If you’re fully immersed in a content strategy for your website, you’ll already understand the level of detail that needs to go into creating high quality content on your site. We recently published a blog post, How to Generate Ideas for Content Marketing, which should help you to get started and allow you to come up with some inspirational plans for content creation.
Once you have the ideas, it is time to create the content and get it onto your website. While we’ve titled this post as “10 Checks to Make before Publishing Content,” in reality you could keep these 10 points in mind throughout out the content writing process, although they are definitely something the editorial team may want to consider putting into a checklist or similar format.
Many people will look at the layout of your content before they even think about reading the first sentence. For this reason, you need to ensure that the formatting of the content is on point throughout. If you’re using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, it is easy enough to preview the content before it goes live, so you can understand what your content will look like on page.
Otherwise, you’ll need to check it within the CMS itself. In the absence of being able to look at a preview, be sure to check the use of sub-headings and that the correct formatting tags have been used. The font and colour of these should be standardised across your site, so shouldn’t need checking, but if not be sure to check they’re correct (and then get in touch with your developer to make sure it is standardised!).
Take this opportunity to appraise the title and sub-headings, too. Are they attention grabbing and likely to generate clicks or do they accurately portray what a particular section of content is about?
Look out for the additional following factors in titles and sub-headings:
They’re short and concise but are clear in their meaning.
They include keywords relevant to the copy for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes.
The Content Itself
The content itself is obviously the most important part of this whole process; without it, you have a strategy that will simply sit unexecuted.
However, it doesn’t take that long to carry out the necessary checks. Clearly, a standard run through of the content in terms of proofreading and editing is going to have to happen, but beyond the basics, what should you be looking for?
Most important in the days of “content is king” and Google looking forever more closely at content is how long it is. You need to be careful with this one. Yes, you want a post to be long and in-depth, but have you or your writer achieved this, or have you merely written 2,000 words when in truth 600 would have done the trick?
You will already have an idea of how long a piece of content needs to be to be relevant for your own website. The reality is that every topic and every post will have its own optimum length. Think about what your ideas were at the planning stage. What was your vision for the post? Instead of getting lost thinking, “is this post long enough?” think instead “is this post the appropriate length for my audience and the message it conveys?”
Whether you have rich media content that is being inserted because it is relevant to the post, or you just want something colourful included in order to break up the text, you need to make sure that media content works and looks good.
Prior experience is usually your friend here, as you’ll know the extent to which you can add pictures, videos, and even audio files to your content without seriously influencing website load speeds. The biggest check that many neglect is ensuring that the content shows correctly on mobile devices. You also need to ensure that media doesn’t infringe copyrights (especially if you have outsourced content creation), while it is often worth self-hosting as much as possible, so you don’t have a great piece of content with a broken YouTube video embedded in it in six months’ time because the poster has taken it down.
Finally, ensure the rich media is optimised with Alt tags, meta data, and schema mark-up where applicable.
This check is straight from Google’s 23 bullet points related to the launch of their Panda algorithm back in 2011.
In terms of the design of your site and how your site overall earns trust, there isn’t a great deal you can influence unless you have a direct line to your developer and the site is being improved as a going concern.
From a content perspective, you should make sure that there are data and statistics present supporting your points where necessary, and that you have linked out to high quality, authoritative sources when you need to.
We’ve just touched on this point, but it’s so important that it definitely needs to be an individual check. Ensure you go beyond looking at the Mozbar ranking of a post that your content links to. Have you read the content behind the link yourself and are you happy for your own website to be endorsing it? If not, do you want to remove the link completely or do you need to add the “rel=nofollow” tag to it so that you pass no “SEO juice” to the site?
The external links from your posts should be great in terms of you being happy endorsing them as well as adding tangible value to your readers.
You should also ensure you’ve linked internally where possible and have a good mix of internal and external links, while finally sense checking that you haven’t overkilled your post with links. One link per 80 – 100 words is probably a good base to work from, not one link per sentence. At the same time, you shouldn’t insert links for the sake of it.
Ultimately, you aren’t going to know whether your content has been successful from a sharing perspective until it goes live and people see it. However, you can do a number of things to ensure your post is likely to garner high engagements and shares, remembering social shares are of increasing importance in terms of search engine algorithms.
Social sharing buttons are prominently featured at the top and bottom of the post, or are built into a moveable sidebar on your site (another one for your developer if you think this is an idea your business could use).
Your on-site comments section is working correctly and it is obvious that there is one beneath the conclusion of the content.
You include a call to action as the last sentence or paragraph, mentioning social sharing and commenting or an action you wish the reader to take, such as “Contact Us Now” or “Visit Page X to find out more.”
Content Publishing Schedule
The timing of content publishing is often one of the biggest areas not considered. Many simply say “we’ll post on this day,” and do little more in terms of consideration and planning. However, while you should have covered this during the planning stage, it is something you need to back to now you have the content ready to go.
The main question you’re asking yourself here is whether you’re giving your content the best possible opportunity to get as much exposure and therefore traffic to your site as possible. If you’re publishing in the middle of the night where your target audience is, are you really making the most of the content opportunity you have?
If your CMS is well set-up or you have a great developer, then many of these elements will already be in place, or should be easy to implement if they’re not. You’d be surprised at how many companies do a great job of putting together a powerful piece of content but then let themselves down by not supporting what they’ve done with these elements.
A high quality meta description that accurately describes what the content is about and is optimised for a chosen keyword.
That there is a custom URL and title tag optimised for SEO if it is needed.
The URL is short but relevant to the article and is optimised.
Large files, such as images or in-content downloads, have been compressed to reduce loading time where possible, or removed if detrimental to on-page experience.
All other relevant meta data, such as schemas or the rel=author tag, is set up, relevant, and correct.
You should also do a quick check to ensure that your content will look great across all browsers and devices; if you have an old CMS or outdated website design, this is more likely to apply to you. Anyone using a modern design or CMS platform like WordPress shouldn’t find any problems.
You are now ready to carry out the final editorial check on your content. The first stage here is to proofread everything again and ensure that you are happy with what you have created. Then, you should look for an equivalent post on a competitor website. How do they match up in terms of quality? Do you have an argument for providing the highest quality content in your sector or for this particular subject area?
The content should also ideally be shown to someone inside the company that has had no involvement in the creation of it, and if you have access to a member of your target audience, be sure to target them for feedback, too.
The final point to cover is any marketing activity you’re able to do prior to publishing the content. If this is going to be an important piece of content for your business, then ensure you’re using social media platforms to give teasers and raise awareness of the content. You should also be outreaching to journalists and bloggers in your industry sector and maybe even providing them with copies of the content so they can report it as breaking news as soon as you publish on site.
By carrying out all of these checks prior to publishing content, you’ll ensure you put something of high quality onto your pages and give yourself the best opportunity of succeeding with every individual piece of content, and with your overall content and digital marketing strategies.