Managing available resources at your digital marketing agency is tough!
This is especially true when it comes to content fulfillment for your clients.
At WordAgents, our agency partners are constantly asking for our opinion on the best content creation and editorial processes for maximum ROI.
This is a tough question to answer, as just about every agency we deal with approaches operations differently.
We reached out to digital marketing agency owners, executives, and decision makers that are absolutely dominating content creation to ask them:
How do you produce content for your agency clients?
Check out their answers below:
25 Agency Experts Reveal Their Content Creation Process
Adam Heitzman - HigherVisibility
We are very strategic about the content that is developed for our clients. Before any content is created, our typical process for most clients starts with keyword research. From there we are able to establish actual page targeting and determine that if we create content we have the ability to rank for it.
To provide our clients the best opportunity to improve their organic positioning, a key tactic in our process is to analyze both existing copy on core pages to ensure they are meeting the needs of both consumers and Google, in addition to identifying new page opportunities.
Once we establish keyword targeting, we develop comprehensive content outlines analyzing the top ranking sites for that primary keyword(s). Lastly, we compare what the competition does and use that to develop strategic ideation on how we can adjust or create copy to be better aligned with the websites that already perform well for those term(s).
Our content team is comprised of Content Specialists, Sr. Content Specialists, Copy Writers, & Editors.
Alex Ratynski - RatynskiDigital
When it comes to content fulfillment, I take it very seriously. In my opinion, content is one of the most important (if not the most important) pieces of any website. At the end of the day, no website is going to perform very well if the content is not amazing. So in order to guarantee the quality of the content we provide to our clients, we follow a very structured process.
Generally, it follows a simple 6 steps:
We begin every content project with thorough keyword research to make sure that whatever we are creating is perfectly aligning with the audience of our clients, and the topics that they are searching for. This generally involves choosing a focus KW, common questions people are asking on the topic, and analyzing the top 3-5 competitors around the KW/Topic.
Creating an outline
Once we’ve gathered the necessary information we begin creating an outline for ourselves.
This generally includes the following:
- Main Sections
- H Tags we will use
- Articles/resources we will link out to
- A brief summary of each section
- Mapping out the best order & natural flow
Writing the first draft
Now that we have a solid outline created, it’s time to get to work. The goal here is to dump as much of the content in our heads onto the paper. The hardest part is getting it out, so we try not to worry about grammar or punctuation at this point.
Editing & Proofreading
At this phase, it’s time to go through the first draft with a fine-tooth comb and fix any issues with punctuation, grammar, flow etc… We then have an additional party review the content and offer their input.
Once we’ve gathered all of this information, it’s time to create the final polished up piece of content that will be ready for the client to review.
Whether we publish it immediately or deliver it to our client for review, step 6 is our favorite step because we know we’ve given it our absolute best.
Ali Schwanke - SimpleStrat
We use a combination of in-house writers and contractors (or services that help connect us with contracting resources).
Ideally, we're creating a strong editorial calendar that's driven by a desired outcome, such as establishing the client as an expert in a particular topic.
Then, an account strategist or content strategist will outline the strategy of what topics we want to tackle, the volume and competitive landscape of specific keywords, what specific point of view our client can add to the content conversation, and how we might approach the topic to give it the best appeal and promotion value to the target audience.
Content briefs are a must, where we summarize all of this information, and then present it to the writer. We review drafts with them, discuss appropriate use of graphics and visual ads, which are designed and incorporated to break up the text and provide a stimulating content experience.
Finally, our internal team optimizes the post for upload, and then launch a promotion plan once its live.
Amanda Thomas - KonstructDigital
As a digital marketing agency primarily focused on SEO, the content we produce is typically focused on search intent.
Step 1: Strategy
This stage occurs long before we start writing. At this stage our primary goals are to understand the user/purchase funnel and define key user personas. This helps us in our later steps where we map content ideas to funnel stages and then further along, write specifically to the target persona.
