How Agencies and Companies Can Scale Content Production with SEO Content Brief

Pankil Shah
by Pankil Shah
Updated On: October 2, 2023
How Agencies and Companies Can Scale Content Production with SEO Content Brief

What Is an SEO Content Brief?

SEO content brief is a document that outlines every little detail to brief the writer, publisher, graphics team, subject matter experts, and other members collaborating on producing that content asset. It usually contains the title, outlines, brand info, keyword, sources, and many other elements needed to complete the content.

A good SEO content brief ensures the content you produce is high quality with great ranking potential. It includes details that can help your content writers create well-researched and comprehensive content.

Screenshot of SEO Content Brief Overview - Outranking

3 Reasons Why You Should Use SEO Content Briefs

Content briefs help you create a scalable and repeatable process to produce SEO content in a team environment. When you have good content briefs as the baseline for all your content, you can maintain your company’s tone, brand, opinion, and positioning — even if different people contribute to your writing projects. 

1. Create Masterpiece Content Every Time with a Repeatable Process

Scale your content production, provide better writing guidance, and craft a robust content strategy with Outranking’s content briefs. 

2. Streamline Your Workflow and Collaborate with the Team Effectively

Easily share briefs through Google Docs, PDFs, or simple share links. Create client- and website-specific templates to save yourself many hours with more automation.

3. Send Your Content to the First Page with Concrete Data and Guidance

Guide the writing process with state-of-the-art content scoring algorithms, data, and analysis — and ensure your content ranks well and produces a higher ROI. 

Who Should Use Content Briefs?

If you want to produce quality content, everyone involved in your content production will need to use content briefs as a key component of your overall SEO content strategy. This includes everyone from marketing strategists to copywriters to editors. 

Content briefs allow you to reduce costly back-and-forth between clients and writers and among content teams in general. They also ensure everyone involved in the content pipeline is working harmoniously, eliminating disjointed output and unclear expectations.

You can also use content briefs as a milestone for review, because they provide an effective way to get feedback from clients or reviewers, ensuring all stakeholders are happy with the final product.

To sum up, content briefs are typically used/created by:

  • Content strategists
  • Content managers
  • Writers
  • Editors
  • Graphic/media designers
  • Web developers
  • SEO managers

SEO Content Brief Components

1. Primary Keyword

Your content only ranks as well as its primary keyword. Input your chosen primary keyword into Outranking and it builds the analysis for you.

Screenshot from the Outranking user interface with keyword and location insights.
Ensure your content reaches the right people at the right places.

2. Location and Language

If you want your content to reach the right people, set your location and language in Outranking before performing the keyword analysis. 

3. Complete SERP Analysis

You can’t beat the competition if you don’t know what they’re up to. Outranking automates the SERP analysis process to give you all the details on ranking pages and help you create a strategy to outrank them. 

Before building the brief, familiarize yourself with each page’s content scores, depth, PA, word count, and overall uniqueness. This can help you craft a plan that’s sure to get you ahead of the competitors — basically by creating better content than them.

Graph of SERP analysis that displays a content's elements like score, PA, and Uniqueness
Understanding your page’s SERP can help you get one step ahead of your competitors

4. Due Date or Deadline

Your marketing strategists should specify when they need the content to be done. This will ensure your content is never late to a trend and always posted when it’ll attract the most attention. 

As a pro tip, ensure your deadlines gives you some wiggle room for editing before you upload or send it back to your client.

Screenshot of Outranking's "Deadline" setting that can be enabled or disabled at the click of a button.
Set your team up for success with clear due dates.

5. SEO Title

A great title catches the readers’ attention and aligns with the keyword intent. If you look at the top five pages for a particular topic, and four of them use words like “best” or “top” in the title, then it’s a good idea to also use those words to increase your chances of ranking higher. A good content brief guide starts off with a catchy title that appeals to search engines and readers alike.

Screenshot of Outranking's insight of a content's title.
Grab your reader’s attention from the start with a strong title.

