You may have heard of a content brief, but did you know there is a version specific to search engine optimization (SEO)? This article will help you create a solid informational SEO content brief that you can share with your writer or freelancer to ensure that the content they create for you meets your expectations of having your article optimized for search.
What is a content brief and why is it important?
If you consider that an article is a meal on a menu at your favorite restaurant, the content brief is the description of ingredients that go into that meal to make it delicious. A content brief is a detailed set of instructions from you, the client, to your writer that outlines your expectations and objectives for a piece of content you’ve assigned them to create.
A strong content brief will provide your writers with all of the information they need to create an effective article for your audience, including word count, messaging, the topic or angle and the target audience for the piece.
How do you write an SEO content brief?
Before you start to write your SEO content brief, you’ll want to determine your desired outcome from the piece of content.
Here are a few outcomes to consider:
- Overall site traffic: Clicks, or pageviews, on the article that contribute to your overall site traffic which could, depending on your digital advertising structure, lead to ad impressions and revenue.
- Engagement: Are you wanting people to comment on your article or sign up to join your brand’s database via the content?
- Conversions: Are you looking for the reader to click to purchase via the content?
Depending on what you’re looking to achieve, different SEO tactics may be more appropriate for your article.
For example, if the goal is a high conversion rate (for readers to purchase a product or service via your article), you’ll want to make sure to include a specific call-to-action in your SEO content brief and the method by which the reader can convert (link in text, button link, image with link, etc.). In this example, conversion is the final funnel stage that you hope to be achieved with your content, but, as Radd Interactive noted, creating relevant content to the queries searchers would look up to find your product or service is an important part of the SEO sales funnel that can lead there, so by directing your writer on how to write the content, you are naturally helping lead to conversions.
Search queries help the writer understand your audience’s questions
You can typically research search queries using the same SEO research tools you would use to research keyword phrases. Make sure you look at what, specifically, searchers are looking up around that topic. As you prepare to write your SEO content brief, gather these queries for your content brief to be able to direct your writers that the article they create should answer these questions.
As you’re writing your SEO content brief, make sure you include what format you’d like your content to be in. Research your competitors and notice how their content ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). Click the high-ranking results and take a look at how their articles are written. Does your competitor’s article include a listicle? Does it include a data visualization? Does the content include lots of embedded social media content?
Check out these articles from the ClearVoice blog on creating these types of content:
- Guide to Making a Feature Length Listicle
- 2 Types of Visual Content and How They Can Enhance Your Marketing Efforts
- The 2022 Definitive Guide to Social Media Image, Video and Cover Photo Sizes
If you find yourself really stuck on what should be included in your content to optimize it for SEO, Semrush offers a free SEO content template that you can use to get customized recommendations.
What to include in your SEO content brief
In your SEO content brief, you’ll want to be ultra-specific with details, including the due date for the article, and the content format and specifications. Sharing a detailed content brief with your writers helps ensure that the content is written the way you’d like it and saves time for you and your freelancer that could otherwise be spent going back and forth in revisions.
Consider that your freelance writer may not be as well-versed in SEO optimization tactics as you. Since the goal is to have the piece of content they create for you to rank high in SERPs, by giving them as many details as possible in your SEO content brief, including topic and angle, target keywords, key points to include, tone, call to action and other information, you are helping your writer create the most effective piece of content for you, your brand, and your site.
For an SEO content brief, you’ll want to be very specific with keywords and keyword phrases the article should contain, internal and external links to be placed throughout the content, and any other SEO optimization tasks you’d like your writer to complete. This could be adding meta title and description to included images, recommended H1 subheads throughout the content with appropriate keyword phrases or appropriate tags.
Add keywords and phrases for the writer to target
Keywords and keyword phrases are a critical part of your SEO content brief, and, according to DemandJump, you’ll want to be sure to include both short-tail and long-tail keyword phrases.
In case you’re not sure of the difference between short-tail and long-tail keyword phrases, here are a few examples:
- Short-tail keyword phrase: golden retriever
- Long-tail keyword phrase: golden retriever breeders in Ohio
- Short-tail keyword phrase: grocery store
- Long-tail keyword phrase: grocery store with vegan foods
Another thing you’ll want to make sure to include in your SEO content brief is your audience segment. While you may think that you want your content to be viewed by as many people as possible, quality can be more important than quantity, depending on your objectives. This is to say that you don’t just want a lot of people finding your article through SERPs, you want the right people, who will engage with or take action through your content, finding your article. Consider who, specifically, your audience is for this piece of content and make sure to communicate that to your writer in your SEO content brief.
Lastly, you’ll want to include article length in your SEO content brief. How long should your article be? That depends. As you’re researching competitors’ content, take note of how long their articles on the same topic are, but be mindful of how much of the content is substantive. Consider having your writer create a piece that is roughly of similar length. In short, an article of about 500 words could be enough for your content to be picked up by search engines, or an article of 1,200 words could be enough for your content to be picked up by search engines, as long as the article does not mostly contain fluff writing.
What to avoid when writing content briefs
Especially when working with freelance writers who are not so familiar with SEO optimization tactics, you’ll want to encourage them to avoid some tactics that were once popular but are now frowned upon by search engines. For example, adding many references to a certain keyword or keyword phrase in an unnatural way, now known as keyword stuffing, can actually lead to your content being punished by SEO.
Google shared some examples of keyword stuffing to avoid, including:
- A block of keywords or keyword phrases with no context
- Repeating the keyword phrase throughout your article in an often unnatural way
- Listing contact information when it is not meaningful to the article
While you will want to share competitor examples in your content brief, you’ll want to make sure to underscore to your writers that as they’re researching the content topic and how it is covered by competing sources, they should be cautious not to externally link to these sources.
Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure to avoid giving the writer too much information in your content brief. The brief should be need-to-know information for them to springboard their own writing off of. Don’t write out sentences you want the writer to include in the content. You want the content to read like it is naturally written by the writer but in your brand’s voice.If you consider that an article is a meal on a menu at your favorite restaurant, the SEO content brief is the description of ingredients that go into that meal to make it delicious. Click To Tweet