Step 2: Content Planning
We follow a topic pillar-cluster strategy when it comes to content planning. Working with the client we seek to understand what the “pillars” are, then work on building out full cluster ideas. At this stage, the SEO team is heavily involved in SEO keyword research. Keywords are not only assessed for volume and difficulty, but also for search intent and where that might align with the user funnel.
From here, we’ll map out a rough content calendar.
Step 3: Writing
Here’s where we start putting “pen to paper”. A brief will be prepared by a content strategist for a member of our writing team that includes: (1) target persona, (2) search intent, (3) target keywords, (4) target length, and (5) a rough outline with section ideas.
Our writers will then get to work on producing the content. To assist with the writing and ensuring we get excellent topic coverage, we’ll often use tools like Clearscope and the SEMrush writing assistant. Our goal is to write content that users love, while also nailing keyword relevance.
Step 4: Editing and Refining
At this stage, the article goes back to the content strategist for final editing and refinement. Sometimes at this stage there might be a bit of back-and-forth between the strategist and writer.
The article title is iterated on at this time, typically producing 2-3 options.
Step 5: Approvals
Like the step suggests, at this stage the content goes to the client for approval. Often at this stage there might be some minor updates required.
Step 6: Design
Custom design assets can really help lift the visual appear of a piece of content. We also design these for maximum share-ability and SEO value.
After this stage, final approvals are obtained.
Step 7: Content Launch
Our content launch process is critical to content success, we follow a checklist similar to the following:
- Outbound and inbound internal linking (for the pillar-cluster strategy)
- On-page SEO (sub checklist of 6 items)
- Draft publish and internal review
- Final publish
- Submit URL to GSC
Step 8: Post Launch Promotion
Depending on the scope of the project and article intent, there may be a parallel process where a content promotion strategy is implemented. We won’t get in to the details here, but I thought this step was worth mentioning as often the most successful content have promotion efforts behind them. This could be as simple as strategic social sharing, or have well thought out outreach plans.
Andrew Peluso - Bananas Marketing Agency
For context, we’re a small agency of under 10 people. Our content team consists of two content managers, two writers, and an outsourced design partner. The tools we use are Google Docs, Google Sheets, Grammarly, Hemingway, and Clearscope. We also use Asana for project management.
First, our content strategist creates a content brief. The content brief has information about the client, the target audience, the topic, helpful resources the writer may use, an outline of the article, and a link to a Clearscope report for our target keyword. If it’s a guest post, we include the target link and ideal anchor text we would like included in the article. If it’s being published to the client’s blog we include any internal articles we would like linked to and the anchor text we want to be used.
A link to the content brief along with other information such as a due date, word count, and the progress stage is added to our Content And Assignment (CAT) document (a Google spreadsheet). The progress stages are updated as we go and include Not Started, In Progress, Draft 1-3 Review, Bananas Accepted, Sent To Publisher, and Publisher Accepted.
The writer who is the best fit for the topic is notified via Slack that a new assignment has been created. The writer is given a due date for the first draft and once complete notifies the content strategist via Slack who provides the writer with feedback. They go back and forth and updated the progress in the CAT document until we are satisfied with a final draft.
After we are happy with the content we send it to the client for final approval. Once approved by the client, we move on to design. A similar process to what is outlined above is done with our design partner.
When it comes to design, our clients are much more hands-off and we publish the content as soon as it is done.
Andrew Raso - Online Marketing Gurus
Content plays a fundamental role in our SEO campaigns, helping us achieve big goals for all our clients. So it’s no wonder we produce A LOT of content every month. From an operational and client success perspective, we’ve invested a lot of time in order to streamline the process as much as possible.
The start of any piece of content begins with our SEO Consultants - they’re hands on with developing and rolling out every strategy. At the start of every month, they’ll develop briefs which they’ll pass onto our Content Manager.
Our Content Manager assigns the most suitable writer for every client project, based on capacity and niche expertise. They’ll work closely with writers to ensure briefs are handed over and deadlines are met. Our team of Content Editors also offer feedback as necessary to ensure:
- Content meets the brief
- All spelling and grammar is correct
- Content meets onpage SEO best practices
- Contains a compelling CTA
- Tone and messaging is on point with the intended audience
Once reviewed, it’s back to our SEO consultants for rolling out the new content. Post publish, the goal is to see how each piece of content helps us meet campaign objectives - and whether it’s ultimately hitting the mark.
