How do experienced writers write their blog posts?
If you’re just beginning your career as a content writer, you want a clear answer to this question right here, right now.
Whether you’ve guessed or not, content creators don’t just sit and decide they’ll write something the minute they get a writing assignment.
There’s a true-and-tested method to get even the most complicated posts to rank on search engines…that is, writing a content brief.
A Detailed content brief sets the pathway you’ll have to navigate through for your piece of writing.
Whether or not you’ve already heard of it, read along because this guide is your first step to boosting your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and amassing organic traffic.
Alright, let’s begin!
What we will cover
What Is a Content Brief?
Also known as a “writing overview,” “outline,” and “brief,” a content brief is a style guide that includes all the guidelines and rules a piece of content should follow to reach the desired outcome with your writing.
In other words, content briefs are like a roadmap for your content strategy.
The main reason content writers have to follow specific outlines is to ensure that their content will meet everyone’s expectations: the entity and the readers.
Businesses use content briefs to…
- Prevent cannibalizing their SEO by covering the same topic and keywords in multiple articles.
- Dig for brand-new angles for their main topics.
- Help streamline the content creation process and make it easier to collaborate with others on the project.
How to Write a Successful Content Brief?
Before I answer your question, it’s essential to keep in mind that the components of your content brief may differ depending on your content type.
For instance, if you’re planning to write a blog post, you should focus on outlining the topic, primary keywords, target audience, and key messaging for your post and the target word count, tone, and format you want to use.
On the other hand, if you’re writing a social media post, you need to define the social media platform you want to post on and the objective of your post.
This could be driving traffic, boosting engagement, or something else. Additionally, it’s essential to specify the length, tone, and format of the post and include any relevant hashtags or keywords that you want to use.
Now that you have a quick overview of the elements that an SEO-focused content brief should include, let’s take a closer look at each element with a focus on blog post writing guideline
1. Your keywords
To determine your keywords, you want to use keyword research tools to identify your target keyword as well as secondary, related, and long-tail keywords.
“So how do we identify our keywords in the first place?”
Good question. Here’s how you can choose your keywords:
- Start with discovering the angles of a specific topic that you want to cover.
- Research similar keywords to see their search volume.
- Take a look at the keyword difficulty (KD) score of each keyword to set your priorities.
- Add all the keywords you’ve chosen to your keyword list.
Once you’re done with your keyword list, you want to divide your keywords into:
The main or primary keyword that you want to highlight in your topic. For example, your target keyword can be “content brief”.
Ideally, your focus keyword phrase should have a decent amount of monthly searches and a low level of competition (i.e., KD score).
Now since that’s not always the case, your focus keyphrase should be the most suited keyword for your topic, angle, and business situation.
When searching for your focus keywords, you’ll most likely face one of these four scenarios:
High search volume, low competition: That’s the perfect scenario, especially for startups and small business owners as well as enterprises digging for more audiences.
High search volume, medium competition: We can call this scenario an “OK” scenario. If you’ve been building your presence on web searches for quite some time now, you can try out this category of keyphrases.
High search volume, high competition: This scenario represents the war zone where you’ll have to compete with the most reputable businesses. So you want to be capable of competing against them.
Low search volume, low competition: Businesses try out this type of keyphrases when their niche isn’t popular. They can yield good results over time when the context is appropriate. Otherwise, it can become a matter of pushing your luck.
Choosing an attainable focus keyphrase is pivotal for your entire content strategy, as it will determine the type of top-ranking articles you’ll compete against.
relevant keywords that refer to the same concept as your focus keyphrase. For instance, if your target keyword is “content brief,” your secondary keyword can be “outline.”
Sometimes, your target keyword is the only wording that has a decent amount of search volume or an attainable KD score.
Do we leave the rest of the terms out in that case? Of course not. You still target them but with less frequency.
Secondary keywords help Google understand the context of your primary keyword, especially when there’s an overlap between different industries.
Related and Synonymous Keywords
Just like secondary keywords, your related and synonymous keywords, also known as latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords, can help Google understand your content and recommend it to the right audience.
But what’s even more important is that they help you, as a writer, navigate through your article. Simply because they include terms and concepts related to a specific angle and narrow down your focus on a certain set of points. Hence, you save time and get the job done without exerting much effort in researching all possible angles.
And by using different wordings and phrases to describe your core concepts, you avoid ruining your article’s SEO optimization through keyword stuffing.
Pro Tip: Your LSI keywords and related ones can make the perfect opportunities for you to incorporate relevant content, whether by using internal links or external links within your article!
2. Target Audience
To ensure that your writing outline is solid, you should clearly describe your target audience.
What kind of readers are you addressing in your article? Are you talking to writers? Accountants? Entrepreneurs? Solopreneurs?
Each of these individuals has their own problems, motives, desires, and needs.
Determining the identity of your readers in your writing overview will help you use the language they’re using. As a result, it becomes easier for you to relate to them.
