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A Website Content Checklist for Small Business

We’ve all been there: you’ve come up with a great idea for content, but just before you hit publish the self-doubt kicks in. What if it’s not actually good? Was all that work for nothing? There should be some kind of website content checklist you can run through, to make sure you’ve covered the bases!

That’s exactly what this is – a checklist to help you review your content, so you can feel confident when it goes live.

What Makes Great Content?

What your audience enjoys will be unique to your industry and your business. The people who read blogs about wealth management, cooking, building engineering, and wellness would likely have different expectations and standards for ‘great’ content.

But no matter your industry or medium, there are key areas that factor into your content’s success:

  • Content quality
  • SEO
  • User experience
  • Promotion

We’ll cover how to make your content awesome in each of these categories. Let’s get started.

The Website Content Checklist

This checklist is primarily focused on written content – blog posts, case studies, and white papers – but many of the tips are applicable across the board. We’ve singled out video and audio content where it needs special treatment.

Content Quality

Content quality is a factor in both your position in search results and the user experience you deliver to your audience. That’s why it deserves its own section in a website content checklist – and why we put it first.

These are the quality standards your content should hit.

Unique and helpful

Like a delicious meal, great content gives your audience something they want and leaves them satisfied.

Whether you’re creating a blog post, case study, or video, the intent should be to help your ideal customer by answering a question or solving a problem. It should also offer a fresh perspective, rather than regurgitating the same tips the reader can find from thousands of other sources.

Google loves written content that goes deep into the topic – the kind that will really satisfy the reader’s question. A Backlinko study of 11.8 million search results found that the average page-one result had 1,447 words.

Try these tips to find quality topics for your content:

    • Create content that helps solve your customers’ pain points
    • Build content around questions customers ask most about your products or services – ask everyone at your company who is customer-facing, and read social comments and reviews
    • Look for strong perspectives and expertise within your own team
    • Create product tutorials for configuration, usage, and troubleshooting
    • Use real customer stories to create authentic content
    • Study your competitors’ content – then do it better!

Struggling with what to write? Try our list of 20 awesome blog content ideas for small business!

Great grammar

With so many helpful content tools to analyze your grammar, there’s no excuse for poor-quality writing! Content that’s riddled with errors won’t deliver a good user experience, so search engines won’t rank it well.

Google Docs, Grammarly, and other writing tools offer suggestions to fix your phrasing, as well as correcting spelling mistakes in content like articles and video subtitles or transcripts. A great way to further check your content is to have someone read it aloud to you. If they stumble over phrasing, or they have to pause for a breath mid-sentence, you’ve got some edits to do.

Web-friendly copy

Reading on a phone, tablet, or computer is nothing like reading a book. Make your written content visually appealing and scannable with styling to break up the copy:

    • Use headings and indentation to make sub-topics easy to find
    • Keep paragraphs short; 2-3 sentences is ideal for mobile reading
    • Break up long scrolls of text with bullet lists, pull quotes, or images
    • Use bold text to make important details stand out
    • Consider WordPress plugins that enhance your content’s user experience, like Table of Contents and Reading Time

Web-friendly copy also uses the kind of language your audience would use, and avoids jargon.

Branding

Quality content distinctly feels like it belongs to your business. A potential customer should get the same vibe from your website and social media as they would if they walked into your store.

We recommend using the same styling (layout, headings, paragraph formatting) for copy, which is easy if you have a WordPress website with page and post templates. Whether you use custom or stock images, choosing similar styles of imagery and social media filters will tie your content together.

Video quality standards vary by industry, but a good rule of thumb is that any video embedded on your website should look professional. Social media video quality can be more relaxed, if that suits your viewers.

E-A-T

E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. According to Google’s search quality guidelines, E-A-T is mostly critical for industries publishing content that impacts “a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” However, this evaluation is used in ranking all websites, and you can get a high E-A-T score with what Google calls “everyday expertise.”