Arron George - Hipcat Society
At HipCat Society, we strategize, design, and create kickass websites for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Our website development process does all the heavy-lifting so our clients can sit back and watch the magic happen.
Part of our process involves content creation and acquisition. Within our Dev department, we have specific workflows for more efficient and consistent work. Here is a little insight:
Strategy - our in-house content strategist meets with the client via Zoom to discuss their vision, unique value proposition, and general goals. With a designer in tandem, they create a specific content strategy for the website.
Next, the design process begins. The main focus is on branding and, of course, photos and videos - everyone's favorite form of content!
During this time, our writers (in-house) use the content strategy to create and lay out the specific pages. They are supported by our eagle-eyed grammar checkers and development divas (in-house). This team checks that everything looks, reads, and feels PERFECT!
The final stage is optimizing and quality checking. The newly formed content is checked for spelling, grammar, and SEO optimization. The functionality of the website content and design is also checked.
If everything looks and feels right, we shoot it over to the client for feedback and approval. Then blast off, and the site is launched!
Blake Denman - RicketyRoo
We subscribe to content quality rather than quantity.
For ongoing content production for our clients, here is our typical approach:
Topic ideation: This can come in the form of a content gap analysis or general topic research using a few different third-party tools. Once we have a good grasp of topics, we send them to the client to prioritize the topics from more important to least important.
Content briefs: After the topic(s) are set, we'll create a content brief. The brief covers what pages are ranking for given keywords and why, potential link targets, related questions, and identifying unique SERP features that can be used. When the content brief(s) are finished, they are sent to the client for edits and approval.
Content writing: After the content brief(s) have been approved, we get to writing the content. Once the content is finished, it is QA'd by our Project Manager, then sent to the client for approval and final edits.
Content production: Once the content is approved, all imagery is created or gathered, and published on the client's website.
Content outreach: Depending on the content, we'll then start outreaching the content for the purpose of mentions, socials shares, and/or links. We allocate at least as much time as the whole content process took for content outreach.
Brad Smith - Codeless
Our primary service is content creation for clients. So it’s an in-depth process that includes a team of people. Here’s a high-level overview:
1. Subject-matter expert writers are chosen based on the client’s space. We actively work with a couple dozen writers, and our broader network numbers into the thousands, so we can usually cover the most common online spaces.
2. Our Director of Editorial oversees strategy and helps set the initial direction with the writer.
3. That includes not just the initial content type or outlines, but also assisting with determining search intent and what information should be answered in each piece. Here, we might use a combination of MarketMuse, Clearscope, and the good old fashioned SERP itself.
4. From there, each piece goes through a series of feedback loops for the content brief, outline, and draft reviews to make sure we’re on the same page as each client.
5. Meanwhile, our Account Managers coordinate the entire process, and handle all of the back-and-forth between our team, the client, and any additional resources like Designers or Developers.
Charlie Morley - MovementSEO
For me, this is always a process that is always being enhanced and improved upon and evolves as we create and publish more and more content.
We outsource all of the content we create with the bulk of the heavy lifting handled by writers we have built partnerships with over a number of years.
We find outsourcing content rather than having an in-house team of writers allows us to remain agile in the amount of content we can create as well as the scope of SEO tasks we're able to carry out on a month by month basis. Purley as an example, Months 1 through 3 may focus far more on technical or off-site tasks while Months 3+ may see us ramp up the publication of content. Outsourcing content means we can ramp up content creation when it matters.
In terms of our content creation process, our team is made up of:
- SEO for keyword research and competitor analysis including brief creation
- Outsourced writing team
- Proofreading handled by a separate writer
- Editor for content checks and improvements
- SEO for handling a final review, SEO tweaks and publication
To manage this process, we rely heavily on a Trello board for all members of the content creation process with cards moved along by the team member in charge of the content piece(s) at that time.
