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Content Publishing Best Practice Guidelines

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Summary. The following offers a best practice workflow guidelines for content posting content to the web: Prepare, Publish, Promote.

Prepare Content. This is a simple checklist for creating and preparing content.


  • Advertising. Make frequent links and references to companies like Apple or Google that engage in principles, practices, innovation, design, and ethics that you support. It’s free advertising for them. In all other respects, avoid advertising unless it is related to your content. Let advertising be informational rather than sales and marketing hype. Consider creating an online store where you can sell items and earn revenue instead of having the clutter of banner ads. For more information, read our article on advertising best practices and guidelines as well as our article on Google AdSense advertising.
  • Categories. Categories are like keywords that allow each document on the site to be assigned to one or more general topic areas. Don’t let the categories of your site become like tags. Have a few clearly defined top-level departments, compartments, or categories that items belong to. Some content may fit in more than one category. For the site visitor, categories are a simple pre-defined filter for browsing articles and documents.
  • Citations. It’s important to offer citations and references. Save copies of all content you’ve referred to or linked to, in case it changes or is no longer available in the future.
    • For example, let’s say you’re on the front page of the New York Times website. Save that page as a webarchive file, a PDF, and also make a screen shot. Your link to the home page of the New York Times will only be relevant for 24 hours. In the future, you can simply provide a screenshot of the page.
  • External Links. Include links to relevant and reputable anchor sites as much as possible. Make sure external links are permalinks, so they won’t be broken in the future. Let selected linked text be an indication of where the link will go. For example, if linking to a page about the Apple iMac Computer, consider having the linked (underlined words) convey what the link is about. Let links leaving your site open in a new window, and  links going elsewhere within your site or blog open in the same window (unless they are supportive citations and material for the current page). Provide links to reputable and stable sites only. As a courtesy to those who might click on the links, make sure they don’t go to sites with pop-up ads or sites that might not exist in the future.
  • Internal Links. It’s important to have content linked from existing pages and not solely available in the chronological blog feed. Furthermore, all effort, time, money, and content should logically fit into some existing main category or sub-category of the website’s overall mission.
  • Navigation. Be sure to offer bread crumb trails from your home page to all significant postings on your site. This will allow search engine crawlers a direct and short return path to your pages. It will also help your readers find the page again and also place it in relation to the other pages on your site.
  • Page or Post. Decide whether the document or article you are writing should be a page or post. Pages are anchored documents on your site that cover broader topics or areas of interest. They are sometimes more heavily weighted by search engines because they are higher up in the site map hierarchy. Articles (as posts) will be found deeper in the hierarchy of the site. So, it makes sense to have, for example, a page dedicated to Health topics, and then from that page link to numerous articles. Pages are generally part of the site navigation links, whereas articles that are posted get linked from pages.
  • Photos. Whenever possible, a page or posting to the web should lead with a relevant image, or at least an attractive image, and also include related video. The image at the top of the page/post will likely be picked up automatically when announcing/promoting your page/post elsewhere such as Facebook or Stumbleupon. An eye catching crisp image will be more attention grabbing than just text. In the past, it was popular to link to images that are hosted elsewhere to save on hosting storage and bandwidth costs. However, because content is frequently moved and removed, it’s best to upload images to your own host or blogging service provider. Using public domain images, such as those in Wiki Commons, or your own images is best when trying to avoid copyright claims.
  • Tags. Tags are like sub-categories for organizing, grouping, and defining your content. Here are some general guidelines for tags.
    • You should be able to have a clearly written outline or tree structure of your categories and tags.
    • There should be a finite number of tags.
    • Similar tags should be combined.
    • If possible, write content with tags in mind. As mentioned above, let you title and writing include the keywords that people might be searching for.
    • As necessary, use the tags feature to assign focused meaning to the content. A word or tag that describes the content may not actually be used in the document itself, so tags are useful for this.
    • Unique tags are also helpful for grouping articles for easy listing. Newsletters can be tagged as ournews or some similar word that isn’t in the dictionary.
    • Tags are helpful for inclusion in a search, as well as exclusion. For example, a search on documents containing the word video may produce many results (any page with the word video on it). A search for documents tagged as video, can bring up just the articles about video production. So, use tags for searching inclusion and exclusion.
