When you have a website portfolio that is growing, either by you buying established websites or you building them – content is going to be apart of the puzzle.
Content production is something we at Hekkup has had a struggle with since our methodology of writing content is to be on top of all competitors in terms of word count. In this article, we will share how we sorted that.
Is word count a ranking factor?
Within the SEO world, there are many opinions around topics such as keyword density, CTR as a ranking factor and word count being a thing to consider.
I won’t go into the debate about the first two in this specific post, but I want to add my two cents on what I think about word count and how one should treat that.
First, let’s dig deeper into our methodology.
At Hekkup, we have a keyword research system where we start by extracting all possible keywords and sorting them into keyword groups.
After we’ve figured out all topics we will cover on that site, we google the most-searched-for keyword of that keyword group (in incognito, of course!).
We then count all the words on each page and see which of the top 10 articles has the most words. We write this into our keyword sheet and add 500-1000 words to our own content order for that specific article.
Some of our articles are 15,000 words. It’s insane.
But it works. It works really, really well – and yet isn’t being talked about much in the SEO space.
Is word count a ranking factor?
No, word count is not a ranking factor.
However, if you stand head to head with a competitor, other things being equal, but you have 500 words more, you’ll win.
Google loves to serve users with the best answer to a specific query. And while Google is getting smarter – it will always have an algorithm that you can fool.
Also, another plus with lengthy articles is that you cover way more keywords, naturally.
You can read about our affiliate site building methodology here.
Ok, enough about our methodology and my thoughts.
Why content became a bottleneck for us
We’ve seen great growth in all our sites during the last year. And due to that have had to lay down SOPs, hire VAs, automate the most time-consuming tasks and spend hours-upon-hours on interviewing new writers.
When going from 4 websites to 32 websites since January, one has to really ramp up the content production.
We, as anyone would, turned to our current content agency and asked if they could help us. The answer we got was.
Ok, that’s not true, their answer was more like “Oh, that won’t be possible, but we can up it to 300 000 words per month”.
Unfortunately, for us, 300 000 doesn’t cut it.
We had to build a team.
Building a content team
We started where we usually start: on Upwork and on Facebook groups.
This got us at least 100 potential writers.
The interviewing phase
We started by interviewing each and specifically asking them three really simple questions.
- How much do you charge per 1000 words?
- How many words are you able to produce per month?
- Do you have any samples?
These questions help us first get a sense of how much they are asking for per 1000 words. We try to get people around $15-20 per 1000 words, which seems like a fair amount – it gives us a good pool of interested writers, without exhausting our capital too much.
Output per month
Then we want to know how much they are able to produce per month. This is good to know since we ideally want as few writers as possible, but we want to be able to max out the output to grow our websites as quickly as possible.
If you’re looking to produce 1,000,000 words per month, then you’d need 31 writers each doing 30,000 words per month to reach it.
However, if you find writers who can do 200,000-300,000 words per month, you only need 4-5 writers. I always skip those saying 30,000 words per month unless their samples are exceptional.
Keep in mind, the numbers writers tell you are usually far from what they are able to produce. Some people overestimate how many words they are able to write each month.
With the samples, you get a sense of their quality by just reading them. Samples they send will be their best work, so don’t accept any recurring grammar or spelling issues. Skip those.
The ones you have left are the ones going over to the next phase.
The sample phase
So while we’ve seen their writing quality, we really need to test it.
Here we should ask for a test article, at 300-500 words. This will be a paid assignment, but rest assured, it is well worth it.
This is the text we send:
"Before we collaborate with any writer/agency, we ask them for a test article. This ensures that the quality is as per our expectations.
If you are okay with that, here is the test topic.
Topic: Best Toaster
Structure of the test article:
- Intro (100 words)
- Factors to look for while buying the product, 2 factors (100 words each)
- Pick two products from amazon.com and write 100 words on each of them."
This is the structure of the test article. If all goes well, we assign the first buyer guides. But before that, it is very critical for us to evaluate the quality.
Seeing how they perform here is crucial. This will give you a great example of how the writing will be once you assign them with actual articles.
The hiring phase
Once you’ve found the perfect candidates it is time to hire them.
If you’re using Upwork, this one is easy. You simply hire them and assign the first milestone.
If it is through Facebook then you have to come to terms with payment method of your choice. This is easy as well, just make sure to keep this process tidy and set up a way for you to keep track of the writers output and how much you will pay per 1000 words. An Excel sheet should be enough for this.
So, you’ve found your writers. Congrats, that was the easy part. Now it’s time for managing.
How do you manage 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 writers, you may ask?
A Master Tracker for all Content topics (Google Sheets)
And a bit of Google docs.
And a few VAs.
And a few proofreaders.
Let me explain!
Now you want to manage this in a proper way to make it time-effective.
Otherwise you could spend all hours of the day managing a team of 30, to make sure the content machine never stops. And this would be a waste of time for you, and harm the growth of your assets.
A. Setting up folders on Google Drive
Once we have the writers, we ask them for their emails and then set up folders for them on our company Google drive.
These folders would have the articles written by them.
You’d notice that the process is completely online (no offline Word docs), this allows us to have a seamless flow in the process and keep everything transparent, for the writers and ourselves.
B. Setting up the Trello board
Okay, so we have the content plan with details of keyword groups, word count, references, and whatnot.
How do we pass the info to the writer?
This is where Trello comes in.
We set up a Trello Board for the content writing team. Each writer would have a list on his/her name and they would have access to the board.
The cards are done by the VAs as the task is straight-forward and repetitive in nature.
We make a Trello list named “To Be Assigned” for each website and the VA makes the card and puts them under that list.
We just have to move the card to the respective writer as per the content plan.
Here’s an example on how our Trello looks like (a lot of detailss are hidden for obvious reasons).
C. Master tracker in Google Sheets for all sites
To make the process smoother, we make use of a master tracker for all our websites.
This sheet would have the content plan + other additional details (like shown in the picture below) for all our sites.
We use color codes so that the process is standardized and understood by everyone in our team.
Honestly, these minor things makes a LOT of difference, let me explain how.
All topics that require cards is marked blue initially, the VA takes note of this and then starts making the cards.
Once done, the VA makes those topics (rows) yellow, this indicates to us that the cards are ready for those topics. We then assign it to writers as per the plan and change the color to orange.
The link is attached to the document as soon as the article is submitted and then assigned for proofreading.
Each step is recorded as shown in the image above, this means anyone from our team can check the sheet and understand the content status for our projects.
Once the topic is completed, proofread and uploaded on WP, the row will look like the image below.
This sums up the complete process we follow at Hekkup. We manage more than 15 freelancers + content agencies with the aforementioned process without spending a dime on any fancy paid tools.
A few closing tips
- When it comes to the initial phase of a content writer/content agencies, we refrain from assigning bulk content. This allows us to vet out the ‘Good sample – bad content’ type of agencies and freelancers. Bulk content orders are placed only after they have passed the quality test with first few good articles. (Fun fact – we’ve let go off 20% of the writers after the initial test and these had sent us AMAZING test samples)
- Proofreaders! We can’t stress enough on the importance of getting the content proofread. We have seen bland content with a grammarly score of ’99’, which is why it is very important to have a human eye read though the content at least once.
- Be transparent and keep the vibe positive by addressing all the questions posed by the writers. We also make resources for some commonly asked questions on Trello.
It’s time to take action and push as many words as possible to your affiliate websites.
Our process makes it easy to hire, implement, push and track status for any content plan.