The editing and publishing process is your last chance to ensure you’re putting out high-value content for your audience.
I’ve refined my process over the years across many niche websites. The result is a set of repeatable tasks that will work with just about any piece of writing.
If you follow what I do, you will spend 30-90 minutes per article developing the draft into a premier quality article that your audience will come back to read again and again.
Let’s dig in.
First Draft Assessments
My assessment of the article draft provided by our writers starts by leveraging some of the tools we use in our tech stack.
Essentially, I want the tools to tell me whether or not I should spend significant time working on the article, or if it needs to go back to the writer for immediate edits.
Here is how I assess the initial draft from the writer:
The first thing I do whenever I receive an article from a writer is to check for spelling and grammar errors.
To make this process easy, we’re using the free version of Grammarly for this case study.
I’m typically looking for a score of 90% or better using the proofreading tool. If the article that was delivered is below 80%, I’m sending it back to the writer for edits immediately.
If it scores between 80% and 90%, I’ll keep it and boost the score during my final edit session.
Once the document passes my spelling and grammar check, I then use Originality.ai to detect any AI writing tools that were used (without permission) to generate the article.
Similar to Grammarly, I have a baseline acceptance score from Originality.ai. I will keep any document that receives a human score of 70% or better. A document with a score below that will be returned to the writer.
We also use the “plagiarism check” feature to check for plagiarized and duplicate content.
I have very little wiggle room for plagiarism. So, I will return the document to the writer if there’s any sign of duplicate content.
The plagiarism feature on Originality.ai is still a little “hit-or-miss.”
So, for now, we’re using Copyscape as a redundancy for duplicate content checks.
It adds something like $.20 to $.50 of additional cost to the production of every article.
But, the cost is worth the peace of mind knowing that my published content will be completely original.
If you read our case study update about building content briefs, you’ll know how much time and energy I put into creating an outline in SurferSEO that is optimized for the target keyword.
So, needless to say, I fully expect the document to score at least 70% in SurferSEO.
I provide the writer with enough direction in my briefs and outlines for them to have a crystal clear understanding of my expectations for each section in the article.
If they can’t follow those directions and generate an article that scores at least 70% in SurferSEO, it’s unlikely that I’ll be using their services again in the future.
I’m able to easily boost these scores up into the 90% range during my final edits. So, I’ll probably increase my baseline score expectation from writers once we’re a few months into this.
It’s not difficult (at all) to create a highly-optimized article with Surfer. Writers just need to think!
The last step in my article assessment process is to read the article and develop margin notes about what I’d like to change in my final edit.
At this point, the document has passed spelling, grammar, plagiarism, and optimization checks.
All that’s left is for it to pass a “human check.”
For my manual review, I read the document line-by-line and evaluate the writing.
Here’s what I’m looking for during this step in the process:
- Does the sentence or paragraph add value?
- Does the sentence fit in the paragraph?
- Are paragraphs and sentences concise and succinct?
- Is the provided information factually correct and up-to-date?
- Does the content in each section accurately address the search intent of the article?
- Do the tone of voice, point of view and general writing style match the target audience?
- Was the sentence or paragraph phrased awkwardly?
- Did any references to data, statistics, or other claims include a link to the primary source of that information?
- Is the article skimmable?
If I find something that doesn’t look quite right, based on the list above, I simply highlight the offending sentence or paragraph in Google docs and make a margin comment about what I want to change.
Once I’ve gone through the entire document and finished all of my commenting, I know the text is ready for my final edits.
SurferSEO provides a suggestion for how many images should be included in the article.
It’s usually provided as a range such as “12 to 27” images, instead of a single, hard number.
I like to add enough images to the article to get into the range, but not max it out. I do this so that there’s room to optimize the article later on. Or, in other words, I take a “minimum effective dose” approach to integrating images.
Once I know how many images I’d like to include in the document, I navigate to my favorite free stock image websites to see if I can find photos that will work for the topic.
Here are the free stock image sites that I like to use:
My image selection criteria are simple. I look for horizontal stock photos (not vectors, graphics, illustrations, etc) that are highly relevant to the subsection of the article in which they’ll appear.
The free stock image websites will have something that will work most of the time.
If I can’t find anything that matches the topic of the article, I’ll spend a few bucks on Shutterstock for photos that meet my needs.
Optimizing Images for SEO
Image optimization is a sneaky ranking factor that a lot of niche site builders ignore (or forget about).
Here’s how I like to optimize my images:
- Resize images to 1200 x 630 pixels
- Set the image file name to target or secondary keyword (example: target-keyword.jpg)
- Set the image title and alt text to a target or secondary keyword
The featured image for each article will get the target keyword for its filename and alt text. Secondary keywords will be used for the other in-content images.
Later on, once the article is published, I’ll use a tool like Kraken.io to compress all of the images in my WordPress install in one shot.
Leveraging all of the tools in my editing stack helps to make the final edit a seamless process.
I pretty much just need to execute the margin notes I added previously and integrate the images that I sourced.
I work through the margin comments from my manual review first. Each comment is addressed individually and the document is edited accordingly.
Most of the time, all that’s required here is to rewrite certain sections of the article for clarity and concision. At worst, I may have to do a little research to make the information more valuable or add a source to a piece of data.
I’ll run the document through Grammarly, Originality, and Copyscape again after my edits are done. Typically, the scores on each of the tools will have improved (sometimes significantly) after my edits.
I’ll then paste the edited document and optimized images into the SurferSEO content editor.
Getting the final SurferSEO content score is always a fun surprise. Being able to see the score jump from the 70% that the writer achieved up to 90% or better is the payoff I need!
Publishing on WordPress
Now that all of the editing work is done on the document, it’s time to get it published on WordPress for the world to see.
The WordPress publishing process is stupid simple.
Here are the steps I take:
- Login to WordPress
- Navigate to the Media page
- Upload all images for the new article
- Ensure image titles and alt text are correct for each image
- Navigate to Posts > Add New
- Paste the article title into the title field
- Paste the article’s body content into the classic editor
- Ensure proper font size, heading tags, and line spacing
- Ensure all links are working properly
- Add images from the media library
- Set a featured image for the post
- “Edit snippet” in RankMath to update the title tag, article slug, and meta description
- Enter the target keyword in the “focus keyword” field of RankMath
- Use RankMath to set appropriate social images for Facebook and Twitter
- Save Draft
- Preview in new tab to ensure everything looks OK
Please note that everyone’s WordPress install will be slightly different depending on the theme and plugins that are being used. My publishing process leverages the GeneratePress theme, Classic Editor, and the RankMath plugin.
What’s on the Horizon…
Now that we have the site up and running, things are going to slow down a bit.
We need to get at least 100 articles published and build at least 50 backlinks before the end of the year.
That’s going to be somewhat of a grind…and won’t be very exciting.
So, going forward, we’re going to post updates about once per month. These future updates will feature a more traditional case study format; including rankings, traffic, expense, and profit updates regularly.
Our next update will be published in late March or early April ‘23 and will touch on indexation, initial link-building efforts, as well as some other odds and ends.
Are there any topics that you’d like us to cover specifically? Let us know in the comments!