So you want to put out lots of articles each month while holding to your high standards for quality and relevance?
A content brief is an indispensable tool — your new best friend!
Your content brief tells you what types of information you should include in your post, which types of visuals, how long the post should be, relevant keywords to include for SEO purposes, and more.
And you can have distinct content brief templates for all sorts of content types (like product reviews, “how-to” guides, or recipes), making it easy for you (or your writers) to populate them quickly!
What should you include in your content brief?
Ideally, you should design a template that can apply to many similar pieces of content.
In addition to making the writing process more efficient, content briefs also help make your content more effective. You can lean on a good content brief to ensure the post is optimized to capture as much search traffic as possible — generating more pageviews and increasing your overall revenue.
A well-executed content brief should include items like top keywords and optimal word count to help your article rank highly in search. And, ideally, it should strike a balance between being prescriptive enough to give the post the best chance of ranking well while still giving the writer creative license to make the article their own.
There are three main areas a content brief should include…
1. SEO recommendations
- Primary keyword: Your primary keyword is the main word or phrase someone might type into a search engine, for which you want your article to appear in the search results. Head to this post for everything you ever wanted to know about choosing a smart, achievable primary keyword.
- Suggested word count: Word count is actually a hotly debated area of SEO, with some experts saying word count does not aid rankings. But search engines have a sense of the length of the articles people click on after searching a term, and that can help guide how long your article should be. Experts tend to agree that a focused article that fully addresses the topic is your best bet — and that can be a balancing act.
- External links: Links that point to other sites and related site content.
- Titles and metadata: Include best practices for compelling titles and meta-descriptions. These can be general or very prescriptive, with a suggested page title, headline/H1, and a meta-description.
2. Style recommendations
- Target audience personas: Who is this post for (e.g. moms, millennial gamers, etc.)? Direct each post toward one of the personas you’ve identified for your site.
- Format: What format should the article take (e.g. Q&A, a product review, a piece with a photo gallery)?
- Brand voice and tone guidelines: Is your piece friendly and accessible, or more authoritative with lots of sources? Are there words to avoid or cultural nuances to be aware of? If you don’t have your brand’s voice and tone figured out yet, this guide is a great place to start!
3. Content recommendations
- Story angle: What’s your “hook” for the article? What’s new and fresh that you will bring to the table?
- Article outline: What structure should your article take? Typically, there is an intro, the main argument, and a call to action.
- Sub-topics for secondary keywords: In addition to the primary keyword you aim to rank for, are there other key terms or phrases to include in your article to help you rank for secondary keywords? Your H2 headers and image alt-tags are great places for these!
- Competitive examples: How have other high-ranking articles approached the topic?
- Deadline: When is the article due? If you don’t already have a content calendar, check out these tools!
Using Topic to streamline your content briefs
While you can certainly develop your own processes for content briefs, there are a lot of things to track and include! Wouldn’t it be great if all the background work for your content briefs was automatically done for you, and all you had to do was work your creative magic?
Good news — there are numerous companies that offer automated solutions to help publishers create content briefs and scale content optimization efforts.
And we’ve done a tremendous amount of work in the past year to identify the right one for AdThrive publishers…
We’ve decided to partner with Topic and will be bringing its content optimization technology to our publishers soon to help them create quality content that’s optimized at scale!
Topic uses AI to help you create smart, optimized content briefs to improve existing content or make sure that a new piece of content is poised for search success from the very beginning.
Use Topic to create content briefs for articles you’ve already published
When you want to update existing content for SEO, Topic can help you streamline the process!
Just plug in the URL for your existing article and Topic will give the content a grade (between A and F) based on how the article performs for its primary keyword.
Is optimizing the content worth the effort?
To help you decide, you’ll get the volume of monthly searches for that primary keyword and the percentage of articles (as opposed to other content types) that currently rank on the first page of Google search results for that keyword.
For example, if Topic gives your content a “C”, and there is strong search volume and a high proportion of articles on the first page of Google, optimizing your article could help you see great traffic increases. On the other hand, if your content is already an “A” and there are few similar articles on the first page of Google search results, optimizing your content further probably won’t give you a major boost.
Topic will show you a competitive analysis of other pages that rank for the same primary keyword and offer recommendations to improve your ranking, like questions to answer and additional topics to cover.
In the Topic tool, you can highlight headings or sub-topics that seem interesting but are currently missing from your post and add those elements to your content outline. You can organize all the info you want to include in your content and also add new ideas of your own at this step — things that are missing from the top results that portray your subject matter expertise and unique take.
Here’s an example of a content brief generated for a post entitled, “How to write a content brief on Topic.” (Very meta, we know.)
Get Topic’s competitive analysis of who is currently ranking for your keyword:
Check out how those sites are structuring their content:
Find questions to answer in your own content:
Search for relevant statistics and check out links to subject-matter experts that can make your content more authoritative:
And see which key topics you should consider covering in your piece of content:
Use Topic to create content briefs for new articles
When you use Topic for a brand new post that you’re ready to write or assign to your team, the functionality is similar.
Once you’ve done some keyword research to decide your SEO focus, simply create a content brief in Topic for that primary keyword and use Topic’s analysis of the search results to decide if focusing on that keyword is worth.
First, verify that the volume of searches per month matches what you expect and that Google is showing a good percentage of articles on the first page for that keyword search results. A low percentage of articles on page one means another element is at play — for example, if the term shows buyer-intent, Google may return mostly shopping results — and, in that case, it may not be worth focusing on that keyword. Also, make sure the word count Topic suggests you hit is practical for your site.
Review Topic’s competitive analysis to see how other publishers have tackled the topic and drill down to see their word count, domain authority, and content grade. Investigate how these competitors structured their content — and start building a high-level structure for your own article.
Pull in commonly searched questions related to your primary keyword, plus closely related topics, to make sure your content keeps them in mind (or answers them!) when you write your article.
Once you’ve created the perfect outline, check it against Topic’s content grader to see how the potential piece could perform in search. Topic will also give you an auto-generated list of any missing topics that can help improve the performance of your piece.
From there, you or your team can get writing, knowing that an optimized post is on the way!
A content brief can deliver huge value to your business — and we’re excited to make it simpler than ever for AdThrive publishers to create amazing content that brings the traffic (and revenue) it deserves!
Your Content Optimization roadmap
Module 1: Building a content plan and content strategy
- Develop a content strategy that drives results
- Identify and understand your target audience with personas
Module 2: SEO best practices
- Find the perfect search keywords for your target audience
- Create a content brief for great SEO [You are here!]
- Craft compelling content for search with SEO copywriting
Module 3: Measuring your success