Agencies stand in a unique place in the world of online content.
They’re responsible for so much of it — and yet they often don’t have the time to devote to perfecting how it gets done.
And yowzah, does it need to get done.
But when agencies talk content, they usually focus on two areas:
- Content quality
- Turnaround times
Which is all well and good, but dialing in on only those two focuses means the industry often misses a massive element:
Or in other words, how do you, as an agency, create so much content at a high level without diminishing your other agency offerings?
It’s an issue that Verblio is highly conscious of, and is pouring our time and energy into helping agencies fix:
So let’s all take a step back, because if there’s one thing we all can do is learn more about content and how to create it (and that’s coming from people who like to debate about Oxford commas).
We’ve reached out to industry leaders, content experts, and in-the-trenches creators and asked them for their insights on how they’ve adapted to create top-notch content at scale for their clients. The answers they gave us seemed pretty thematic, so we’ve curated seven tips for you — completely based on what they shared.
Here’s the long and short of it, which you’ll read from our industry experts:
- Don’t treat content as a separate part of your strategy (especially with SEO).
- Come with a plan.
- Source strong (or niche) writers.
- Find a solution for content approvals, then enforce it.
- Build a better process that works for your company.
- Think outside the box.
If these tips resonate with you, you’ll love diving into what our experts have to say. Let’s take a look!
Tip #1: Merge Your SEO And Content Creation Efforts
“The biggest problem we have in SEO content creation is the fact that we are actually writing for three different audiences – our clients, their end clientele, and the search engines. To make matters more challenging, we only get direct feedback from the first audience, which can easily dwarf the importance of the other two audiences.
For instance, a client may take a lot of pride in the fact that they are a third generation business. The search engines and most end clientele couldn’t care less.
A client may take a lot of pride in their company history, but that can actually interfere in the proper user experience on the website. The end clientele, meanwhile, only wants to know if the website can solve their problem/address their desire, and they typically want to know that (or at least get a strong indication of that) in the first 50 words they read. They often prefer short, pithy web pages that are easy to skim.
The search engines, meanwhile, are trying to match web pages with their interpretation of user intent. That usually favors longer pages with lots of information and keyword-centric content. Balancing these three audiences can be extremely challenging.
Add in the fact that there may not even be agreement within each audience, and the balancing act becomes even more complicated. All too often, there is not even agreement internally on what messaging is important to the client. This can stall SEO content creation indefinitely, and requires delicate management by very good consultants.
Different clientele prefer different user-experiences. Even on the same keyword, it may be beneficial to have pithier content on one page, with a short video for the clientele in a rush, and longer content, heavily linked to other resources for the clientele in research-mode.
Now imagine trying to get a writer, who typically never speaks with the client, to be able to balance those three audiences for each of the 5 or 10 clients they write for in any given week. This helps explain why SEO writing requires such extensive revision.”
Derrick De Yarma — Director of SEO at That! Company
“As an agency, our clients come from a wide variety of sectors – beauty, recruitment, HR, IT and we’re always going to have unique challenges with every one of them. Whether it’s a commercial copy for sales or building content pillars, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to content.
The biggest challenge is to integrate our SEO strategy with the Content Strategy. We found out that most writers lack SEO acumen. Striking that balance between creating pages that actually generate traffic and are also engaging to read is a balance that’s hard to do. The best way to get that synergy in all your content pieces is to create a spreadsheet — or some kind of tracking — with all the SEO guidelines where everyone keeps track of what they do.”
“Sometimes, it can be tricky to find the right kind of topic that makes for readable content while maintaining an SEO function too.
The idea is that you write about high search volume topics that matter to the potential audiences of a client. We also need to make sure that it is informative and different from the other content pieces out there, and use this content to develop an authoritative profile in the eyes of a search engine.
Balancing all of this can be tricky because you might find something really technical to write about, which is great for authority, but too complicated for some to understand.”
