You ask a writer to do an article on healthy spring recipes to post on your website. What you get includes a three-paragraph tangent on why bran muffins aren’t really a “healthy food.” If this, or something similar, has happened to you, you might benefit from using a content brief. Part of creating good content is communicating with the writer, and a content brief is an excellent communication tool.
According to a 2021 survey by Semrush, 55% of successful content marketing strategies focused on improving the quality of content . Clear content briefs point the way to great content while making production more efficient. In this article, we’ll go over how a content brief can help direct, craft, and refine excellent content.
What is a content brief?
A content brief is a document that describes what a client and/or editor wish to see in an article, blog post or other piece of content. A brief contains the information a writer needs to efficiently complete the article envisioned by the person assigning it. Besides information about the client, target reader and essential elements of the article, the brief might include an outline for the structure of the article and useful sources.
A brief should help a writer stay on track . This is especially important when a business is creating many pieces of content as part of a campaign. In such cases, you don’t want multiple articles covering the same ground and competing against each other. You want each one to have maximum impact. Writing a brief also forces the person assigning the article to develop a clear focus for it. Fuzzy, vague assignments tend to generate articles that perform weakly online.
A brief also can help writers save time that might be wasted researching and writing unwanted material. That also saves time for editors and speeds up the time it takes to get material published. The article you’re reading now was created from a detailed, focused, effective content brief.
What are the benefits of a content brief?
Before we look at the components of detailed content briefs , lets review the many ways they can help a project.
Spells out the intent of the article
Content writers will do their best work when they’re given a complete picture of the article’s goal. It’s like looking at the picture on the front of the puzzle box as you put the pieces together. It takes out a lot of the guesswork. It also helps tremendously with producing SEO-focused content . The writer should know whether an article is meant to be a tentpole that shorter articles feed into or vice versa. It should be clear that an article is meant to establish thought leadership rather than generate leads.
Understands the audience’s problem
When people go to a search engine, they likely have a problem they’re trying to solve. Searchers may be looking for a particular product or just beginning to do research on ways to solve a problem. When a brief identifies the “problems” that are motivating searchers, it helps the writer craft relevant content that offers a solution.
We have mentioned this already. Even in a one-person content shop, writing a brief gets the writer/editor from idea to published content faster and more efficiently. As a roadmap that establishes clear expectations, a brief gets better results in a shorter amount of time. You don’t have to compromise quality as your production increases .
Part of a good organizational process
Organization is a good writer’s bread and butter. Some aspects of a content brief might stay the same for every article on a project while others change. Establishing a good process with your content team or freelancers helps everyone get on the same page. This can be very grounding for a writer trying to cover an unfamiliar subject.
Helps with achieving goals and KPIs
KPIs represent how well your content is doing. You want solid results from the right metrics that best represent your company goals. At rellify, we consider measuring content performance to be the all-encompassing KPI to shoot for. Creating content briefs and pairing them with an effective marketing strategy makes it much easier to achieve and measure the goals you set for your content. With a smooth and seamless creation process, you can more easily get your article optimized for search engines.
Gets more mileage out of your content
Well-written, well-organized content is what we call ” evergreen .” This content doesn’t depend on current events for its relevance. And we all know that search engine algorithms change. When they do, an article crafted from a solid brief will need only minor tweaks, not an overhaul. Your content will have longevity and doesn’t need time-consuming re-writes. A well-written piece can even be re-purposed across platforms.
Ensures that writers deliver a fully optimized piece of content
Good content briefs include plenty of rich SEO keywords , directions regarding SEO best practices, and information about the intended audience. This all adds up to top-ranking articles for a given topic. A well-directed, well-informed writer can do the majority of the SEO optimizing for you.
What are the elements of a good content brief?
You can put as much or as little information as you’d like into a content brief. An in-house content team will be most familiar with your brand’s style, tone of voice, and products or services. They might need a less-detailed content brief than an external freelancer. But if you have expectations or information for the article, include it. It can only help to speed up the content creation process. Here’s a thorough look at the common components of a brief.
