Content is one of the driving factors in the online world. Many things revolve around content and without it, a lot of things wouldn’t be as effective. Without content, brands and individuals alike wouldn’t be able to make an impact online and engage their audiences. That’s why the concept of having a quality content checklist is so important.
Content matters, and it always will. It will always evolve and the rules for content creation will change, but it will always be incredibly important. Fundamentally, the quality of content is defined and judged by your audience and you need to learn what they like and give it to them.
This sounds easier than it is, especially today when trends emerge and die in a matter of weeks. Still, there are certain general rules that can always help you improve your content and help you write better. Today we are going to discuss those things.
Quality Content Checklist
Is your grammar in order?
The absolute foundation of your writing and the thing you can’t go without is proper grammar. There are two main reasons for this.
The first reason is that you will lose credibility with your readers if they notice that you have poor writing skills. There is no way around it, nobody will take you seriously and put trust in your content if they notice grammar errors.
Google favors quality content writing
The second reason is Google. If you are making blogging for SEO purposes or content marketing, you cannot afford to have grammar mistakes because Google also checks every piece of content for its writing quality and “rates” it based on the quality, among other things.
Simply put, your results will be poor in case you have lots of errors. Google tries to favor content that is written properly and their algorithms look for grammar errors.
This is why you need to work on your writing skills and proofread each piece of content thoroughly.
Have you adapted your style to the project?
Not each piece of quality content needs to be written in the same way. Writing is a broad discipline that can include many different approaches. Apart from knowing how to write, you need to be good at determining what you need to write and how.
You need to know your target audience and the purpose of your content. This is the only way your content will be relevant and offer value to readers. For example, if you are writing a lifestyle blog post, you need to keep it fresh, casual, and simple, so that everyone can understand what you’re talking about.
On the other hand, if you are writing an instruction manual on how to use a certain software solution, then you need to be precise, accurate and offer clear steps that will help future readers use that software properly and achieve their goals.
Showing off your style is important, but it shouldn’t compromise the purpose of your content.
Is your research reliable?
An essential part of being a content writer is doing research. Without it, you will never get your content to the level of quality you want. Simply put, you will often have to write on topics you have no knowledge of. In these situations, you need to do proper research and draw relevant conclusions backed by facts.
For your research to be reliable you need to draw information from:
- Research papers
- Relevant experts
You need to learn how to find a relevant and credible source that will give you the information you can rely on to write your content. You need to be thorough with your fact-checking and make sure that you aren’t writing on an unfamiliar topic, solely on your assumptions, as this is how you can easily lose all your credibility as a writer.
Does your quality content provide value?
Offering a lot of accurate information is a good foundation but even these things don’t guarantee that your content has value. Being original and offering something new is very difficult. If you do a quick Google search right now, you will find a lot of similar content that is simply regurgitated and offers nothing new.
If your content fits into this category, chances are that readers will lose interest in it very quickly. This is where the perspective and subjective opinions you’ve formed based on your research comes into play. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about marketing, nutrition, or how to be a pet owner, you need to give your own input and that fresh angle that will spark interest with your readers.
There are two ways you can do this.
The first way is to rely on your opinions and thoughts about a certain topic and do some guided research in that direction. If there is credible information that proves your point, work on your narrative from that angle.
The second way is to simply read as much as possible about a topic without any presumptions, and once you’ve formed a certain judgment and gathered enough information that inspires your story, write it.
Both of these methods can be equally effective, as long as you try to learn something new yourself and then simply present your conclusions truthfully through your writing.
Are the visuals for your quality content enticing?
Every piece of written content needs to be followed up with appropriate visuals. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about articles, press releases, blog posts, catalogs, or landing pages, visual elements are crucial. Quality visuals can:
- Give readers a better perspective
- Explain certain pieces of information better
- Offer examples
- Keep readers engaged
- Remove any doubts from the reader’s mind
For example, earlier we talked about an instruction manual for a software tool. With every few lines of text that explain a single step, you can add an image or a short video that demonstrates how the step is done. This makes it easier for readers to understand what they need to do and leaves no room for mistakes.
Does it pass the readability test?
No matter how well-defined your target audience is, it is still very diverse with many different individuals. This is why it’s important to make sure your content is easy to understand. To achieve this, here are six tips you should follow:
- Make sure that you avoid using too many complex words.
- Adjust your language to your target audience.
- Avoid using an excessive amount of jargon.
- Make your message direct and clear.
- Try to be as simple as possible without offending your readers.
- Keep your sentences as short as possible.
You need to learn to use your words effectively and try to explain things as simply as possible. Of course, when you are talking about complex issues, don’t be afraid to get wordy, but don’t overdo it. There are many readability tools you can use to test your texts.
Is your quality content skimmable?
People don’t have a lot of patience and they value their time. It’s often easy to make people start reading your content, but difficult to make them follow through until the end. Having tons of information in your content doesn’t guarantee that readers will find it useful.
Readers want skimmable content, which means easy to read and make sense of. If you put a pillar of text in front of them, they will simply give up on it. Additionally, a lot of people who want to read your content will already know certain things you talk about and will only be interested in certain parts of your content.
This is why you need to ensure your quality content has:
- A lot of white space and new paragraphs
- Interesting headings and headlines
- Short summaries on the end of each heading
- Bullets and numberings
- Questions in texts, headings, and subheadings
- A story that flows throughout your content
Would you read it?
The last question you need to answer is whether or not you would read the piece of content you’ve just written. Of course, writers can often be overly critical towards their work, but when you invest a lot of time and effort into building a coherent piece of content meant to offer value, you will get that feeling of satisfaction.
If you think that you’ve learned and shared something new, then chances are that it has value. Never go ahead and publish a piece of content unless you are satisfied with it. Sometimes it’s best to call it a day and continue your work tomorrow with a fresh perspective.
If you follow this checklist, I guarantee you that the quality of your content will improve. In the end, remember to add a lot of useful links that can further help readers expand their knowledge on the topic. Additionally, if you feel the readers need to verify the information you’ve shared with them, add relevant sources at the end of your content.
What do you think? Have you ever created a similar quality content checklist to help set a standard for your company’s content marketing program? Did it include the same things mentioned in this article? Please do chime in so that we can all improve the quality of our content marketing!