When you write a content brief, your main goal should be to define the overall structure for templates in the future. These tools are decided to help you produce content for the intended audience. Then, once you've developed a content brief template, you can tailor them to specific projects or campaigns.
Your content brief should include anything an in-house or freelance writer might need to create valuable content, including the following elements:
Topic and suggested title
The title of the article provides writers with context to help them better understand the overarching theme of the content. The title should include the primary target keyword or a variation. Remember, your recommended title may change during the writing process. Still, the title should reflect the topic, even if a writer chooses to change what's in the content brief to something potentially more relevant.
Since the main goal of a content brief is to help your pages rank on search engines, you should always include meta descriptions. You can either write the meta descriptions yourself or ask the writer to do it for you if they have the experience and skill set to do so.
Meta descriptions appear in search engine results pages, so the person writing them should have an idea of how to write content that makes the target audience want to click on the result.
Primary and secondary keywords
Keyword research is a crucial component of a content brief. Your content brief should contain the primary keyword that informs writers of search volume and how often they should use it and secondary keywords that are either variations or related to the primary keyword.
Because content briefs are typically used for articles optimized for search engines, it's a good idea to keep your keyword research as basic as possible. While you might use keyword research tools that can help you find thousands of long-tail keywords or secondary keywords, writers don't need spreadsheets worth of keyword variations. Instead, keep it simple with a list of 4-5 keywords per article, and allow them to use variations accordingly.
Internal and external links
As part of your keyword research, you should identify internal and external links and their anchor texts. Internal links help search engines understand your content and where it fits within the structure of your website. All internal links should have an anchor text that relates to the page being linked to.
Depending on the type of content you're creating, your content brief can also contain external links you want within the article, allowing writers to cite sources if necessary.
Goals for the content
Your content brief should ultimately tell writers the type of content they're creating. Different types of content have different purposes. For instance, product pages and landing pages are designed to be salesy and promote conversions. On the other hand, a blog post is meant to educate and inform.
Letting your writers know the type of page they're writing for your website can help them create better quality content designed with a purpose. Keep in mind that for some writers, it is not as simple as telling them what type of content they're creating. Individuals that don't have marketing expertise might need examples or a better description to help them understand the goals of the content.
Questions your target audience has
Adding questions your target audience has about a topic can help your content brief address those questions, making it more likely to rank in SERPs and be engaging. You can review the People Also Ask (PAA) section of Google SERPs to determine which related questions the target audience may have and ensure your content answers them either directly or indirectly.
Word count requirements
Different types of content have different word count requirements. A landing page might have fewer words required to sell a product, while a long-form blog post may be necessary to help your content rank in SERPs. When you write a content brief, keep in mind the type of content and the required word count to help your content meet its goals.
Having the word count listed on the content brief also helps with billing and accounting. If you're using a freelance writer, they may be paid per word. Keeping the word count listed on the content brief ensures the writer knows how much they're expected to write and earn from a particular piece of content. In addition, it helps the company track how much it owes its writers.
Your content brief should contain a list of resources to help writers create quality content. While having primary and secondary keywords helps them do their own research on a particular topic, it helps to provide them with resources they can use upfront to either cite in the article or help them understand a topic.
A rough outline with headings
Content marketing comes easier for some than others. You can't expect copywriters to fully understand the purpose of content marketing or every tactic involved. Instead, they focus on the writing. Your content team consists of other members like strategists and managers responsible for planning and implementing a strategy.
While more experienced writers can create their own outlines using competitor research and looking at examples of top-performing content or top-ranking articles, it helps to make a rough outline with headings for them while providing them with resources that can help them fill in the outline with more in-depth sentences.
Suggestions for visual elements
Supplementing your written content with visual elements is crucial, especially if the main goal of your content is to engage your target audience. Your content brief should always include suggestions for visual elements to help guide writers and designers. You can suggest the type of visuals, format, and the required number of images per post.
A style guide can give your writers information on your preferred tone and voice and overall brand messaging to ensure your content aligns with your branding. A style guide might cover everything from punctuation preferences, the spelling of brand names or product lines, tone of voice with examples, and formatting rules.
Ask for feedback
A content creator is different from a strategist in many cases. Instead, your content marketing team might work on creating content in different stages of the process. Content briefs are designed to help writers and strategies collaborate more effectively and efficiently with less time wasted in meetings or through follow-ups.
Unfortunately, you won't know if your content brief is effective until you use it. You can create a content brief example and share it with your writers to determine whether they think it's missing crucial information like internal or external links, keywords, etc.
Ask your writers questions about the content brief, like what they like about it and what they don't, and if they believe the new structure can help them going forward. Then, improve upon your existing content brief and implement it within your larger content strategy.
Train and onboard for content brief utilization
Creating a content brief takes all the research you perform before writing an article and makes it easier to relay that information to writers without needing meetings and follow-ups. This improved communication and collaboration help teams create high-quality content that can help you rank on any search results page.
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