Craft a Killer SEO Content Brief with These Key Techniques

A clear, comprehensive SEO content brief is the key to effective, dynamic material that engages audiences and smashes goals. Here’s what you need to know to do them correctly.

Craft a Killer SEO Content Brief with These Key Techniques

Excellent SEO content doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of careful planning and methodical, goal-driven work. 

Of course, having a team full of great writers and content producers who can be counted on to deliver consistent quality, again and again, is part of that. 

But even great content writers need clear, concise directions to work from if they’re going to do their jobs properly.

A well-written SEO content brief helps save you and your writers a fortune in time, effort, and resources by ensuring things are done right the first time. 

Here’s a closer look at what you need to know to create examples that are everything they need to be to get you results.

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    What is an SEO Content Brief?

    An SEO content brief is a concise write-up designed to clarify the production of a piece of SEO-focused content. 

    Creating the brief can help marketers and business owners organize their thoughts and ensure everything essential is covered. 

    Receiving and working from the brief helps your content creators better understand what you need and how you’d like it done.

    Although no two content briefs will be exactly alike, all must include the key elements the piece will need in order to meet standards. Examples include:

    • Word count
    • Target keywords
    • Tone or brand voice
    • Subtopics
    • Headings
    • Target customer personas

    Why Does an SEO Content Brief Matter?

    Without an explicit, cohesive content brief to work from, your content creators are left guessing what you really want. And even a highly-skilled, very experienced creator can easily get it wrong. 

    A good SEO content brief helps streamline content production projects by:

    Improving Consistency

    When you manage a large team of writers and other content producers, it takes organization to ensure consistent quality and a cohesive brand voice across all channels. Content briefs help guarantee this and eliminate any possible misunderstandings.

    Reducing Production Cost

    Without proper direction, the chances of a writer or other content creator getting things right on the first try are slim. Multiple rounds of revisions and rewrites can quickly put a project over budget and past the deadline, not to mention prove frustrating for all.

    Boosting Effectiveness

    Doing your own keyword research and setting corresponding requirements yourself instead of leaving it up to content creators who may not be fully SEO-literate can drastically increase the efficiency of your content.

    How to Create an SEO-Focused Content Brief

    An SEO-focused content brief contains all the same elements an ordinary brief would have — like the general topic, key points to hit and basic research requirements. 

    However, it also contains additional details meant to help the finished piece answer the audience’s questions and rank well for target search terms. 

    The following are some key elements every good SEO content brief should have.

    1. Target Keywords

    The primary purpose of any piece of SEO content is to help your site achieve a high SERP rank, drive relevant traffic, and expose your brand to a specific target audience. 

    Results like those always start with well-chosen keywords.

    You likely already have a primary keyword chosen via your keyword research efforts, and it’s crucial to include that in your brief. However, you may also wish to add a few secondary keywords to give the content additional direction and context.

    2. Word Count Range

    Content length can be a critical ranking aspect when it comes to SEO content, and your content creators need to know what ballpark you’d like them to shoot for. 

    Knowing how long a piece needs to be in its entirety makes it easier to plan the content correctly from start to finish.

    Your ideal content length depends largely on what you’re writing about and what type of content it is. 

    Some people champion shorter posts, especially for blogs designed to sell a particular product or service. But in-depth posts meant to educate, instruct, or enlighten generally perform better when they’re longer. 

    Between 1500 and 2000 words is a good benchmark to shoot for with such content.

    3. Content Outline

    A basic content outline is a must for each piece of optimized content you have your writers create. 

    Just as a blueprint helps a contractor build a house that’s exactly what the future homeowner wants, a content outline helps a writer craft SEO content that gets every detail correct. 

    Essential elements to include in a content outline include:

    • A working title containing your primary keyword.
    • H1, H2, and H3 headings that show the writer what to cover and in what order.
    • Key takeaways for each section to help the writer stay on topic.
    • A call-to-action to help the audience determine what to do next.

