In 2020, there are 80 million blog posts and pages posted each month.
That’s an average of 2.5 million on a daily basis.
Millions of pieces by content creators, just like you.
Content creators who are vying for just a fraction of attention from the more than four billion people on the internet.
But how many of those 80 million posts and pages actually get read?
How many are compelling enough to translate into sales?
In a sea of fierce industry competition, how do you stand out?
It’s simple: be better than your competition.
In order to do that you must be different, be innovative, be visually compelling, and keep your audience wanting more.
It all starts with content editing.
In this article, we’ll break down the steps you can take to make sure that your website content will rise to the top of the content ocean.
Still copying content into WordPress?
You’re doing it wrong… say goodbye forever to:
- ❌ Cleaning HTML, removing span tags, line breaks, etc.
- ❌ Creating your Table of Contents anchor ID links for all headers by hand,
- ❌ Resizing & compressing images one-by-one before uploading back into your content,
- ❌ Optimizing images with descriptive file names & alt text attributes,
- ❌ Manually pasting target=“_blank” and/or “nofollow” attributes to every single link
What’s Content Editing?
You likely already know what content editing is, but let’s define it a bit more clearly.
Content editing is a part of the writing process in which you or an editor look for problems with your content.
The content editing process makes sure that your website content isn’t just understandable, but also drives trust with your audience and (among many other variables) is optimized for search.
It removes confusion and makes your brand look more professional.
It’s also an opportunity to catch silly mistakes and typos.
Definitely and defiantly are two very different things.
In a world of spell check — which may or may not actually give you the correct word — it’s essential that you’re your own spell check.
And what about grammar?
We’ve all seen the meme about eating grandpa right?
- Let’s eat, grandpa!
- Let’s eat grandpa.
Those two sentences mean two very different things.
A lot can change with just a bit of punctuation.
Your copy editing is an integral part of making sure that the voice and message that you’re trying to convey is appropriate.
Brand voice is also important. Is your piece portraying your brand in a way you want?
Take a moment to do some substantive editing, as well as proofreading, to ensure that your content creation is high caliber.
It isn’t just the dotted i’s and crossed t’s that make good content good.
It dives a lot deeper than that:
- Does this invoke a feeling?
- Does it drive your target audience to want to learn more about your company or your products?
- Are you answering a specific need or are you just posting for the sake of posting?
There’s a lot more behind content editing than simply making sure you understand your grammar.
But, why does it matter?
43% of readers admit to “skimming” posts.
With the growing quantity of content options available to readers, your quality is what will grab their attention.
This is why content editing matters.
Your Content Editing Roadmap
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough on how you can edit and optimize your writing to get the maximum ROI.
Step #1: Fact check
Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trustworthy source for gathering online information.
There’s no easier way to lose potential clients than providing incorrect resources.
Take the time to do your homework!
There’s so much “fake news” out in the world that consumers are highly sensitive to the smallest factual error.
1. Are all of the names in your content spelled correctly?
This is an especially big challenge for companies working with foreign content contributors.
2. Have you appropriately quoted the right people?
This is something that’s easily mistaken.
Misrepresenting an individual is a one way ticket to mistrust city.
3. Are titles and places correct?
This should be pretty self explanatory.
4. Are all of your links correctly linked?
Make sure that statistics and quotes that are linked go to the correct location
5. Are your statistics relevant?
Using statistics from 1990 isn’t going to give your audience a sense that you know what you’re talking about.
Typically, you want to make sure all of your statistics were published within the last two years.
Step #2: Make sure your target is in focus
58% of content marketers believe that the biggest factor in their success is understanding their target audience.
A construction company isn’t going to have the same target audience as a boutique hat store.
While this is typically a large part of the research phase, sometimes your target audience can be missed when the creative bug hits and you sit down to write.
Revisit your buyer personas and ask yourself a few questions:
- Will my content resonate with my target audience?
- What other factors need to be taken into consideration?
- Are there political or social matters that my audience is facing, that may make my article less trustworthy or more trustworthy?
Even the most seasoned content marketing professional can lose sight of this.
It’s essential that your content keeps your target audience at the forefront.
When you truly understand your audience, you’ll understand the pain points you’re addressing.
Step #3: Answer a need
We live in an age where consumers are more informed.
They come to the internet seeking answers to their questions and they have options.
A vast sea of digital options.
Listen to what your audience is asking and proactively provide solutions to those pain points.
Imagine you walk into a doctors office. You’ve had some aches and pains and you want to know the best way to ease those pains.
The doctor walks in. She’s wearing the typical lab coat and is sporting a shiny red stethoscope around her neck.
She looks like a professional. Exactly what you were looking for.
Before you can even open your mouth to tell her your burden, she begins selling you on all of the amazing options that their practice has available to you.
They have a pediatrics wing, they can work with the elderly as well, they have a bunch of financial options, and they were voted the best practice in town — four years running.
