23-Point Peer Editing Checklist for Creating Exceptional Content

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


  • 10/24/2016

    23-Point Peer Editing Checklist for Creating Exceptional Contentprocess.st/peer-editing-checklist/

    An editor is a writers best friend.

    For me, thats literally the case. Ive known Ben Mulholland since my school days

    But for you, an editor is your best friend because nothing helps a writer grow faster than a great editor .

    How will you know if what youre writing is any good? You write to the best of your abilities, so to you even the mostpoorly received article was supposed to be good.

    An editor, however, will be able to sniff out weakness straight away.

    The opening line is weak

    I lost interest during this paragraph

    You dont source this quote

    And so on

    So you need an editor. And an editor needs a peer editing checklist.

    At Process Street, we use checklists for everything we do. We have a pre-publish checklist for blog posts andmarketing emails. We have a checklist for keyword research. We even have a checklist for making checklists.

    In this post, I want to share with you our peer editing checklist for training writers and editors to become the bestthey can be, and creating stellar blog content.

    Lets go!



  • P.S: Scroll right to the bottom for an interactive version of this checklist!

    Structure and theme:

    What are your first impressions of the post?

    From reading it through once out loud, youll be able to tell where the flow breaks, where you got bored, and all kindsof vital reactions that readers will be experiencing, too.

    In this section, youll check:

    Read the entire post through once aloud

    The post is interesting

    The post is unique

    The post is actionable

    The structure flows logically

    Subheadings make sense when read alone

    Post is scannable

    Read the entire post through once aloud

    Reading a post aloud is the best way to find mistakes and dodgy language. Kate Kiefer Lee says she always readsher blog posts out loud because it helps her:

    Catch errors

    Improve the flow

    Write more like you speak

    Youll catch out any unnatural language while reading aloud, and quickly be able to tell how to rewrite it.

    The post is interesting

    Is the post boring? What kinds of content do you find boring? A good writer can make an interesting article out ofpretty much any topic.

    For example, I once set about writing about the importance of business processes.




  • Right?

    Instead, I turned it into a series of stories: NASA blew up a satellite, the most disastrous train-wreck in historyhappened, and the nuclear reaction at Chernobyl went into meltdown.

    That doesnt sound quite so bad, right? All of these issues happened because of bad processes, so it was theperfect way of showing you how terrible things can be if you dont bother to follow standard procedure.

    According to Neil Patel, there are 9 elements to an interesting blog post:



  • 1. A story

    2. First person writing

    3. Foreshadowing (in this post)

    4. Transition (weve looked at X, now were going to look at Y)

    5. Clarity

    6. Brevity

    7. Flow and detail (think article, not outline)

    8. Short sentences

    9. Scannable chunks of text

    The post is unique

    Uniqueness is the easiest thing on the list! All you have to do is tell a story from your own experience, or put apersonal twist on the post. See at the start where I talk about my friend being my editor?

    Also, I couldnt find another peer-proofing checklist for bloggers on the internet anywhere, so thats another.

    Make sure the post is:

    Telling a story

    Combining data or advice in a unique way

    Sharing an opinion

    The post is actionable

    Yes, actionable does sound like an empty buzzword

    The thing is, it will make or break your blog posts.

    If a user doesnt know what to do with what theyve just read, or even if theyve learned anything they canimplement, theyre going to be disappointed. And so are you when you look at your traffic.

    There are a few simple ways to make posts more actionable, so dont worry!

    1. Use for example, a lot

    2. Demonstrate with images and screenshots

    3. Use videos to show how to do something

    4. Use imperatives to tell your reader what to do

    The structure flows logically

    Lets say youre reading a blog post to find out more about a topic

    What do you expect?

    You expect to find out what it is exactly, why you should care, see some examples, and see how to implement ityourself.



  • And thats how blog posts youre editing work, too.

    If youre giving people the how before you give them the why, theyre less likely to read on.

    Heres the anatomy of a perfect blog post, according to CoSchedule:

    Subheadings make sense when read alone

    Subheadings need to convey value and make enough sense on their own to show the reader what the post contains.Cut vague subheadings like What happened? and Why this matters use scannable headings that add value.



  • Read this guide for more information.

    Post is scannable

    Its a fact that readers on the web are going to scan your post whether you think thats good or not. The best thingyou can do is to make it scannable, because readers will first scan the main points to determine whether or not theyshould bother reading the post.

    Show them that its worth it by:

    Using images

    Using bullet points or numbered lists

    Using short one-line paragraphs

    If a post looks like one massive wall of text, no-ones going to read it. Youll get a high bounce rate, itll kill your SEO,and it offers a bad user experience.

    At Process Street, we make it a rule that no paragraph can be over two sentences in length.

    Line editing:6/15


  • After going through the piece as a whole, you need to check it word by word, line by line.

    Most people think that this is the only part of editing you need to do, but thats totally wrong. Editing is everythingfrom tone, to style, to content. Not just spelling and grammar.

    Included in this section:

    Run spelling & grammar check

    Opening line grabs the readers attention

    Remove filler words

    Remove passive voice where possible

    Hyphenation is correct

    Call to action at the end

    Run spelling & grammar check

    If the writer didnt have Grammarly installed while writing, its your job to double-check the post for spelling andgrammar problems.

    Common issues include:

    Confused homonyms (there, theyre)

    Missing comma after introductory clause

    Missing apostrophes

    Read this post for 25 of the most common grammar mistakes (but more importantly, install Grammarly and neverneed to check for grammar issues again).

    Make sure the opening line grabs the readers attention

    The best content and copy keeps readers hooks right from the start. The first sentence drags readers onto the nextone. The next one takes them further and further down the page.

