Thou shall not trust the first draft.
This should be a cardinal rule that should be instilled in the mind of every content marketer.
Proofreading and reviewing content are two often overlooked steps in content development. Some marketers don’t have the time to go through their own work, while some are too eager to publish.
The result? Content with grammatical and typo errors, or content that is not in line with your marketing objectives.
You might be thinking: “A few grammar errors here and there won’t hurt me.”
In reality, grammar and typo errors can hurt you — a lot.
In fact, according to one research, 42.5% of buyers will be negatively influenced if they see errors in the content they’re reading. Impact’s Carly Stec explained it perfectly: “There’s no denying that first impressions matter. If your content is plagued by poor grammar, it’s likely that people will think twice about the quality of your products or services. By presenting readers with sub-par content, you are putting your business at risk of losing valuable word-of-mouth marketing. Or even worse, you’ll be subject to negative word-of-mouth attention.”
Further, it’s not only typos and errors that you need to be aware of. You also need to make sure that your content is in line with your marketing objectives and brand guidelines.
Here are 5 crucial tips to help you review your content better:
1. Use Expert-Tested Techniques for Proofreading
Every editor has their own proofreading process and systems. However, below are some of the best practices that seasoned editors are using:
- Take your time; stop at every punctuation mark to make sure every sentence is properly written
- Scan the first word of each paragraph to make sure that you’re not using the same words repeatedly
- Double check the spelling of specific names that you mention in your content (e.g., individual, product, company)
- Read your content out loud to make sure it’s conversational
- Check for run on and long sentences and break them up into shorter, more readable ones
- Use a plagiarism checker to make sure your writers didn’t copy someone else’s work
If you have the budget for it, hire a proofreader/editor. It doesn’t have to be in-house. You can outsource this to agencies or freelancers. If you don’t have the budget, try investing in a proofreading tool such as Grammarly which is more cost effective.
2. Create Checklists and Guidelines
If you have several people in your team writing content and they’re reviewing their own work, or if there are several editors, creating and using checklists and guidelines ensures that everyone is reviewing content using the same standards. This guarantees uniformity in the final edited content. It also provides built-in quality control for writers and editors.
At LeadsPanda, we utilize an 18-point checklist that our editors use to proofread and review content.
3. Make Sure the Content Matches Online Reading Behaviors
When reviewing content, keep in mind that there’s a difference between when people are reading a book versus when they’re reading content on their devices’ screens. According to author Tony Beshara: “The screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning… while less time is spent on in-depth reading and concentrated reading.”
When reviewing content, check for the following to make sure your content is skimmable enough to match this online content reading behavior:
- A catchy headline to grab people’s attention
- Short, simple, conversational sentences
- The use of subheadings
- Bulleted and numbered lists
- Highlighted word and key phrases
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice substance for format, but you should be able to marry both for content marketing to really work.
4. Check for SEO Compliance
Writing for search engine visibility should be a common goal across all your content. More than checking for grammar and spelling errors, a significant portion of your content review time should be spent on checking SEO compliance.
Good content is of no use if no one is able to find it through search engines, right?
Here are a few SEO musts you should check:
- Do the keywords used in the article/blog post have at least 1,000 average monthly searches?
- Does the article/blog post have a good mix of broad keywords and long-tail keywords?
- Are these keywords used strategically in key sections of the article such as the headline and subheadings?
- Does the article follow the ideal keyword density? (Yoast recommends a keyword density between 0.5% and 2.5%, anything more would already be considered as keyword stuffing)
There are hundreds of well-written content out there not getting traffic simply because it was not optimized for search engines. Make sure that everyone in your team knows your SEO strategy and that your review process confirms the SEO compliance of every piece of content you produce.
5. Confirm Content is Aligned with Overall Marketing Strategy
No content should be written for content’s sake. Everything should have a specific marketing purpose or contribute to the fulfillment of a marketing objective. Content reviewers and editors should check for the following marketing elements:
- Is the content aligned with the intended target audience?
- Does the tone of the content match the brand personality?
- Is the content delivering value for readers?
- Are there clear CTAs that prompt readers to take clear and specific actions?
It’s called content marketing for a reason. Before hitting the publish button, ask yourself: “How does this content help me achieve my marketing goals?”
Don’t Neglect Content Review
Even with these outlined tips, there’s no such thing as 100% perfect content. Without optimizing your content review strategy, you may now and then have a few typos even after proofreading. Your readers may not even notice these minor errors.
However, glaring mistakes should be avoided as it ruins your credibility. SEO and marketing best practices need to be followed to ensure that all the content you produce contributes to achieving specific marketing and business goals.
A good content review practice is doing your due diligence, not only for your brand, but also to ensure your audience is getting the high-quality content they deserve.
If you need help with your content marketing or delivering better content that helps your business move forward, feel free to reach out to us. You can also drop your questions and feedback in the comments section below. Also, if you found this post useful, please do share it on social media.
Hello, Prafull here! I help businesses 2x their content marketing results at content marketing agency LeadsPanda. Here to help you learn more about content marketing, blogging, social media and more. Do connect with me on twitter @prafullsha.