    4. Target Audience

    No SEO content brief is truly complete until it accurately identifies the target audience for the piece. (You may wish to consult your collection of buyer personas to settle on the right choice.) 

    What demographics do your potential readers belong to? What are they looking to learn from reading this content and why?

    You’ll also want to think about where your ideal reader is within your sales funnel. 

    If they’re toward the top of the funnel (TOFU), the content should be looking to inform, educate, and raise awareness. However, mid-funnel (MOFU) or bottom-funnel (BOFU) targets will need more detailed, precise information to help them finalize their purchase decision.

    5. Brand Voice and Style

    Read much SEO content from any big brand, and you’ll notice a distinct brand voice emerging. 

    This is the case even though its content is probably generated by an entire team of content writers and creators. That’s the magic of a thorough SEO content brief at work.

    Including details as to your company’s brand voice and preferred writing style helps each writer nail the tone, choose the right words and do everything they need to do to help their writing fit in with your existing content.

    6. Goal Action

    Remember, all SEO content is really just a means to an end. 

    The ultimate goal is for that content to lead to relationships, connections, and actions that help you meet your goals and boost your bottom line. 

    That said, each SEO content brief should include a target action you’d like its future audience to complete.

    Maybe you want them to sign up for your newsletter or request a free copy of an ebook. Or perhaps you’d like them to explore a free trial or follow you on social media. 

    Whatever it is, clarify it with a clear call-to-action that appears in your brief.

    (Speaking of newsletters, are you subscribed to ours?)

    What to Avoid When Writing SEO-Focused Content Briefs

    Of course, it’s just as important to know what not to do when preparing SEO content briefs. The following are some common pitfalls to keep in mind as you put yours together.

    1. Over-Prioritizing Keyword Search Volume

    Although a high search volume is nothing to sneeze at when evaluating keyword options and deciding which ones to include in your brief, you don’t want to prioritize volume over search intent

    Remember, the idea is to attract people who are right for your products and services — people with a high chance of actually converting.

    2. Blindly Trusting Keyword Tools

    While a great keyword research tool can be an absolute godsend when it comes to content planning, it’s important not to see them as flawless indicators of current search demand. 

    For example, some tools are updated more frequently than others, so there’s always a chance you’re not looking at the latest data. 

    Instead of over-relying on your tools and blindly trusting what they say, be sure to cross-check your suggestions with a tool like Google Trends for a better read on the latest information.

    3. Having Writers Over-Focus on Keywords

    Yes, your SEO content brief should include any primary and secondary keywords you’re looking to target. 

    However, it’s essential not to instruct your writers to make including your key phrases a specific number of times their primary focus. 

    You’ll have much better luck getting your content to rank if it accurately answers a question or addresses a concern your audience has as it relates to your keyword.

    4. Providing Optimization Suggestions After the Fact

    One thing many marketers get wrong about directing a team of writers and content creators is the optimal time to offer suggestions related to intent, target queries, or critical key phrases. It’s not after the content is already written.

    Keep in mind that Google is getting smarter all the time, so it’s not enough to simply stuff a target query into your content somewhere. 

    Content is infinitely more effective and reads much better when it’s crafted to fit the intent in the first place.

    Wrap Up: Killer SEO Content Brief Starts with Thorough Prep Work

    A well-crafted SEO content brief is the key to getting the results you want from your content production strategy. 

    Not only does it make your writing team’s job a whole lot easier, but it ensures smoothness, coherence, and consistency from one piece of content to the next. 

    This helps support a cohesive brand voice and identity across all of your channels — something your audience wants and expects to see from the brands they buy from.

    But it’s up to you to make sure your briefs are thorough, accurate, and effective. That’s where the right tools can help. 

    Check out our comprehensive write-up on the best free keyword tools for increasing organic search traffic. 

    You’ll learn everything there is to know about making the right keyword choices, getting results, and improving your bottom line!

    Shannon Hilson Rock author vector
    Rock Content Writer

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