you reach out to people, keep in mind this advice from Corey Kilgannon, a New York Times reporter who has interviewed people for profiles and who was a guest on a Learning Network webinar about profile writing :

Tell the person what your goal is and where you’re coming from — that you’re writing a profile for a school assignment or a contest or a newspaper or whatever. Be straight with the person you’re interviewing. Some people might be a little nervous or shy about how this is going to turn out, or how they’re going to look. So tell them what it’s for, how long it’s going to be, that there will be photos, or whatever you can.

Once you’ve found the expert for your piece, it’s time to conduct your interview.

In “ The Art of Learning to Do Things ,” Ms. Wollan offers excellent advice that everyone participating in our challenge should take to heart:

If you want to know how to do something, don’t just search the internet. Instead, find a person who already knows how and ask them. At first, they’ll give you a hurried, broad-strokes kind of answer, assuming that you’re uninterested in all the procedural details. But of course that’s precisely what you’re after! Ask for a slowed-down, step-by-step guide through the minutiae of the thing. For seven years, I did exactly that — I called a stranger and asked that person to describe how to do a specific task or skill.

That might sound like a straightforward task, but you should come up with some questions — on your own or with your class — before you talk to your expert.

These might include questions like:

If you were to explain how to do this skill or task to someone who had never done it before, what advice would you give?

What are some common errors that those first learning this skill or trying this task often make? How can they be avoided?

What is your background in this skill? How did you get started with it? How did you learn how to do it?

When or why might a person have to use this skill? What are the benefits of knowing it?

You might also return to some of the Tip articles you read at the beginning of this lesson. Read them closely and see if you can guess what questions the writer may have asked to get the specific quotes and information the expert shared in the piece. Which of these questions might be helpful for your own interview?

Remember that interviewing is an art — and Times journalists can offer you advice.

In addition to asking good questions, it’s also your job as a journalist to make the interviewee feel comfortable, to listen carefully, to ask follow-up questions and to clarify that you have accurate information.

We have written our own extensive how-to on interviewing, filled with tips from Times journalists. Steps 3, 4 and 5 in this lesson will be especially helpful. Created for a contest we ran in 2022, the guide can walk you through preparing and practicing for an interview; keeping the conversation going while conducting it; and shaping the material into a useful piece when you’re done.

Finally, it’s time to write your piece. If you are submitting to our how-to writing contest, keep in mind that your essay must be 400 words or fewer.

Remember, too, that we are inviting you to take inspiration from the Tip column, but that you don’t have to copy its form and structure exactly — unless you’d like to. Most important, though, is to find a way to write what you want in a way that sounds and feels like you.

That said, there are a few key elements that are important to include, which can be found in our contest rubric . Below, we share some examples from the Tip column to illustrate these elements.

Introduce your expert source.

The person you interviewed will be the main source of information for your piece. Ask yourself: How will my readers know this person is an expert in the skill or task? What information should I include about this person to make my readers feel that they can trust the person’s knowledge and advice?

Here is how Ms. Wollan introduces her expert in “ How to Skip a Stone ”:

“Throw at a 20-degree angle,” says Lydéric Bocquet, a physics professor at École Normale Supérieure in Paris.

Later, she further explains Mr. Bocquet’s expertise:

Bocquet’s quest to understand how this happens — how a solid object can skim along water without immediately sinking — began more than a decade ago, while he was skipping stones on the Tarn River in southern France with his young son. “He turns to me,” Bocquet says, “and asks, ‘Why does the stone bounce on the water?’” To answer that question satisfactorily, Bocquet and his colleagues built a mechanical stone skipper and analyzed the angle of each toss using high-speed video. They also created a set of mathematical equations to predict the number of skips.

How do you know Bocquet is an expert in skipping stones? Do you, as the reader, trust him as an expert on this topic? Why or why not?

Explain how to do the task or skill.

The heart of your piece is, of course, your explanation. You might start by making a list of steps that your expert source shared and then paring it down to the most essential information.

Ask yourself:

What instructions are crucial to the reader’s understanding of how to accomplish this skill or task?

What did the expert share that I found surprising or may not have thought of?

What details can I leave out, either because they are not very interesting or because they are less important?

What sequence for the steps make the most sense for my readers?

