Whether you’ re a writer your self, or someone who manages a team of writers, anybody involved in the content marketing procedure can attest to the struggles of writing the first write.
Without having clear instructions, a writer might produce something that’ t wildly off the mark. While it might be well-written, it doesn’ t meet brand, SEO, or audience requirements.
That’ s in which a content brief steps in.
The content short provides a list of requirements plus recommendations that help guide an author as they create a piece of content material.
The well-structured content brief keeps all stakeholders aligned on expectations; writers know important requirements like the target phrase count, key sub-topics, title, and keywords to use. It will also provide clarity on the market and content goals.
If you recall our post on “ What is a content brief and why are they important? ”, the main 4 goals of the content brief are to:
- Prevent rewrites and reduce revisions
- Make sure content isn’ t missing any important information
- Provide a single source of truth pertaining to team communications
- Provide clear direction plus serve as an approval landmark
So with that in mind, how do you in fact start the process of writing a content brief and ensure it’ s valuable for your writer? Let’ s dive in.
1 . Make sure you cover Brand name, Audience, & SEO Needs
If you think about the goals of articles marketing, our priorities for the content are to:
- Serve the particular brand – we need to visit a return from creating the information
- Serve the audience – we need to associated with content valuable for the viewers
- Serve the search engine – we need to make sure the content material includes certain things to position well and earn traffic.
Ironically, to build a great content brief that matches those targets, we’ re going to work our way through them in reverse:
- Understand what the content needs to consist of for SEO purposes
- Make sure we properly cover what the audience is seeking
- Fit brand name requirements and conversion goals into content that fulfills those requirements.
With that in mind, the first thing you wish to include in your content brief is certainly search intent.
2 . Start by knowing what searchers want
Spending a while at the start to understand search intention helps you map out precisely what your audience wants using their search. Or at least, what search engines assume users are looking for. If you don’ t do that, you risk spending time and assets in building content that won’ t rank and won’ t satisfy viewers expectations.
Let’ s say we’ re trying to rank for your term “ homemade fish food for goldfish”. The particular tone of this search shows that it is informational — searchers want guidance on how they can feed their pets. But what’ s the format that search engines prefer to rank for this query — is it blogs or something else?
Running this keyword survey inside Content Harmony discloses search intent for movie content, not just articles.
Looking at the reside SERP results, we get a prominent video pack, and also see a few top-ranking articles that have videos inlayed in them:
These indicators are clear indicators associated with formats you should integrate into the content — if your goal is to move up the SERPs quickly, an article that features video content will likely perform better than a regular article.
By catering to search intention, you’ re signaling to search engines that you understand what people want and deserve to be placed higher up in the SERPs.
Analyze sub-topics in the Search results
Now that we’ ve grasped that a combination of blog posts and video content is the best method to cater to this search query, the task is to dig just a little deeper.
What kind of structure do search engines choose for this content? Are there any crucial modifiers that we need to consider?
Looking at the SERPs, it’ s clear that will searchers prefer content that has more than one option listed.
That’ s a crucial detail to include in your content short — if you only talk about one recipe to make at home, it’ ll be much harder to rank for the search query.
For the purposes of this awesome article, we’ re going to assume that you chose the right key phrase. If, for example , you tried to rank for “ goldfish food” instead, you’ ll discover that the intent at the rear of this search query can be transactional, not research and informational. Folks are looking for options to purchase food for their seafood, not for recipes that they can make themselves.
Understand crucial questions people ask
It’ s inside your best interest to solution as many related questions and search terms as possible — this helps you rank better and cover complementary searches, too.
That’ h why examining the Question Analysis area in Content Harmony helps you nail lower real questions humans inquire on the interwebs, including all those from Google PAAs (People Also Ask), Reddit, Quora, and Stack Exchange.
Answering these types of questions, either explicitly or even implicitly in your content, boosts its relevance. Including these in your outline helps your writer craft more compelling content that answers genuine queries, and not just what you assume readers want to know.
3. Give the writer a clear outline and content structure
By now, we’ ve managed to assemble all the being qualified details we need to build a worldclass content brief. The next step is to put it all together into a cohesive structure that neatly outlines how the piece will start as well as the steps it takes to encourage the reader to keep reading.
The outline consists of all the notes you’ ve taken from search intent, subject model, competitor outline, important questions, and SERP construction. It breaks those into sub-sections with H2s, H3s, and H4s (if needed) to help the writer be familiar with flow that the piece of content material will take, and allow the strategist to insert required key phrases into the headings.