Outranking can generate titles that match user intent to help you add captivating titles to your briefs. Additionally, it shows you which pages are ranking the highest so you can make quick adjustments and select the most optimized title.

6. SEO Meta Description

Content briefs often don’t have instructions on how to craft the meta description. But this is an important step as the meta description can make a big difference in whether people click on your page or not. 

Like your title, the description must align with the common keywords among ranking pages and, for an extra boost, include some related terms your competitors are also targeting.

Screenshot of a Meta Description example suggested by Outranking's AI that displays the target keyword, title, and suggested description.
Don’t miss this crucial step in your briefs!

Outranking can take the pressure off this step as it automatically suggests a summarized description with keywords you can easily polish for your needs. 

7. Format

A brief’s format specifies the content’s structure. It serves as a blueprint that guides your team on how to best organize the content. When searching online, readers expect pages that have a similar structure or type. 

For example, if someone searches for “things to do in Boston”, they’ll come across a lot of listicles — pages that list different activities and attractions in the city. So if you want to rank for a query like this, ensure your format is similar to the top-ranking pages. 

The most common content formats are listed below from a pet blogging or animal-related website:

Query TypeContent FormatWhy
HowHow To GuideUsers search for step-by-step instructions or tutorials to achieve a specific outcome or task, such as “How to teach your dog to roll over.”
WhatWhat Is ArticleUsers seek information and definitions about a particular topic or concept, such as “What is the difference between dry and wet cat food?”
Best or TopBest PostUsers want to find the most highly recommended or top-rated products, services, or solutions within a specific category, such as “Best dog harnesses for hiking.”
List, Best, NumberList PostUsers want to see a curated list of resources, products, or tips related to a specific topic, such as “10 cat breeds that are good with children.”
ServiceService PageUsers search for a specific service that can solve their problem or meet their needs, such as “Pet sitting services in my area.”
ReviewProduct ReviewUsers want to read an evaluation or critique of a particular product, such as “Review of the Furbo dog camera.”
Comparison, VSComparison ArticleUsers want to see a side-by-side comparison of two or more competing products or services before making a purchase decision, such as “Wet vs. dry dog food: Which is better?”
AlternativesAlternatives ArticleUsers seek alternative options to a particular product, service, or solution, such as “Eco-friendly cat litter alternatives.”
Screenshot of Outranking's format generator
Outranking’s generated format suggestions can be quickly refined to suit your every need.

Outranking analyzes top-ranking pages and suggests the formatting best suited for your content.

8. SEO Outline

Talk to the readers about things that matter to them. Outlines are the MOST important part of the magic that brings — and keeps — readers on your pages. 

Having a thorough understanding of the topics, questions, insights, and depth present in other ranking pages is vital to crafting outlines for your content brief.

A well-structured and comprehensive outline will, for starters, help your writer, but it’ll also help search engines and users understand the context of your content better.

Screenshot of Outranking's generated outline builder
Optimizing your brief outline is an important step for every project.

A good content brief builder like Outranking can produce intent-driven SEO outlines with a complete, easy-to-modify structure that adds value. Add section writing guidance to keep your writers on the right track.

9. Questions People Are Asking (PAA)

Engage your readers and build relationships with them by answering the People Also Ask (PAA) questions from Google. Use the questions from the PAA box, the related keywords, and popular questions to guide you on how to improve readers’ experience.

Screenshot of example PAAs related to the example's content.
Highlight your content and stand out above the rest.

Gain more exposure for your content by ranking in PAA or featured snippets. Get a list of questions from PAA, as well as keywords and questions from competing web pages and select the best ones and add them to your brief.

10. Common Entities (NLP Terms)

Google likes content that is comprehensively covering the topic, that’s not a new discovery. But what does comprehensive content mean — and how would you even know your content is comprehensive?

Google developed BERT for entity recognition that builds this map of important terms surrounding the main topic. So to reverse engineer this, you need to extract entities (important terms) from the ranking pages and map them and see where the overlap and lag is. You should then try to cover more ground on those topics. 

A good content brief should guide the writers into covering the important terms and topics extracted from the analysis of ranking pages.

