Posted by gmehrguth

The SEO industry is shifting. Link building, as a singular practice, is fading into the background and content marketing is roaring along.

Creating anything outside of exceptional content is yielding marginal results. The demand for quality content is vast and urgent.

Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in creating affordable content at scale, many SEOs are still saying “I know the articles we’re posting on your blog (from our outsourced writing team) are barely decent; but the blog posts are really just for search engines and keywords, so we’re not too worried about the quality.”

Frankly, the last thing the SEO space needs is more stale SEO content.

What the SEO space does need is more teams dedicated to producing high-quality content. But it’s difficult to build a team. Because the need for high-quality content persists, I have created a step-by-step guide to building a content team. It is based on what we have done for our own agency, Directive Consulting.

Step 1: Finding writers

For starters, let’s lay out the conundrum.

You have a particular retainer size and you want to keep your cost as low as possible. But you want to give your client the best results possible. You recognize that you need exceptional content to build brand affinity, reach new audiences, improve rankings, and increase the topical relevance of your website.

We solved this problem by hiring writers from the university that my partner and I attended. To save you some pain and heartache, this is the writer persona we used:

  • Grade: Senior
  • Major: Journalism or English
  • On-Campus Involvement: Works at the Writing Center
  • Pay: $12-15 per article; word count often doesn’t matter

Step 2: Managing the writers

If you have the time to manage the writers yourself, then go for it, but I highly recommend hiring someone.

Here is what we looked for in a content manager:

  • Manage timing of posts
  • Selecting topics for the writers
  • Maintaining consistent level of quality
  • Monitoring writer happiness
  • Understanding when to hire due to content fatigue
  • Formatting and designing the content
  • Measuring the performance of the content and providing feedback to promotion team

Overall, there is far more that goes into creating quality content right than what one can hope to do on their own.

Step 3: Managing the content

Managing the entire process requires a content management system (CMS) of some sort. When we began our content department, we managed the entire process on Trello. (This post will go a long way toward providing you with different ways to set things up: http://blog.trello.com/taco-tuesday-2-crazy-for-calendars/.)

After growing the department and adding more moving pieces, we began using DIVVY (http://divvyhq.com/).

The goal for whichever route you take is to make the process as simple as possible so that deadlines are met and the quality of content is high.

Step 4: Understanding interest-based targeting

Picking promotable topics for content is essential. For example, it is nearly impossible to promote a post about “How to Ride a Horse Without a Saddle.”

However, a post like the one we created below can perform tremendously well because you can properly leverage interest-based targeting and identify reachable audiences:

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If you are curious about the targeting and budget, we spent $20 on this promotion and promoted it to autism centers and families with children who have disabilities.

The potential that shareable content holds for your clients is massive.

Step 5: Managing capacity

As mentioned above, we organized our content division with a director of content at the top and writers who report to her.

We have found that 10 to 20 articles a month is a manageable amount for a senior in college to produce. The last thing you want is to be hiring and onboarding writers every month due to content fatigue.Keep that in mind as you grow.

Currently, we deliver two to three pieces a month for our clients and find this to be a good flow of content that achieves many of our content goals.

Step 6: Creating goals for your content

Creating measurable goals for your content marketing beyond “increase traffic and rankings” is essential to building a terrific content team.

Our ultimate goal is to improve and build up branded traffic. We believe content has the power to build a brand and allows our clients to compete at a different level. Why try to be the plumber that ranks No. 1 if you could be the plumber that people search for when their toilet floods?

It’s a simple idea, but strategic content creation and promotion can help achieve this. More technical metrics that we also use to measure performance are:

  • Increase assisted social conversions
  • Improve last click or direct social conversions
  • Improve social conversion rate

The focus on social conversion is primarily due to the promotion element of our content department. If you take a different focus for the purpose of your content, then make sure to modify and create metrics to gauge their performance by.

Step 7: Involve everyone, including your clients

T-E-A-M is in an important element in content marketing.

Your director of content isn’t going to be a walking encyclopedia, so putting everyone’s brainpower together can do wonders for your content. That being said, include your clients in the brainstorming process, too, especially the new ones. More than likely, they’ve been in their particular field of expertise for some time, and absorbing their knowledge can be vital to getting to know their target market.

We’d like to hear from others who have built content teams. Is your process similar to ours? Please share in the comments.

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