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8 Steps and Tools for Content Quality Checking

9 min read

You’ve read our posts on creating and optimizing great content. You’ve developed a content strategy, planned, assigned and edited, and now you’re ready to post.

Don’t hit that publish button just yet. Have you put it through QA? 

Every good programmer knows, before you release anything out into the world, you put it through quality assurance (QA) using expert tools to look for bugs. Content Creators now have tools of their own to help ensure that they create high quality content.

What Does Quality Content Mean?

If you have strong editors on your team, then they are likely tuned into creating high quality content for your readers. They know there are terabytes of choices out there, and that readers are choosy and skeptical. To prove your content is worthy, it must be clear, credible, and comprehensive. 

The first two Cs, clear and credible are table stakes: grammatically and factually accurate. The Comprehensive component gets a bit trickier. How deeply and broadly do you go on any topic? When is enough, enough? 

There are many audiences for your content – but to keep it simple, I am referring to two in particular: human visitors and search engine crawlers. Search engines, or Google for the most part, are gatekeepers. You can buy Google ads to get people to your content, or you can optimize your content so it is indexed and ranks high on a search engine results page (SERP).

Achieving a high search engine ranking requires you to optimize your content for search engines. Turns out, what search engines like – benefits your readers to make it more engaging. 

The best way to augment your editorial process, and hit this third C, is through an AI-driven content checker. In a nutshell, it looks at the content you’ve written and compares it to what you’ll be competing against. Did you miss any topics? If so, this is the perfect time to add it. 

And even if you have a robust editing team, we know mistakes can happen. So we put together a list of content quality checkers you can use to make sure all your Cs are covered. 

Print them out, if you like, or paste them somewhere on your desktop. Then run through them every time you audit, optimize, or create new content for your content marketing efforts.

Step 1: Check Your Content for Originality

Before you even assign and create content, you should check to make sure your idea is original. If it’s a well-covered topic you want to rank on, make sure you’re taking a new spin on it.

You can do that by Googling keywords manually and seeing what pops up. If your topic has been done to death, or if some other site owns the ranking on that topic, you can find a different angle or move on.

But there are tools out there that will help you speed up the process.

SEMRush, for instance, is a keyword research tool that can help you get a more comprehensive picture of topic coverage. Plug in a topic or keyword you’d like to cover, and they’ll give you a list of trending articles and related topics.

MarketMuse can also help you plan quality, original content. By comparing your topic coverage with that of your competitors, you can see where your current content is overlapping and where you can differentiate. It can also help you choose new topics to target that have not yet been covered.

If you’ve already written your article — or if someone wrote it for you — a good plagiarism tool like Copyscape or Grammarly will keep you from duplicating content that appears somewhere else online.

The free version of Copyscape checks to make sure none of your content has been copied elsewhere, while the premium version lets you check new content for duplication before you publish it.Grammarly detects duplicate content within your text as you write and edit.

Step 2: Check Your Quality Content Score

The biggest challenge is taking a qualitative factor, like content quality, and turning it into something quantitative. But that step is critical if you want to take a data-driven approach to SEO content optimization, as opposed to relying on your gut. Plus, it’s the only way to realistically scale the content creation process.

Tools like MarketMuse provide a content quality score for any given topic. 

To be clear, Content Score has nothing to do with word count. Longer posts aren’t inherently better; they just have more words. Real subject matter experts can typically convey more information using fewer words. Thin content, by Google standards, refers to being shallow in coverage of the topic. 

Underpinning the concept of content quality is the idea that in-depth content is that which thoroughly covers important related subtopics. For example, if I’m discussing content quality, then I should talk about ‌audience, content scoring, search engines, and other concepts.

You can conduct a content audit after the fact, but you may find it easier to work content scoring into the content creation process. In this case, you’ll have specific quality standards to aim for when putting together the article. In the example above, we’re aiming for a Content Score of at least 39 based on how well other top-ranking pages have covered the subject.

All things being equal, if we achieve that score, we have a realistic chance at ranking well.

