How to Create Effective SEO Content Briefs: Tips and Best Practices

How to Create Effective SEO Content Briefs: Tips and Best Practices

Content creation can feel like a game of telephone.

Without the right process in place, it’s easy to lose track of what an article’s original intent was, and that can severely affect your efforts to generate solid content and rank on page #1.

Further, without the right context for your piece, you won’t be able to strengthen it with top keywords, internal links, and other SEO tricks and techniques.

While a regular content brief can capture the spirit of a piece and provide essential context, an SEO-focused content brief is geared towards getting to the front page of Google, with all the bells and whistles required.

Of course, this requires more detail and technical information.

In this piece, we’ll look at the critical components of an SEO-focused content brief and share a few tips on putting it all together.

Why bother with briefs?

Content Briefs are an underused, but critical part of a smooth content workflow.

They allow you to quickly and easily communicate the main features of a piece, such as the editorial intent, specific context, and expectations.

Before you’ve written a single word, however, you’ll need to conduct a content audit. This will give you insights into which subjects you write about most and allow you to identify any gaps you may have in your sales content strategy.

Once you know what you need to write about, Content Briefs are the next step to a successful and efficient content creation process.

Content Briefs help

  • stakeholders see, understand. and comment on the intention of a piece in moments
  • add clarity and forward thinking to any written content
  • get everyone, including the writers and researchers get on the same page
  • enable an easy measurement of whether content meets the stated goal, and
  • enable fast turnarounds of great content

Briefs provide the power of expectation setting. They make sure people are working from the same context. We fundamentally believe that there are a gazillion micro-decisions that people make. The more context people have driving towards the end destination, the better your overall content output”


An example of a content brief template

And modified with SEO in mind, Content Briefs are an essential component of an SEO content strategy.

SEO-Content Briefs vs your typical Content Briefs

Typical content briefs will, unsurprisingly, focus heavily on the content of the piece.

This can include heading suggestions, core topics, and structuring your piece in such a way that each section flows naturally into the next.

A product messaging template is a boon to these efforts, allowing your team to create repeatedly successful copy.

SEO-focused content briefs don’t necessarily discard any of these features. In fact, they should have all of the standard features, but the draw is an emphasis on SEO factors.

Content briefs that are created with the purpose of achieving a high ranking require more research.

This will pay dividends when you’ve published a piece that provides unique information, answers user queries, and redirects them to other pages on your site, encouraging a conversion.

That’s the ultimate goal of a sales and marketing SEO piece, after all. You’re looking to draw in prospects and secure sales.

Anatomy of an SEO-focused content brief

In our work with SEO content creation, we’ve developed an SEO Content Brief template to help writers create content that:

  • targets the right keywords
  • Has the ability to rank on page one of Google for those keywords
  • is in the right context for the searcher
  • builds a bridge between the original query, the message we want to convey, and
  • guides the visitor towards the actions we hope they will take

To achieve these goals, these are some of the highest impact information you can provide in your brief:

Content Summary

One of the biggest problems with SEO-focused content is the creation of drivel or word-salad purely for the purpose of ranking that nobody wants to read.

Ever searched for a recipe online? You know what I’m talking about.

The content summary delivers the context of the article to the writer. It should be a simple description which the writer can easily understand what they need to create.

A great summary covers the thrust of the article and what the audience should take away from it after reading.

Two great ways to think about this are:

  • Answering the Query
    How will this article address the search intent of the keywords targeted?
  • Information Gain
    What unique information will we be providing that will have value to the reader?

Answering the query

This is accomplished by having a deep understanding of WHY people are searching for a particular phase. This is where expert knowledge of search intent becomes invaluable.

Some of the best ways to anticipate the needs and questions of your users are to:

  • do some self-reflection (why would I search for that?)
  • read the search results to see what Google thinks. Google tends to do a good job of understanding search intent and presenting the right types of articles

Then we can get into making a bridge between what someone is looking for, how to speak to that, and then what we want to convey.

With a strong understanding of your product or service and your brand angle, you’ll know what the biggest pain points are first-hand, related to the query. So, you’ll be able to address and answer these issues directly and with authority.

If your content does a great job of answering the query, it could become a featured snippet on Google!