She flashes a big smile and hands you her business card.
Then she’s out the door.
What the heck just happened!?!?
She didn’t answer your pain point. She never even bothered to ask your pain point.
What do we need to do to not be like our doctor friend?
- Re-read your post. Are you answering a need?
- Is the need clear?
- Is the need written multiple times throughout the piece?
- Does your conclusion answer the pain point?
Next, let’s dive into the nitty gritty.
Step #4: Make your teacher proud
We all had that one English teacher or professor who we desperately wanted to impress.
Or maybe you just wanted to prove them wrong.
Your finished product should have earned you an A — at least a B+ — in your upper level English classes.
This may be obvious but, think about how many pieces of content you read online that would have earned a D.
Reading your piece out loud is one way to make sure you’re at least making sense.
It’s very easy to get typing and hit the wrong button, get distracted, or throw a lot of verbiage in to sound “smart.”
Sometimes “smart” is actually confusing.
Does your piece include all of the basics that your English teachers taught you about?
Is there an intro, thesis, supporting argument, and conclusion?
Once you’ve verified that your piece has the right foundation, check to make sure the glue is set by running your work through a program like Grammarly or Quordoba.
This will catch any punctuation, grammar, or spelling errors.
Take notes on the suggestions that these programs give you.
This way, you won’t make the same mistakes in the future.
In fact, a fun way to use these programs is to make a game out of it.
Can you beat your score next time around?
Step #5: Become Google’s favorite
The links on a Search Engine Results Page (SERPS) are the answers provided to a search engine query.
To be favored by Google, and end up in the top suggestions, you must understand how to optimize your work.
After all, the top ranked sites on Google get 33% of all clicks.
This is partially because those sites that appear above the fold, are the first ones to get views.
If these posts are answering the same need your article is, then why would a reader continue scrolling?
That means you have to have content that will be able to catch the attention of Google to rank you among the best.
What types of things does Google look for?
Although Google keeps their search algorithms pretty secret, they’ve confirmed a few key ranking factors you need to optimize for within your content editing process:
- Site loading speed: In other words, don’t junk up your site with huge files or loads of images and text
- On-page SEO signals: This encompasses the nuts and bolts of your content. Things like keywords, meta tags, and layout.
- Brand presence and trust: How many times are other websites linking to you as a brand authority?
- Off-page SEO: This is basically how others see you. Is your social content being liked/shared? Are people commenting on your blogs? Are people picking up what you’re putting down?
There’s a lot of information that you may not just know off the top of your head.
That’s where SEO optimization tools come into play.
Tools like SurferSEO, MarketMuse and the Yoast WordPress plugin can help you discover the on-page SEO needs that your content has, show how your content ranks vs your competitors, and give you key areas to help you rank higher.
Are you hitting all of the most important structural pieces for SEO purposes:
- Headers (H1s, H2s, and H3s)
- Meta descriptions
- URL optimization
- Images (and image alt tags)
- Word Count
A solid foundation is the key to any sturdy structure.
That goes for a sturdy piece of writing as well.
With help from services like the ones above, you can learn a great deal about the key factors that will help you be favored by the SEO gods.
Many of these same programs can help keep you honest.
Step #6: Be original
Plagiarizing someone else’s content is stealing.
Period. End of story.
The dictionary definition of plagiarism is “to take and use ideas, passages, etc., from (another’s work).”
The actual word comes from the Latin plagiarius which means “kidnapper.”
That should give you a little insight into the weight of the word.
Not only is it just a morally wrong thing to do, you can suffer ranking challenges.
While it isn’t technically penalized by Google, the confusion that it presents can be catastrophic.
The search engine tries to figure out which version of the text is original and, in doing so, dilutes the visibility of all of the duplicates.
What if you don’t intentionally steal verbiage?
Could it still count against you?
The short answer is yes.
Google doesn’t care if you mistakenly duplicated content or straight up copy and pasted it into your piece.
The diluted results are the same.
With these websites, you can run your piece through the system to find out how plagiarized it is.
If you unintentionally say something that is written somewhere else it’s not career ending.
An easy search for synonyms or rephrasing of your sentence will fix that right up.
It’s simple: at the end of the day, don’t be a thief.
Go ahead and use someone else’s written content as inspiration.
But, when it comes down to content creation, use your own writing.
You don’t need to be a professional content editor, copyeditor, or to pay for a copy editing service.
With a few easy steps, you can improve your web content quality to help in your content marketing strategy.
Fact check your work to ensure validity.
Target your audience. Know who you’re talking to.
Answer a need. Solve a pain point.
Make your teacher proud. Keep your grammar game strong.
Become Google’s Favorite. Flex those SEO muscles and rise to the top.
Be Original. Don’t copy off of someone else’s homework.
Once you’ve completed your copy editing it’s time to do the fun stuff.
Go forth and market that fine piece of writing like the content marketing pro that you are!