Consider the first paragraph from “ How to Build a Sand Castle ”:

“Use your architect mind,” says Sudarsan Pattnaik, an award-winning sand sculptor from Puri, a seaside city in India. If you’re building from memory, first envision your castle. For Pattnaik, who is 42, that means well-known Hindu or Muslim sites. “I have made so many Taj Mahals,” he says. Build with fine-grained sand already wetted by an outgoing tide. “Dry sand is too, too difficult,” Pattnaik says. Bring tools: hand shovels, buckets with the bottoms cut off and squirt bottles. Tamp wet sand into your bucket molds, setting one layer and then the next, like bricks. Sculpt architectural details from the top of the mound down. Bring reference photographs if you’re aiming for realism.

See if you can identify all the steps to making a sand castle that the writer shares in this paragraph. What do you notice about the order? What, if anything, do you think the writer might have left out, and why do you think she made that choice? What tips did you find most surprising? What do these lines add to the piece?

Notice also the grammatical structure Ms. Wollan uses: “Build with fine-grained sand”; “bring tools”; “tamp wet sand into your bucket molds”; and so on. This is called the imperative mood and is often used when telling others how to do something.

Include at least one quote.

If you are submitting to our contest, you need to include a minimum of one direct quote from the expert. Ask yourself: What quotes from my interview are so interesting, important, surprising, informative or colorful that I need to find a way to fit them in?

Look at “ How to Do the Splits ,” in which Ms. Wollan interviewed Kendrick Young, a professional sumo wrestler:

Start by stretching every day after you get out of the shower (heat increases muscle and ligament flexibility). Wear comfortable, stretchy attire. “Definitely don’t try to do this in jeans,” Young says. Sit with your legs spread as wide as you can. Once you can do that without hunching, begin to lean toward the ground, exhaling as you go. “You don’t want to be bending over a big pocket of air in your lungs,” Young says. It might help to have someone push down on your midback (historically, sumo wrestlers often stood on one another’s backs to force the body to the floor).

Why do you think the writer chose to include these two specific quotes in the piece, while paraphrasing (or writing in her own words) the rest of what Young said? What additional context did the writer provide to help us understand the purpose and relevance of these quotations?

Provide a purpose for reading.

Remember that a how-to essay is not just a list of steps; your readers should also understand how this topic might be relevant to their lives. Ask yourself: Why should a reader care about this skill or task? Where, when or for what reasons might someone want or need to do it?

Consider the last paragraph in “ How to Start a Family Band ”:

To be in a family band, you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time together, actively working on cohesion. Music can act as a kind of binding agent. When they’re not in quarantine, the Haim sisters see, or at least talk to, each other every day. “Instead of camping as kids, or going hiking, it was like, ‘OK, we’re going to practice a few songs,’” Danielle says. “It was definitely my parents’ ploy to spend more time with us.”

What reason does the writer provide for why a reader might want to try this activity? What additional background does she share from the expert, Danielle Haim, to help explain why a family — even one that might not be musical — may want to start a band together?

Submit your final piece.

Once you’ve written and edited your essay, give it a title (“How to…”) and submit it to our contest by Feb. 14. We can’t wait to learn the skills you’ll teach us!

Natalie Proulx joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2017 after working as an English language arts teacher and curriculum writer. More about Natalie Proulx

Katherine Schulten has been a Learning Network editor since 2006. Before that, she spent 19 years in New York City public schools as an English teacher, school-newspaper adviser and literacy coach. More about Katherine Schulten

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9 credit card debt settlement mistakes to avoid

By Angelica Leicht

Edited By Matt Richardson

May 13, 2024 / 3:12 PM EDT / CBS News

Cropped shot of young Asian woman holding credit card and expense receipts, handing personal banking and finance at home. Planning budget, calculating expenses and managing financial bills. Home budgeting. Home finances. Digital banking habits

Many Americans are struggling financially right now due to the current economic climate, in which rampant inflation has sent the cost of living upward, causing prices on essentials like food, gas and housing to climb significantly. At the same time, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at a 23-year high in an effort to get inflation under control, making borrowing far more expensive than it has been in the last several years.

This mix of elevated rates and high inflation has put millions of households in a precarious position. As disposable incomes get squeezed tighter and tighter, it has become challenging to cover both necessary living expenses and outstanding debt payments . And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of people falling behind on their credit card bills has spiked over the past year.

For those grappling with mounting credit card debt, a credit card debt settlement program can seem like an attractive lifeline. With this type of program, a debt settlement company negotiates with your creditors to allow you to pay off your debts for less than the full amount owed. While settling your debts for a lower lump sum can provide much-needed relief, there are some potential pitfalls to avoid.

Drowning in credit card debt? Compare your debt relief options now .