Tip #2: Scaling Content Requires Diligent Planning
“One challenge with getting content written at scale is making sure every piece is part of each client’s bigger overall strategy, and not just slapped onto the total blog post count for lack of having anything better.
Making sure all posts support each other and the existing posts and fit within the overall plan for the client’s long-term growth is tricky to manage across a number of clients and websites at once and can be a challenge when not organized or planned properly.”
“It’s challenging to produce unique and actionable content on a wider scale. In most of the cases, finding a unique topic is the major issue in producing the content. A lot of the authority companies and SMEs already have written engaging stuff on those trending topics.
For this, one should look at what small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) are doing for specific topics, subjects, and experiences, and the various techniques they use to practically produce their content.
Other than that, the best solution I’ve found to help solve the high volume content creation challenge is to simply be prepared to deal with the content marketing costs (whether in-house or outsourcing). Take a good look at your resources and capabilities, and decide which solution fits you best.
Nancy Kapoor — Senior Digital Marketing Associate at Grazitti Interactive Company
Tip #3: Find Flexible, Expert Writers With Strong Research Skills
“Last year I was working as an SEO manager at an SEO agency where I worked with writing teams to get new content written and published for my clients. I now work as an inhouse SEO, but still work to get content published with our marketing team.
The number one issue I saw at my agency with outsourced content was a lack of quality in the posts we wrote because our writers didn’t have the expertise in that specific industry. This is especially a problem when you have a client in a very specialized or technical niche.
One client of ours who worked in the automotive parts industry canceled their contract because they would always have to rework the content our writers produced. I think a lot of companies in technical niches feel more comfortable creating content internally where they have the expertise to make valuable and accurate content.”
Mason Stout — SEO Specialist at Senior Leaf
“One of the perks of content writing is getting to know a little about a lot. We get to write content for all sorts of businesses, industries and sectors so we’re always learning something new.
But writing a content piece without any prior knowledge of a topic is challenging. Often clients forget that you don’t know as much as they do about their sector and don’t bring you up to speed.
That’s where our expert research skills must come into play. We have to scour websites, identify competitors and understand the latest insights to develop the right content angle. It’s demanding of your time and attention but the amount you learn is always worth it in the end.”
“The challenges that I and my team face in creating content for Client are:
Writing high-quality content: Writing a content piece that includes infographics, stats, videos, references etc. Every time presenting a content which is not only informative but engaging and serving the user’s query is quite challenging.
Meeting Client’s Expectations: It’s quite important to fulfil the expectations of the one who is giving us paychecks. But bridging the gap between the client’s perspective and content marketing trends is a tough job.
Multidisciplinary: Finding a resource who is capable of curating technical as well as non-technical content.
Delay in Feedback: The feedback of the content being shared with the client should be prompt so that the content can be published within the timeline.
Content Aesthetics: Because of the old version of the CMS or poor UI/UX, the content writers face issues in attractively publishing the content, the way they want.”
Tip #4: If You Can’t Find Flexible Writers, Find Niche Writers
“There are 2 big challenges we experience when producing content at scale.
The first challenge is finding a quality writer who understands how best to create content for SEO. It’s not just about putting keywords in the content. Content pieces need to have a good user experience and keep people on the website as long as possible. This means there needs to be images, video, internal and external links, short paragraphs, and more that keeps the reader scrolling through the entire post.
The second is finding writers for different industries. Finding a great writer is hard enough, but finding them for multiple industries can be even harder. We have found that a writer we loved did not produce the same quality content when they worked on a different industry. So we basically have to start from scratch again finding that quality writer for that industry, which can be very time consuming.”
Tip #5: Don’t Let Content Approval Issues Bottleneck Growth
“Our biggest frustration is getting content approval.
We often wait for weeks for clients to approve content as they don’t realize the urgency of a constant and steady feed. It also makes it difficult for our team to set up weekly task lists, as we never know when we might eventually get unexpected approval on a whole batch of articles at once. Freelancers also often forget about deadlines.
