Florian Fuehren

Marketing without an SEO content brief is like building houses without a blueprint. You might as well build sandcastles at low tide. With a thoughtfully structured brief template, you provide clear and detailed instructions to guide your content creation process.

However, the purpose of a brief is not just to articulate your blog post’s theme but also to align it with your overall content strategy while involving all stakeholders. That way, the writer can ensure they’re crafting content that abides by search engine optimization practices while resonating with the right audience.

Your SEO content brief should detail essential elements such as: 

  • Primary keyword.
  • Audience personas.
  • Search intent.
  • Content format.
  • Desired actions you want readers to take. 

By reminding everyone on your content team of those strategic objectives, you’ll make sure every asset serves a purpose. Let’s look at the ingredients an SEO-focused content brief needs to achieve that.

What Goes Into a Solid SEO Content Brief?

Crafting a content brief template is crucial for aligning your team’s content creation efforts with specific strategic goals, which should always be codified the same way so they become part of everyone’s routine.

Just kidding, go nuts on Comic Sans, as long as you stay consistent. Here’s what else to include:

  • Content Vision and Goals: Start by defining the purpose of your content. What do you aim to achieve? Where does it fit into your SEO strategy? Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating leads or link-building, you should clearly define and track your goals.
  • Your Target Audience: Identify who your content creator is writing for. Your content needs to resonate with your target audience, addressing their pain points and interests. Both a Chief Marketing Officer and a copywriter will encounter marketing challenges. But if you address the wrong one, your engagement rates will drop.
  • Search Intent: Pin down the search intent by considering what types of users are searching for a particular topic. Your content should not only match this intent but exceed competitors’ efforts. That can mean putting in the extra effort to reformat complex information into a table or sprinkling your own humor on top.

Now that we’re aware of the individual user searching for our content, let’s bring in some technical SEO parameters. Notice that we didn’t start with those, though.

  • Keywords: List primary and secondary keywords that are relevant to your topic. You should aim to incorporate those naturally. Remember that search engines are growing smarter about analyzing content, so always try to serve the human reader first.
  • Subtopics: Outline subtopics to cover that can position your offering as high-quality content. Sometimes, the primary keyword will dictate the outline, but in some cases, it’s worth digging deeper to find that one resource that tells search engines your site is legit.
  • Structure: Consider the headings and subheadings as part of content optimization. If you haven’t planned content before, this may feel too restrictive, but it will help you fine-tune details according to SEO requirements before content production.
  • Word Count: Depending on the depth of the topic, provide a guideline for the length of your asset. More complex subjects may require longer, more detailed content, whereas simple response posts or niche landing pages may only warrant a few hundred words.

In essence, well-prepared content brief creation ensures you’re not just churning out blog posts for the sake of it. You’re crafting targeted, insightful and SEO-optimized content that will light up your Google Analytics account and align with your strategic vision. 

Core Elements of a Brief To Make Your Content Rise to the Top

Crafting a competitive SEO content brief requires precision and an awareness of several crucial elements. Addressing these core areas ensures that your content not only appeals to your audience but also comes out on top of the search engine results page (SERP).

Understanding Search and User Intent

Think about your everyday conversations. If a friend says “I’m hungry,” they may segue into a dinner invitation, expect you to cook or grab their jacket to eat at home. If you know them well, you may already anticipate what they’ll do, but in our SEO brief example, the content writer has to guess that intent for millions of people. 

Search and user intent are the bedrock of effective SEO content. Acknowledge what users are seeking and how they might phrase their search queries. This means classifying whether the intent behind a search is informational, navigational, commercial or transactional — meaning if they expect an overview, an offer or in-depth info from you. 

Incorporating Keywords and Search Volume

A savvy SEO content brief will detail specific keywords to target, informed by search volume and relevance to your brand. The primary keyword should closely align with your topic, while secondary keywords and related phrases can enhance your content’s ability to address a broader range of queries or put your content in those featured snippets that every marketer yearns for. Remember that integrating these keywords should feel natural and contribute meaningfully to your topic. 

Keyword stuffing wasn’t pretty in the 90s, but now, it’s like using a rotary phone. It gave you the satisfaction of completing physical work at the time, but we’ve found better ways to dial a zero.

Aligning With Brand Voice and Style

Surely, you have fond memories of that one relative who could always break down complex ideas or tell amazing stories. Just like you recall them for those memories, customers will remember your brand — or they won’t, if you don’t keep things consistent. Your content’s success hinges on a well-defined brand voice and adherence to your style guide. Establish clear guidelines for how your content should sound to the reader, ensuring that every piece reflects your brand’s character, no matter who’s working on your content.