Here are the key contributing factors to E-A-T:

    • The author’s expertise relative to the topic
    • The author’s thought leadership in the industry
    • The website’s authoritativeness based on other pages or posts
    • Any facts are backed by reliable, legitimate sources
    • The website is trustworthy and secure
    • The author is trustworthy based on other content linked to their name

SEO

Search engine optimization is highly important to your content’s success. SEO is how you get eyes on your content in the first place, so it can work its magic and generate leads and sales. Any website content checklist that doesn’t dig into how to optimize your content is useless!

Here are the main SEO points to cover in your content review.

Keywords

Although Google’s algorithms learn the point of your content from many on-page and link factors, keywords still matter. Unlike the keyword stuffing ways of the past (using the same phrase over and over to trick search engines), there are new ways to best use keywords:

    • Have a clear keyword strategy for each piece of content; it helps if you know your keywords before you start writing so you can add them naturally into your sentences
    • Keyword placement matters – Google pays attention when the search terms are in your post title (especially at the beginning), in the URL, and in headings
    • Use synonyms and conversational language – there are so many ways to search, including social search (especially YouTube and Pinterest) and voice search, so it’s important to use synonyms and different combinations of phrasing your audience might use

Image optimization

Image optimization is important on multiple levels. Optimizing your file sizes improves page load times, which is definitely one of Google’s ranking factors. And adding your keywords to the filename, title, description, and image ALT text can help your images appear in Google image searches while giving further context to your content.

Don’t forget about GIF engine optimization (GEO)! Giphy is now the world’s second largest search engine to Google, surpassing YouTube.

Video and audio optimization

Video SEO includes optimizing your filename, title, and description with keywords and enticing copy, and picking a great thumbnail to encourage clicks. Videos appear above page URLs in search results, so the payoff for good video optimization is huge.

Podcast SEO is similar, including optimizing titles, descriptions, and metadata.

Meta descriptions

Meta description copy is not a Google ranking factor. But other search engines like Yahoo and Bing do analyze meta descriptions, and the copy people see under the page title in Google search results influences whether or not they click to visit your content.

Make sure to use your keywords if they fit naturally, and to really sell your content – without resorting to clickbait. Long meta descriptions will truncate, which could hide an important part of your message. Keep the description between 120 characters (ideal for mobile) and 158 (the cutoff for desktop).

Meta descriptions are easy to edit on a WordPress website, using the Yoast SEO plugin. The tool even generates mobile and desktop previews so you can see how your title and meta description will look in search results.

Linking

If there’s one aspect of SEO that has maintained a long term relationship with Google, it’s links. There are three kinds of links your written content should contain:

    • Internal links – Linking to other pages on your site within the copy guides readers to next steps; it also helps Google understand your content, how it relates to your site, and how your site structure works for crawling
    • External outbound links – Linking to high quality sources tells Google what your content is about, and that you’re trustworthy (hello, E-A-T!)
    • External inbound links – Earning links from quality websites improves your ranking the same way kids in teen movies bribe popular students to hang out with them – some of the SEO ‘juice’ is passed from the other site to yours, telling Google you’re cool

User Experience

The experience people have while engaging with your content depends on so many factors. Some are beyond your control, like which browser or device a person uses, while others like content quality and site security are easy to manage. It’s up to you to do everything you can to facilitate as many smooth visitor experiences as possible.

Here are the top UX areas we’ve picked for our website content checklist.

Page Speed

Your audience expects websites to load instantly. And guess what? Google does, too. Page speed is important for both user experience and SEO. You can use a tool like Hubspot Website Grader or Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyze your content.

Suggestions for faster page loads might include image and file compression, reducing excess code, using browser caching, using a CDN, and addressing issues with your server or redirects.

Anvil websites are hosted on a powerful dedicated cloud server, and include optimized coding and compressed images. On top of that, they come with an integrated CDN for improved image loading, SSL for heightened security, and multi-level site caching.

