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What should you include in an effective content brief to make sure it’s helpful for readers and search engine rankings? In this in-depth guide, I’ll explain what information you should include for maximum effectiveness when creating effective content briefs.

Continue reading to learn!

How to Create an Effective Content Brief: What’s Included

Receiving more effective content from your writers starts with an effective content brief. Below, I go over what to include when creating content briefs.

The Goal of Your Content Brief

The typical goal of a content brief is to provide helpful guidelines for creating content. Beyond that overarching goal, consider the specific goal of each article. Before you even start creating a content brief, consider its goal.

Here are a few potential goals to consider when you produce content:

  • Promote an affiliate link and earn a commission
  • Educate your audience on a particular subject, product, or service
  • Establish your brand as a thought leader

Knowing your goal before you write a content brief will help you create a more effective one. It will also inform your creative process when putting together an editorial calendar.

Creating a content calendar will give you a birds-eye view of the content you’re publishing and its goals. Then, you can make sure that you’re posting the right number of times for each goal.

For example, if you’re trying to earn an affiliate commission but are mainly posting articles as a thought leader without any affiliate links, you can realize that your marketing projects don’t align with your goals and make a pivot.

Desired Format

After you’ve set your goal, your content brief should provide in-depth instructions on how your writer should format the article.

When formatting your content brief, here are a few things you should include:

  • Word Count: The requested word count will determine the structure of your outline. The length of your written content will also affect where it ranks in search results next to competitor articles. Do you want your writer to go more in-depth on a topic or write more succinctly?
  • Suggested Title: While you will probably want your content writer to develop an effective title, providing them with an idea can be a helpful starting point.
  • Meta Description: Providing suggested meta descriptions for your writers can help ensure they stay on topic and reference your primary keyword for your article. Meta descriptions are highly specific, so this will help them understand the direction of the article.
  • Content Type: Is this a listicle, product review, or how-to article?
  • Outline: Providing an outline tells your writers what you want them to cover in the blog post. A specific outline can help prevent the need for future rewrites or time wasted from covering a subsection of a topic that you didn’t want them to write about.

The more specific you are in your content brief with how you want your content formatted, the better piece your writer will be able to return to you. The less specific you are, the more decisions the writer will make on their own. These creative decisions may or may not align with your vision and could result in time-consuming rewrites.

Target Audience

An important part of the writing process is knowing who your audience is. Who should your content writer be talking to?

Giving your writers an idea of who they’re writing for will help them work more effectively. The more specific you are about your target audience, your writers can be more effective.

For example, writing for B2C audiences will be different from writing for B2B audiences. Writing for Generation Z will be different from writing for Generation X. Writing for parents might be different from writing for DINKs .

Here are a few ways you can get specific about who your audience is:

  • Age Range: Which generation are they a part of? Is your audience at a specific age, like going to college or retiring?
  • Gender: Who’s experience are you speaking to?
  • Interests: What is your audience interested in? Which social media platforms are they interacting on? The more specific you can be, the better you’ll be able to write for what they like.
  • Lifestyle: Are you speaking directly to consumers, or are you trying to target other companies?

These are just a few things to consider when determining your target audience. You can ask many questions to determine your audience’s personality and what they’re looking for. The more specific you can be in defining your audience, the more relevant articles you can write for them.

Target Keywords

The quality of your keyword research will be a key factor in the success of your article.

After you’ve conducted your keyword research, you’ll want to list your primary and secondary keywords in your content brief. Including a list of short and long-tail keywords your writers should include in each blog will help them create higher-quality content for you.

How your writer includes your target keyword will determine whether your content shows up on the same page as your competitors in search results. Denoting the primary keyword from the rest of your keywords will take your content marketing strategy to the next level.

Effective SEO content starts with detailed content briefs that cover both secondary and primary keywords.

Determining the best keyword research tool will help you find relevant keywords in your content briefs.

Search Intent

What will your target audience search for that lands them on your content?

Search intent represents what your audience is actually looking for. It’s the product, answer, or website that they want to find among the search engine results.

Declaring the search intent in each content brief will give your writers an idea of the question your content is answering. They will know exactly the type of information their writing needs to provide.

