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Edit Your Online Content Like a Pro

Creating great content means more than writing. Every word needs to be edited and proofread before you hit publish. Writing gets all your ideas together, editing refines for impact and effectiveness, and proofing (hopefully) catches any errors before anything gets published.

First, Have a Content Writing Process and Assign Roles

The first step in publishing quality content is to have a process. Where will ideas come from? Are there specific topics that should be covered at particular times? Who will write? Proofread? Publish?

These are just some of the questions to address in your content process. The more clearly you define the inputs and outputs, the stronger your content will be.

For each task in the process, assign someone. It is best to have several people involved with content development. The more eyes, the better the results.

Edit Content Like a Pro

When you get to the editing step, here are the steps followed by the best editors:

  1. Know the goal and the audience.
  2. Read through first as if you are the reader. Use a similar screen size.
  3. Next, read as an editor. Change words that aren’t clear. Rewrite to improve flow. Remove extraneous details.
  4. Check the facts. Do numbers add up? Are references correct? Are all names, links, etc. correct?
  5. Read as if you are the reader again.

Wait, There’s Still Proofreading

After the editing steps, you aren’t ready to hit publish. Now is the time for proofreading.

Read the content to check that the flow has not been marred in the editing stage. Ensure that it is still on target for the stated goal and audience.

Check for typos and grammar issues. Spell and grammar checkers don’t catch them all, and they aren’t necessarily correct in all cases. Just today I corrected “house” that should have been “hours.” In context, the wrong word wasn’t flagged by spellcheck.

In the case of grammar checkers, you may disagree with the recommendation, but consider a rewrite anyway. Grammar issues are a flag that your content is not as easy to interpret as you might think.

Still Not Done – Publish and Check Again

With proofing end editing complete, you have a green light to move to publishing your content. Once you do that, check again! There is nothing like seeing something in it’s final form. Make sure it looks as you expected and tweak as needed.

Do This Before You Publish

You are in a groove with producing content for your online marketing. Great! Make sure you get the most from your efforts, by minding these important factors before you publish each piece of content.

Search Engine Optimization

Take a look at the content. Are your important keywords included? Can more be built in? Do all the images have ALT tags. Can any internal or external links be added to enhance SEO value? Run through your SEO checklist and make sure the content is working as hard for you as it should.

Human Spellcheck

Ah typos. I have many more of them than I care to admit. We all do.

Before you hit publish, have someone other than you give it a spell check. A fresh look should only take a few minutes and will almost always catch something you don’t see as the author.

Proofread

Flawless grammar isn’t enough to make a sale, but poor grammar may be enough to lose one. Again, a human reader can help with this. There are also grammar checkers built into Word and online tools like Grammarly.

Rightsize images

Take time to optimize the size of images for the platform you are publishing on. Autosizing is nice, but the results aren’t always great and can detract from your content.

If you are publishing to your website, optimizing image size also helps your site speed, important for both user experience and SEO.

There are many resources online to give you ideal image sizes, including this sizing guide from Buffer.

Hook the Reader with a Great Headline

The headline or title is the most important part of your content. In the case of email, make that the subject line. It is the first thing people read and it is what they use to decide if they will read further.

Write the headline last, after you know exactly what content it will represent. Consider these important elements as you craft the right one:

  • Target audience
  • Purpose of the content
  • Importance to the reader
  • Accuracy
  • Right Language

Who Is the Content for?

Who do you really want to see the content? In other words, who is your target audience?

The target reader for each piece of content is generally a subset of your overall target audience. Not everything you offer is interesting to everyone, and that’s OK. Think about who this content is really for and write the headline to speak to that person.

What Is the Purpose of the Content?

Every piece of content must serve a purpose for your company.  You need to know the purpose to make the content effective. Common purposes include:

  • Entice someone to open an email
  • Share information on a website or social media channel
  • Increase brand visibility on search engine results pages

Write a headline that reflects the purpose as well as the key point of the content.

Why Would Someone Read This?

Your content has a purpose for you and a purpose for the reader. Understand why someone would be interested in the content from their perspective. Write a headline that clearly lets them know what’s in it for them.

A great headline will tease the unique attributes of the content. Give the reader a reason to read on.

Don’t Be Tricky

Clever headlines catch attention, but they must be related to the content. Don’t annoy readers by making them think they have been duped by a headline that does not match the content. That approach can do long-term damage to your online marketing efforts.

Keep Language Rules in Mind

There are some language rules that will lead to effective headlines, no matter the topic or the audience. Always use:

  • Active verbs
  • Concise language
  • Clear wording

Shorter is always better: few words with few syllables and few letters.