Array of NLP terms and their content scores
Guide your writers in the right direction with the keywords that matter in your content.

Using Outranking briefs, you can easily visualize the map of topic coverage among ranking pages and choose the keywords or concepts you would like to include in your content.

11. Semantic Searches

Semantic searches are the keywords that are semantically related or related to the main idea close to your primary keyword, providing a basis for keyword clustering. To gather semantic search terms, analyze competing web pages and find the terms these pages are ranking for in SERPs. 

Having a comprehensive list of these keywords and targeting them in your content outlines (preferably) can improve the aperture to rank for more keywords other than your primary terms. This is one of the most important aspects of content briefs.

Screenshot from the Outranking user interface with NLP keyword insights.
Get readers to your page with secondary NLP keyword analysis.

Outranking completely automates this task of gathering semantic terms from ranking pages and helping you craft a comprehensive keyword targeting strategy. 

12. Target Persona

Oftentimes, writers will write content that speaks to the wrong audience. Say your page is about an SEO team, but you’re addressing small businesses with a lesser budget, you might not be providing the right kind of support. 

Guiding the writers with the precise information is vital for better content. Outranking reads through the ranking pages and identifies the persona using AI. You can also further refine the AI’s result and make it more relevant.

Screenshot of the outranking app helping understand who the content is for.
Speak to the right people about the right things!

Ensure your content addresses the right people at all times. Include AI-generated target persona insights, brought to you by a deep understanding of competitors’ content.

13. Writing Tone

No one can relate to your brand or company if they don’t sense it’s genuine. That’s why you should keep your company’s voice and personality consistent across all content. So you should always keep this in mind when creating content briefs.

Screenshot of Outranking's "tone of voice" generated feedback.
Ensure your content is consistent and comprehensible for your reader.

Include primary point of view and writing tone in your briefs to help the writers create masterpiece content. Outranking gives feedback for the writing tone based on the analysis of ranking pages using AI. You can also refine these suggestions further based on your knowledge and understanding of your brand.

14. Funnel Stage

Understanding your readers’ current position in the marketing funnel is crucial for selecting the appropriate CTAs and links to push them closer to the sales department.

Briefs created just to bring traffic (any kind of traffic) won’t really need funnel stages. But when you’re crafting a whole campaign to generate leads for a new product — you can’t neglect the funnel stage.

Screenshot of Outranking's "Funnel Stage" widget
Understanding where your target audience lies in the funnel stage allows you to best tailor your content to their needs and interests.

Precisely mentioning the funnel stage can tell the writer how ready the reader is to make the next move or what content they need to lead them to, to move deeper into the funnel. For example, readers looking for the “best small business CRM” might come across a HubSpot post about HubSpot vs Salesforce, leading them closer to make a decision on which CRM to purchase. 

15. Calls to Action

Before you dive into writing your content, it’s important to have a goal in mind. That way, you’ll know what you’re trying to achieve and you can ensure your writing remains focused and effective. 

Writers need to know what you want your readers to do after they’ve read your content. Do you want to educate them about a topic? Do you want to convince them to buy your product? Do you want to do both?

In your content brief, you need to write down your goal and call to action. You can also include some writing guidance that can help the writers persuade users to follow through.

Screenshot of Outranking's "Goals" generator
Clearly defining your content goals from the beginning can help guarantee that your message reaches your target audience.

Outranking can keep you on track as it takes the brand information you’ve added into your brief templates and combines it with an understanding of your topic. It also creates a roadmap of goals your content needs to achieve.

16. How Your Brand or Product Fits In

Writing about a specific brand or product can be challenging for writers. After all, they have to make the connection between the topic and the products you sell, which can be a bit difficult if you don’t clarify your vision.

For most SEOs and content strategists, curating outlines or performing NLP optimization isn’t as difficult as coming up with the guidance for writers on how to write about the product or brand.

Screenshot of Outranking's brand insight widget
Outranking’s AI can provide handy insight on your brand’s topic for your writers editors alike.

