How to proofread content right
We want to kill the taboo that you need to be a really good writer to proofread effectively.
You don’t need to be exquisite at grammar – these are some of the less important things when it comes to proofreading (no, that’s not a joke!)
Proofreading is much more than just ensuring technical accuracy, that’s the bare minimum! Anybody with a tool can go through a piece of content and find errors in spelling and grammar – that’s the easy bit. You can just shove it on Grammarly for this!
When you approach a piece of content that you want to proofread, the first thing you need to keep in mind is the content type. This will help you to quickly identify whether what has been written suits the medium or not.
As a digital marketer, there are a number of different types of copy that you may need to proofread. These include website copy, blogs, ad copy, posters and campaign work, subtitles, social media posts or reels – the list goes on.
- Ideal length of content
- If the messaging aligns with the purpose of the content
- What the content is asking somebody to do
- If the written copy is supporting any images/videos properly (or vice versa)
- If the content is in your brand voice
This will either be brand new, or refurbished, content for website landing pages, blog posts, and beyond.
This type of content should:
- Take keyword research into account (using phrases and words that real people would use to search for this type of content online)
- Include structured headings (i.e. a main heading and nested subtitles)
- Use calls to action (what should the reader do next?)
Every webpage on your site should have a clear goal in mind, and this goal needs to be referred to throughout. If it is not clear what the page is about, or the messaging and goal feels muddled, it needs to be rewritten.
Top Tip – On Page Titles. If a visitor to your website is skim reading a page (which they often will before they decide to read the whole thing) then the content of each section should be summarised for them in the subtitle. This will help them to quickly understand if this is the right page for them – and also help them quickly find important information on the page when returning to it.
A tool that you can use for your metadata, especially page title tags, is SISTRIX. This tool will show you if the page title tag (the title that people will see when they search for your content on Google) is too long, too short, within the pixel allowance etc.
Often, in order to see ad campaign structure and to organise your ads, it’s easier to keep them in a spreadsheet. However, beware that spreadsheets will not tell you when you’ve made a spelling mistake – so always write them outside of the spreadsheet in word or Google Docs for example, and triple check your ads before they go live (or get another pair of eyes to check them).
Ad copy must:
- Fit the character specifications of the medium.
- Have a clear and active title (try using verbs and calls to action)
- Be unambiguous
- Be hyper relevant to the content/product/service it is describing
- Look professional and be in the right voice
- Address the correct target audience
- Be enticing!
Nine Proofing Tips for Better Content
- Read the content out loud – if it sounds strange or feels hard to say, or clunky, then it needs work.
- Check for succinct sentences – read a sentence out loud all the way to the end. Can you remember (without looking) what was at the beginning of the sentence? If you can’t it is probably too long, and needs to change.
- Look for technical inaccuracies – the obvious one. Make sure everything is spelt right, and the grammar is correct. If in doubt, Google it – or use a tool like Grammarly.
- Ensure it’s relevant for the medium – does your blog content sound like a blog? Is your social media content snappy enough? Are your ads the right length? Check that what is written suits the medium it is written for!
- Check keywords – If you’re writing for digital, you should have performed keyword research beforehand to find out which words and phrases people use when searching for things on Google/Bing etc. Ideally, you will then use these keywords (naturally) in your content. Has the content included keywords and do they sound natural, or do they sound like they’ve been forced in there? Always write for your users, not search engines!
- Make sure hyperlinks are present and relevant – In certain types of copy (e.g. blogs and webpages) hyperlinks are really important. A Call the action could be hyperlinked to make it really easy for somebody to take the next step. You might have another blog post that is relevant to what they;re reading, so you could link to it in your copy.
- Check for quality – Is the copy actually any good? Does it clearly present information that adds value, that showcases products or services well, that is different to what’s already out there? This can be hard to quantify, but it’s very important. Put yourself in your website users shoes and think ‘If I had just spent five minutes reading this page, would I think it was five minutes well spent?’
- Check against competitor content – Is your content more creative, more engaging, and more informative than your competitors? What do they say in their ads, on their webpages, and in their campaigns? What CTAs do they use, and can you go one better? Always keep in tune with what other people are saying and how you can be better.
- Make sure it puts the reader first – All content should have the target reader at the forefront. Write for them, not for your boss, and definitely not for search engines. Find out about their anxieties, their customer journey, their needs and desires, and write content that speaks to them. If your content is not written for your reader, you need to re-write it and you’ll discover that in the proofing phase!