How many times have you walked into the grocery store, on a mission to purchase a handful of specific items, only to get home and realize you left with none of them in hand?
We forget things. It’s all too easy to do, even with the most mundane everyday tasks.
This is especially true for us content marketers as we cycle through continuous states of research, creation and publication. Once you’re ready to publish, all of the other steps in between become a blur. And with the finish line close in sight, hitting that post button feels like the ultimate sign of a job well done.
To make sure it does just that, keep this ultimate content publishing checklist front and center the next time you’re about give the final stamp of approval.
Content Checklist for Subject Matter
Is the content relevant to my audience?
First and foremost, any piece of content created on behalf of your brand should be reflective of the needs of your audience. If you have audience personas developed for defining just that, this is the time to pull them up and do a gut check.
Is the content relevant to my brand?
In conjunction with the who that you’re speaking to, you should also be evaluating for the who that’s speaking. Is the style and tone consistent with what the brand aims to evoke in their communications? At this fork in the road, if your team hasn’t yet created brand voice guidelines, it might be worth taking the time to do so.
Does the content add something new or add to the clutter?
Content shock is real and admittedly, a good thing for marketers. Use that clutter that already exists on subject matters your brand is interested in contributing to, to help set you apart from the rest. If the piece in question is simply a rehashing of someone else’s article, point for point, go back to the drawing board.
Does this subject have content atomization potential?
A single piece of content can be the gift that keeps on giving when leveraged properly. Before publishing, make note of all the potential topics and formats that could be explored. Should the subject matter prove popular, you can then be ready to explore other ways in which it could be repurposed.
Content Checklist for Quality of Writing
Has this been edited for spelling and grammar?
A glaring spelling mistake in the first sentence of an introduction paragraph is not going to bode well for your brand’s credibility. Take the time to edit, preferably using another set of eyes outside of just the writers.
Has this been reviewed for understanding?
Spelling and grammar are one thing, understanding is another. When reading through your content, make sure sentence structure aligns with the ideas being conveyed. If someone walks away from your writing more confused than enlightened, that’s definitely not a win.
Have sources been cited?
The sheer volume of content published on any given day has led to sloppiness in the realm of sourcing. If you’ve pulled in statistics, link to the source. If you’ve pulled in quotes, link to the source. If you’ve pulled in original ideas that were clearly not generated from your own mind alone, link to the source. And naturally, the same goes for imagery.
Is there a clear call-to-action (CTA)?
Your content is serving a purpose, so make sure it’s defined and made clear for readers/viewers. Whether highlighted multiple times throughout your piece or saved for the very end, make sure you can pinpoint the desired CTA.
Content Checklist for Visual Assets
Are there any?
A wall of text, as well-written as it may be, can be incredibly daunting and hard to digest among readers. Include images in your marketing—make the content worth engaging with and shareable for greater amplification.
Are they high quality?
If you’re using visuals, make sure they’re formatted based on file size and other quality measures by channel. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful piece of content tainted by pixelation or a cut-off link preview.
If using stock photography, have these photos been over-used?
Utilizing stock photography in your content is not the end of the world, as long as you’re not using photos that have become cliches due to over-use or not adding your own spin to them. Assuming you’ve acquired the necessary photo rights for doing so, there’s nothing wrong with reinventing a stock photo into something more original and aligned with your brand.
Is there potential to use video?
Video is not out of the realm of possibility based on budget alone. Explore ways in which you can use the medium to bring your brand narrative to life, and you’ll create content that’s much more thorough and engaging in the process.
Content Checklist for Formatting and Structure
Does the formatting correlate with the channel?
There are content types that work better on certain channels over others. Short-form text shares make sense for Twitter. Infographics translate well via blogs. Look at your content in context of where it’ll be shared to give it the best possible chance for engagement.
Have the ideas been structured to flow sensibly?
Visuals aside, there are ways to make a piece of writing more appealing with formatting alone. For example, headlines and subheadings are your friend; they visually break up the page by ideas.
Is this piece readable?
Your audience doesn’t have all the time in the world to sit and read your content. In fact, they need a reason to do so and readability definitely plays into that. Chunk ideas by short and concise paragraphs, call out noteworthy pull-quotes and provide links in your introduction that navigate readers to the sections of content they have the most interest in; these are just a few ways to aid in retention.
Content Checklist for SEO Optimization
Have external and internal links been included?
Backlinking is SEO gold. When you provide an outlet for other relevant content on and off your website, you build the authority of your own content. This translates into better engagement, others linking out to your content and better rankings across the board.
Has metadata been filled out?
Filling out your metadata is crucial for how your content will appear in search previews on Google. Moz’s title tag tool is a great place to turn to for mocking up how your results will appear to the masses.
Is the keyword utilized throughout the piece?
A key component of your content publishing checklist, it’s important to note that keyword optimization should not be equated to keyword stuffing. You want to prove your content is relevant to the subjects you’re trying to rank for, but you don’t want to turn readers away with poor writing in the process.
Content Checklist for Posting
Has the piece been previewed?
Content management systems (CMS) will allow you to preview content before publishing live, so utilize this feature. It will give you the opportunity to see the formatting and visual assets in action, so you can make necessary tweaks as needed.
Is there a distribution plan in place?
If people don’t know your content exists, how are they supposed to read it? Don’t assume that it’ll be found—put a distribution plan in place to reach those looking for your content.
Will this piece be promoted with any paid advertising?
Similarly, if you feel a piece of content warrants some paid promotion, make sure you’ve laid out the next steps before pushing something live. Promoted content should be an element of your overall content marketing strategy, not an afterthought.