We also suggest that you spend a little time understanding competitor content structure to form your brief. There’ h a reason they’ re the particular top-ranking posts; the outline and flow is well-structured and engaging. We don’ t recommend that you duplicate this outline, of course , yet use it as a swipe apply for inspiration. It’ s also a great way to determine missing spaces and where you could potentially stand above the rest.
4. Consist of brand and audience specifications
Right now you should have understood search intent, and built out the particular core outline your author needs to work from. Following on your content brief must be core brand and market requirements that your writer will need to produce world-class content that ranks.
Brand name guidelines and tone of voice
If this is your first-time working with a writer, they’ ll likely need guidance on the kind of style and tone your brand wishes to communicate.
If you already have a brand guidelines document, then don’ t hesitate to link to it in the content material brief.
In case you don’ t have one, then try to include some helpful instructions about the style of writing you prefer.
- Do you wish the content to become conversational or instructive?
- Do you want the writer to embody a casual, friendly tone or be professional and serious?
Without clear recommendations, your writer will likely go with the style they think is best — which may or even may not be aligned with what you’ re expecting.
The main reason you’ re commissioning this particular piece of content is that you’ re writing for a particular audience in mind; you want your content to show that you understand your own audience’ s concerns and queries, and aim to tackle those.
For example , the term “ how to make your own fish food” most likely appeals to existing fish owners and hobbyists. It could furthermore appeal to aquarium owners exactly who don’ t want to feed their fish commercial as well as are looking for more nutritious, natural options. Either way, an understanding of the audience shows up in your copy — it displays sympathy and builds trust with all the reader.
Buyer trip stage & recommended CTA
Whenever you’ re assembling your content brief, you should also let your writer know what the designed goal of the content is. The search query “ how to make your own fish food” implies that folks are ready to make their own food.
Readers probably very own a fish already and are considering their options : they’ lmost all read a few recipes and decide which one is best suited for needs. That’ s probably why Google prefers the particular listicle format, too, since readers want a few choices to be able to make the best decision.
A good content manager or SEO strategist can include some refined notes on monetizing this particular traffic or driving an appropriate next action with the correct Call To Action.
Based on what site you’ re working on the funnel phase and CTA will be different.
- Running a fish hobbyist blog? Offer a downloadable tested recipes list for newsletter clients.
- Managing a pet store? Offer a coupon for a " beginner DIY fish foods kit".
- Running a gourmet fish food company? Now is your chance to persuade the reader that you can make more healthy food at lower cost compared to consumer can – or simply sell them some of the substances they need instead.
For a pet store, we would categorize this being a middle-of-the-funnel content piece — while the query is informational in nature, it’ ersus certainly not high-level by any means.
Readers who choose the best recipe for their fish will likely search for the ingredients following — why not make their lives easier by which includes links to purchase? This makes a lot of sense if you’ re the pet store that will sells these ingredients too — if you have invested time and resources in getting the reader’ s interest, then encourage them to engage in a specific action before they get out of your page.
Understanding where your intended piece of content is based on the buyer' s journey can help your writer — shall they include a lot more conversion-focused messaging, or more informational? What CTA should be added at the end — is it an ask for email addresses to stay in touch, or a nod to buy?
5. Add SEO requirements
SEO requirements are certainly not the main focus of a great content brief, but they’ re still critical, particularly if your briefs are created by an SEO strategist plus passed off to a writer with less SEO experience.
Let the article writer focus on writing great content material, so long as they include or cover the SEO specifications you give them.
Long-form content tends to rank better and earn more backlinks over time, as evidenced by a research from our friends at Hubspot . But rather than toss an arbitrary number for your writer, let’ s notice what’ s currently rating in the SERPs.
The average word count for the search term “ steps to make your own fish food” is simply shy of 1, 800 (this is the average of the top 10 SERP results), but it’ s definitely worth searching into further — the aim is to outperform what’ ersus already ranking.
Providing a range here works best for your writer — we know we’ d preferably like content that’ s i9000 matching or exceeding what’ s already on the SERPs, so the best estimation will be 2, 000-2, 500 words and phrases.
Any bit of content that’ s designed to rank in search engines must incorporate more than just a single mention of the primary keyword. Your goal should be to instruct the author of semantically related key phrases they can weave naturally in their copy.
When you’ re seeking to rank for “ how to make your own fish food”, for instance , Content Harmony’ s subject model uncovers overlapping key phrases mentioned by the top 30+ ranking competitors:
At the brief stage, we just want to show the article writer the most critical phrases that they have to include.
