Guide to Publishing Better Content

As a Duct Tape Marketing consultant, you have to know that I’m a huge fan of systems. We have all kinds of systems in our businesses–accounts payable, product or service fulfillment, whatever the case may be–you’ve most likely developed a process around it.

Likewise, the best way to write and deliver valuable content is to devise a system that ensures each piece meets the level of quality your organization wants to create each and every time.  Below you’ll find the details necessary for publishing better content.

The following content publishing checklist was devised for use as you start to write your content and then for use again as you publish and promote that content. A checklist is the best way to avoid mistakes and to ensure that a high quality system is followed. Go through this list each time you start a new piece of content to ensure you’ve got the process down.

content publishing checklist1.  Make sure your actual content is both meaningful and enticing.

Start with the title. This is what will initially grab your readers’ attention, so make it powerful! Ask yourself, if you came across an article with your title, would you click on the link? Brainstorm several engaging titles and then ask a colleague or friend which one grabs them the most. (Tip: Pay attention to why, and replicate this for future posts!)

Is there a clear takeaway? If your reader comes to the end of the post and still doesn’t understand why it was relevant, you failed. Make your main point clear with a thesis–yes those really work! First, determine why you wrote the article in the first place. Next, make this clear for your readers. (Bottom line: what you do want your readers to do or know after reading this?)

Work your takeaway into a call-to-action. Inspire your readers to apply what they just learned. This will also help to elucidate your takeaway: if they’re still somehow confused about what your article means for them, state it explicitly. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming, but make sure it’s there.

How is your content useful? Let your readers know exactly how your content helps them. They most likely wanted advice or assistance from you, so give it to them. Don’t let yourself get distracted–focus on the problem at hand. Look at it from the reader’s perspective. What do they need? Double-check to make sure your article actually helps them.

Pull out your glasses and check for errors. Step back from the main point and eliminate errors. Do not let a distracting typo take anything away from your content that you just worked so hard to perfect! (Tip: Read it aloud, not in your head. You’ll notice so much more this way!)

2.  Does your format match the content?

Interesting content deserves interesting formatting. There’s nothing worse than trying to read something that has no breaks or headings. Navigating blocks of text is a sure way to turn your readers off. Make it easy for them to scan–throw in bullets, lists, numbers, headings, or quotes. Spice it up! (Tip: Grouping content into sections allows readers to scan for what they need)

What images could you include? Now that you have relevant content with interesting formatting, throw in images. This will visually stimulate readers, helping keep their attention. Do not over-do it though, as this will also overwhelm your readers. (Tip: Use these as content permits–and be sure that your images are relevant.)

3.  Optimize your piece by paying attention to details.

Are your images visible? I don’t mean visible to readers–they can obviously see them. Make sure search engines also know that you have images. Your ALT tag is how the search engine will recognize that the image is speaking to your keyword phrase.

Are your links internal and external? Links can lead your readers to more relevant content. While you want to be sure to include internal links so that your readers will visit more of your own content, they will appreciate relevant external links if they help them learn even more about a specific subject or the origin of the content you might be quoting.

Optimize categories and tags. Be aware of the site your content is published on, and individualize your category and tags accordingly. You should be aware of how search engine optimization is dealt with. You will have one category and lots of specific tags.

Make sure your meta-information is compatible with search engines. Will your title fit into the search engine’s results page? When in doubt, keep it under 55 characters. The meta description can be up to 155 characters. If you still have any misgivings, you can use a tool. (Moz’s Title Tag tool works well.)

Optimize the URL too! Double check to make sure the URL still reflects your title and content. Make the URL appealing too! (Yes, readers notice the URL, especially if they want to share it.)

We’ve written another post that specifically addresses optimizing your blog posts.

4.  Double check your post and plan.

Preview how the final post will look. You don’t want to hit submit and then realize the post’s format looks completely different. Take the time to double-check and make certain your post is exactly how you want it and easy for your audience to read.

Make a schedule. Don’t wait until the set date and time to think about publishing the content. Rather, schedule it right away to avoid mistakes. (Tip: you can optimize the time and date on your post too! Look at what times readers come online and exploit it.)

Make a plan to promote the published piece. Look ahead so you know what you’ll do once you publish to pull readers in! Don’t take shortcuts at this point–you worked hard on your content, so work just as hard to make sure it’s visible to readers.

Plan out when and how you’ll use the content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks. Also think about which content is appropriate for paid distribution through sites like Outbrain.

Publishing better content is about following a system to ensure consistent quality with every post.  We’ve created an easy-to-use checklist that includes the details above so you can keep this list handy. Download a copy of this checklist now. Use the checklist to ensure that every piece of content you create delivers value and education for your audience and value and return on investment for your business.

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