  • Timeless Content. As much as possible, try to write content that is timeless. Think of it was writing an entry for an encyclopedia (or magazine) rather than an article for a daily daily newspaper. While articles about current events may be popular, they lose their popularity in a day or week, and then you need to provide more content to keep your site relevant and interesting. You are an information and idea investor. Rather than depending on day-trading that may or may not pay off in the short run, consider the long-term investments that are more reliable. So, pick topics to write about that have longevity.
  • Title. The article title shouldn’t be a cheeky pun or play on words. Instead, it should clearly and comprehensively convey what is on the page. This will ensure that people can find it with a search, and when they do find the content, the page offers them what they were looking for. Whenever possible, the title words should include keywords to identify the article, and the title should be written in a way that it could be listed with other article titles on a page, and that list would serve as an easy to use alphabetical index. So, as an example, an article titled, Apple iPhone 4 HD Video Quality YouTube Upload Guidelines and Review, will be listed among hundreds of articles alphabetically by larger topic and going to smaller detailed topic. The category of articles about Apple products will be grouped together, then within that larger category, all iPhone articles will be listed, and then within the iPhone articles, those articles about video will be listed, and so on.
  • Universal Design. Implement universal design principles to make your content understandible, relevant, and accessible to all people. For more information, read Universal Design Advancement – Making Resources and Information and Learning Available and Accessible.
  • Writing. Ideally, postings should have quality text with a supportive photo(s) and video(s) if possible. Let content be as original as possible. Don’t just copy and paste from other people’s experiences and opinions. Try to write from the heart and avoid writing for the sole purpose of optimizing search engine rankings or gaining recognition. Let content be as original as possible. Don’t just copy and paste from other people’s experiences and opinions. Try to write from the heart and avoid writing for the sole purpose of optimizing search engine rankings or gaining recognition.
    • Purpose & Passion. What is your personal purpose and passion in life? What is the purpose of your blog/website? Are you writing from the place of passion in your heart? If so, the content will reflect this. However, if your purpose is to create a website about a topic you’re not genuinely interested in, only for the sole purpose of driving huge traffic to the site to boost advertising revenue, this will be obvious to the site visitors. Establishing artificial quantity goals may result in content that is unnecessary and less passionate or creative. For example, a goal of posting content every day may be too much (like planning to compose a new song every day). Soon the process is no longer fun or creative. Having purpose and passion about something allows you to stay focused, persistent, and creative. For more on this topic, read Website Hosting and Choosing the Right Name for a Blog or Domain.
  • Video. When applicable, it’s nice to have video content of your own or someone else’s embedded in the page. Video content may be created and published before you even start on a web page document, or it may be created later as additional and supportive media. For YouTube, the quickest and easiest way to produce video is to record and publish with an iPhone. Once posted, make any additional title, description, and tag modifications and also assign a date and location to the video. Then add the video to your playlist(s) and/or favorites. Remember to cross-post video to other sites such as Facebook and Ning.

Publish. Once you’ve read and reread your page, publish it. Some RSS feed systems will immediately grab a copy of the page when you push publish. So, any errors will be propagated. For this reason, it’s important to get it right the first time.

Promote. Once your page/post is created, promote it with social networks and bookmark sharing sites such as DeliciousDiggFacebookStumbleupon, and Twitter. Depending on the content and topic you may want to select a specialty site to announce your article. Promotion link button services such as AddThis.comAddToAny.com, and ShareThis.com can help simplify the process of promotion. While automated systems exist to promote your writings, it’s best to spread the word with more of a personal touch. Some websites, such as Curbly.com, offer each user a moment of fame by displaying new posts on the main page in chronological order. However, with such specialty sites, you’ll want to make sure your post is relevant, otherwise it will just be considered content spam and an unwanted nuisance. Keep in mind that promotion is primarily about raising public awareness. It’s not advertising, it’s informing. You may want to maintain multiple accounts on feed-like sites such as Twitter or Facebook to ensure you reach a targeted group interested in the topic you are writing about. For more information, read Promoting your Website or Blog – Top 10 Suggestions for a Top 10 Ranking.

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Document History. This document was originally posted on 20091020at1410. It was significantly revised and reposted on 20100708th1447.