In this edition of Ask An SEO, Zach from Wichita writes us:
“How would an SEO specialist write concise content for an industry expert who has little writing experience?
Or how should my company structure the content writing process when we have SEO people, industry experts, and content writers / editors?
Great question, Zach. Before we dig into the content brief, I have a question: Do people who have little writing experience do the writing?
Sure, some have natural talents and instincts for that. But many people would rather accept a dental job without sedation than have to write articles, blog posts, or some other form of content for their work.
Once again, I see that forcing topic experts to write – even on topics that they are passionate about – fails at every turn.
Your topic experts tend to spend more time than skilled writers on that piece.
Thought marketing was asking them to do it. Thought they’re semi-purchased because they like the potential of thought leadership but they still experience frustration from the writing process.
They’re stressed and can be angry because this is another task on their to-do list.
So let’s tackle this piece first.
- 1 Setting Your Topic Experts & SEO Writers Up For Success
- 2 Tips & Tricks For SEO Content Creative Briefs
- 3 Bringing It All Together For SEO-Friendly, Expert-Led Content
Setting Your Topic Experts & SEO Writers Up For Success
I have been ghostwriting for over 15 years. This is the first thing I always ask new writers that I want:
“How can I facilitate this for you? How do you want this process to look?”
Then I will ask questions to know the best way to take the knowledge and skills of the topic from his head and into mine.
The first thing you can do to set up your topic experts and writers for a productive and collaborative relationship is to give them the freedom to define their own process.
I used to create content for the Polar Expedition brand. For content generation purposes, I regularly interviewed their polar experts. Most of these people worked on Arctic and Antarctic expeditions a good piece of the year.
Ever tried to interview a polar bear researcher in Russia who only receives a phone call once a week?
What if a penguinologist (that’s the real thing!) Who spends several months at a time circulating Antarctica collecting penguin poop and feathers for DNA studies?
It’s the case: whether writing as a polar expert, software engineer, C-level executives, SEO thought leader, or real estate agent (to name just a few), I’ve found that every topic expert has their own preferences on how to share. that knowledge.
Some experts get too nervous about being interviewed to do well in face-to-face conversations about the topic.
Others like nothing more than to talk about their areas of expertise.
The important thing is that your topic experts understand some key things about this relationship.
This is what you as the leader of this initiative need to convey to the experts, and also build into the process that you share:
1. Trust that the writer is here to help you.
Dear Sir or Madam Expert: This will not be an exposition. We bring in author (s) who specialize in creating content that is optimized to tell your story in the best possible way.
The goal is to write articles that match your skill level.
They are literally here to make you look good.
It will save you time and help people take all the most important topic knowledge out of your head and into the paper in a way that search engines and readers alike can find and appreciate it.
2. You choose how we work together.
Would you like to submit an outline, continue some writing or research that inspires you, schedule an interview, share a previously published work? Let’s do it.
Or do you need project management assistance, a video conferencing platform, or assistance for scheduling?
We will provide resources (allow budget) to make it easier for you to tell your story.
3. You get the final say on everything.
Yes, it can be scary to give permission to someone to write as you.
Don’t worry: you as our topic experts receive the final signs of anything that comes out in your name.
And for you as the leader of this process: make sure that reviews and approvals are really built into your editorial workflow so that these important steps are never missed.
A Few Quick Notes On Process
If we boil this into a step-by-step process, you can look like this:
* Zach, I noticed that you said, “content writer / editor” in your question, and I hope it’s a typo. These are not the same people.
Your content always needs a second set of eyes before publication.
Editors will check the facts of the author’s work, run copyright checks, optimize for search, ensure content complies with your brand’s style guidelines, and edit to use language, tone, structure, and more.
In large organizations, the editing process may include separate editors for mechanical editing, substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading.
Alternatively, some types of editing can be handled by one person.
What is important is that your company understands what is involved in the issuance process and each check is built in some time.
That’s what it takes now to get in the competitive SERPs where skill, authority, trustworthiness, accuracy, and other quality of top-performing content stake the table.
Now, to your question about how SEO specialists will create a brief.
Tips & Tricks For SEO Content Creative Briefs
I’m going to tell you the secret that a lot of people are wrong.
No one cares about what to say; it’s all about what your readers need to hear.
Too often, writers are given a brief that is little more than a laundry list of things that experts (or more often, colleagues in marketing and PR) want to say.
This is how the content is created by the company that strongly becomes the person at the party who persuades you and tells you about him and how great he is until you sleep the bathroom break and return early.
A good content summary includes a bit of the “here’s what we want to say.”
Your writer can take this understanding of what you are looking for, for who it is, and what to look for and add all the rich insights that should be shared by topic experts.
That’s where the magic happens.
Bringing It All Together For SEO-Friendly, Expert-Led Content
If I had to wrap this up in a single sentence, my answer to your original question would be this: Get every person involved in your content creation process to do what they’re best at.
Don’t force your topic experts to interrupt on a blank screen if they don’t want to write.
Don’t expect your writer to inherently know SEO; invest in people who do or in training you up.
Don’t ask the writer to read your expert mind or write fluff PR.
If you want to produce high-quality, expert content at scale, treat your content workflow as a publishing operation.
Make sure all parties have the input they need; that your SEO insights, company goals, audience needs, and skills seen in a brief are clear to the writer.
Support your content creator with an editorial process that will prevent issues that cause headaches about copyright or other errors that could harm your brand.
The results are worth it if you have a steady flow of well-written, expert-led content optimized for discovery and conversion right out of the gate.
Editor’s note: Ask SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been selected by Search Engine Journal. Have questions about SEO? Fill out our form. You can see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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