In short – they’re built with page speed in mind.

Mobile optimization

Over 52% of global Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s why mobile-friendliness holds increasing weight for search rankings. It’s a great idea to QA your content on mobile devices to make sure it holds up:

    • Website is responsive to mobile devices (doesn’t require side scrolling to see the edges of pages)
    • Buttons are easy to tap, not too close together or too small
    • Text is legible against backgrounds, and easy to read on a small device
    • Linked text within copy is easy to tap
    • Menus are reachable with one hand (the thumb zone!)
    • Images appear correctly within pages
    • Videos are sized correctly for the hosting platform, and play properly

Clear navigation

Your website’s navigation is literally the only way people can move from one piece of content to the next. And unless someone is on your contact page, there’s a really good chance you want them to make a next move.

Main website pages should have primary and footer navigation that are uncluttered, and clearly explain how to get around. Blog posts and other written content including services, product detail pages, and case studies should feature links or pull quotes within the copy to relevant parts of your site.

Bonus points if your website’s post template features related content by a tag or category, displaying images and excerpts that entice the reader to keep going!

Reduce the ‘extras’

Even though bad ‘90s websites are mostly extinct, there are always new design trends that tempt businesses and distract website visitors.

All the extras around your content are barriers. They delay or even prevent visitors from getting to the point – and the next step toward conversion. We recommend minimal use of auto-play videos, image or testimonial sliders (also known as carousels), pop-ups on your pages and posts, and annotations in your videos.

Site security

Although security isn’t directly related to content, it’s a huge part of the user experience and impacts your content’s success. Most browsers give users a warning if they’re about to visit a website that’s not secure. Even if your site isn’t gathering critical personal data, that warning can be enough to scare people into bouncing from your content.

Make sure your site is hosted on a secure server (uses the HTTPS protocol). A dedicated server like Anvil’s Google C2 hosting ensures the fastest site speed, because you aren’t sharing server resources with other businesses.

Social media

There are many digital marketing tactics to promote your content, like social media, email, influencers, and ads. All of them have unique benefits that can greatly increase your content’s reach. We recommend starting with social media because it’s easy – and it’s free.

Social media also impacts your SEO, through each profile’s business details, audience engagement, and any keywords present in your business descriptions and posts. Social media rounds off our website content checklist with methods to enhance and boost your content, so that both people and search engines can see how great it really is.

Open Graph optimization

Open Graph is an Internet protocol that allows you to customize how your content appears when it’s shared on social media. That way your feature image will be the right size for each platform, and you can create unique titles and descriptions suited to each audience.

You can access Open Graph on WordPress websites through plugins like Yoast SEO. Customization for social can then easily be done right within the editor for the page or post.

Scheduling posts

Rather than expecting your SEO to do all the work (it won’t), regularly share your content on your social channels. Too many businesses only share new content when it goes live, and then never again. As long as your articles or videos are still accurate and relevant, keep sharing them!

Here’s how to use social media to get the most out of your content:

    • Use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to easily create a week or even a month’s worth of posts that share your articles and videos, all at once
    • Pin a post about your best content to the top of your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook profiles
    • Share YouTube videos often on your other social channels
    • Create YouTube playlists that group your related video content together
    • Use post copy to ask questions about the content you’re sharing, to engage your audience
    • Regularly share content from other industry experts; they’ll get a notification, which could lead to them sharing your content or collaborating with you
    • Don’t forget to share your primary website pages, too! If you have a reviews page, testimonials, FAQs, process, or services pages, that’s all great content for social media
    • Promote your social profiles on other channels, such as sharing your Instagram profile on LinkedIn or adding different social links to your YouTube channel

 

We hope you found our website content checklist useful! If you need more help whipping your content into shape, check out all the handy digital marketing tools we use and highly recommend. Don’t forget that if you’re an Anvil client, you can reach out to your digital strategist any time for advice.

Written By:

Pam Berg

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