    It all starts with a great opening line! Brian Deans the master at this, and even has his own formula for you to do thesame.



  • You can see this exact technique in action on his post about squeeze pages:

    Remove filler words

    Actually, probably, really, very, possibly, like, pretty, which is.8/15

  • Filler words suck the life out of your content, and youre better off deleting all of them.

    This top 10 list from Erin Feldman shows the most common examples:

    1. Just

    2. So

    3. Very

    4. Really

    5. That

    6. And then

    7. But

    8. Of

    9. Some

    10. Like

    Want a comprehensive list of 297? Click here.

    Remove the passive voice where possible

    Its best to describe the passive voice with an example:

    When youre speaking indirectly (the window was broken by the boy), it makes it harder for the reader to makesense of whats being said, and uses unnecessary words.

    Action: Instead of saying the window was broken by the boy, say the boy broke the window. Much better.

    Hyphenation is correct

    Hyphenation is complex, but you want to get it right to avoid confusion. Its not one of those rules that could bethrown away, because without correct usage you could end up making silly mistakes. For example:

    Confusing: Springfield has little town charm.

    With hyphen: Springfield has little-town charm.9/15


  • There are 20 different rules for using hyphens. If youre unsure, or think that a word seems wrong when hyphenated,check that guide for a quick reference point.

    Call to action at the end

    When the readers finished your blog post, whats the next thing you want them to do? Share, comment, buy yourproduct?

    Since blog posts are there for marketing purposes, you need to make sure the post is focused on its end goal.

    Action: Add a call to action at the end of the blog post. Check here for the different kinds you can use.

    On-page SEO:

    Aside from getting backlinks, optimizing the content for search is the 2nd most important thing you can do to makesure youre in for a chance of getting as much organic search traffic as possible.

    This means you need to make sure that:

    The keyword is in the title

    The keyword is in the first 100 words

    The meta-description contains the keyword

    The post contains LSI keywords

    H2s are keyword optimized

    Image alt tags are keyword optimized

    Slug contains keyword

    5+ outbound authority links10/15


  • 5+ deep links

    Content is over 1,800 words long

    The keyword is in the title

    In the words of Brian Dean:

    The title tag is a webpages second most important piece of content (besides the content of thepage) and therefore sends a strong on-page SEO signal.

    Action: Always make sure to use the keyword in the title of the page, especially closer to the start of the title. Forexample: SEO Tips: 38 Ways to Boost Organic Traffic.

    The keyword is in the first 100 words

    SEO tool SEMRush says:

    It is an essential signal of relevancy to have a keyword appearing in the first 100 words of a pagescontent. For less valuable keyword synonyms use second paragraph and so on.

    Action: Make sure to drop your target keyword in the first paragraph.

    The meta description is properly optimized

    When you include the keyword in your description, it will show up in bold in the search results and reassure thesearcher theyre going to click on the right result. Heres an example of a good meta description:

    Use a tool like Yoast or All in One SEO to easily edit the meta descriptions in posts so theyre:



  • 160 characters or less

    Including the keyword

    Persuading readers to click

    The post contains LSI keywords

    Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are terms that Google judges to be related in some way. When you usethem in your content to support your main keyword, youre signaling to Google that your post covers a wide range ofrelated topics, and youre in for a better chance of ranking for more long-tail terms.

    Theres a really quick way to find them, too LSIGraph. It shows you a ton of terms, and you pick the relevant onesto sprinkle throughout the post.

    H2s are keyword optimized

    Sub-headers (H2s and below) give the post structure and hierarchy, but also indicate the key points of the post toGoogle. While sub-headers dont have to be exact match keywords to your target, they should be related and helpfulfor users as they skim read.

    Image alt tags are keyword optimized and helpful

    Alt tags are important for a couple of reasons:

    1. They help images from your post rank in Google Images, increasing search visibility

    2. If a users browser isnt displaying images, the alt tag will appear and describe the image instead12/15


  • While its not necessary to include the exact keyword in your alt tag (especially if it isnt an accurate description),make sure to use logical descriptions.

    Slug contains keyword

    The URL is a known ranking signal for Google, and cutting it down to the keyword strengthens the signal andincreases readability for users.

    Think about which looks better:

    1. process.st/peer-editing-checklist

    2. process.st/category/editing/2016/10/13/29-point-peer-editing-checklist-for-creating-exceptional-content

    3+ external authority links

    Outbound links show Google your page is backed up with research, and deserves to treated with authority. It showsGoogle what kind of content your page is associated with and gives you the chance to build relationships with otherbloggers because theyll be happy youre linking to them.

    ShoutMeLoud advises you to:

    Link to pages which actually add value and cover the topic very well.



  • Link to articles having good page authority or domain authority.

    Link to articles which have got high number of social media share. (Though do consider other factors likeauthenticity of the site)

    Link to the bloggers in your network or in your niche, helping you to create a community with fellow bloggers.

    Action: A good place to start for adding outbound links is finding sources for every claim you make, and linking toWikipedia articles for explanations of concepts.

    5+ internal links

    Never overlook the power of internal links for SEO and user experience. According to Moz, deep links are importantbecause:

    They allow users to navigate a website.

    They help establish information hierarchy for the given website.

    They help spread link juice (ranking power) around websites.

    Deep links help Google establish where your content stands in relation to the other pages on your site. What otherpages that its ranking does this page relate to? It also passes authority to other pages on your site. With solid deeplinking, you can often rank for easy search terms without much extra effort.

    Content is over 2000 words long

    While it is true that peoples attention spans on the internet are woeful, its also a fact that longer content ranksbetter in search engines. If a reader is interested enough in the post, theyll appreciate detail over brevity any day,especially when it comes to useful, linkable, and sharable resources:




View more >