How to Write an SEO-Focused Content Brief for Your Writers

Regardless of its topic, all high-performing SEO content has one thing in common: an SEO content brief that gives all the information they need to hit their goals. It’s all about communication – and that starts at the top.

Here’s why. No matter how superb your writers’ credentials or their subject matter mastery, there’s one thing they don’t have – the ability to read minds.

As part of your company’s content management leadership, it’s your responsibility to take the time to create detailed briefs with the exact instructions your writers need to do the job right. Trust me, getting the brief right will save you tons of time and money in the long run.

Otherwise, you’ll end up in revisions purgatory. Or worse, on page 3 of your search results.

Route All External Requests Through Content Marketing Leadership

In larger companies, content requests don’t always come from the head of content marketing. As Moz’s Kameron Jenkins points out, requests often come through SEO, product marketing, or even sales teams.

But unfortunately, many of those teams know next to nothing about how to structure a piece of content to communicate to your audience and attract search engines in the process. And, they know little about the process that efficient content planning involves.

Even SEO teams. Too often, they focus so much on the technical aspects of SEO that they miss the finer points of SEO copywriting it takes to land on page 1.

For that reason, it’s best to direct other teams to send their requests directly to someone in the content leadership team – perhaps the senior editor or copy chief – to make sure that the brief will bring out the best in your writers.

Include Questions You Want the Content to Answer

Let’s say that your sales team requests a blog post that addresses some of the questions and objections they get as they pitch your products to their prospects. Such a post could answer those questions before the salesperson’s next call, giving them the confidence to make a purchase.

Here’s where content collaboration can get your brief off to a good start. A quick meeting with the sales team that requested the content can provide you with a list of questions they get from their prospects.

Address Customer Journey Stage, Buyer Intent, and Your Focus Keyword

Or, if you need a post for your top-of-the-funnel audience, you need to dive into your target customers’ buyer personas for some of the pain points they face at that stage along their customer journey. Be sure to clearly identify the stage of the buyer’s journey you’re targeting, which can give the writer added insight into your audience’s search intent.

Use your keyword planner to find an effective focus keyword that aligns with the searchers’ intent and include it in your brief. Additionally, include any related keywords you want your writers to use.

Identify the Content’s Overall Structure

Look at your target audience’s intent again. What format will likely attract their attention?

For instance, if they’re looking for information about a topic, a listicle might be the best way to go, such as “The 10 Best Beaches in Florida’s East Coast.” But if your college-age audience is a little closer to purchasing tickets for a flight there, a how-to article on “How to Score a Great Hotel for Less on Spring Break” would be a better choice.

In addition to the overall structure that you want the writer to use, include any other formatting elements you want the content to have, such as images, headings, subheadings, and bullets. If you want to include links to authoritative sources or your own content, be sure to state those items as well.

State the Approximate Length of Each Piece

Your writers need to know how deep to go into each topic you want them to cover. Providing them with an estimated word count allows them to plan how much content to include in each section.

Of course, if your content needs to fit into a specific format, such as a magazine article or press release, be sure to include the maximum word or character count the publisher requires. Additionally, include a link to the publisher’s style guide if different from your own.

State Deadlines Clearly

Of course, you’ll include your final deadline in your brief. However, with a content calendar that your writers can access easily, you can set mileposts for various steps along the creation process.

For instance, if you want your writers to submit title suggestions or a first draft before proceeding, you can include those deadlines right on the calendar. That way, your writers can better organize their entire workload without feeling rushed.

Teach your writers to look at deadlines as helpful guides along the creative process. Taking fear out of the equation sets them free to unleash their skills to create world-class content.

Equip Outsourced Talent with the Tools They Need to Succeed

If your company leverages outsourced content creators to round out your content production, they might not have the same access to your company’s content platform that your in-house team does.

For example, if you keep your brand style guide on your content platform, you’ll need to include a link to a downloadable version of it on your brief. Additionally, if you have specific pillar keywords that you want to use as anchor text throughout your content when appropriate, equip your outsourced creatives with those terms, along with a link to the content you’d like to link to.

If you have competitors that you don’t want them to link to, be sure to note that in the brief, as well as other internal information that they’re not privy to. Encourage them to read some of your other content to get a grasp of your brand voice in action.

If You’re Short of Time, Let AI Lend a Hand

Although AI-generated content has its limitations, there are content generation tools that can do a decent job on briefs. These platforms can do some of the most time-consuming work for you, such as research and outlining – freeing up your time for more complex content planning tasks.

Finally, Make Sure to State Your Conversion Goal

Nothing falls flatter than a well-written article that drops off at the end. Empower your writers to end each piece of content with a powerful call to action by providing them with the action you want your audience to take next.

Whether it’s subscribing to your email list, requesting an ebook or white paper, signing up for a free trial, or actually purchasing your product, it’s essential for writers to know. Knowing how you want the story to end, after all, colors the entire storyline from the beginning to the end.

To make your brief even more effective, it pays to post it right on your content marketing platform so that your writers can refer to it as they write. And, if that platform gives you a digital home for every step of the content creation process, it turns the complex into simplicity.

DivvyHQ does exactly that. Discover how easy your work can become with a 14-day free trial. Start yours today!