Whether you are an SEO Manager who notices that your content team is not using keyword research to inform articles or you are a marketing director hiring a freelance writer dissatisfied with the content being delivered, there is a common solution to many content issues. The answer is typically known as a content brief, which can be an incredibly important aspect of many companies’ website content needs.
What is a content brief?
Content briefs are typically sets of instructions to guide writers on how to draft pieces of content. The content might be a blog post, a landing page, a white paper, or any number of other initiatives requiring content.
A content brief is often written by someone in an adjacent field, such as demand generation, product marketing, or SEO, for specific instructions. Content teams do not usually work off of briefs alone as there will also be calendar or other initiatives.
What makes a content brief “SEO-focused”?
An SEO-focused content brief has the goal to instruct the writer on creating content to target a specific search query for the purpose of earning traffic from the organic search channel. SEO-focused content briefs will often focus on important keywords to be used in all content.
What to include in your content brief
So what information do you include in a content brief. Let us look at all the aspects:
1. Primary query target and intent
Use a keyword research tool such as Moz Keyword Explorer to get thousands of keyword ideas that could be relevant to your business. You can also use Gong, a revenue intelligence platform that delivers insights at scale, to listen to sales and support calls.
When you perform the necessary research, you will get ideas for keywords as well as insights into how well those keywords perform. Be sure to read this Moz article about search intent and SEO.
You need to think about how you want to structure the content that you are creating. When you Google the term relating to your topic, you might get a lot of results that are images.
You should still review the top-ranked ranked articles to get a better idea of what works and what will help your own content. Try to follow a format that will help you place the most important information in the most beneficial of spots.
3. Topics to cover and related questions to answer
There might be one larger idea governing one piece of website content, but there could also be several subcategories that you are seeking to have addressed. In this case, you are going to want to be sure that your content brief includes topics to cover or questions to answer.
Use a keyword research tool to show you queries related to your main keyword that are questions. Look at the People Also Ask box on the search engine results page (SERP) your target query triggers.
Find websites that rank in the top spots for your target query, run them through a keyword research tool, and see what other keywords they also rank for. Consider using a tool called FAQ Fox to search forums for threads that mention a target query.
4. Funnel stage
When filling out this portion of a content brief, you should ask yourself why a person is searching for something and what they are hoping to find. You can label your answers as follows:
● Top-of-funnel (TOFU or “problem aware”) is a label when a query intent is informational, educational, or inspirational.
● Middle-of-funnel (MOFU or “solution aware”) is a label when a query intent is to compare, evaluate options, or otherwise indicates that the searcher is already aware of a solution.
● Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU or “solution ready”) is a label if the query intent is to make a purchase or otherwise convert.
5. Audience segment
Know who you are writing website content for. While the common answer to this question is to assume content is just for whoever is searching a keyword, you still need to know who those searchers are and how they fit into your company’s personas or ideal customer profile (ICP).
With the help of a marketing team, you can not only help writers better understand what they should be writing, but also help align your content with the rest of the marketing department.
6. The goal action you want your readers to take
SEO is about much more than just getting clicks to rank highly. When a person visits your website, there is typically an action you are going to want them to take.
This aspect makes the call to action (CTA) incredibly important. CTAs you could include in your briefs might include:
● Newsletter sign-ups
● Gated asset downloads (e.g. free templates, whitepapers, and ebooks)
● Case studies
● Free trials
● Request demo
● Product listings
Use the CTA that’s a natural next step based on the intent of the article.
7. Ballpark length
If you are merely seeking a 500-word blog post, then you want to specify that so you do not end up with a 3,000-word article. The complexity of certain topics may lend itself to longer articles but you again must consider the people you are hoping to attract.
Consider using Frase, which can show you the average word count of pages ranking for your target query. Results will typically show average word count, headings, links, and images.
8. Internal and external link opportunities
Most people are aware of the value of hyperlinks to pieces of website content. A content brief should mention relevant content to link out to as well as existing content that could link to the new piece.
