When writing website content, most people become concerned with article topics and search engine optimisation. While these two factors are hugely important, sometimes another imperative aspect is forgotten: proofreading.
As good as your staff writers or your hired writing agency may be, there is always a chance that mistakes like typos, grammatical errors, or other issues will slip through the cracks and cause content quality to suffer.
This ends up being a problem because a company’s website and content directly reflects on the business as a whole; as a business owner you want to make sure that you and your company are being portrayed in a positive light through your web content. While typos are inevitable in the writing process, there should be a clear proofreading process in place so that the number of errors that slip through are kept to a minimum.
The Proofreading Process
Proofreading can and should be a lengthy process; it shouldn’t be a one-step practice. Proofreading should start once the actual writing stops. All of your writers should proofread their own work in an attempt to catch as many mistakes as possible; the goal should be clean content that will need minimal or no editing. The content should then be passed on to a copy editor who will read over the article for any missed mistakes.
First, a copy editor should check for an overall sense of unity (font, colour, layout, type size, etc.). If there are necessary changes in typeface, colour, or any other style element the copy editor should make sure that it isn’t done arbitrarily.
Next, an editor should make sure that all text is readable. This is where typos, grammatical errors, and other structural mistakes will be rectified. They should also make sure that no colloquialisms or abbreviations made it past the writer’s proof; if your company uses a style guide it will be useful in this step.
At this point, the article should be free of all technical errors. Now, the editor should move on to the content itself. This will ensure that the article is properly organised and that all facts are accurate.
Finally, an editor may have to make sure that all links lead to their proper destination, that the article is optimised for search engines properly, and that all company information (copyright statements, email addresses, etc.) are present and free of errors.
Ideally, each article should be edited multiple times by different people to ensure that all errors are caught.
Proofreading for More than Grammar
Proofreading an article for typos, grammatical errors, and other structural mistakes is important but the website content, as a whole, should be proofread. This has to do with the organisation of an article, the clarity of the writing and fact-checking.
Fact-checking is incredibly important, especially if you’re writing websites that are based on hard information (medical websites, industry-specific sites, etc.). Simple mistakes, like an improper transmutation in a statistic, can cause wide-spread errors throughout the article, not to mention embarrassment to your company; and possibly serious problems (publishing inaccurate research data or mis-labelling a sales brochure can result in legal issues). By fact-checking all hard facts used in an article, you can avoid these complications; most errors are obvious to the industry expert.
The organisation of an article is also important. If arbitrary facts are thrown together with specific keywords or keyword phrases, it will seem disjointed and difficult to read. When writing websites or content for a new website you (or your writing staff) should organise each article in a way that flows from one paragraph to the next. This will also ensure that the content is clear and concise.
How Errors Hurt You
Typos and grammatical errors can actually affect the way your business is perceived by the reader. People stop to read web content because they’re looking for specific information on a particular topic. They want the information they’re reading to be credible and reliable, too; poor grammar, or careless writing, can harm your website and company’s credibility.
With an abundance of information available on any one topic, readers take the time to find an article that they deem to be the most reliable. Poor quality content may make your company seem amateurish rather than authoritative. This is likely to mean that people won’t share your article through social media or any other channel, which will hurt your organic traffic.
Writing errors may also make the new website content hard to comprehend; for example a lack of punctuation can turn a simple sentence into a jumbled mess. Frequent typos, especially mis-spelled keywords, can hurt your search rankings as well. While search engines can predict text and infer what users are searching for, your website will never rarely in its relevant search results if there are lots of spelling errors.
You shouldn’t rely solely on spell-check software when proofreading content. Spell checkers only point out words that aren’t in the program’s dictionary; they will never check for usage errors such as the misuse of words “their,” “there,” and “they’re” because they are all spelled correctly. This amateurish mistake is a sign of low standards, which can quickly affect a reader’s opinion of you and your company.