If you're planning to enroll in a credit card debt settlement program, make sure to watch out for these big mistakes:

Choosing a disreputable company

The debt settlement industry has its fair share of bad actors looking to take advantage of vulnerable consumers. So, doing your due diligence to find a reputable, trustworthy debt settlement firm is essential. As you search for the right debt relief company , be sure to check reviews, verify credentials and accreditations and have an in-depth discussion about fees and processes before signing any agreements.

Find the best options for tackling your credit card debt here .

Believing debt settlement is a quick fix

Contrary to how it may be portrayed in certain cases, debt settlement is not an overnight solution to your credit card woes. The negotiation process takes many months (at a minimum), during which time you may face escalated creditor calls, potential litigation threats and continued credit score damage . So, maintaining patience and discipline is key during this process.

Stopping your debt payments too soon

One key tenet of debt settlement programs is that you stop making payments to your creditors for a period of time and instead make monthly payments to the debt settlement company. This money is held in a special account, allowing funds to accrue that can ultimately be used as a lump sum settlement offer. However, you'll want to ensure you have explicit approval from your debt settlement company before halting payments, as stopping too soon can severely damage your credit score .

Failing to understand the tax implications

When you settle a debt for less than the full amount owed, the forgiven portion is generally considered taxable income by the IRS. Neglecting to plan for this potential tax bomb can lead to an unpleasant (and costly) surprise come tax season. To avoid the potential repercussions, you may want to consult a tax professional to better understand your specific situation.

Not having a plan for new debt

One of the most common pitfalls of debt settlement is that consumers fail to change the financial habits and behaviors that landed them in debt trouble in the first place. That's why you must have a concrete plan for avoiding the accumulation of new debt while working through your settlement program and beyond. Otherwise, you run the risk of falling into the same debt issues that you were facing before the debt settlement.

Overlooking creditor concessions

Some creditors may be willing to accept affordable payment plans or reduced interest rates simply by asking, and that may happen without the need for a debt settlement program at all. In turn, you may want to exhaust these options before pursuing debt settlement, which can have a negative impact on your credit score, at least temporarily.

Ignoring the statute of limitations

Most states have statute of limitations laws that restrict the time period during which a creditor can attempt to collect a debt. If you make a payment on an old debt, even a small one through a debt settlement program, you may inadvertently restart the statute of limitations clock. So, before embarking on a credit card debt relief journey, make sure to understand these laws inside and out.

Failing to get agreements in writing

Verbal agreements regarding settlement amounts should never be considered final. Insist on getting every single term and condition of your debt settlement in writing before finalizing or making payments instead. Otherwise, you may find yourself in an untenable situation.

Being lured in by grandiose claims

Finally, be wary of debt settlement companies making grandiose claims about the amount of money they can save you. While negotiating to pay creditors pennies on the dollar is theoretically possible, more modest 25% to 50% reductions are far more common. In other words, be sure to have realistic expectations from the outset.

The bottom line

While credit card debt settlement programs can provide much-needed debt relief for some, failing to avoid these potential errors can quickly turn a financial lifeline into another headache. So, while debt settlement programs can make sense in a lot of situations, doing your homework and understanding all the implications is critical before embarking on this path.

Angelica Leicht is senior editor for CBS' Moneywatch: Managing Your Money, where she writes and edits articles on a range of personal finance topics. Angelica previously held editing roles at The Simple Dollar, Interest, HousingWire and other financial publications.

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5 Tips to Maximise Your Small Business SEO

illustration of a magnifying glass over a computer monitor, showing small business SEO

Learn how SMBs and growing businesses can use search engine optimisation (SEO) to stay competitive while keeping costs low.

May 8, 2024 9 min read

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Traditional online marketing techniques such as paid digital advertising work, but advertising costs have left small businesses struggling to compete. An effective alternative to paid advertising is search engine optimisation (SEO) , which allows your small business to stay competitive and keep costs relatively low.

All it takes are the seeds of a robust strategy, a bit of hard work, and time for the fruits of your labour to become reality. If you’re looking maximise your small business SEO, you find these tips, benefits and services beneficial.

What you’ll learn:

What is SEO and how does it work? What is small business SEO? Five tips to do small business SEO right Three benefits of small business SEO How should small businesses get started with SEO? How to choose small-business SEO services

What are the most common mistakes in search engine optimisation?

how to write your first article

What is SEO and how does it work?

SEO is a technique to improve a website’s organic visibility online. The goal is to have your web property show up as close to the top of the first page of a search engine’s results as possible (such as Google). Well-executed small business SEO can increase traffic to your website without having to pay for an ad.

Many components can contribute to better organic visibility. A few that are the most important include the page’s content, targeting the right keywords, and backlinks. Good SEO also hinges on some technical aspects, such as site speed and mobile optimisation.

