6 seconds is all you need to grab the reader's attention and if you miss that you end up losing a reader and potential customer -- Shahroz Nawaz
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Good content will struggle to gain traction if it's technically poor.

Content creators put a lot of effort in creating a quality piece of information and then showing it to their audience. The audience always applaud great content but only when they get a smooth reading experience.

But, how can you provide this experience?

Publishing a great content piece on a slow website will affect the user experience. 6 seconds is all you need to grab the reader's attention and if you miss that you end up losing a reader and potential customer. Not to mention the negative impact on SEO.

Devs and UX pros know this but most content publishers are unaware of the many technical considerations that can influence the effectiveness of a published article: the reading experience and its marketability.

With this in mind lets cover some of the technicalities.

SEO or Core Web Vitals? What should you focus on?

Being a technical content publisher I understand the importance of SEO, UX principles and follow best practices. I also check performance to make sure I haven't introduced any element that may slow page load down.

Here is an example of blog post I've recently published, also related performance - Slow WordPress Admin? Your Time to Post Saved May Be Too High

The stats are looking good. 94% performance with 0.9s LCP time can be a good score to settle the user quickly on the page. Obviously SEO keywords, ranking factors are important but that should be secondary to publishers and they must focus on web vitals first. Sometimes I use to say:

“It will be read if it loads perfectly”

The publication process: technical aspects to consider

Now that you know what should be your focus you can start iterating some factors of the publication process:

  1. Is the UI/UX rendering as expected? (use grids and columns to fix HTML elements)
  2. Is it secure? Loading with HTTPS? (Install SSL certificate)
  3. Is it mobile-friendly? (Use media queries or bootstrap style frameworks)
  4. Is it loading external or inline CC. How about JS code? (Use plugins and avoid adding to blog pages)
  5. Does your content contain heavy media files? (Compress and add webmp format)
  6. Is your hosting powerful? (Cloud hosting and datacenter near your audience)

This is a good start to yield a significant gain in performance. Next, lets look at some of the more technical aspects that should be on your checklist.

Performance optimization with Core Web Vitals

Use Google's page speed tool - PageSpeed Insight  - to see how your Core Web Vitals stack up. These factors will help you to understand current page performance and what should be optimized. Let’s test my blog page again as example here:

Google tags Core Web Vital results that need improving with blue flags -- you can see two in the above picture.

Here's a quick overview of what the key metrics are. Learn about them in more detail on our Measuring UX with Google’s Core Web Vitals post.

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - measures the largest or main content load time of the page that can be an HTML element or an image that loads first. Ideally less than 2.5sec.
  • First Input Delay (FID) - measures the interaction time on the page and how soon a user can interact with elements like dropdows. Input types etc. Ideally less than 100ms.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - Measures the visual stability of your page elements and is usually high when there is a lot of movement of elements while the page is loading up. Should be less than 0.1.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shahroz Nawaz
Shahroz is an experienced, certified & results-driven digital marketer with a mix of development skills (aka DevMark) who has worked for a number of super awesome social startups and established cloud companies.
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Keep your code healthy

Checking source code isn't part of your typical publication checklist but, yes, it's a consideration too. Not necessarily for the content publisher; this may be a task he/she delegates to a developer.

Much of it you can't control as pages are rendered by WordPress' templating system but you can check and optimize meta tags, canonical tags and alt tags, as well as fix broken links and use SEO friendly URL structures.

For other technical aspects you can hop over to GTMetrix's waterfall view to see if scripts, images, fonts or other assets might be slowing down your articles.  Let's have a look at the same page I mentioned earlier.

Looks pretty healthy to me. Now go test your URL and see the stats and start optimising them.

Privacy and accessibility

Since GDPR has come into effect privacy and data governance have become increasingly important for website visitors as well as website owners. The former want to make sure that their personal data is protected and handled according the relevant laws and the latter need to make sure they are compliant.

Sometimes I get queries from users asking in which country as website is hosted. They are concerned about the relevant legal jurisdictions and how their data may be accessed and handled.

Content publishers shouldn't worry too much about this every time a post is published, but if they are capturing personal data - via a lead magnet, for example - then they need to make sure that solution is compliant and best practices are followed.

Checkout how Mailchimp handles this. They are giving users the option not to receive additional communications but asking them to opt out. The should be asking them to opt in, really.

As far as accessibility is concerned, web pages should be ADA or WCAG compliant and so that people with disabilities can have a good experience too. There are tools that help with that it's key that a site has been designed and built to be accessible. Any new content should be checked for that too.

Watch out for security too

Security is rarely top of mind for content publishers but good if I they have an idea of what the threats are and how to mitigate risks.

I've seen strange URLs pop in google analytics, files appear on the server which are not part of the WordPress install and using security tools such as Wordfence give you a whole new level of visibility (eg. alerts for many login hack attempts every day).

Make sure that you or a developer runs weekly security checks and have a solid backup process in place on a daily or weekly basis. This will help you to recover the latest image of your website if anything goes wrong.

Technical checklist for publishers

In this guide I covered technical issues that a content publisher should be aware of.

The checklist below features more to refer to as part of daily content ops and to complement your existing process. No doubt there will be some overlap.

Download the Content Publication Technical Checklist

Toolbox

I'll finish off this post listing some tools that I use to complete my checks. Let me know if I've missed any.

Performance

Health Check

Technical SEO

Security & Compliance

Other (including Monitoring, Basic SEO)

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