Knowing your keyword intent will help you write better for your target audience. Your content marketing strategy is most effective when it answers your audience’s problems.

An effective content brief should list the links you want included in your article from external to internal links.

If there are specific internal links you would like referenced, make sure you list them in your content brief. Referencing your existing articles throughout your content is an important part of an effective content strategy. It’s beneficial for SEO purposes, page count, and time spent on your website.

If there are specific external links you would like included, you should also include them in your content briefs.

Being specific with your link suggestions helps your writer know what they should promote throughout the article. It also prevents them from potentially using links you wouldn’t want to include in your content. The links that you want to be included could be completely separate from the links that your team comes up with during their research process.

External and internal links will help your team know what they need to include during the writing process.

Understanding internal linking best practices will help you develop a more effective content strategy.

Brand Voice

What does your brand voice sound like?

Each content brief should include a section explaining your unique brand voice. Especially if you’re working with a freelance writer for the first time, you need to communicate what your brand voice sounds like.

Elements of your brand voice that need to be explained during the content creation process include:

  • Capitalization: How are sentences and titles capitalized?
  • Quotation: How do you cite sources in your articles?
  • Formality: Is your brand voice more formal or approachable?
  • Tone of Voice: Does your brand’s tone sound educational, funny, or sarcastic?

Knowing your brand messaging means your team can reference your content briefs and use them to write effective content.

The great part is that once you do this for your first content brief template, you can use this same information every time. Of course, you will update it occasionally as your brand voice evolves. But overall, you can generally leave this in each content brief template.

Initial Research

Your initial research when outlining your article should be included in your content brief. While a seasoned freelance writer will conduct their own research, providing them with yours will give them an idea of what you want covered.

This is where you would include information like:

  • Competitor Analysis: What are the top-ranking articles in various search engines? Information about your competitors for organic traffic will help your writer know who their content is competing with.
  • Preliminary Information: This is where you include the initial information you uncovered during your research on various search engines.
  • Customer Forums: To know what your intended audience is looking for, you need to go straight to the source. User-generated customer forums are great places to inform your content creation process. Reddit, Quora, and PAA are great places to look for feedback directly from individuals when you create content.

Traditional Tools for Researching for Content Briefs

Call in reinforcements to improve your SEO knowledge and write better content briefs!

Tools like Surfer SEO and MarketMuse are immensely helpful when conducting keyword research for your SEO content. These tools will provide long lists of primary and secondary keywords to include when creating content briefs.

New Tools for Your SEO Content Brief

In addition to these traditional SEO tools, another helpful tool will help you create quality content.

Frase is an in-depth research tool that will help you boost your place on the search results page.

Frase will inform your content marketing workflow to help you find the information your intended audience is really looking for. Check out our full Frase review as well as our breakdown of Frase vs Surfer SEO to learn more.

content brief

Content Briefs vs. Creative Briefs

So, what’s the different between a content brief and a creative brief?

A creative brief has a more broad purpose of describing the strategy of various creative projects. A marketing agency would use a creative brief to guide the content production of web, graphic design, and advertising projects.

Content briefs are more focused on the strategy for specific pieces of content like a blog post. An SEO agency would use a content brief to guide the actual content creation of each blog post. A content brief would discuss the guidelines for ranking high in search engines.

Think of a creative brief for various creative projects and a content brief for guiding the content creation of a specific post.

If you were tasking a writer to write a website homepage, you would use a creative brief. If you were tasking them to write a blog post, you would provide a content brief.

Content Brief Template

Not everyone can afford or wants to pay for a content marketing agency. This is where having a free content brief template can help.

A content brief template can help you take all this information and implement it when producing content.

If you want to create your own content brief template to easily use for content creation, here’s a free content brief template you can copy:

Content Goal:
Content Type:
Word Count:
Working Titles:
Meta Description:
Target Audience:
Search Intent:
Link Suggestions:
Brand Voice:
Initial Research:

This content brief template can easily be copied and pasted into Google Docs for future use. Now that you have a content brief example to follow, your content marketing workflows will be more streamlined!

How to Create Content Briefs

Each content brief will be the foundation of your content strategy. The tips and tools discussed in this article were designed to help you create better content briefs and, therefore, more effective content. I hope they serve you well!


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