3. Main Goal(s)
Is it even a content brief if you don’t know what you’re writing a piece of content for? It’s not.
As we’ve said earlier, your outline should include the objectives of your article.
But what exactly are these so-called “objectives?”
In general, the aim, objective, goal, or purpose of an article covers the main benefit or value that you want to deliver in your piece of writing.
In other cases, your content goal can be refuting someone’s baseless claims or debunking myths.
Simply put, when you talk about your main goal in your writing overview, you want to at least…
Convey a message: describing the main benefit or value that your readers want or need.
For example, if your goal is to promote the benefits of CELTA to fresh graduates, your message can be:
“The CELTA certificate helps you kick-start your English teaching career with a competitive edge, enabling you to earn higher salaries from the get-go!”
Answer an objection: correcting a misconception that your reader believes to be true.
For instance, if your client tells your sales team that your training location isn’t the best, you can dedicate an article to debunk this misconception.
4. User Intent
Part of understanding your audience, you should know the intention behind searching for a specific search query.
Also known as the “search intent,” your users’ intent can be…
Informational intent: Looking for information or tips about a certain topic.
Navigational intent: Navigating to a specific website or web page.
Commercial intent: Sifting through available options on the search results.
Transactional intent: Proceeding to place a specific order or pay for an online course.
5. Content Stage and Angle
Also known as the “buyer’s journey” and “customer’s journey,” your content stage highlights the three main stages that your reader goes through:
Awareness stage: Looking for an item that you desire or a solution to a problem.
Consideration stage: Learning about the different options available to you regarding your situation.
Decision stage: Making up your mind on a specific item or solution.
Defining the stage your readers are most likely to be in will help you visualize your readers’ wants and needs.
That way, you can determine the writing style and tone that you’ll be using to meet your reader where they are and take them to the next step.
As for the content angle, you want to determine the format and layout of your article.
For example, different angles about writing briefs can be:
Creating a detailed guide on how to create a brief for all occasions.
Writing a beginner-friendly guide on the different elements of a comprehensive content brief.
Compiling a list of brief templates that can serve writers in different writing situations.
It’s important to state the angle because it dictates the entire course of your article and its outcome.
6. Questions and People Also Ask
Ranking on the first SERP isn’t limited to the top 10 positions. You can still rank on the first page as one of the articles featured in Google’s “People Also Ask” section.
This section includes the questions that your audience asks most frequently. Targeting those questions and answering them will help you boost your organic search traffic.
All you want to do when picking your questions is to choose the ones that suit your topic’s goal and angle.
7. Tone of voice
Your brand’s tone of voice is like its unique personality that shines through in how you communicate with your audience. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that counts!
Think of it like talking to a friend – your tone can make a big difference in how your message is received. A friendly and approachable tone can help your content feel more relatable and engaging for your audience.
For instance, if you’re tackling a serious topic like mental health in a blog post, using a compassionate and understanding tone can help your readers feel heard and connected to your message.
By including your brand’s tone of voice in your content brief, you can ensure that your messaging is consistent and effective, and that your audience will be more likely to stick around and engage with what you have to say.
8. Content Outline
To be sure you’re producing a perfect content plan, our outline should incorporate all the important points that your article should cover.
Based on your keyphrases, audience, stage, and angle, your high-quality content brief outline should include:
- Suggested SEO Title (also referred to as the “meta title”)
- Meta description and excerpt
- H2 heading tags
- H3 and H4 heading tags (when applicable)
- Closing statement
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) schema section
- Further instructions for each of your sections to match the search intent
- Number of internal and external links
- Average word count
Next Up: Creating Your SEO Content Brief
Writing a comprehensive brief is the first step toward an effective content marketing strategy.
Whether you’re a member of a content team, an independent freelance writer, or a content marketer starting your writing process with a detailed outline will make you stand out from the competition.
We’ve covered all the must-know elements of a writing overview and outline. Now is your turn.
Save this article and go through each element one by one until you fully grasp the concepts.
But wait, there’s more! You could also consider trying out some of the free tools that generate AI-generated content briefs like Tinywow or Contenteum. While they might not cover everything we’ve discussed, they can still be a helpful resource to get you started.
So what are you waiting for? Start working on your content marketing strategy today, and remember, we’re always here to help if you need it!
Who uses content briefs?
Everyone involved in the content creation process uses writing overviews and rough outlines whether they are experienced writers, content marketers, or content strategists.
How to create your own content brief template?
First, try to set up a document that your team can easily access. This could be a shared Google Doc, a project management tool, or another platform that works for your team.
Next, you can either find a content brief template online or create your own from scratch. A simple Google search can help you find templates that you can use as a starting point.
Also, If you’re using a project management solution, see if they have any pre-made content brief templates that you can use. This can save you time and make the process even easier.
How much time do you spend on content briefs?
It depends on whether an experienced writer or you’re just beginning. Experienced writers can take around an hour to create their detailed outlines. If you’re just beginning, you might take a little more.