Here’s a featured snippet from our article: How to create trackable short links for sales documents

This is invaluable as it not only presents your piece front and center for anyone searching, it also provides an excerpt of what you’ve written, as that content has been deemed high-value and reliable.

Information gain

One of the most important things we can do as SEO content creators to help rank and deliver value to readers is to add unique value that doesn’t already exist elsewhere.

What are the one, two, or three nuggets of unique information you can bring to the table that is missing in competing pieces and that you can bring to your piece to make it stand out?

Think about it:

Google has to choose between dozens or even hundreds of similar articles to place in their top-ten list. Google doesn’t want to place ten nearly identical articles on page one because that provides no value to searchers.

If your article is as good as the rest but includes something nobody else does, then you can be rewarded for that value.

Being unique, by adding additional information that doesn’t appear elsewhere, is a winning strategy because it provides information gain.

Keywords targeted

Selecting the right keywords will make all the difference in your SEO efforts.

Conducting thorough research into the terms your customers and competitors use allows you to talk to them on their level.

This way, you can capture their most pressing questions and concerns by targeting the highest search volume keywords.

An excellent way to manage your keywords is by breating keyword master lists, including search volume, and difficulty, and then arranging them in larger categories based on topic.They ensure you are using your top performers without cannibalizing or wasting them on less relevant pages.

Often, keywords directly relate to pain points or problems that users experience, so it is wise to consult your persona template to familiarize yourself better with your target audience.

But which keywords are best?

High search volume isn’t the whole story on keywords. Search intent can be drastically different between keywords but is an equally important factor to consider.

The perfect keywords strike the right balance between high volume and relevant intent.

Search volume

As mentioned above, search volume is a significant factor in keyword consideration.

Even if a term or word perfectly describes something, it will provide you no traffic value if people aren’t actually searching for it. Higher search volume keywords tend to be more competitive, but if you can break in with them, you’ll reap the rewards of increased traffic.

However, increased traffic alone will not necessarily drive business results.

Search intent

There are four main types of search intents that you can anticipate and plan around, including:

  • Informational: seeking information on a subject
  • Commercial: investigating and comparing products
  • Navigational: The user is searching for specific websites or pages
  • Transactional: searching for specific products or brands

More often than not, you’ll want to be creating articles that are targeting either informational or commercial queries. The content you create will need to differ based on what you are targeting.


Informational queries tend to have higher search volume than commercial queries, however the latter typically drives better results

Informational queries, such as “sales enablement” may have higher search volume, but the intent is unclear. Perhaps someone is looking for a definition, or best practices. If you can rank on page one for these words you’ll drive a lot of traffic but not necessarily a lot of conversions.

Commercial queries, such as “sales enablement software”, have lower search volume, but indicate the intent to buy the software. This would be much more targeted if you are a sales enablement software company.

Stage in funnel

A customer’s journey from prospect to purchase is often mapped through a sales funnel. The lower they are, the closer they get to purchasing or walking away.

Different stages of the funnel require different content, as top-of-funnel content may need more general or introductory materials to get the prospect interested, while bottom-of-funnel content should be actionable information that directly influences their buying decision.

With this section of the SEO Content Brief, you can spell out and ensure your writers understand the search intent and therefore what type of content they should be creating.

Brand Angle

There’s a reason you’re writing this article, and it should be clear to your readers as well.

Your piece exists because your company has information or opinions to share, whether that’s triggered by industry experience, fresh market research, or a new product launch.

The brand angle itself isn’t specifically an SEO concern, but it is essential to your content because the purpose of content is to generate awareness and conversions.

So, even the most SEO-focused briefs should always explore your brand’s angle on the subject.

Competing articles that rank

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, well, SEO briefs allow you to see what it is that makes that lawn so green.

Analyzing top-ranking competitor articles can provide you with insights into what you need to include to emulate that success without imitating it. It can also present gaps in competitor content that you could then fill within your own work, presenting a more complete solution.


Adding 3-4 FAQs to the end of your piece, along with relevant keywords that you couldn’t fit into the content will be a huge benefit to your content.