A master Google Sheet is also used but not necessary for all team members and is mainly worked on by our SEO team. This sheet is used for feeding in new ideas as well as updating individual content calendars for each client.
Chris Dreyer - rankings.io
Our organization is structured a bit differently than most digital agencies. We have two main functions: NEW content & EXISTING content functions.
The NEW branch is spearheaded by a Sr. Content Manager, who is the strategic arm of this branch. This individual is in charge of topic selection, quality, client specific style guides, minor editing, and proofing. The actual content production is done in conjunction with our strategic partners; our primary partner is Verblio. Verblio supplies us with account managers, licensed attorney editors, and a pool of writers from which to generate content. Outsourcing “production” allows us to keep a leaner team at Rankings, which is more strategic; it also allows us to scale on demand or throttle back when necessary. By using this model, we don’t always have to prime the pump and order content. We do so *IF* the client needs content, not because we have to do it.
Under the “EXISTING” branch, we utilize in-house writers who “upgrade” existing content. This way, the most important content for our clients is continually being improved. Most agencies order content and then they are on to the next topic in short order. We are perpetually revising our most important pages to keep them fresh (and continually improving the quality)...and thus, generally dominating our competition who don’t employ this tactic. We update statistics, apply local centric news, relevant testimonials, schema, and LSI keywords, improve the sub-headers and flow of the article, improve the internal links, and more.
At the end of the day, we’re focusing on quality over quantity. We evaluate (through retrospectives) which content is performing the best and why, as well as how we can apply those lessons to other pages.
Clayton Johnson - The Guerilla Agency
We like to give our clients individualized attention when it comes to our content creation process, so in theory, no two processes will look identical. That said, some foundational components ring true for nearly every editorial endeavor we take on.
Every client will receive a content strategy, which will look different depending on their budget and objectives. For content creation, we implement a Pillar & Cluster strategy used to craft blog or content focal points and build upon linking strategies. Here is where our content process truly begins, but it's by no means a one-person army.
We break our content team down into five roles:
- Account managers - are tasked with identifying any underlying client ""must-haves"" or unique requests such as industry language to include or avoid - along with tasking out work to the content team.
- Creative Director - creates content strategies centered around industry-specific needs, grey space in existing content, or new opportunities for growth through strategic linking. This is where a lot of the creative mapping or understanding of the Customer Journey gets delved into.
- Content writers - those responsible for researching and writing editorial content.
- Content editors/proofreaders - these team members ensure that there aren't any grammatical or structural issues that could negatively impact the success of the content and check for any client-specific needs.
- SEO specialists - we actually have our SEO specialists post client content, as they're familiar with the website's format, SEO technicalities, and overall site structure ""best practices."" Plus, it gives our content writers more time to work on what they do best: write!
Our content team meets once a week to go over any client-specific issues, workflow hurdles, creative content opportunities, and check-in with data and analytics to discuss where we could improve. We're big on collaboration — two heads are better than one.
We use task tools like Asana and Hourstack to track workflow and time to ensure that we're not overworking (or underworking) the content team. We also love Slack; it's a great way to keep communication flowing throughout the day — but it also plays an integral role in our content team workflow. Once a piece of content has made it past the proofreading phase, it gets posted in a special channel in Slack so that our SEO specialists know it's ready to be posted live (or scheduled).
The overall process from start to finish is a bit convoluted, but here's a brief overview of what a content writer's day may look like for existing client work (new client processes are a bit more involved and in-depth).
- Receives creative task - let's just say it's a blog
- Completes necessary research
- Writes blog
- Sends to proofreaders
- Proofreaders take a look and approve content
- Blog gets put into client folder and Slack channel
- SEO specialists formats and posts blog
There are a lot of moving pieces, and every content creative journey may have different jumping points or endings — but this is the general process here at The Guerrilla Agency.