We’ve solved the problem by breaking up monthly content requests into weekly priorities.This ensures that we get content from our writers continuously and don’t send it all for approval at once. We also follow up on content approval twice per week. Both writers and clients respond well to this approach.”
“Evenbound is a full-service digital marketing company that does a lot of work with industrial and manufacturing companies. As you can imagine, a lot of the content we write for these clients is technical, and these are busy companies — they’ve hired us because they don’t have time to write this content themselves.
Early on, our team saw the most trouble getting blogs approved. We’d write content only to have it sit for months in the pipeline before we could get someone on the other team to look at it.. This is a problem for our efficiency, but also for our client’s ranking potential. Since they weren’t putting out regular content, they couldn’t build authority on search engines.
One great workaround we’ve found has been creating standing meetings with those busier, more technical clients. We set up a standing meeting once every two weeks with the team members who have approval power, and we use that time to discuss what should be covered in upcoming topics as well as approval for completed content. Just making the space on everyone’s calendar has made a significant improvement in our process, and it’s helping our clients build that authority they need to rank well online.”
“At any given time, we have over 50 pieces of content in process per month, everything from new website landing pages, press releases, blog posts and articles, and PPC landing pages. Taking those pieces from ideation to publishing can be challenging, especially if each client has their own unique process or method for reviewing content.
To move content through the publishing schedule on time, we set up the expectations for regular publishing at the very beginning of an engagement. Moving the needle on inbound campaigns requires regular, timely publishing.
From the very beginning, our client identifies and agrees on a time frame to review and approve content, and if they “go dark,” we have permission to publish the content without feedback. That process and relationship don’t happen overnight, but once our client trusts us and we’ve collaborated on a few pieces together, it’s worked well for us.
By engaging with high-quality, dependable writing teams and graphic designers, our clients know they can rely on us to not only get the job done but to do it well and without the need for endless back-and-forth that often delays the publishing schedule.”
“There are some big frustrations when it comes to the production of content for our clients. The biggest one is probably when clients are insistent about producing the content themselves, but they are only able to turn around 1 article a month. If we are looking to grow sites significantly, we are dependent upon publishing high quality content, building internal link silos, and developing authority in that niche. So we have an impetus to get content published in order to deliver on promises of organic growth.
Tom Crowe — Founder of Definitely Digital
Tip #6: You Can Only Scale If Your Process Lets You
“Searchbloom is an industry leading SEO & PPC company that focuses on building tight-knit relationships with our partners (not clients!) and always backs our work with a promise of ROI.
The biggest challenge Searchbloom has faced with our content creation process is finding an effective way to scale content production. The issues seem to multiply with every step you take down the rabbit hole:
- How do we create content across dozens of partners and industries?
- How do we ensure quality deliverables with minimal drafts and revisions?
- How do we ensure SEO best practices are followed with all pieces?
- If revisions are needed, how do we take care of them quickly without backing up writer workloads?
- How do we manage partner expectations?
- How do we create transparent communication between our content team and SEO analysts?
The list goes on and on.
Our solution has been an ever-evolving effort. We lean heavily on highly vetted, high-quality writers. It took time to find them and develop them, but the results speak for themselves. We’ve also evaluated our process at multiple points over the last few years for ways that we can make workflow more efficient. We take advantage of automation and proprietary software where we can, and have implemented a system that allows content projects to flow much more effectively, even with built-in checks for quality, SEO elements, and topicality.
The best advice I can give is to always look at your current process with a critical eye. If something isn’t working, find out why and fix it — or throw it out altogether. Content changes constantly, and so will a scalable content solution.”
“Content scaling is hard because it is subjective and it’s all about being in the same mindset as the writer you work with. If you can find a great writer who works with your system seamlessly, they are worth their weight in gold. If you don’t have a reliable, quality writer – then it’s going to be a long week.
The way to do it is through a super-detailed standard operating procedure and an editor acting as a middleman between the writer(s) and you. If you can work out a plan to follow, you will be able to analyze the effectiveness of the people you have and the results.
