Everywhere I go and in every conversation I have, the importance of the quality of content keeps on cropping up. You’ve no doubt had the same conversations where Pandas and Penguins keep poking in their nosy beaks? So, here’s my question: “If quality is so important, why do we give up caring when it’s in another language?”
Part of the answer, I know, is that if we don’t speak the language we’re managing, we’re a bit less concerned simply because the visibility is not there. In other words, we don’t know what the quality is.
Part of the answer is an overwhelming confidence in the translation process from people who should really know better. What I mean by this is that those overseeing the sites generally place too much trust in the translations which are delivered. In fact, the main focus is on the “cost-per-word” rather than on the quality of the content actually delivered.
Total Quality Management Arrives In Search Marketing?
But, I think there’s more to it than that — I think people have to start asking the quality process question. In other words, “If we’re working with your agency, how do you manage the quality of the content delivered? What exactly is the process?”
For six years, I worked in a manufacturing business and was trained in TQM, or total quality management, where we mapped processes to achieve greater consistency, efficiency and quality. Mapping processes to achieve quality is addictive — although there’s never enough time in any business to do this as much as would be desirable.
Every time anyone, in any agency, undertakes a task on behalf of a client, there is a process taking place, of course. This process is often one invented by the team working directly on the project and can be very effective. But the problem in many agency instances — and other businesses too, frankly — is highly dependent on the talent of the people involved.
So, one solution, particularly for small businesses, is to ensure you recruit and manage for talent — because without good talent, your business will be lost.
Talent Plus Process Is A Better Solution Than Talent Alone
In fact, recruiting talented people is always a good idea, but the downside is that if you rely solely on the talent of people, you’re handing your destiny over to them as your business grows. Each different person will tend to run a different process, and whilst some of those may be better and amazingly excellent, that will not universally be the case, and you will have lost control as a manager.
As a client, you have very little control over what goes on in your agency, and no amount of additional lines of legalese in the contract will give that control back to you. Agencies large and small outsource work — some will tell you, but not all.
Some time ago, we instigated a Project Briefing process which involves the specifiers of a particular project coming to us in precisely indicating what exactly the requirements are. In some cases, the Project Briefs are very detailed and require some minutes to complete.
Let’s Be Honest — Who Is Interested In Filling Out Project Briefs?
What we have learned is that typically, agency people (including our own) have less inclination in filling out the Project Briefs than the client. Meanwhile, clients often love filling in the Project Briefs in infinite detail.
So, I have been thinking about what this means, and it seems to me that the Project Brief is something which the client should naturally be completing because it gives them much more control over the downstream process than otherwise.
In our case, the Project Briefing process is designed in such a way that when the client (or agency) fills in the brief, their detailed requirements are accessible and viewable at all times by all of the teams involved in working on the project — whatever their native mother tongue and however deep in the process they become involved.
Have You Asked What The Quality Process Is Recently? It’s Good For You!
So, the piece that’s puzzling me today is why, when quality is so important, is it so rare that anyone asks us what our quality process is? The only person I can immediately recall asking me about this is Jessica Bowman of SEOInhouse — which might be something to do with her in-house bias!
I think another part of the answer is that each “specifier” sees themselves as the principal arbiter of quality. In other words, if a client requests keyword research, they themselves can judge by the deliverable (which they can read) whether a reasonable job has been delivered.
If it’s not in a language you understand, of course, you don’t have the luxury of working as your own arbiter of quality, and so you do need to understand the process because that is where you have the ability and levers to manage the quality of the delivery.
I’ve added a brief graphic to indicate what the very top level process should look like as inspiration for your international search quality process mapping war games!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.