Before jumping into the details, here’s a glossary of common SEO terms:

  • Organic search results : This is also called the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). When a search engine user types a query or search term into a search engine like Google, a list of results is generated. This list is made up of the most relevant pages to that keyword.
  • Keyword ranking : This is your web page’s exact position in search results for a specific keyword. Most web searches result in hundreds of pages of results, and usually there are ten or more results on a page. The closer you are to ranking number one on the first page, the more visitors and in turn the more traffic your website will receive.
  • Local search/Local SEO : This aspect of SEO is used to promote a local business online. For example, if a user types “shoe store Boston” into the search engine, the search results will list the web properties of any shoe stores in Boston that rank well for that keyword. This is very different from just typing in “shoe store”, which would likely turn up online retailers not specific to a geography.
  • Backlinks : These are links from other websites to yours. Backlinks can help increase your page authority and keyword ranking. But if you’re not careful, they can decrease both and hurt your website’s ranking. Check to make sure you only have backlinks from reputable sources bringing traffic to your page. Every couple of months, keep an eye out for anything that looks spammy and disavow the links to prevent them from bringing down your ranking.
  • Technical SEO : The technical side of SEO, as opposed to the content side,  ensures that search engines can crawl and index your website (meaning “read” your content and know how to rank it against similar content). Technical small business SEO focuses on backend information like your HTML code , site speed and mobile optimisation (see below), your sitemap , and website architecture . 
  • Site speed : How long does it take for your website to load? This is your site speed. Google considers this an important factor when ranking websites in search results. The search engine favours websites that load more quickly and efficiently because it improves the user experience. If your site is bogged down by heavy images or videos, for example, and not designed to load quickly, it will take a hit in search.
  • Mobile optimisation : How your website displays on mobile devices is another important factor in website ranking. If you built your web property on a desktop and did not check to see that it scales on a variety of mobile devices, your site will take a hit in its search results.

What is small business SEO?

Small business SEO is the process of improving your small business’ website presence on search engines, so it is visible in queries that relate to what you offer.

There is a difference between small business SEO and local SEO. Local helps businesses appear in location-based search results. While it may overlap, some small businesses need to leverage local traffic, however, small business SEO is now global, worldwide due to digital demand. If you’re an SMB that can ship your product or service anywhere, local SEO doesn’t make sense to you.

SEO is important for SMBs as it helps you increase organic traffic without spending money on advertisements — something all small business has to navigate. When your website ranks higher in search, you drive more traffic, generate more engagement, make more sales, and gain more loyal customers. You see the beautiful arc here, it’s every SMBs dream.

Five tips to do small business SEO right

These tips will help you understand how to implement SEO for your small business.

1. SEO is not only for Google

As a small and growing business, your site should look good on Google. But depending on your audience, other sites may be equally as valuable (or more so), including Amazon , Reddit , Yelp , YouTube , Instagram , and others that have their own SEO strategies. Figure out where you want to spend the majority of your efforts and start there.

2. SEO strategy is effective, but not instant

While SEO isn’t free or instant, it is effective. How long it takes for SEO to work depends on where you start. If you are in the early stages of building out your SEO strategy, expect at least six months to see results – even more  if you’re building a new website. Remember that SEO is a continual process and it builds upon itself.

The foundation you lay during those first months will make the process easier later. The more effort you devote to SEO, the harder it will be for your competitors to outperform you.

3. Target the right keywords

Plan your online content with keywords specific to your business. Not sure which keywords to target?  Use a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, AnswerThePublic or BuzzSumo ; there are a few that aren’t too costly. This will help the right audience find your most relevant content and website.

4. Write for humans first, and search engines second

High-quality, engaging, and relevant content that incorporates the targeted keyword will entice people to stay on your website, read for longer, and interact with more content. If you can, consider answering popular questions relevant to your business. Showcase solutions your customers would want to see.

Tempting as it may be, do not include irrelevant keywords or content that is stuffed to the brim with the same keyword. Your human readers won’t stand for it, and this content will negatively impact your search visibility. Search engines strongly take this into consideration when determining which results to display.

5. Maximise local search to your advantage

Your small business can find huge success targeting local searches. As the stats prove, people searching locally are potential customers waiting to be converted. According to Sagapixel data , almost half of all the searches on Google have local intent. Seventy-two percent of consumers that perform a local search visit a store within five miles of their current location.

When doing local search optimisation, be sure to claim your Google Business page . This will help you show up in Google maps and in “near me” search results. For more localised results, weave your specific city or state in with your target keyword.