By strategically aligning great content with a unique style, you’ll differentiate your brand from bland competitors while reinforcing brand recognition. Don’t put the cart before the horse, though. Make sure you’ve worked out the details of your content strategy so that your briefs reflect the bigger picture while satisfying the user intent.

The Difficulty of Getting Your Blog Post on Page 1

Achieving a page 1 ranking on Google is complex, and it involves multiple factors, from SEO practices to the quality of your content.

Don’t worry; it’s not that technical.

When you’re looking to rank on Google’s first page, you’re competing against numerous competitors, all vying for the top spots. The SERP is influenced by a multitude of ever-changing algorithms focused on delivering the most relevant results to users. Your task is to consider target keywords that align with your business goals and offerings, but also account for keyword difficulty. Popular keywords bring tougher competition, but they may also bring lower conversion rates, depending on the search intent.

While you shouldn’t just copy from your search competitors, you can learn a lot about the intent behind a search and your target audience’s existing knowledge. Some may offer an infographic for an overview of product categories, while others might break down specifications in tables. All those insights should go into the way you format different sections of your content. Think strategically about the factors you adopt and the way they’re supposed to contribute to your content’s success.

Strategies for Organic Traffic and Visibility

To improve your organic traffic, a robust content marketing approach is essential. Start with thorough keyword research to identify terms for which you can realistically rank. Your content has to provide value and offer a different take from what’s already out there — whether that’s additional research, a poll or a humorous spin on an otherwise dry matter. Only then will it have a chance to climb the ranks on Google.

And while some of us can’t wait for our robot overlords to implant microchips so they can track our every move, even the smartest, AI-powered search engine can’t quite read our minds. So you’ll still need to integrate relevant keywords into your content, but do it smoothly so it doesn’t become annoying to the human on the other end. When in doubt, always prioritize producing high-quality content that answers your audience’s questions rather than embedding another target keyword.

Also, updating and optimizing old content can be just as important as creating new posts. Plan to revisit your existing content library regularly to implement strategic update cycles and enhance your internal linking strategy.

How We at Brafton Approach a Content Outline

When you work with Brafton, you’ll likely learn about two things first — our platform and Search Performance Briefs (SPBs), which is our version of a content outline based on keyword research and best practices. When crafting an SPB, our focus is on designing a structure that’s intricately aligned with SEO strategies, ensuring that every piece of content has its groundwork rooted in thorough research and a clear vision of your brand and subject matter expertise.

To establish a solid foundation for your content assets, we begin with SEO research. This step is crucial as it influences every aspect of the content outline. Before anyone even thinks about writing the first word, we determine what type of project we’re dealing with, just so that everyone is on the same page.

Are we re-optimizing an old landing page or writing a new blog post? Do we include a call-to-action (CTA) that’s part of a seasonal campaign? Which internal links should we use? Are we tailoring this piece of content to one specific geographic audience?

All of that information can be gathered in various ways, whether it’s an online meeting or a short questionnaire. This is where most information slips through the cracks, though, so you can’t skip this part without risking an incoherent content strategy. As a next step, we need to align the information on business and marketing objectives with data from our competitors. This is where our blog starts to take form.

Reading other blog posts or landing pages targeting the same keyword and target audience, you can come up with your first ideas, which is why Brafton’s SPBs contain the SERPs from Google’s first page of results, including data on domain authority, search intent and word count. You may choose to take a different path than even the most successful competitor or try to slightly tweak their outline and style. The structure of your outline always emerges from the marriage of SEO insights and the vision for your content. If you follow either one in isolation, something gets lost.

And yes, this is also the time to identify relevant keywords and disregard others. We’ll need to weave those into an engaging meta description and subheadings, so they’ll determine part of our writers’ framework. 

Implementing Effective CTAs and Links

Your content’s ability to convert relies heavily on well-crafted CTAs and the thoughtful placement of both internal and external links. By weaving compelling CTAs throughout the content, you guide your readers toward valuable actions, enriching their experience and propelling your business objectives.

That’s why you shouldn’t just think of them as something you’re trying to get from site visitors. A CTA is supposed to enrich the user’s experience while advancing your goal, be it brand awareness or a newsletter subscription. Those links need to be strategically integrated to enhance the reader’s journey, offering additional resources that match their current needs and knowledge. 

Crafting an effective content brief is akin to putting the roadmap on your engine hood before a long drive into another state. You’re in for a wild ride with beautiful scenery, and if you plan thoroughly, you may even get to the peak of Mount SERP, where your audience awaits you.