While the content itself can sometimes feel too rigid to squeeze in a desired keyword, FAQs allow you:

  • to pose and answer questions using the keywords you are targeting
  • allow an opportunity to answer questions that people are searching for directly
  • Increase the keyword density on the page without “keyword stuffing”
  • Allow you to write questions and answers in plain language for ease of understanding

This can allow insertion of difficult or competitive keywords for which you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find a place.

In each answer, you can also link out to other articles that might examine the question more closely, encouraging further reading and engagement from the prospect.

Meta description

Meta descriptions are rarely at the forefront of a writer’s mind as they make content, but why is that?

The meta description is like the body copy for your search ad. It’s one element on the search results page that influences whether the person clicks on your listing.

So, why wouldn’t you optimize it as much as you can?

Creating meta descriptions that include keywords will draw in a prospect’s eye and confirm for them that they are clicking the right thing. Hooking your audience this way will increase your click-through rate.

It’s also worth saying that too many writers dash off the meta-description without care for character count, which cuts off the writing. This renders any keyword insertion useless, as the user will just scroll right on by, none the wiser that you have their ideal content just a click away.

Technical details

Article path is another area that could be overlooked when publishing your content. Specifying the article path in the brief will ensure that the ideal URL is used, including content-relevant keywords. It’s best to use lower-case letters, and separate words with hyphens, such as:

Anchor text for internal links should be optimized to include relevant keywords so that users and search engines know exactly where a link will take them. Creating a master list of top URLs and anchor text will help you stay organized and prevent repetition and keyword cannibalism.

Alt text for images follows the same conventions, you’ll want to name your images using keywords that describe what the image actually is, which will make it easier for Google to understand what you’re showing.

As an added bonus, it should make your own housekeeping easier, as your images will all be clearly marked up so that you know where each one belongs and when they should be used.

Word count is an example of a Goldilocks Problem; too much or too little is bad, we need it just right.

Your subject matter will influence your word count, as complex deep dives will be longer than an entry-level piece. Competitors are a great source of information if you’re not sure what the word count of a piece should be. Analyzing competitor articles, their length, and their performance will help you determine what length your prospects prefer.

What about outlines?

Honestly, we used to use outlines. We used to use tools that made it seem like magic: Content Harmony, SEMRush, and even AI writing to help get the ball rolling.

It made sense at the time; to gather all of our links, keywords, headings, and other info all in one place, and build our draft from that.

It quickly became apparent that something was missing. Often, outlines would require revisions before final drafting could begin.

Then we realized that we were running into the same problems; our revisions took too long, the outlines became too prescriptive, and the original intent was lost.

Our outlines had great technical SEO information, but these issues were causing serious blockages to our development process.

With our new streamlined content workflow, we were able to pack in all the necessary information for our pieces in a manner that was fast to review and correct.

The simplified outline suggestions allowed more autonomy for the final writer, and the Content Summary and Content Goal sections of the brief make clear the expectations for every asset.

Adding SEO-focused briefs to your workflow

Now that you understand the value of SEO content briefs, you can adopt them into your content workflow.

Thanks to the pre-work in the brief, much of the optimization work will already be baked into the article as it is being developed:

  1. The article is more likely to be drafted as intended
  2. The right keywords will be in the first draft
  3. FAQs will be pre-specified
  4. Technical details that are usually last minute; such as URLs, meta descriptions, and titles, will be ready along with the content
  5. Images should be well-named for SEO and easier to find and place
  6. Alt-text will be predefined and well-optimized

And ultimately, the review processes will be much smoother, faster, and less frequently necessary.

Once you implement a strong content production process, you will find you are creating more and more quality content, faster than ever before.

Eventually, managing all of this content manually will become more and more difficult.

To get a handle on all of this, you’ll need to conduct a content audit before you’ve even started writing, to ensure that you are choosing the most impactful topics.

After doing this, you could realize your article titles are too similar to easily tell apart, or you’ve lost track of a brief you need in order to finish a draft.

A sales content management tool like Content Camel is ideal for organizing marketing collateral for sales success. It does this by allowing for filtering by funnel stages, content types, and tags.

This drastically reduces the strain on managing these assets and allows your team to have access to their best materials at a moment’s notice.

That means you can produce a brief, and keep track of it along with any outlines, draft, or additional assets it will need before publishing.

Try Content Camel for free!