Isaac Hammelburger - SearchPros
We typically have roles when it comes to content creation:
- Content Strategist
Our content strategist is in charge of coming up with the overall topics, usually by running a gap analysys. Once a topic has been approved they out together an outline using SurferSEO where we'll write out the main keyword to focus on, a general outline of questions to explore. Well then pass this onto the writer.
Using SurferSEO the writer then gets to work. We outsource our actual copywriting using industry experts rather than in house writers.
Once the draft has been completed it's sent to our editor who edits, proofreads and then sends it to the client for final approval.
James Norquay - Prosperity Media
At Prosperity Media we work for a selection of mid to enterprise level sites we also work with large affiliate properties. We also run our own affiliate assets. We are specialised and focused on SEO as a channel.
Currently our content team is broken down into the following:
1. In-house Editors: The in-house editors take care of editing content which is written by our internal team and freelance writers who work with our team.
2. In-house content writers: We have a team of in-house writers who assist with content production for clients and for our own affiliate properties.
3. Freelance content writers: The freelance writers are based in Australia and assist our team with content production.
4. In-house SEO Team: The in-house SEO team takes care of the keyword research, finds content opportunities and also provides content briefs for the writers.
We usually complete keyword research/ competitive keywords analysis and find low competition content. We also focus on content upgrades for established clients. Our in-house SEO team provides Content briefs for the writers.
All writers we work with either in-house or freelance are trained to use Clearscope or Surfer SEO for writing content using the content editor tools.
Jason Berkowitz - Break The Web
Our inbound marketing agency uses a proven editorial process to produce keyword-focused, engaging content for our clients. Our goal is to meet the client’s vision for the piece while staying on top of industry trends and considering the reader’s stage in the buyer’s journey.
Here’s a detailed look at our content creation process:
1) The project is initiated in our project management tool, Click Up, which allows our team to collaborate and stay organized during every stage of creating the content deliverable.
2) Next, our in-house SEO Specialist does the keyword research to find the best opportunities for search queries our client could rank for. This involves finding terms that are relevant to our client, engaging, and consider whether the potential reader is at the top, middle, or bottom of the buyer’s journey. They also look at what the client’s competitors are writing about and considers whether the query is informational or transactional focused. The “People Also Ask” feature on Google and content analysis tools are also used to find semantically relevant topics to include in the piece.
3) Then, our SEO specialist creates a brief or outline for the content deliverable based on the above parameters and hands it off to our in-house Content Specialist. Our Content Specialist spends a good deal of time doing some deep research into the topic and focuses on creating a flowing, engaging content piece that matches query intent and the SEO content analysis done by our SEO Specialist.
4) The content deliverable is then passed back to the SEO Specialist for a second set of eyes and review from an SEO standpoint. He also looks for additional opportunities to add internal links and external links within the piece to support relevancy and authority.
5) Finally, the content deliverable is handed off to our Account Strategist for a third set of eyes. The Account Strategist gives the piece one final quality check, uploads it to our internal trackers and Click Up, and then sends it on to the client for approval and posting to their website.
Having a documented content creation editorial process is the best way to ensure that every piece we deliver meets the highest standards for SEO, user experience, and overall quality. It ensures that our entire team has the opportunity to provide valuable input and catch any issues before the content deliverable is ever presented to our client.
Jero Esguerra - Hidden Link Studios
At Hidden Link Studios, we aim to be proactive rather than reactive, especially when it comes to our content strategy. We create our content strategies on a quarterly basis. We do this so we can stay on track to reach our quarterly and annual goals.
Our first step is to start the ideation process. We set a publishing calendar that includes timelines for outlines, drafts, and publish dates to keep an efficient schedule for content production.
Before we begin content production, we create detailed content briefs that outline the posts with expectations, voice, audience, length, keyword targets, and extra resources to review.
Once the outline has been approved, we pass off the writing to a vetted and trusted team of content writers (Word Agents).
Although we outsource some of the content product, we have internal team members that conduct the content ideation, strategy, editing and optimizations. This is to ensure that the content we produce for our clients are still up to our standards and allow us to have control of the final product.
