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How to Create Useful How-To Video Content: Essential Toolbox


If you are willing to tap into video content (and you surely should), starting with a how-to video is probably your best bet:

  • People want to know how to do stuff and offering them videos is one of the best ways to satisfy the need. Google says YouTube’s how-to searches are growing by 70% year over year.
How-to searches in YouTube grow 70% year over year according to @Google via @seosmarty. #SEO Click To Tweet
  • How-to videos convert incredibly well. Nearly one in three millennials say they have purchased a product directly as a result of watching a tutorial or how-to video about it.
  • Unlike viral-type videos, how-to video content is easy to research (more about that below).
  • Creating how-to videos doesn’t require big budgets either. You can create a high-quality how-to video in-house by using affordable tools I am listing below.

On top of all, videos rank incredibly well in Google search results. Moreover, they often get that rich-snippet treatment – a video thumbnail, video length, and author name in black, blue, and green. Hence, video results stand out in search, giving your brand a lot of exposure.


Research and inspiration

Answer the Public

Answer The Public is a completely free visual keyword research tool that goes through Google auto-suggest results (these are results you see in a drop-down menu while entering your search term in Google’s search box) and retrieves question-type queries.

The search queries are visualized in a mind map based on the question modifier. For your how-to video inspiration, keep an eye on the “how” section:



Serpstat is a freemium keyword research and all-in-one SEO analytics platform that gives more in-depth insight into people’s searching behavior, including a separate section with people’s questions.

Use a tool like @serpstat to get more in-depth insight into people’s searching behavior, says @seosmarty. Click To Tweet

Type any term into Serpstat’s search box and proceed to the “search questions” section behind the “content marketing” tab. There’s also a helpful tag cloud showing the most popular words that tend to appear in questions containing your core term. These words will help you organize your content by main topic, audience, and related interests:


Serpstat has a powerful semantic analysis feature that can suggest related terms, so make sure to check the “cluster research” section to expand your core term more:


Now you can take the highlighted questions and research them to find even more related how-to queries.

A Nutshell Guide to Proper Keyword Research


BloomBerry helps you uncover the needs and concerns of your target consumers by crawling and aggregating over 300 million questions asked on online forums and discussion boards like Reddit, Quora, and even Amazon’s Q&A section. You can find the most popular questions people tend to ask online.

BloomBerry won’t take your query as is, but it will try and suggest related and neighboring topics by using its semantic analysis. For example, if you type (mattress), the tool will also find questions that include (bed):


The key in the research stage for how-to videos is to find things your audience wants to know and learn how common their questions are. Then review to see what questions naturally lend themselves to a visual how-to story.

The key to researching topics for how-to videos is to find the questions your audience is asking. @seosmarty Click To Tweet

Creating and editing

There are a ton of great video-editing tools and this article isn’t meant to be an ultimate resource. My goal is to give some easy-to-use ideas to help you get started right away without spending time comparing and figuring out the tools to use.

I am listing the video-editing tools I’ve found the easiest to learn, to save your time, and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Once you start creating videos, you’ll feel more confident to try more software.

ScreenFlow for screencasting

I’ve tried dozens of screencasting solutions and all of them turned out to be either too basic or too overwhelming. ScreenFlow seems to be a perfect combination of required features with no overwhelming abundance of settings you won’t need.

I use these features:

  • Basic screencasting
    • Zooming in or out on feature to emphasize what I am showing
  • Exporting file in “save for web” mode

Animoto for pretty visual effects

If you don’t have a budget for nice visual effects (titles, subtitles, text, animation), Animoto is a good option. You can import screenshots, quotes, text, etc., and put together nice clips within minutes.

It’s a great time saver and creativity booster because you can explore various templates to discover a cool video format. It offers seasonal templates too, so you can adapt your videos to holiday themes.


YouTube Video Editor

To put all the pieces together, you don’t even need to download and learn new software. Web-based YouTube Video Editor may solve your problems. Upload your screencasts, animations, and audio files, and put them together into one solid how-to video.


Put your video together with free, web-based @YouTube Video Editor, says @seosmarty. Click To Tweet

A few cool perks come with the free online editor:

  • Use Creative Commons music in your video.
  • Add transitions to go from step to step of your video instructions.
  • Overlay videos with text.
  • Remix with Creative Commons videos to make your instruction more entertaining.
  • Upload images to use in videos.
How to Use Content That Isn’t Yours

Other resources

The above tools will cover most of your needs. You’ll probably spend 30 to 60 minutes to create a basic but useful how-to video (about three minutes in length), which will also be a joy to watch thanks to nice transitions and text overlay. The more videos you create, the faster you’ll go. If you find it difficult to get inspired with the free clips and music inside my suggested video editors, here are a few additional resources:

Whenever you use a free image or a video, make sure you credit a source. Often, it’s not required but is still advisable as the way to thank the creator. Here’s an easy guide on copyright restrictions or licenses visual and media files may fall under.

Whenever you use a free image or a video, make sure you credit a source, says @seosmarty. Click To Tweet

Have I missed useful video brainstorming and creation tools? Please share them in the comments.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute