Quality Content Checklist
Your Own Personal Content Checklist
Making a quality piece of content is hard work, no doubt about it. No matter what kind of website you have, you MUST have valuable content or you won’t survive, it’s that simple.
Unfortunately, most of don’t have as much time as we would like to devote to content creation. So how can we streamline this process and make it faster and more manageable without losing any quality? That’s where this content checklist comes into play.
Quality Content Checklist – PDF, right click “Save As”
URL Title Description Headers Code
Value and Readability
Meets Expectations Good Flow Scannable Proofread
Visual Aids Optimized Alt Tags Optimized Filenames Easy on the Eyes
Social Buttons RSS Correct Venue Timing
A great structured piece of content can go a long way, and in some cases can even rank well (niche-depending) for it’s target keyword without doing any link building.
Ensuring that your URL has your target keyword in it has long been a best practice method for on page optimization. However, if you have the knowledge/capability you can go the extra mile with these precautions.
- Static URLs used whenever able
- Shorter is better
- Use 301 redirects, canonicals correctly
The <title> is arguably the most important on page optimization factor. In addition, it also serves as an important facet of marketing as well. Creating an enticing title can dramatically increase CTR (Click-Through-Rate).Extra factors worth considering include:
- Keep character count under 70 characters if possible.
- Place keywords close to the beginning of the title if able.
- Only use branding in titles where it’s appropriate and fits
- Avoid duplicates
- Include call to action
I originally didn’t include the description checkbox in my original draft, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed relevant. As most of you know, the description tag doesn’t influence rankings. However, if you have one especially a good one, it can influence CTR substantially. Users see the content from your description tag in the search results, with social sharing, and different types of listings.
- Best length is between 150-160 characters.
- Avoid duplicates
- Include call to action
The header tags role in the structure of a webpage help establish hierarchy. While there’s an endless debate on whether or not the proper use of header tags influence rankings, they should definitely be used for user experience. The H1-H6 tags help break up the content of the page for users and crawlers, thus increasing organization for both parties. Buyer beware, there are some things that you don’t want to do when it comes to headers.
- Don’t overuse the H1
- Don’t keyword stuff inside headers
The easier it is for a search engine crawler to get around and navigate through your code, the happier it’ll will be. While this isn’t one of those do-or-die precautions, you want to try and clean up easy fixes. Some content management systems are more code-friendly than others. With these, site-wide corrections can often be corrected with template editing. However, the less than friendly CMSs may take quite a bit more manual labor. If you have to dig in and get your hands dirty, try and remember these tips…the crawlers will thank you for it.
- Are you using CSS correctly (external stylesheets, lightweight, validated)
- Don’t go DIV crazy
No matter how well optimized a piece of content is, it will fall flat on it’s face every time if there isn’t some sort of value for the visitor. People go to the internet for information, pure and simple. If you aren’t able to deliver valuable information in an organized, helpful way, no one will care what you have to say.
What’s the purpose of your content? Make sure that whatever kind of content your giving to your visitors is actually wanted. News, tips, tools, media, all these things are generally topics that your target market accepts and wants-in some form or fashion. What people don’t want to hear about is the fight you had with your girlfriend last night, or the fact that you need to go to the grocery store. Save that junk for Facebook and Twitter.
- Ask yourself “Will my visitors care about this?”
- Does the content provide value?
I generally always try to follow some type of theme in my posts (as you may have seen). This is just one more way to keep your visitor on point and engaged. Similar to telling a story, you you always want to leave your visitor wanting more. Every sentence, paragraph, and post, speaks to your authority on whatever subject matter you talking about. Proper tone and grammar play a big role in this.
- Reading level on par with target market
- Don’t linger, get to the point
A quick way to get your visitor to hit the back button is to make your content one huge piece of text. Users need to be able to see content in blocks, headings, bullet points, etc to help the eyes stay focused. Breaking up content into 2-4 sentences is recommended to help keep the user engaged.
- Bullet lists
- Short paragraphs
You don’t want to write a great piece of content only to have grammatical and spelling errors everywhere, trust me. As someone who hates to proofread and has made mistakes in the past (and present probably) I can tell you, IT’S A MUST.
- Get someone other than yourself to proofread
A big to-do when building your content is to make sure that a webpage has the visual capabilities to entice a visitor to want to stay on the page and follow along. This can be done via various mediums. Things like video, basic images, or even infographics, can increase time on site averages, and enhance engagement. If appropriate, video can also be a great way to convert visitors and even get links.
- On topic images
- Would video help?
Optimized Alt Tags
If you’re reading this post you probably know what they are and how to optimize your images for them. Unfortunately what you may not know is that the search engines look specifically for people abusing the Alt tags and won’t hesitate to penalize accordingly. Remember the reason for alt tags in the first place:to describe the image for readers. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t translate to “stuff with keywords”…does it? The alt tag’s primary use is to ensure that people who can’t see the screen can still have a basic understanding of what the image contains.
- Descriptive, not keyword stuffed
- Should read similar to a sentence
Talk about an under-used aspect of on page optimization. Depending on your niche, this can have more of an impact than others. For example, cooking and recipe image results are a prime industry where image filenames are under valued, and therefore not optimized correctly/extensively.
- Separate by hyphens
- Descriptive, not keyword stuffed
Easy On the Eyes
What exactly does this mean? Well, similar to the flow of words on a page, you want to make any visuals you have on the page coincide cleanly so that visitor stays on the page and in tune with what they’re reading. Having excellent words marry with eye-pleasing visuals can be likened to amazing lyrics and a wonderfully produced track. It’s hard to enjoy one when the other significantly under-performs.
- Color-themed design
If you’re a WordPress user, there are a ton of social plugins that you can easily add and customize to your blog. Even if you operate on another platform you can still incorporate social sharing relatively easy. But whatever your platform may be one thing’s for sure, you MUST have social sharing ability built in to your site.
- Correct format? (some websites work best with discussion-specific plugins/modules)
- Latest social networks recognized?
Real Simple Syndication can be a huge win, and is a must in terms of maximizes traffic for the next big post you have coming out. This is also a good way to get an outside perspective on how good your content really is, I mean who’s going to subscribe to your feed if your content sucks, right? A prominent display of an RSS button and a Feedburner account is all that’s needed for this traffic generator.
- Where people can see it on my pages?
- Tracking data set up?
By “correct venue” I mean making the correct decision on whether to post your piece of content on your own bog, or choosing to submit to another site as a guest post? This can be a very hard-and tricky decision. One that is largely dependent on factors like industry, content schedule, and the guest post prospects themselves. Things that you may consider:
- “Can I spare a piece of content?” (schedule)
- “Will a guest post contribute to worthwhile exposure?”
- The terms of the accepting website (allow links, ease of submission)
The timing of posts is something that goes largely under-utilized, especially with smaller websites. While things like time zone, target market, reach, medium, should be taken into consideration, there are general rules that help determine when your content will get the most bang for it’s buck.
- Monday morning
- Eastern Standard Time
Now You’re Ready
The more you follow these, or similar guidelines before posting content, the greater your website will rank as a whole. This may be a time consuming process at first, but many things on the checklist are “one-and-done” items. When those items are covered the overall process will become much faster.
Now that you have all the necessary checkmarks, publish away!