Once the content has been drafted, our team edits the content and makes any necessary optimizations. The final draft is published by one of our team members and our account managers notify the client about the newest post.
Kane Jamison - Content Harmony
Our team goes through broad keyword research and content gap analysis to build out editorial calendar suggestions that match client goals.
Once topics to be covered are approved, they move into a content brief stage.
Our content briefs have gotten more specific over the years, which is why we decided to build out our process as standalone content brief software. There are far more elements to research to produce content that properly matches user intent and can actually rank, and specific outlines tend to get writer results that are a closer match to what we want, so it's worthwhile to put that effort in upfront.
From there we go through a production cycle involving writers, editors, design team, and subject matter review, before a final proofread and first draft delivery to clients. There is generally a set of revision requests, and then the content is ready for production and staging, and finally publication and promotion.
Because the only thing our agency team does is content marketing programs for clients, we have an elaborate Airtable pipeline for tracking deliverables by client, status, etc. We also push non-content deliverables through the pipeline as well (eg keyword strategy docs) to make sure they show up in the final accounting of projects/objectives completed for that client.
Lloyd Silver - ContentRamp
At ContentRamp, we help our clients create remarkable content by using our C4 Framework: Craft. Connect. Capture. Convert.
As a content marketing agency, some might find it odd that we don't actually write content in-house. Instead, we choose to focus on our core strengths of content strategy, optimization, and promotion while using resources like WordAgents to handle the actual writing.
It all begins with a thorough understanding of our client's customer avatar - who are they selling to and what will drive that person (or business) to buy through our client. We break down the entire customer journey and figure out what questions need to be answered and what information needs to be provided along the way. This helps formulate our content strategy.
Each piece of content needs to move that customer along the customer journey and get them one step closer to buying. We create detailed briefs that ensure the content not only connects with the audience, but will also be remarkable in the eyes of Google and other search engines. We spend several hours creating and refining our briefs using our proprietary research methods on top of using custom machine learning tools. These briefs are provided to the writer and graphics team. We manage the content production and ensure our vision is captured in the final piece.
But just creating a well-optimized article isn't enough. Our goal isn't just to drive visitors, but to capture leads and customers. So we implement strategies to encourage that reader to take action. That might be visiting an important page on the website, downloading a ""content upgrade"", opting in to an offer, scheduling a meeting, or other conversion events.
Finally, we run each piece of written content through our content atomization process where we create up to 40 different ""micro-versions"" to be used in social media, third party sites, video sites, podcasts, and more. This allows us to take our content and get it in front of even more potential customers throughout the web.
This is how we create remarkable content that not only drives traffic, but supports lead generation and customer conversion efforts.
Matthew Laurin - Esq.marketing
Our content production follows a two part process:
Strategic development: This phase involves interviews with the client to understand what types of cases they want to bring in, how they want to portray their expertise, and more basic information like voice, tone, frequency of content production, etc.
During strategy development, we’re also doing keyword research and identifying top of the funnel phrases that can attract potential clients to a blog. It’s also important to point out that strategy isn’t always about what we are going to “make” but also what might need to be pruned from a site. We’ve seen some blogs that just have way too many pages that aren’t working hard to get rankings.
Production and publishing: Once we have topics nailed down, we use strategic partners to generate well-researched and useful content. We provide copy writers with the strategy and keywords we’ve developed and they produce content according to those specs. Once it’s finished, it’s sent to the client for review.
After approval we publish on the client’s site. This part of the process also leverages onsite SEO expertise for internal linking, formatting, and other optimization best practices.
At a macro level, all strategy and onsite SEO is tightly controlled and done in-house. We leverage strategic partners to do some of the footwork of generating content using strict quality control measures.
All that being said, that’s in an ideal world. Every client is different and each client has different needs. Some of our clients want to produce their own content and need help with proper publishing techniques while others are more or less hands off. I believe as an agency you have to accommodate those needs within reason and be flexible.
After all, it’s the clients brand reputation that’s at stake and not ours.