As you work through a procedure and get things figured out, you will go through a ton of writer testing (on average you will go through about 5 tests for 1 long-term hire) and it will test your patience. But if you keep at it, you will find good writers and you will eventually get the results you need!”
Julien Raby — Darcy Allan PR
“When we started, we would really try to create unique, client-specific content, but as we grew, that became almost impossible. So our next idea was to turn some of the content creation over to the client. However, this proved to be problematic for different reasons (deadlines, etc).
So the next step was to have content created for our clients based on industry, where we could edit their information into the content easily. This gives the content a “unique enough” feel, while making the creation process easier to scale.”
Joe Karasin — Director at Posh Detroit
Tip #7: Always Look For Unique Opportunities (Even When You Don’t Think You Need To)
“One of our biggest challenges when creating content at scale is making sure we create unique ideas for all clients, while minimizing crossover content ideas that could cannibalize the results from one client to another. To avoid this, it takes a high degree of planning and organization at all stages of the content development process.
Another challenge when creating content at scale is making sure the content is unique, relevant to the client and most importantly easily shareable. Anyone can churn out average content at a high rate, but it can take serious resources to create truly inspiring content. These resources come in the shape of time, money and hard-working content marketers.
Here’s how we overcome these challenges:
- Hire the right people who are qualified to get the job done.
- Set a timeline for deliverables so that we ensure that we have the bandwidth to effectively tackle all the projects in a timely manner.
- Set client expectations ahead of time about the budget and time needed to create something worth creating that aligns with their audience.
- Deliver! And then Deliver again!”
“The biggest challenge when creating a lot of content in such a short time is trying your best to make it unique. If you are covering the same topic for several different clients you can naturally feel like you’re basically plagiarizing your old work, and that’s never the case.
It’s difficult making content unique when you are SEO’ing content and need to not only stick in keyword phrases, but make it look natural as well. This is what makes SEO an art rather than a concept.”
“I think the biggest thing that’s overlooked when creating content at scale is that most agencies and companies are looking to produce so much content they forget about what was already produced in the past.
It’s important to do regular SEO audits to determine stale content, or content that’s just out of favor with Google and not resulting in any traffic. Maybe you can alter your approach and find better keywords to target and refresh the content.
That will keep your site fresh while also reducing your monthly content budget, as it will require less work to tweak older articles.”
Mario DeAlmeida — Head of SEO at Hot Head Tech
“My biggest challenge with content is the process of creating very technical pieces, like explaining oral surgery procedures.
Something I used to struggle with, and something many people struggle with, but which I’ve gotten to like is creating content for “boring” industries. There really is nothing boring, every niche, every topic appeals to someone.
There’s a video on Youtube put out by I believe it was Scotts or some lawn care company. They have a 5 or 6 minute video about how to stripe your lawn. On the surface that’s a pretty boring subject, but the video has something like 2.1 million views. There are Subreddits on Pressure Washing and Penmanship. Even the boring can be made interesting.
Another big challenge is clients not understanding how to communicate with their customers, average people. My dental client for example likes to pick apart language I use because it’s not technical enough, or not the medical term, but I try to explain to him that jargon and medical terminology mean nothing to the average consumer wanting to get a dental implant.
Another challenge is always writing in the voice of a client and having them agree with the voice you’re writing in. Your image or voice you have in mind oftentimes is not what they have in mind, but many are bad at communicating the voice they want.
John Frigo — Digital Marketing Lead at My Supplement Store
Find An Agency Content Solution Built To Work For You
Let’s get down to brass tacks here.
Running an agency is hard. And as you read above, there are countless challenges that come up in the day to day scuffle of creating content.
That’s why Verblio’s taken the time to think about how we can better serve the hardworking agencies in this world. In many ways, the insights you read above have shaped the service we are today.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Verblio can help you scale your content, we’d love to chat. Schedule a 30 minute demo with us and see for yourself!