How to Measure the Quality of Your Content
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How to Measure the Quality of Your Content

If you’re a global enterprise, it’s likely that you invest thousands or even millions in creating content to promote your brand and products. Choosing the right words is an important part of communicating your message and values, as well as letting your customers know about your latest products and services. If you engage a team of writers to create these messages about your company, you also need a way of knowing whether they’re delivering high-quality work.

Driving quality

The perception of your brand depends on the quality of your content, but high quality is one of those things that you barely notice, while poor quality stands out like a sore thumb. There are many examples online of content that contains egregious mistakes or has been embarrassingly translated, generating higher visibility and far more shares across social media than would otherwise have happened.

In the examples above, even the most basic level of quality assurance (QA) would have flagged the errors and avoided the resulting online ridicule. In truth, QA checking usually finds far more mundane issues, but it’s still an essential component of any content creation process to make sure that your audience receives the message exactly as you intended.

While many people immediately associate checking content quality with proofreading, a comprehensive process involves much more. A proofreader will identify errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar, but if you want meaningful quantitative and qualitative information about the content, you’ll also need to set up editorial rules, style/tone guides and glossaries. If you’ve engaged a team of freelancers or an agency to create your content, you’ll need to do a lot more than merely avoid cringe-worthy gaffes; you need to make sure that the content aligns with your brand voice and style. With these assets, you’ll also be able to assess the performance of your content producers.

Building a quality rubric

So, how should you start designing your content quality measurement process? You need to be clear on what you want to measure. First, focus on trying to eliminate errors by listing and categorizing the most common error types. Your list will depend on your content types, but will probably include:

  • Punctuation, grammar and typos
  • Tone and style
  • Accuracy and consistency
  • Relevance

Once you have a list of error types, you’ll need to create a grading system so that you can score each error. A simple approach is one where you have three degrees of severity:

  • Minor: errors that the audience might not notice and which won’t impact the performance of the content.
  • Serious: the audience will notice these errors. They may reduce how effective the content is and/or impact overall trust.
  • Critical: these are at best embarrassing and at worst could cause financial, legal or reputation damage.

Armed with this information, you can now create a rubric, where each identified error is categorized by error type and severity. Here’s an example of a table you could develop, along with some fictitious entries. As you can see, you’ll soon have a list of errors which can then be sorted by Error Type or Severity. In this case, errors are scored from 1 (minor) to 3 (critical):

Error Type

Detail

Severity

Score

Punctuation

Period instead of comma in 2nd sentence

Minor

1

Typo

“Our health club boasts a brand new indoor poo”

Critical

3

Grammar

“Visitors can pick up they’re badges here.”

Serious

2

Readability

“Included in the rate is an included warranty.”

Minor

1

Accuracy

Referring to something as a free perk when it’s a highly valuable upgrade option

Critical

3

Omission

Failing to highlight an important selling point

Serious

2

 

Calculating an overall quality score

There are two common approaches to apply a score to the content. Perhaps the simplest approach is to add up the error scores across all work and come up with an overall error score. If you then subtract this from 100, a perfect score, you’ll have a quality spectrum where higher values indicate better quality and lower values reflect poorer quality. It’s up to you to set an acceptable pass threshold for the overall delivery, but you can vary the value depending on the content type, its intended audience and its overall purpose. You might also decide that a critical error is so damaging that it merits an automatic fail.

A second approach is to analyze each individual piece of content and mark it with a pass/fail status based on the error score for that piece. If you can reliably identify the author of each piece of work, this is a particularly useful approach to help analyze individual content producers and rank them according to their pass/fail rates. You can then pinpoint who is responsible for the highest proportion of errors as well as identify your star performers. This requires some setup, but it can pay off quickly if you’re managing a large pool of writers.

 

Measuring content quality should never be an afterthought—it needs to be baked in as an essential part of your content strategy. By finding and eliminating errors prior to publishing your work, you’ll gain trust from your stakeholders and ensure that your message is received in the way it was intended.

Do you need to measure the quality of your content but don’t know where to start? We can help you take the headache out of setting up your quality processes.

 

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