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Getting our SEO training right

SEO workshop slide

Last month, the Content Team finally ran its first Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) training. I say finally as it took about 2 months and many rounds of revisions to get it to this first version. Here's our 'journey' (in reality TV show speak) of why and how we created this workshop.

Must support a need

There are lots of benefits in doing content training, especially in an organisation which has an open editorial policy. Creating good training isn’t easy though. A common problem is that it doesn’t support a need. We knew this was where we had to start.

How to get the need right

The push for training came from our feedback forms - we do actually read them. Our trainees told us that although our Content Creation Workshop (only staff can access this link) was a good start, they wanted to know more about SEO. So far, so good.

From here we needed to understand the specific objectives for the workshop. This was where we fell down.

Workshops are about taking part

They’re not about giving all your knowledge to the participants. We’ve all been in training where you’ve switched off because the trainer is only interested in letting you know how much they know. So boring.

Elisabeth Ward in the Content Team has a lot of SEO knowledge and our mistake was to include everything in a PowerPoint presentation. We were left with just that, a presentation of Elisabeth’s extensive knowledge. We didn’t have a workshop. Luckily we realised this before subjecting anyone to a three hour lecture.

Bringing it back

We started to think about why we were doing an SEO workshop and who it was for so we:

  • worked out the tasks editors need to perform
  • figured out activities that will help editors learn
  • tried to understand our audience so that the training is specific to them

Learning from each other

This is where the job of creating a workshop gets interesting and creative. With a team of four we came up with games, exercises and looked at interesting examples of content and keywords. We’ve done this for other workshops and always found it to be a learning experience. It consolidated and built on our knowledge and, most importantly, it was fun.

Putting it together

Once we had our ideas on paper we then ran a series of reviews and practice runs.

First off, these are crucial for timings. We needed to know if we’d meet the self-imposed two hour timeframe for the workshop. We didn't want to run into timing issues. I've run workshops in the past where I could see people getting bored after the 'going home' time so we wanted to avoid this.

Secondly, we needed to check if the games and exercises met the needs we originally set out. This stage is probably the most laborious. Not being precious about cutting, revising and laughing at some of your content is crucial if you’re not to fall out with your colleagues. Luckily we're a calm bunch with a good sense of humour.

Do it again, review, do it again

It would be nice to think that you can walk away after the feedback forms have been handed in. This isn't the case though. The most important part of getting the training right is reviewing it, editing it and listening to feedback. No workshop is perfect forever, especially in digital where things change constantly.

So far the feedback has been positive and we're running another workshop next week. If you're interested in learning more about SEO then please email the content team

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