Content Marketing — How We Edit 3rd Party Written Articles
When blog posts are written by others, like guest posts, this is our editing process before we publish them.
This document outlines steps to edit and prepare articles written by 3rd parties for publishing on our blog https://markuphero.com/blog. Generally speaking, we write blog posts for two marketing goals:
- Content that Targets Intent — This is content that focuses on search keywords where people are looking for products or services related to or exactly for Markup Hero such as screenshots, file annotation, collaboration tools, etc. These are high-value searches as the user is indicating intent to find and or purchase a product like Markup Hero. Such searches are of higher quality but have lower volume. In this case, these people are already further down the funnel and are likely to convert in a single touch.
- Content that Targets the Customer —This is content that focuses on search keywords that the right type of customer would be searching for such as product management, content marketing, project management, etc. These are lower value searches as the user is not necessarily looking for products or services like Markup Hero, but are still likely to be the type of person to use and or buy our product. Such searches are lower quality but have significantly higher volume. In this case, we need to push people down a funnel by first introducing them to our product. These visitors generally take multiple touches to convert.
Step 1 — Basic Editing
The first step is to review the content for grammatical errors and poorly written sentences or paragraphs. Make edits or re-writes as needed to make sure the article flows well and is easy to understand. Generally error in using simple words, shorter sentences. Remove or re-write any passive voice.
Step 2 — First Paragraph Re-Write
The most important part of the article is the first paragraph or two — the opening of the article. This paragraph needs to accomplish two key things:
- Tells the reader exactly what they are going to learn from this article
- Gets the reader “hooked” and inspires them to read on
Writers often tend to repeat the same points in the first few paragraphs, just with different words. This is a bad practice. Instead, say exactly what you want in the fewest possible sentences, then get into the article body. Look at the examples below and read several blog posts from our blog to get a sense of what’s good.
Example 1 — Not Great
The example below starts out good, but after hooking the user with the first paragraph and telling the user what they will get in the second paragraph, the writer proceeds to add some metrics and a second point about why it’s important. While the 3rd and 4th paragraphs are useful, it would be better to put the metric in the first paragraph and add the insight about “competition” into the second paragraph and just drop the 3rd and 4th. That said, it’s not terrible, I’ve seen much worse where they say the same exact thing 3 or 4 times before starting the article.
Example 2 — Great
This example has a great hook in the first paragraph and says exactly what the article will provide in the second. It’s simple, fast, and grabs the reader's attention.
Example 3 — Great
This example accomplishes the goal in a single paragraph. It grabs the reader quickly and not only tells the reader what they will get but also tells them what they are missing out on (FOMO), which is even better.
Step 3 — Review Links
When articles are written by 3rd parties, they are generally done so to get free links to their website or partner sites. Many writers have multiple clients that they are doing marketing on behalf of. Because of this, when they get the opportunity to write a post for someone else, they frequently try to pack links into the article for one or more of the clients they represent. Our general policy is that they get a single “marketing” link they can use to promote their own product, service, or partner.
So the first step in reviewing links is to remove excess marketing links. You should first know which link the writer want’s to keep as primary. It may be evident if their email domain matches one of the links in the article. But if it’s not clear, ask before removing all the extra links.
There are a few exceptions for outbound links:
- Links to articles within our blog: markuphero.com — These are acceptable (read step 4 to see what to do here)
- Links to supporting articles, metrics, data points, case studies, etc. — These are acceptable and in fact important. The skill is discerning which links are “supportive” and which links are “marketing”. The most obvious is when a link goes back to the home page of another product or service. Such links should be instantly removed. In most cases, they will link to another blog post for a product/service.
Most of the time these should be removed (other than the free one we give them) but occasionally they may in fact be supportive of the article. A few things to look for are a) is the link to a highly legitimate site or a brand name you know; b) is the link “anchor” (i.e. the text that is linked in the body of the article) highly relevant to the content itself.
For example, if the link in the article is “CRM” and the section of the article is about marketing creative, then CRM isn’t super relevant, not enough to link to that. But if the link is “content marketing failures” and the section is about how difficult content marketing is, then that article is much more specific and might be a good link. This is a skill that just takes time to know when to delete and when to keep.
Step 4 — Internal Links
As mentioned in Step 3 above, links to other articles in our own blog (markuphero.com) are both good and necessary. We would like to see at least 3 to 5 links to other articles in our own blog. If the writer is good, they may have already done this for you. In this case, just review the links and make sure they are reasonably relevant to the content/anchor within the article. But in many cases, the writer will not do this, so we need to do it ourselves.
The best way is to just “know” the content on our blog and pick out keywords/anchor text in the article then link to another article that you know fits. Until you are super familiar with the 200+ posts on our blog, this will take a bit more manual work. Look at the categories/tags here to see the general categories we talk about. This will give you some hints to where you could drop in links.
Step 5— Product Marketing
Generally, the articles you will be working on are not specifically about our “product”. The idea is that we write about topics that would be interesting to people that we think are the right “people” to use our product. That means they may or may not even know what Markup Hero even is. To solve this, we need to market our product within the body of the article. This is also a skill that takes some time to learn. The key is to try and incorporate the marketing in an organic way.
For example, if the article is talking about how product managers can be more productive at their job, you might create a blog of text talking about how Markup Hero is used by product managers to help them be productive. The more specific you can be the better. Below are examples of how we integrated our product into an article so you can familiarize yourself with various approaches.
And here’s another one.
Obviously, the better written the article the more effective the marketing. But we’ve found that even moderately well-written articles have SEO impact if you ensure:
- The title of the article includes the right search term/phrase you are targeting.
- The first paragraph of the article is stunningly well written.
Remember, SEO is a compound game. By this, I mean that one thing impacts another, both positively and negatively. So gaining search result ranking for a longer tail keyword that targets the right “customer” will positively impact search results for keywords that target intent. So even if you don’t get conversions from the former query, you will see an increase in traffic from the latter search. And intent-based search always converts well.