The target keyword
A focus keyword is the bare minimum requirement to include. This is the topic or “focus” of your article — the word or phrase you’re trying to rank for on search engines. All of your other keywords should relate to this term.
To support the target keyword, writers should popular an article with primary and secondary keywords. The brief should provide these, based on the keyword research done by the team assigning the article. This doesn’t mean that the writer has to use all the keyword suggestions . A thorough brief will provide other information, such as search intent and background info, that will give the writer ample opportunity to naturally work in keywords. However, be clear in your brief about how many keywords you expect to be included.
Is this content meant to be a blog post? An in-depth guide? What about a listicle with lots of bullet points? Is it a white paper that promotes or highlights your company’s product or solution? The brief should let your writer know exactly what you are looking for. Do you produce content that’s a bit non-traditional? Be sure you provide explicit instructions for a distinct format.
Many freelance writers are paid by the word. That can be an encouragement to write longer than necessary. By providing a target word count , you allow the writer to better manage their time and resources. Word count is not considered to be a ranking factor for Google. However, common sense indicates that if you want an article to help establish thought leadership and E-A-T, a comprehensive (and thus longer) article might be called for. At rellify, we use artificial intelligence to analyze the top-ranking articles on your subject and offer a suggested word count.
Suggested title and subheads
Choosing a title may seem like one of the easiest parts of the content brief process. But it can be tricky. It must include the focus keyword (preferably near the beginning). It also must also be concise, eye-catching, descriptive, and intriguing. Even experienced writers have trouble coming up with a killer title. If you have any expectations or suggestions for the title, include them in the content outline.
Subheads are another organizational tool that helps keep a writer focused and gives valuable structure to an article. Think of them like checkpoints on a road map — the writer just has to fill in the gaps.
Suggested questions to answer
Good SEO content is designed to answer questions that searchers are asking on Google. Providing those questions as part of a brief, sometimes for use as subheads, is a great way to keep the content on track.
Writing style or tone
Every brand has a unique style or tone that informs its content creation. A big part of this is dictated by the intended audience. Whether your client needs to target B2B, B2C, SMBs, medium-sized business owners, or solopreneurs, the tone and style of writing and spelling conventions should cater to these audiences at a granular level. For freelance writers in particular, it helps to give information on voice and even provide links to some examples.
Background information and reading resources
You might trust writers to do their own research. However, if you come across good sources while writing a brief, it makes sense to include them in the brief. It’s easy for a writer to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of search results on your target keyword. You might save everyone a lot of guesswork by giving quality, directed background resources and detailed content information.
This is the core of SEO and what rellify works best to match. If you want to start climbing to the top of search results pages, you have to use a keyword research tool for more than just finding words. You have to take it a step further. Understand why your target audience is looking up a specific target keyword. A brief might even include a buyer persona (or several) if you’re creating content to sell a product or service.
Suggested internal and external links
Linking is a huge part of SEO best practices . It’s essential to choose quality backlinks and include helpful “further reading” internal links . Providing information on this can be particularly helpful to a writer who may not know much about your other quality content or landing pages. Also, be sure to say how many internal or external links you expect them to include. If you have expectations of where they should go in the content, include that info too.
This is “data about other data.” Suggest a meta title and a meta description . Even if you want the writer to take care of that, your suggestions in the brief will provide more guidance on your vision for the article.
Any media content you need
A big block of text, no matter how well written, is not inviting to the eyes. Photos and videos create an immersive and rich user experience . Compelling visuals also are a great way to generate quality backlinks and help with your domain authority. Because visuals are so important, the brief should make it clear whether the writer is expected to provide them. If they are, then detailed information is required.
This is essential information for all parties involved. Depending on your process, a brief might include any of these deadlines:
- Keyword research
- First draft
- Notes (if any)
Now that you know all the important elements of a content brief check out this helpful template as an example.
Streamline content creation with content briefs
Are you ready to use content briefs to help your writers produce winning results? At rellify, creating a pointed, clear, and detailed content brief is an essential part of our full-service content marketing strategy. Many clients have already noticed significant gains in organic traffic, conversions, and leads since implementing the rellify content production process . Contact a representative today to learn what rellify can do for your business.