But because Outranking can save your brand details, it can give you guidance on how to mention your brand or product and connect it with the topic. You can quickly optimize these insights and add them to your briefs.

17. Content Structure and UX Elements

Google is paying much more attention to user experience. The way you structure your content and break it down into digestible chunks decides a great deal on how readers will perceive the information on your page. 

To help you decide on the elements that make up good UX, Outranking can suggest the optimal number of list items, tables, and statistical data writers need to target.

Screenshot of Outranking's content insights and target sections for UX elements and content structure
Outranking’s in-depth suggestions can help you reach your writer’s target.

18. Content-Length (Word Count)

Some topics require a deep dive, while others don’t. To pinpoint the ideal content length, use SERP analysis. Outranking does this and suggests the range for the number of words you need to outrank your competition.

Screenshot of Outranking's "Target Word Count" widget
Your topic length is important for keeping your readers engaged.

19. Internal and External Links

A good content brief should include the number of external links targeted by the ranking pages and any common citations they have. Outranking’s SERP analysis extracts this information from the ranking pages and provides guidance for the writers.

Screenshot of Outranking's sitemap and associated keywords.
Help your writers help you – provide them with the relevant links needed to make your content a masterpiece.

One of the most time consuming tasks when it comes to internal links is finding them. You can search for phrases in Google with the “Site:” operator — but imagine getting 20 URLs like that! You’d never be done… Outranking can take your sitemap and map it with the keywords in your content allowing you to easily pick the relevant internal links to add. 

20. Videos and Images

As part of the content production process, your briefs need to specify explicitly how many images to use, and what words to target in the alt text.

Screenshot of Outranking's images, alt texts, and videos counter and typical expectations for similar content.
Diversify your media for better ranking.

Adding video suggestions can also help the writer understand the context of the topic better — but it’s also an amazing trick to improve user experience, if the writer adds the video in the final draft. Google likes it when you create content with a variety of formats — it really shows you care.

21. Additional Details

Last but not least, all content you produce will have some very topic-specific details. For example, you may have reference videos, testimonials, or even research outside of search engines. In cases like these, include all these elements as a last step in your brief. Give the writer all the details they need to ensure the content production process moves smoothly. 

Tools for Effective Brief Management

Custom Brief Templates

If you work with multiple clients or a company with many products, creating custom brief templates can be a helpful tool. These templates can store essential information like the brand name, sitemap URL, and product details, making it easy to reuse this info in the future. With the help of these templates, you can maintain consistency across all your different projects, ensuring everything is organized and standardized.

Export to DOC, Google, or PDF

When creating content, you often work with different people and various tools like Jira, Asana, Google docs, or internal tools. To keep everything organized, it’s important to document the tools used for each project and when you used them. More importantly, make your briefs available as a .doc file link. This way, you can easily attach this link to any task management system or conveniently share the link in an email or direct message.

Document Management

Organize and keep track of your content briefs easily by using document structure. Use the document dashboard to sort and label your briefs, and create a separate dashboard to manage tasks related to content production.

How to Create Content Briefs with Outranking

5 Tips to ensure smooth content production using content briefs

1. Plan Your Content Team Workflow

It’s critical to establish an SEO content workflow to align the teams when you’re working in a complex team environment. By creating a shared SEO content workflow, you can make sure everyone in the creation and publishing process are aligned. Developing a standard procedure or operations manual that everyone can follow will help ensure your content briefs are top quality each time.

2. Approach Content Strategically

Different teams often have different priorities. For instance, the product team might want to publish new content, while the marketing team might be focused on updating old posts to generate more leads. 

To stay aligned, adjust your editorial calendar routinely and share it across all teams. By outlining why you’ve prioritized one item over another, you can focus on content strategically and reduce friction. It’s a simple step that can go a long way in keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring the success of your content.

3. Customize Your Content Briefs and Templates

A mature organization might have a well-defined format with all team guidelines documented. To create thorough content briefs that include most of the necessary information, it’s important to use templates.

Start by using a list of all the information you need, then manually research the SERPs and add the details. Alternatively, you can create a template in Outranking to build these briefs and automate the steps. 

