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 methology.
At Hekkup, we have 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 methology and my thoughts.
We’ve seen great growth on 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.
We started where we usually start: on Upwork and on Facebook groups.
This got us at least a 100 potential writers.
We started by interviewing each, and specifically asking them three really simple questions.
These questions help us first get a sense 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 much words they are able to write each month.
With the samples you get a sense of their quality by just reading it. 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 is the ones going over to the next 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.
Before we collaborate with any writer/agency, we ask them for a test article. This is ensure that the quality is as per our expectation.
If you are okay with that, here is the test topic.
Topic: Best Toaster
Structure of the test article:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.