Ideally, you’ re using a content grader to come back and optimize your first draft against a topic model, which is where one can focus on the other 50-100+ terms that might be worth including.
When you get to the information grading stage, you or your writer can make sure to add those other semantically-related phrases beyond the shorter list that gets within the content brief.
High-authority external links
Linking out to trustworthy sources like those through government and educational internet sites helps increase the credibility and authority of the content .
Navigating over to Content Harmony’ s ‘ Sources’ tab reveals a number of authoritative resources that you could potentially link to be able to when trying to rank regarding “ how to make your own fish food”.
If you’ re writing about food to feed your fish, it’ s most likely that your site already includes a bit of topical authority within the niche and a few pages which are relevant to this new piece of content.
Whenever you set up a project in Content Harmony, it’ ll check out your existing sitemap to discover the most relevant internal web pages for that keyword. Include these in your brief to boost SEO.
For example , if we ran a keyword record for “ how to build a deck” and our customer was Home Depot, here’ s a list of internal hyperlinks Content Harmony would help identify:
Technical SEO formatting requirements
If you want the author to do any special formatting for featured snippets, PAAs, or for setting up queries as FAQ Schema, all of us recommend including that within the brief.
For instance, you' ll probably wish to coach writers on how to construction their sentences to improve for Featured Snippets when that is a priority for this subject.
FAQ Schema is a fairly technical necessity, so you might be better off achieving this as the editor or setting it up in your CMS instead of wondering writers to do it.
6. Discuss items to avoid
When making notes for your writer, it’ s important to point out exactly what shouldn’ t be included in your content material.
Typically these are things like:
- Mentioning or linking in order to competitors
- Subjects that are off-brand and can’ t be included
- Confidential information that cannot be publicly shared
- Controversial points associated with view that are best still left alone
- Brand name partners that prefer to remain out of the limelight
This section doesn' t need to be lengthy, just are the main stuff the writer might encounter for the topic.
7. List guides & research sources for reference
A writer must be able to uncover the most up-to-date and relevant statistics to cite in their content, but there’ s no harm in pointing them in the right direction especially if you come across it while formulating the short.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend only including primary information sources. You can include this as being a guideline in your content short or provide relevant hyperlinks.
We also recommend that you include types of related content that was out to you in the research process. Perhaps these are one of the top 10 results on the Search engines, or a great resource that’ s not ranking yet. Be sure to point out what that will piece of content does properly, and how the writer can aim to improve on it.
6. Keep improving your Content Short process over time
Like any process, the job of building a content brief only gets better with time and practice.
Here are a few ways you can boost result while maintaining quality:
Ask your writers for feedback the first time you send them briefs
Your writer will be the intended audience for this short, so they’ re in the best position to tell you whether the brief achieved the purpose. Feel free to solicit feedback — you can ask them:
- Were you able to understand the goals of this piece of content?
- Was anything unclear or even hard to follow?
- Did you get a clear grasp of the intended audience and what they’ re looking for?
- Did you feel like there was enough information for you to create world-class content?
- Is there anything you would have preferred to include in the brief?
Automate your brief research process
A thorough content brief makes use of several moving components — you likely have got dozens of tabs open in an effort to figure out search intent, competitor content structure, overlapping keywords, content formats, word depend, and more.
Manually building briefs will be tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone.
(Spoiler alert – this is the entire reason we built Content Harmony – check out our Short creation workflow . )
Automating many of these manual tasks helps avoid human error plus saves time. It enables your strategist to spend more time on the creative aspects of the brief, without being overwhelmed by estimating the ideal word count number.
Briefs that normally take 1-2 hours to build can be completed in 10-30 minutes once you optimize the manual steps. That adds up to some pretty significant cost-savings over the long term, particularly if you' re an agency or even a content team building more than 10 briefs per month.
The less time your strategist and writer spend to and fro on the brief, the more productive they are and the better your own eventual content output.
Not to mention those strategists will be less burnt out there – building lots of manual briefs takes a toll.
Use content brief templates to speed up the process
Drafting content material briefs from scratch can be time-consuming, and while using Content A harmonious relationship helps quicken the process, a template will help you remember everything you need to explain to your writer.
Without a template, it’ s much easier to overlook key details such as the audience, buyer journey stage, SEO details, and more. Templates give a structure to keep your content brief on track.
Check out our totally free, downloadable content brief design template if you need the starting point 👇
Presently, Content Harmony helps you construct templates in our Brief program, but we’ ll also help you build more dynamic and custom templates inside of Content Harmony soon. Stay tuned for more.
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