4. Invest in a Tool Like Outranking

Creating a good content brief can be a time-consuming process that involves days of research and curating SEO suggestions. By using an SEO content optimization tool like Outranking, you can reduce the time it takes by up to ten times while still getting superior data. This tool ensures that your content makes the most impact in search engines — and your target audience’s eyes.

5. Follow a Style Guide

The style of writing you use depends on your brand and goals. Knowing your target audience will help you adopt the right tone for the content. You can tailor your content to different audiences by using different tones of voice. Regardless of the tone and voice you use, a style guide will help you maintain a polished look for your brand — while staying consistent across different pieces of content. 

4 Reasons Why You Should Choose Outranking for Your Content Briefs

1. Incorporate Brand Information in Content Briefs

Imagine having a personal brand consultant at your fingertips to guide you on how to talk about your company and product in a way that’s authentic, engaging, and effective. Don’t settle for mediocre content – elevate it with personalization!

2. Build Outlines with the Help of AI and Entity Analysis

Outranking uses entities and background research to craft comprehensive outlines for you in no time. Get a perfectly structured content plan to leave your competitors in the dust. Your writers will thank you and your readers will get just what they came for.

3. Create Content Briefs for Predictable Success

Outranking uses entity and SERP analysis to help you rank for related and semantic search terms. Comprehensive on-page optimization ensures your content is optimized for important keywords, research, uniqueness, experience, and expertise. Optimize for the future of SEO with software designed for the world of AI and Google experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EEAT). 

4. Build Brief with the Competition in Mind

Take the guesswork out of crafting a winning plan with extremely competitive guidance. Outranking performs a super-detailed SERP analysis, scouring every nook and cranny of the top-ranking pages to uncover their secret sauces. Get all that juicy intel to guide your writers, helping them produce world-class content.

6 Tips to Scale Content Creation with SEO Briefs

1. Get the Team Buy-In

The content marketing process needs approval from many different stakeholders. So before you start creating SEO content briefs, get everyone’s primary buy-in. Show your team why you want to start content creation, why it matters for your company, and how it can improve your bottom line. Doing so will keep everyone on the same page and greatly reduce friction. 

2. Document and Build a Process

Without a clear and streamlined process, your brief creation endeavor is doomed to fail. Document every step of the process — who will do what and when, and what needs to be done first, second, then third. This will ensure no one gets lost in the process and everyone knows what they have to do in different stages. 

3. Be Extremely Thorough with the Brief

Writers aren’t mind-readers! Ensure your briefs include every little detail you want them to discuss, and clarify how to talk about different things and what stand to adopt. Provide accurate audience insights and data to base their research on. Keeping these details in the brief will prevent back-and-forths with writers and extensive rewrites. 

4. Include Brand and Product Details

Many times, the writers will get all the informational content just right, but they fail to write sufficient context around your brand and specific product details. Show the writer how to position your brand in their content with Outranking’s automatic brand positioning suggestions. This will help you ensure your target audience understands exactly how your products can help them and why they should use them. 

5. Don’t Focus on Keyword Density

Don’t push the writer to focus too much on how many times to include a keyword in their content. This practice almost always leads to keyword stuffing and content centered around keywords rather than values. Brief the writer about more natural keyword combinations and give them a potential range of usage for each keyword.

6. Optimize Content for On-Page SEO

Use tools like Outranking’s on-page SEO scoring tool to audit existing content so you can ensure you’ve followed all the best practices. You can also see if the writer missed any necessary details you wanted them to cover.

Content Brief Templates and Examples

1. Best Product Type Page Content Briefs

This brief usually goes to the copywriter or internal team. It contains more SEO parameters than content writing guidance.

Outranking viewable brief

Primary keyword: Sales software for small businesses

2. Service Page Content Brief 

This brief usually goes to the copywriter. It provides all the details you want to include on your services page.

Google Doc viewable brief

Primary keywords: Tree-cutting service in Austin

Create winning keywords and SEO content strategy