Step 3: Content Quality Checker for Grammar and Spelling

There’s no two ways about it. Bad grammar and poor spelling hurt your credibility, and create a distracting user experience. Google might not mind sloppy writing, you can bet your human readers will. 

Grammar and spelling mistakes tell your reader that you didn’t make much of an effort to create quality content. And if you didn’t bother to edit your piece, who’s to say you took the time to research the topic or vet your sources?

You can also recommend writers use a tool like Writer, or the editing functions in Word or Google Docs, to check spelling and grammar as they write. Your editorial team can use them, too. In the haste to get content out the door, editors can introduce errors without realizing it.

Step 4: Check Your Content for Brand Consistency

Writing teams often face the challenge of ensuring each piece of content produced reflects the standards of your brand. In theory, a style guide should help. But that only works if writers and editors reference that material. They’ll read it once if you’re lucky.

Acrolinx is an AI-powered platform that helps enterprises ensure their content is consistently on-brand and on-strategy. The best part is that it’s integrated into the workflow, which is the only practical way of ensuring content meets corporate standards.

Acrolinx records your company’s requirements for style, terminology and tone. During the process of creating content, the software provides in-line feedback that includes an Acrolinx Score. That score is a key part of ensuring alignment and makes it simple to check. A higher score means better content.

Step 5: Content Quality Checker for Reliable Sources

Part of search engine optimization is linking to internal and external sources. Connecting to sources right in an article serves three purposes:

  • It signals to Google that you’re providing high-quality content that is thoroughly researched.
  • It signals to your readers that the information has been verified and is therefore trustworthy.
  • It makes fact-checking a lot easier.

University and government research are generally trustworthy, as are museums and national publications like The New York Times and National Geographic.

It’s important to get to know the trusted sources within your field, as well. If you’re in healthcare, for example, the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health are good sources.

But even these guys get things wrong sometimes. That’s why it’s important not only to check sources but to check facts, too.

Step 6: Fact-Check Your Content

Fact-checking content takes a little more elbow grease. While Google does have a beta version of a fact-checking search engine, there aren’t really any tools that can scan and verify factual information.

Enlist your product marketing and R&D teams to review content. And make sure you check that the statistics and quotes from external sources are correct.

If you don’t have a source and you’re not sure where to start, you can paste the segment you want to check into a Google search and see what comes up. Make sure your fact shows up in two or three trusted places before you call it a day.

Step 7: Check Your Content for Broken Links

The internet is in constant flux. Organizations move, archive, or retire content, while some sites shut down altogether. When something moves or disappears, and a site hasn’t provided a redirect, you’re left with a broken link on your site.

Broken links lead to a bad user experience and tell search engine crawlers that your content out of date and not trustworthy. Checking for broken source links in your content should be a regular habit. And there are all kinds of tools that can help you do that.

I use a Chrome extension called Link Checker. Run the checker, and it will highlight all links on your page in green, red or yellow — green for good links, red for broken ones and yellow for redirects or links that are slow to respond.

If you want to check links across entire sections of your site — or across the whole thing — Screaming Frog and SEMRush both crawl for broken links.

If you want to rank well with your content and show your users that you really care about their needs, take the time to produce the best content possible. Bad-quality content costs more in the end anyway. So before you hit that publish button, run through your quality content checklist to make sure you truly are putting your best foot forward.

Step 8: Check Metadata Quality 

Here’s a quality check for when your content is ranking to see how well it’s converting. The metadata includes the Title Tag — as well as the description under it. Think of it like an ad for your content.

Google SERP result February 2024

Open your Google Search console and see how various stories are ranking. If you see that it ranks high by the search engine, but has a low click-thru rate, then look at the other title tags and descriptors that you are competing against. The best formation for metadata is as a tease.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Laurie is a freelance writer, editor, and content consultant and adjunct professor at Fisher College.  Her work includes the development and execution of content strategies for B2B and B2C companies, including marketing and audience research, content calendar creation, hiring and managing writers and editors, and SEO optimization. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.