10 Things to Include in Every Content Brief
Does your company rely on content briefs to guide writers? Do you need help understanding how to create a brief and what to include?
In this blog, we’ll explain what content briefs are, who uses them, and why they’re important, and share the 10 most important things to include so you can streamline your content process and transform your blogs into masterpieces.
What is a Content Brief?
A content brief is a document that provides copywriters with clear instructions for writing content. It ensures that there is alignment between your overall content strategy and the specific piece you’re working on. By offering clear guidelines, briefs eliminate miscommunication, give direction to writers, and ensure that the proper voice and tone are used.
There should also be a delicate balance between providing just enough information to guide the writer but not too much that it takes away from their creativity, hindering their writing abilities.
Who Uses Content Briefs and Why Are They Important?
Content writers, content managers, marketers, business owners, SEO specialists, and digital marketers are just a few professionals who use content briefs to guide the creation of blog posts and ensure alignment with client expectations.
Writers are good at writing. However, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily SEO experts. That’s where content briefs come in. When done correctly, they help teams scale content that is both well-written and search engine optimized to deliver the results they want.
10 Key Components of a Comprehensive Content Brief
1. Title selection & keywords
Topic and title selection, which involves clearly defining the subject matter of the blog post, is a critical aspect of every content brief. It helps guide the writer’s focus and ensures the chosen topic aligns with the content strategy and target audience.
Choosing primary and secondary keywords will help the writer know what to talk about in the blog post to enhance its visibility in search engine results. Use tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Wordstream to do your keyword research. The primary keyword drives just about everything from finding related keywords, being used in the headline and URL, determining what internal and external links will be used, and the kind of call-to-action (CTA) that will be adopted.
2. Clearly defined objectives and goals
Knowing the goal before you start writing is key to helping you and the copywriter understand why the page is being created, and what you hope to achieve.
Some questions to ask include:
- What is the purpose of this page? Brand awareness? Conversions?
- What action should users take after reading the page?
- Is this an educational blog post?
Example: The goal of content is to generally inform and educate, sometimes motivate to purchase
The target word count and the deadline for completing the content should also be clearly articulated to avoid any possible complications. One study from Hubspot recommends an average content length of 1,137 words for improved rankings on Google. This is not to say that every single piece of content you create must have at least 1,100 words. Some blogs and service pages may not require that many words, but aiming for a word count of 800+ is a safe bet.
That being said, content length is not the only factor in your page’s success. Ensuring you satisfy the searcher’s intent, create high-quality content, and provide a good user experience, play a far greater role in rankings.
3. Outline the structure and format of the page
This is important from both an SEO and UX perspective. Including an introduction, descriptive headings and subheadings, brief instructions for each section, and a conclusion paragraph are the building blocks to ensure your content flows smoothly from start to finish. This will in turn help push users to take the desired action and navigate throughout the rest of the site.
Creating step-by-step guides or incorporating bullet points are great options for breaking up your content into more manageable, easy-to-read sections.
4. Voice and tone guide
How do you want readers to feel when they read your page? What is the type of vibe you want to give off?
Highly technical and scientific? Casual but professional? Fun to read with a little bit of humor thrown around?
Whether you’re starting a new blog or already have an established one, having a voice and tone guide in place will ensure that your blog content strategy is on-brand and consistent. You can use a template or create your own guide in Google docs. Once complete, add a link to the doc for quick access.
The voice and tone guide should include:
- Brand voice statement
- Words to say and not say
- Vibes to include and exclude
- Terms that are specific to your industry
- Goals: educational or increase sales
5. Examples of content you like
Before writing anything, it’s a smart idea to see what content is currently ranking on the first page of Google, regardless of how much of an expert you are on the topic. To do this, simply scour the web and skim the first 3-5 results for the primary keyword you’re trying to target. Find key elements of each page that you like, such as high-quality writing that touches on a lot of points, including interesting statistics, organized formatting, or the use of visuals.
Share the URLs, along with the notes, with the writer to help inspire them and create an even better piece of content.
On average, when information is paired with an image, people retain the content 55% better. Likewise, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is done visually.
Based on those statistics alone, it’s clear that visuals are important. Photos, infographics, and videos are popular visuals you can incorporate into your articles and service pages. Consider websites like Shutterstock, Pexels, Unsplash, istockphoto, and Canva for stock images to use.
As a reminder, don’t forget to include alt-text for your images so they can rank in Google search images.
7. Call-to-action and desired outcomes
The call-to-action (CTA) is like icing on the cake. It may seem like a small touch, but it actually plays a significant role in making sure your marketing efforts don’t go to waste.
CTAs are like road signs that tell your users where to go. While the keyword research and content bring new people to your site, calls to action guide users to take the next desired step.
Some CTA examples include:
- “Schedule a Consultation”
- “Download the Complete Guide Now”
- “Sign up for our Newsletter”
- “Contact Us”
- “Book your Appointment”
Whatever your marketing goals are, you need the best calls to action to push users further down the funnel.
8. Questions to answer
As the name implies, this is simply a list of questions that your potential readers are searching for and should be answered on your blog or service page.
For example, if you were writing an article on How the Divorce Process Works, you’d want to do some research and come up with a list of questions that should be covered. Utilizing ChatGPT can help facilitate the process.
This prompt was entered in ChatGPT: What are some questions that people ask about the divorce process?
The following response was provided: Certainly, here are some common questions people might ask about how the divorce process works:
- What is the first step in filing for divorce?
- How long does the divorce process usually take?
- What are the grounds for divorce?
- Do both parties need to agree on getting a divorce?
- What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
- How does the division of assets and property work during a divorce?
- What is alimony and when is it typically awarded?
- What factors are considered in determining child custody arrangements?
- What is a parenting plan and how is it established?
- What role does mediation play in the divorce process?
9. Additional instructions and specific requests
Additional instructions and specific requests in a content brief allow clients to provide specific guidance beyond the standard components. This can include requests for incorporating certain brand mentions, excluding certain words, or following particular writing guidelines for those with strict compliance regulations. These instructions help the writer minimize the number of edits from the rest of the team later on.
10. List out internal and external links
Internal and external links are important to add on any page because they boost SEO performance by improving crawl efficiency, helping Google better understand site architecture, and increasing your overall authority.
Adding internal and external links after the content has already been written can be challenging. That’s why the better alternative is to compile your list of links before writing so the copywriter can target all of them, saving you time.
Another benefit to providing links to the writer is that they can read the articles you’re asking them to link to, which helps them better understand the topic and write better.
Content Briefs Help You Create Winning Pieces
Assuming that a writer, no matter how experienced, doesn’t need a content brief is a poor mistake. Maybe you’re under the impression that you’ll save time and money by skipping it. However, even the strongest writers need a brief to guide them in the right direction and ensure that it’s SEO optimized.
Investing time in your content briefs will maximize your chances of delivering pieces that win and rank on Google.
If you have questions about any process of the content creation process, give us a call at 503-206-4988 or email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help!