10 tips to proofread web copy like a pro

Illustration of man proofreading web copy

Ask any experianced marketter: when you right web copy, you gotta take the time to make sure its toetally readible. You might have great information, but if you share it using error-filled sentences, like the one that started this post, most of your users will stop in their tracks and consider the source less trustworthy.

But, you don’t have to live with wrong prepositions, missing periods, and other flaws in your content, even if your company’s communications team lacks a professional proofreader.

Whether you’re taking a fresh look at the copy on old webpages or blurbs for new paid ads, use this proofreading checklist as a tool for polishing your web copy’s accuracy while also ensuring it’s clear, precise, fits your brand voice, and gets results.

Proofreader’s checklist

1

Keep an eye on keywords

Everyone’s goal is to produce SEO-friendly content, but sometimes copywriters miss a step when they work keywords to drive traffic into their copy to improve search performance. Make appropriate adjustments before going live by considering these questions as you proofread:

  • Is the keyword target appropriate? Does it match the content? If users click through to this page, will they find the information they need?
  • Are keywords integrated into the copy in a natural, non-disruptive? Are keywords used at the right frequency—not too much, not too little?

If you are new to the world of keywords, consider using a tool, like the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO, which is designed to simplify the process of optimizing longer copy blocks.

2

Give it a break—literally

If you’re responsible for proofreading your own copy, time is your friend. Pad your schedule so that you can let your copy sit for a short spell before you go back and do your review. With some distance between when you finished your draft and start proofreading, you’ll have fresher, more critical eyes for identifying potential problems.

3

Run a spellchecker

Though it won’t catch everything, most spellcheck apps point out many of the most common errors that will grab your readers’ attention. If you have the option to spend a little money, use a more robust, automated grammar checker—like the premium, paid version of Grammarly—which provides an even stronger starting place when you’re completing a review.

4

Scrutinize every name

One of the most crucial items to check when proofreading is names because names aren’t subjective. There’s only one way to spell “Pepsi”—and it’s not “Peepsi.”

Double-check and make sure that the names of all products and services, individuals, companies, etc., are spelled correctly. And, while you’re at, confirm each person’s title is accurate, too!

5

Test every link

Links change all the time—especially ones that go outbound, and no one likes broken links, especially Google. By testing link accuracy in your copy as you proofread, you can spot those that have changed or spot ones that haven’t been properly linked, too.

6

Check fit

If you’ve written new words that will live in an existing web page template, make sure the text will fit. For example, consider if your current layout accommodates up to 20 characters for a headline. In a situation like this, it would be much better to catch that a new proposed headline is 15 characters over the limit before moving the copy into design and production.

7

Look for ways to improve readability

Write shorter when possible, and make your copy easier to scan. Break up dense paragraphs. Add subheadings, bullet lists, and callouts.

8

Eliminate repetition

Circling back to drive home the main point is a good thing. Giving your readers deja vu from paragraph to paragraph is not.

It’s better to be more concise than annoying. If the copy you’re proofreading is too repetitive, chop redundant messaging to improve flow.

9

Check voice

Does the copy sound right? Brand voice is more than just proper formatting. Those rules are important, too, but so is how your copy is written. Snarky marketing content makes sense for a magazine ad promoting Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, but it’s likely not the right tone for a cancer center’s appointment request landing page.

10

Just ship it!

Multiple rounds of proofreading on every deliverable are rarely necessary. Don’t let the proofreading process go on and on.

With apologies to both Nike and Seth Godin, “Just Ship It.” Getting something good out there is better than sharing nothing at all. Remember: no matter how long you fuss, it’s never going to be absolutely perfect, so just do your best and get it out there.

Even if you don’t have an expert wordsmith on staff, publishing more mistake-free content is possible. Next time you have something that needs refinement, save time and prevent most typos by using our checklist to proofread web copy like a pro.

If you need help taking your marketing copy to the next level by establishing brand voice guidelines, writing more search-engine friendly content, or creating flexible copy templates, let us know how we can help. TBH Creative’s content marketing experts have experience optimizing everything from blog posts to paid ads.

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Joy

About the author | Joy Miller

Joy is the creative director at TBH Creative and uses her expertise to help clients use their online communications to build, design, and manage their brands. She likes to blog about content marketing in all its forms, the latest trends in digital marketing, and share tools with readers.

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