Nick LeRoy - Nick LeRoy Consulting
We exclusively work with contractors for creating our content at NLC. However, we don't just throw keywords at our writers and expect them to WOW us with an amazing piece of content.
We have our own process and template for building customized content briefs that are included for each piece of content. Within this brief we include the standard topical theme, relevant keywords and meta data.
We don't stop at the basic meta data we also unsure the writer has access to the content that's currently performing best in Google but direction on the type of content ranking (heavy text article, vs lists vs commercial landing page). This helps establish an expectation with our writers for what we are looking for.
After the content is received we review for accuracy and add any additional opportunities to optimize (internal links typically). Then it gets put in the queue for publishing.
Skyler Reeves - Ardent Growth
Once topics have been chosen and agreed upon with the client, we begin crafting content briefs using Clearscope. Clearscope helps us:
- Identify what the current competitive landscape looks like
- Search intent
- How we should structure our content (use of headings, key topics, etc.)
- Related search areas
- Types of images
We also use tools like AlsoAsked and Answer the Public to hit other key questions we may have missed during the research process. These are especially helpful for creating a mini FAQ on most information pages so we can purposefully include FAQSchema.
Some clients have their own internal writers. In those cases we send them the brief and don’t have to worry too much on the brand voice since they’re already familiar with it.
For clients without internal writers, we’ll often work with a third-party writing service like WordAgents or other vendors if the subject matter is more niche or requires specially trained individuals (like doctors, attorneys, or engineers).
Cost is rarely a factor for us here as we absolutely refuse to sacrifice quality for margins — content is just too important to the overall success of a site to skimp on price just to save a few dollars.
Once we receive the draft back, we review and edit it before sending it to the client for approval. After they’ve approved the draft we send it to the SEO team to be optimized. The SEO team will finalize things like:
- Title and heading optimization
- URL (slug) choice
- Verify that it matches search intent
- Internal and external linking
- Keyword usage
- Alt text optimization
Finally it gets sent to the UX design team who clean up the paragraph formatting, image usage and placement, as well as adding in custom elements like interactives, callouts, video embeds, etc.
The client gets one final opportunity to review the complete piece and once approved it gets scheduled for publication and put into the pipeline for upcoming promotion and outreach efforts.
Stephen Sumner - Optimise Agency
We use a mixture of our own freelancers in our network and have also happily used WordAgents when we are maxed out with content requests.
Our process depends on the situation but an example of how we tend to deal with writers looks something like this...
- Discussion with the writer about search terms, topics and intent.
- We will research the topic and use 3rd party tools to analyse existing content in the SERPs
- Pulling together our search terms, data from 3rd party tools we will create a content brief for the writer that gives them a guide to the structure of the writing we want, topics and sub-topics, Q&A items, tone and intent.
- The brief is shared with the writer and we typically have a 5-minute chat via Skype or Zoom to ensure everything is understood.
- Depending on the brief the writing is returned to us for a manual review and we will also run it through a tool or two to check on whether the writing standard is where we want it to be based on what we saw in the competitive SERPs and also tapping into some of the amazing AI-based technology that is becoming more and more widespread in 3rd party tools. Normally there isn't too much back and forth between us and the writers as they know what we are after and we have an initial call to iron-out any questions but we might return the document for a revision at this stage based on what the tools tell us.
- Review, sign-off and then present to the client along with image and other media recommendations.
- During this process, we will have also discussed and planned a content promotion sequence with the client and any other collaborators such as Social Media teams and email marketing.
Steve Brownlie - Reach Creator
As a specialist link agency, Reach Creator, has much more narrow content requirements than a broader SEO agency. As a result we were able to build a custom CMS using Django to manage the workflow efficiently.
It's effectively a 'black box' to the outreach and PR consultants as their needs are fulfilled and it doesn't matter to them whether it was a specialist piece we outsourced to WordAgents of if it was picked up by our pool of freelancers before being edited and coming back to them.
We tend to prefer to outsource pieces that are outside our core mission - so if a client needs a long research piece we'll typically outsource that rather than tie up our internal system with it. That's done in a transparent way - our clients know we collaborate with WordAgents on those types of pieces, for example.
