In the spotlight | 7 min read

Content Editing: The Ultimate Checklist and Questions

Content editing, sounds like an easy job right?

There’s so much to consider when you’re copy editing. It can feel overwhelming.

Apps like Storychief and Grammarly have changed the way we edit. Content editing isn’t about just checking your grammar and spelling anymore—we can do that with one click.

It’s about:

  • readability
  • engagement
  • SEO, and
  • keeping the article in line with your content marketing strategy.

You need these elements to bring readers to your content marketing materials and keep them interested.

Digital marketing best practice means well-written content which is also technically good so it can bring more traffic to your website. You can have the best article in the world, but if you haven’t used SEO, then no one will ever see it.

What exactly are you looking for when you sit down with an article for content editing?

The list is a long one, and there are a lot of steps to think about. So we’ve put together the ultimate content editing checklist for each stage, to help you take your articles to the next level.

Content Editing Checklist

1. The Concept

It might be surprising to find that the first step of editing happens before you’ve even started writing.

When choosing a topic, fully consider whether an article on this topic will benefit you. You might have a great idea, but you need to edit what you’re going to include in the article accordingly, after your research.

The first step you need to take is keyword research.

There are some free tools such as Ubersuggest which allow you to research the volume of searches for your keyword and related words. Once you have completed this you can gain a better understanding of whether or not there is an audience for your topic.

Helpful Tool for Content Editing
(Image Source: Ubersuggest)

Other things to consider when creating a concept:

  • Is this topic going to be of interest to our audience? Will they care enough to read the article?
  • Is this a topic which has been covered by our competitors? What are we doing differently?
  • Do we already have any articles related to this? Could we link to any of our other articles with this content? If not what other articles could we write to link to?
  • Is the title interesting? Will readers want to click on our article?
  • Is the title easy to understand? Is it clear what the article is about?
  • Have you used your keywords in your title? Is it still a clear title with your keywords?

2. The Structure

Now, structure will vary depending on your style and content. Those who are more creative might try and do something different.

But there are some basic rules you should be following in your articles.

Like any story, your article should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. You should also think about what you want your reader to walk away with. Should they gain a better understanding of something new? Should they receive instructions for a specific goal?

More questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your content have a clear introduction and conclusion?
  • Is your important information in the first sentence?
  • Does the introduction grab the reader and make them want to read more?
  • Does your content flow? Have you included headers to organize the article?
  • Is each section of your article a structured point with an explanation?
  • Is it easy to scan read your article? Could the user easily find the information they want?
  • Is there anything you could include to make scanning the article easier? Such as bulleted lists?
  • Is your text formatted consistently with your other articles? Consider writing a style guide so all of your writers know exactly the format they should be using.
  • Is this the best way to present your content? Would it work better as a lead magnet eBook? Or should it be a listicle?
  • Have you covered the topic well? Does your reader walk away with any further questions?
  • Have you highlighted important words and phrases in bold?
  • Have you used enough images? (Consider using individual and modern stock photos.)
  • Have you compressed your images for a quicker load time? (TinyPNG is a useful free tool)
Helpful Tool for Content Editing
(Image Source: TinyPNG)

3. The All Important Writing

You can’t have good content without good writing.

One way to do your content editing is to write everything you want in a long draft form and then go through it and check your writing against our list of what you should and shouldn’t include.

  • The first thing to check when you’re writing is your accuracy. Read through the work and every time you read a point ask yourself, how does the writer know this? If it’s not an opinion then there needs to be a source backing up the facts.
  • Where can you find sources? You can use the research tool in Google Docs for a quick fact check but if you want something more concrete then try Google Scholar. For most articles you would be writing your sources should be from the last 2 years, or more recent for some articles. If your topic is historical then you may be able to use older sources but in general the newer the better.
  • Be sure to attribute your sources to avoid plagiarism.
  • Never assume. Don’t assume your audience knows something you do. Your articles should be accessible which means you need to provide all the information they need to understand your topic.
  • Write in the way you talk. Using complicated technical words will only alienate readers. Your writing needs to be easy to understand otherwise your audience will switch off.
  • Read your work out loud. This is a very important step. Sometimes you only catch mistakes by reading the copy aloud to yourself. This can save you a lot of embarrassment later over simple mistakes.
  • Check your work with Grammarly and then check it again, without. Grammarly is a great tool but it’s not foolproof so sometimes you also need your common sense.
  • Use a tool like Copyscape to check your work for plagiarism.
Helpful Tool for Content Editing
(Image Source: Copyscape)

The Nitty-Gritty...

  • When it comes to the nitty-gritty parts of writing here's a few rules you should always follow:
    • Cut out the words which aren’t adding to your work. Here’s a list of 50 weak words and phrases to cut out of your blogging.
    • Check for repetition
    • Use the active voice more than the passive
    • Avoid cliches like the plague
    • Get rid of useless modifiers like ‘very’
    • Keep it snappy and to the point, eliminate words which don’t add anything
    • Avoid long sentences for better readability.
    • Write in a positive tone
    • Use bold to highlight messages in your text that you want your reader to follow. For example, there’s a lot to think about when you buy a new phone, we’re going to help you choose the best model.
  • Have you used elements to support your writing? You want all your media to be aligned with your text as much as possible and use a variety of media. Infographics, videos, gifs, and screenshots all help with reader engagement.

4. SEO

Now you have the perfect article, almost.

You’ve written your beautifully crafted content. So, it’s time to bring in the SEO to ensure that people will read it. SEO is key to bringing traffic to your website. SEO techniques are what help you to be best friends with Google. You want Google to like your article as much as any other reader. Here’s our list of the most important SEO checks you should be making on every piece of copy you publish.

  • Use your main keyword at least once in the first 100 words
  • Use your main keyword 2-3 times in the body text
  • Your main keyword should be in H1, subheadings in H2 (and optionally sub-subheadings in H3).
  • Include your keyword, preferably at the start, of your H1 title.
  • Keep a clean URL as much as possible, your slug should be your main keyword.
  • Fill out the Alt text with your keywords on any pictures you use and make sure the file name is also relevant.
  • Use outbound links and no follow links to sources from competitors
  • Use internal links to keep the reader on your site

Remember content editing is one step, you need quality writing in the first place to produce good content. Our checklist can help you improve the quality of your content, but constant feedback with your writers in necessary for high-quality content in the first place.

Now you’re armed with the ultimate content marketing checklist you can create best practice articles, blog posts, ebooks or any other web copy.

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Written by: Max Benz, Growth & Content Marketing Manager at Filestage.io

Max is rocking it out at Filestage where his passion meets his talents in actionable content creation around the subjects of SaaS, growth, and marketing.

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