Learn to write SEO content

Make the most of organic search by optimising your digital content. Help customers find you, and keep humans engaged.

how to write your first article

Benefits of small business SEO

According to BrightEdge research, organic search accounts for 53% of all online traffic and contributes to 44% of revenue share. SEO brings in more online readers through organic search – the largest digital channel. 

SEO improves brand awareness. Good SEO will help you to show up ahead of competitors in search results. If researching prospects come across your site, your brand will be top of mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

If done correctly, SEO is highly effective – but it’s not something that happens overnight. It takes time and effort to set the foundation, but once you have it, the rewards are great. Like growing a plant, the more you nurture your SEO, the more it will grow.

How should small businesses get started with SEO?

The first step is to complete a technical audit and a content audit. Audits highlight areas where you are doing well and areas that need improvement. An audit is a great place to start whether you have done a little bit of SEO or none at all. Once your audit is completed, you will know the exact scope of work needed to improve your SEO.

Conduct a content audit for SEO

A content audit should do two things: Help uncover opportunities for new content, and highlight existing content needing attention. It should be a full list of all your web content, like blogs, combined with traffic, engagement, ranking keywords, and backlink data.

Learn more about content audits here .

Conduct a technical audit for SEO

The technical audit will show you areas where your website structure and backend need improvement. Highlight pages with missing or duplicative page titles or meta descriptions. You should also track page speed, broken links, or redirect chains on each page. You can even get more technical and dive into canonical tags, hreflang, or schema markup.

Learn more about technical audits here .

How to choose small-business SEO services

Not sure you want to tackle this all yourself? There’s no shortage of SEO experts waiting to help small businesses with an SEO strategy. Finding the right agency or person should be as important as getting the right strategy.

While an in-house SEO expert is probably not a viable option for your small business, there are other ways to get your SEO needs met. Many agencies offer a variety of packages to suit small businesses. Some may even propose a flat rate contract based on the services you want.

This option will let you know the project’s exact cost and guarantee fulfillment. If you are willing to do the work but need guidance to get started, you can look into hourly SEO consultants.

As with most business services, you get what you pay for when it comes to SEO. You want whomever you hire to provide you with quality recommendations. Here are some questions to ask a potential agency:

  • What niches do you specialise in?
  • What does the process look like, and what will you be working on month-to-month?
  • What is your link building strategy?
  • How do you track progress?
  • How do you report?
  • How often will you review and update the strategy?
  • Do you have any case studies of similar projects?
  • Is there a minimum term commitment?

Whether you decide to tackle SEO on your own or hire an expert, it is critical to have the right SEO foundation and strategy. In the long run this can be a huge benefit to your business and your bottom line.

Digital marketer and SEO professional Rosy Callejas contributed to this article.

Kickstart your SMB with Starter

See big results for your small business from day one with Starter Suite — the all-in-one suite of the marketing, sales, service, and commerce tools you need to succeed. 

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    Copy your outline into a separate file and expand on each of the points, adding data and elaborating on the details. When you create the first draft, do not succumb to the temptation of editing. Do not slow down to choose a better word or better phrase; do not halt to improve your sentence structure.

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  7. How to Write an Article (Step-by-Step)

    It can consist of one or two words or multiple words. As an example, the focus keyword of this article is "how to write an article.". If you struggle to find good ideas, I recommend you read my article about how to find blog topics. 2. Find the search intent behind the keyword.

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  12. How to Write & Publish Your First Scientific Journal Article

    Therefore, it is best to leave the writing of the introduction until the end. One thing you should do when you are researching the literature is make a bullet-point introduction. Make a note of the major themes your article will cover, and include lots of subheadings and statements with references.

  13. Help:Your first article

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  14. How to write your first journal article

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  15. How to Write Your First Article

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  16. Write a How-to Article in 6 Easy Steps

    STEP 3: RESEARCH. Research will ground your article in fact. Good details to include with your how-to are: Collect everything you have gathered and put it in a folder, an electronic document, a notebook or whatever you like. Don't forget to keep track of sources in case you are later asked by an editor to verify them.

  17. A Guide for Writing a How-To Article

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  18. How to Write an Essay Introduction

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  20. Cambridge B2 First (FCE): How to Write an Article

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  21. How to write an article?

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  22. (PDF) How to Write Your First Research Paper

    Fol low ing the a dv ice o f Ge orge. M. Whitesides, ". . . start with a blank piece. of paper, a nd write down, in any order, all. important id eas that occu r to you conce rn-. ing the paper ...

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