Tara Hunt - Phlywheel
Our content production process starts long before publishing with research and insights - into the audience, competitors and industry as a whole. Through our discovery phase, we find out what your core audience is looking for and how we can get in front of them, trying to find a sweet spot for content that is not well covered by competitors.
The insights from this research power the overall editorial strategy, which could take the form of a digital publication, a video series, a podcast series, social media, event series, and/or even a print magazine! It all depends on the audience and their preferences.
Once we have the editorial mission and direction set out, we go to work on creating a calendar that aligns with tentpole events for the client as well as applicable industry seasons. We ran a publication for REALTOR.ca, for instance, and actual seasons played a big role in the editorial. We created various web series (video series, podcasts, blogs) for a financial services company and year-end and tax season were big tent pole events. For another client, Nokia (we run futurithmic.com), seasons aren't as relevant and we plan around big industry events (MWC) and their own launches and priorities.
After the overall calendar is mapped out with general topics, we start planning about 6 weeks out for the actual article or multi-media piece. The focused topic gets chosen and we either assign the writing to a subject matter expert (in the case of telecommunications, for instance), a client representative (in the case of financial services), or we write something ourselves (for REALTOR.ca, where we had subject-matter expertise in-house).
In the case of an article, we like to be ready to publish at least 2 weeks out in case of any issues. Videos about 3 weeks out. And so on. The articles go through 2 rounds of edits with our own internal editing team and, then, the client to give final sign-off. After the article/video/podcast is ready, we’ll create the social posts and present these to the client as well.
Any further graphics or image sourcing that needs to be done will be the final step. These are also edited internally, then with the client before everything is “locked and loaded” for posting. We aim to have all final approvals complete at least a week in advance of posting so we have lots of room for real-time, spontaneous ideas to sprout. We spend a lot of time listening to the audience, even long after the initial research is done. You never know what opportunities may come up to engage with content!
Tim Brown - Hook Agency
We often do 2-3 rounds of edits for each piece of content, and being many of our clients are in the construction niche, it allows us to get better serving those particular clients, and not adjusting our process too much to serve outliers (crazy complicated industries with super specific content tastes.) Our systems around education, tools, and editing – allow us to level up regularly, take care of the SEO stuff, but first and foremost focus on creating better human-focused content that surprises and delights readers.
Ideally every blog article we read would be a 10 out of 10 – but I ask our writers to at least create one epic, full-blooded piece of content they are insanely proud of each week.
Education: We are taking a course together about comedic script writing, and the principle of leveling up regularly is the key for us to make sure our content is constantly adding more value – whether that be entertainment, or quickly giving actionable tips.
Tools: We also use several tools during our process, including Surfer SEO which helps us identify keyword density, keywords in headings, etc. Rankmath also provides some of that information, and Grammarly helps us stay on track for grammar and spelling.
Editing: We have 3 internal writers – who have feedback loops in place for making sure there content is getting better. They have an 'editing board' where they each take turns editing each others content – we also have them present to our team on new copywriting methods, and how to keep people's interest longer on blog posts.
How Does YOUR Digital Marketing Agency Produce Content?
The responses from the experts above are jam-packed with insightful knowledge.
- Research is essential in helping the content creator understand the readers' pain points.
- There are several roles in the content creation process, such as Content Creator, Proofreader, Editor, and Content Implementation.
- Efficient content production workflows are absolutely necessary.
- Tools like Clearscope and SurferSEO make content optimization easy.
- Agencies use a mix of in-house and outsourced writers.
Do the content creation processes used by our experts align with how you're producing articles for clients at your agency?
Share your content creation strategies in the comments below!
Hey, I'm Vin. Founder and CEO of WordAgents.com. I create content that ranks really well on search engines for our clients. I'm also deeply involved with the SEO community; maintaining a portfolio of successful, profitable affiliate websites. You can find me playing guitar, drinking scotch, and hanging out with my German Shorthaired Pointer when I'm not working!