Adding links to a post can help it get indexed and start ranking quicker. A quick way to find internal link opportunities is to use the “site:” operator in Google.
9. Competitor content
Perform a target query to pull the top ranking URLs for this section of a content brief, as the results will be the pages you need to beat. Avoid creating copycat content while giving a writer a good idea of how to best use the competing URLs.
You should identify your unique point-of-view on a topic, unique data you have on a topic, experts you could quote on a topic, and graphics to make you more visually compelling than competitors.
10. On-page SEO cheat sheet
Consider adding a helpful series of pointers for writers to follow that will reduce your headaches later on. Tips could include title tags needing to be between 50-60 characters and the primary topic being toward the beginning of the tag.
You could also mention that a meta description needs to be between 150-160 characters and a post title needing to be formatted as an H1. Subheadings could be H2 although multiple subtopics could require H3s.
What to avoid when writing content briefs
Here are a few of the major things to avoid with content briefs:
Do not provide suggestions after an asset has been written
You do not want to be merely adding keywords to content that has already been written. These attempts at keyword stuffing are rarely successful and can end up being substantial wastes of time that fail to produce desired results.
You want to be sure to perform the keyword research first. When your content is tailored to addressing specific queries, you will have a much greater chance of success.
Do not favor keywords with high volume over high intent match
Keyword research is a complex topic, and many companies make the mistake of choosing the highest volume keywords rather than those that best match a person’s intent. The result can be higher volumes of traffic that produce less conversions.
When your goal is to get a person to convert, your content needs to be focused on that goal and should only focus on the keywords that will help achieve it. Always keep in mind what your end goal really is.
Do not blindly follow keyword tools
Keyword tools are not always updated often, so people can mistakenly think a query has no demand when it actually has a lot. Consider using tools like Google Trends or Google Search Console.
Do not instruct writers to “include these keywords”
It is especially bad to instruct a writer to include a keyword a certain number of times. The focus of any new content needs to be addressing the main question to answer rather rather than hitting a certain number of keyword mentions.
Do not try to jam keywords into articles that were not intended for search discovery
Organic search is not the sole means of content discovery, so keywords do not need to be crammed into everything on the calendar. You should certainly ensure all on-page SEO basics are right, but not every piece will lend itself well to organic search discovery.
Tips for getting your content team bought in
You can craft endless content briefs, but how can you be certain your writers will use them? Try to take the following actions.
Involve them in the planning process
Try to make content briefs a joint effort between SEO and Content teams. Collaborating with writers can help improve the clarity of briefs and make it more likely writers will obey them.
Make it clear that not all content has to be search content
SEO Managers must take a multi-channel approach to content, and may even be writing content to support post-conversion teams like customer success. A manager may emphasize that a new content type is being added to editorial planning and is not something that will need to be replaced or changed.
Respect their expertise
Do not assume your writers do not know SEO. Even when they do not have the SEO knowledge of a full-time SEO professional, they could still know far more than you anticipated.
Show a content team how much of its traffic is coming from organic search and how that traffic is staying consistent over time. Be sure to applaud a writer whose article ranks on page one.
Above all, remember that you are usually working as a team for SEO purposes. By working together in harmony, you will give your company the greatest chances of success.
SEO Content in Houston, TX
If you are in need of assistance with content writing for your website, then do not hesitate to contact SERP Matrix. We have an experienced team of writers who understand SEO and will be able to deliver the exact kinds of content you need to rise above your competition.
Our services include a local SEO focus so you can be sure that you are ranking as highly as possible for searches performed seeking local businesses or regional concerns such as zip codes. We will also be able to help you with your search engine submission concerns.
SERP Matrix also handles web design and development. The bottom line is that we will know what steps to take to improve your website standing on all major search engine pages.
Houston Digital Marketing
Did your company in the Houston area need help crafting new website content? Do not wait to contact SERP Matrix today.
You should know that we will work closely with you throughout the entire process so your opinion will be extremely valued while we work to improve your website. You can have us discuss the specifics of your case as soon as you call (713) 287-1134 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.