Over the past few months, our Project Manager Deep Shah has been on a mission to train our content writers to think like search engines. Learn more about his training process which involves SEO workshops, retrospectives and more.
How We Trained Our Content Writers to Think Like Search Engines
Author: Deep Shah, Project Manager
At SUSO, we believe that SEO content should be engaging for human readers, but also stand the test of the time by being search engine-friendly. As Project Manager, I’ve spent the past few months on a mission to put my theory of training content writers to think like search engines into practice.
In this article, I’ll outline how I worked closely with our content team to create a bespoke training schedule that lasted over four months.
Content SEO Competency Matrix
The first thing I did was put together a content SEO competency matrix for each of our content writers to fill out before we started the training.
I asked each writer to score each item on the matrix with a confidence level from 1 (Not Confident) to 5 (Expert). The idea here was to identify potential SEO topics, skills, concepts and tools that our writers perhaps weren’t as confident with.
I then pooled their scores together to calculate an average confidence level for each item on the matrix. This helped me identify which areas of SEO we needed to focus on during the training programme.
If you want to do the same, here’s a template that you can use too!
The SUSO Method: Our Very Own Interactive SEO Textbook
In 2020, we launched our very own SEO textbook titled The SUSO Method which covers fifteen advanced SEO modules, fourteen interactive quizzes, case studies, real life examples and supplementary video content.
I hand-picked important topics and chapters from The SUSO Method to serve as the basis for the training schedule.
In particular, I focused on the following three modules:
- Module 5: Semantic Search – highlights the importance of search intent and forming a robust keyword strategy
- Module 7: Content Optimisation – focuses on how to optimise on-page elements like page titles and headings as well as avoiding issues like duplicate and thin content.
- Module 8: Information Architecture – emphasises the importance of organising website content in a user and search engine-friendly way.
Throughout the schedule, I invited members of our team to provide workshops and presentations on specific SEO topics where the content team had collectively given a score of 2 or less.
For example, our Head of Training & Chief Advisor Rad Paluszak ran several masterclasses on:
- E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness) for YMYL Websites
- How Google Works (Crawling, Indexing and Google Algorithms)
- Semantic Approach to Content (Content Hubs, Internal Linking, eCommerce Content)
- How to Write Review Content
I also organised workshops with external sources such as Senuto, who provided an in-depth demo to show our writers how to utilise their tool for content writing.
Resources, Resources, Resources!
Everyone learns differently. Some people learn best by reading articles whilst others learn more from visual content like videos.
For each of the topics in the Competency Matrix, I pooled together a range of resources to serve as supplementary material for our content team to refer to during the training schedule.
I also set practical tasks that were designed for our writers to practise some of the concepts and skills they’ve learned about.
Bi-Weekly Retrospectives (and Quizzes!)
I had split the training schedule into two week batches where each batch focused on specific topics from the matrix. At the end of each batch, I ran a retrospective session that allowed our writers to reflect on what they’d learnt and ask questions about the topics that were covered.
I also put together short interactive quizzes using a free tool called MyQuiz which added a fun, interactive element to the process whilst also having the benefit of measuring the team’s progress.
This was the highlight of the training schedule as the whole team was able to complete the quiz in real time – needless to say things got very competitive as everyone was trying to get the highest score!
At SUSO, we’ve divided our company into Pods (or microteams) where each Pod has a dedicated Project Manager and SEO Manager.
- Pods consist of a small group of individuals with complementary skills
- Each Pod is responsible for a certain aspect of the service.
- Each Pod member represents a specific area of expertise for which they are not only responsible but also the most knowledgeable.
In addition to improving workflows and processes within the company, we use the Pod system to encourage cross-team expertise and knowledge sharing to create a more collaborative atmosphere.
This creates a seamless alignment between team members. For example, our content writers have the support and expertise of SEO managers to deliver content strategies that align with our clients’ SEO goals and keyword targets.
All of these methods combined, helped give our content team the necessary knowledge and practical skills in order to go from great content writers to great SEO content writers.
In fact, the training has also resulted in a change in the way that we deliver the content that we write for our partners and clients. Every piece of content that is written by our team now includes an SEO summary which includes:
- An SEO optimised page title
- An SEO optimised H1 heading
- An SEO optimised meta description
- A list of core keyword(s) that the content is targeting
- A list of the competing pages that are currently ranking in the top positions
By training our content writers to think like search engines, we’re able to create content for our partners’ websites that is not only engaging and informative for readers, but is also optimised to stand against Google’s constantly evolving algorithms.
If you’re looking for an SEO partner to drive your agency or business’ organic growth, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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