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The evolution of a content team (& what it means for Parkway’s clients)

“I’m having a really hard time knowing where to start this story, the one that tells you how much our content team has grown in size and capability over the last five years. We’re generally not great at talking about ourselves. We’ve built Parkway to be a trusted extension of your team, not a vendor selling you services you don’t need. And sometimes we err on the side of caution when talking about what we can do for your business because of that. Content is also harder to demonstrate than web design and content marketing (especially SEO) is surrounded by a lot of myths and misconceptions.

And while all of those things make it important to get this story right, what’s actually making it feel impossible to know where to start is that the story of Parkway’s content team is so closely intertwined with my own journey. Telling this story means really looking at how I’ve grown professionally—reflecting on my weaknesses as well as my strengths—and I don’t think that’s particularly easy for anyone. But keeping the story to ourselves is a disservice to our content team and Parkway as a whole because our content capabilities, and the people behind them, are special.”

– Taylor

Before Taylor started at Parkway in 2018, we outsourced the majority of our (limited) content work. Hiring our first writer meant we could not only bring that work back in house but also begin to offer content to more clients. At this point, our content capabilities included keyword-optimized blog posts, a print brochure or ad and the occasional website project.

The new focus on optimized content impacted other services as well. We incorporated a thorough SEO review into our website design and development process and shifted SEM (search engine marketing) strategies to complement SEO.

And then, a few months into our content experiment, stuff started to rank. The Travel Team had the honor of being our first success story, with posts capturing featured snippets in just a few months—and staying there. We have a really hard time recommending a strategy or service to our clients if we aren’t sure it will work for them; we finally had some concrete evidence that we were on to something. The Travel Team may have been the first, but it wasn’t the only. What worked for them also worked for clients in other industries. And we can tell you first hand how exciting that was, for ourselves and for our clients.

By mid-2019, our clients needed more than a one person content team so we added another writer. We had a full roster of ongoing SEO content clients and more clients were seeing the value of having Parkway take care of page content during a website project too. At first, we took the same approach to core pages as we had with blog posts. It took us a while to figure out that optimizing for search isn’t always the most valuable thing our content team has to offer on these projects. Sometimes, content is the reason a website never launches. Having a team in house allowed us to take that burden from clients (which is a lot heavier than people assume it will be when they decide they want or need a new website). Yes, we continued to optimize for search engines where it made sense but, most importantly, we wrote website content in a matter of weeks, rather than months. Sure, it got projects launched sooner than they otherwise would have but it also meant a better final product. Both in tone and in performance.

It took us a while to figure out that optimizing for search isn’t always the most valuable thing our content team has to offer on these projects.

We were in a pretty good groove at this point. Even COVID didn’t really affect how we approached content. In retrospect though, the early days of a global pandemic were just the calm before the storm. Chris has talked about the employee turnover we experienced in 2021, to which the content team was not immune. Keeping content in house sets Parkway apart from other agencies but it also makes finding the right people really, really important. Quite honestly, 2021 and 2022 were a blur of resumes and trying to keep up with existing work. There was very little space for thinking about how we could use our team’s skills to take other content creation off our clients’ plates, like we had with website content.

Once we had the right team in place and up to speed—which took well over a year—we had time to look for patterns in our clients’ recent requests, as well as what deliverables new projects included that we hadn’t seen as often before. Post-pandemic, businesses care more about how they say things, not just what they’re saying and how high that gets them in the search results. With Google changing its algorithm what feels like every day, other distribution channels (like email and paid social) are becoming a bigger part of digital strategies.

Post-pandemic, businesses care more about how they say things, not just what they’re saying and how high that gets them in the search results.

These realizations led us to messaging as a service, which takes a business’s identity and our knowledge of writing for web audiences to shape a brand voice before we start a website project and any ongoing content work. While we still love the thrill of an optimized piece doing exactly what it was written to do, putting the essence of a company on a page is really meaningful to businesses and also valuable guidance to everyone who will continue to work on the project.

Now, Parkway is home to a content team of three with a variety of skill sets: ideation, research, writing, editing, analytics and more. We have backgrounds ranging from journalism to business to healthcare. We’re using our combined experience and unique skill sets to continue adjusting our content offerings to meet clients’ needs and adapting to an ever-changing digital landscape.

We write with a strategic mix of SEO and brand voice unique to each client’s goals. For some businesses, ranking at the top of Google’s results for relevant keywords is still really important. For these clients, we’re keeping a close eye on AI-enhanced search results and focusing on high-quality content that oozes experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EEAT). Other brands take optimization into consideration along with all the other ways they want to share their content, like sharing on social media, sending via email campaigns and linking to related blog posts on core website pages.

However a client’s objectives fit what we offer, we are thrilled to have a complete team ready to take each challenge head on and be confident about the results that follow.

Parkway Digital Creative Lead Chris Reilley
Chris Reilley / Creative Director
After more than a decade of design experience on- and off-line, Chris founded Parkway Digital to guide both businesses into today’s digital landscape. As creative director, he oversees all aspects of Parkway Digital’s work, ensuring each project is backed by tested technology, intuitive design and collaboration with our clients.
Parkway Digital Digital Marketing Manager Taylor Flynn Jones
Taylor Flynn Jones / Digital Marketing Manager
Taylor, Parkway Digital’s digital marketing manager, blends research and analytics experience with strong writing skills to create content for search engines and users alike. She is passionate about optimizing both our work and our processes, which help her as she oversees our content team and digital advertising campaigns.