Content Brief: Meaning, Common Components & Best Practices




Updated 2/3/2024

Discover what content briefs are and their role in creating strong online content. Learn how to make briefs with our tips and best practices.

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Content briefs help you craft well-targeted, useful content that’s SEO-friendly and helpful to your audience. They ensure alignment between stakeholders and content creators on what needs to be produced.

Creating comprehensive, well-structured briefs is an important step in producing high-quality content for your objectives. This quick guide covers the essentials. ?

What is a Content Brief?

A content brief is a document that provides an outline, important research, and guidance for content creators.

Content briefs act as a roadmap, illustrating the key objectives, target audience, tone, style, and other elements of the content creation process. They ensure your writing meets the desired objectives and appeals to the intended audience.

Who Uses Content Briefs?

Many professionals and industries use content briefs in their content creation and marketing processes:

  1. Content Creators use content briefs to understand the requirements and objectives of a piece they’re tasked to produce.
  2. Marketing Teams employ content briefs to ensure consistency in messaging across campaigns.
  3. SEO Specialists utilize content briefs to align content creation with SEO goals.
  4. Digital Agencies use content briefs to meet client expectations and maintain alignment with project objectives.
  5. Editors rely on content briefs for context as they review and refine content.
  6. Project Managers use content briefs to track progress and ensure alignment with objectives.
  7. Clients use content briefs to communicate expectations and brand guidelines to content creators.

Briefs provide a valuable overview for anyone involved in content creation. They save time and streamline processes by showcasing essential information.

Common Components for Briefs

A well-structured content brief is fundamental for a smooth content creation process. Here is a full list of common elements included in briefs:

  1. Status: Indicate the current status of the content piece, such as “Not Started”, “In Progress”, or “Completed”.
  2. Priority: Specify the urgency or importance assigned to the content piece, like “High”, “Medium”, or “Low”.
  3. Due Date: The deadline for completing the project.
  4. Revision Process: Outline the process for reviewing and revising the content, including key stakeholders involved and the expected revision rounds.
  5. Audience: Describe who the content is for, their needs, and interests to ensure relevancy. Can simplify with user personas.
  6. Target Keyphrase: The main phrase you want the content to rank for in search engines.
  7. Keyword Difficulty: An estimate of how challenging it will be to rank for the target keyphrase. Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz can provide.
  8. Search Volume: The number of monthly searches for the target keyphrase, indicating its popularity.
  9. SERP Screenshot: A screenshot of the Search Engine Results Page for the target keyphrase to understand the competition and current rankings.
  10. SERP Features: Notes on any special features in the SERP, like featured snippets, local packs, or image carousels that the content might target.
  11. Title Tag: Should be under 60 characters, clear, keyword-rich, and enticing.
  12. Meta Description: A brief description to provide an appealing summary.
  13. URL Slug: The unique identifier for the page’s URL, usually a few words separated by hyphens.
  14. Category: The general topic or category the content falls under. Should align with your content’s other categories.
  15. Tags: Relevant tags or keywords associated with the content piece for organizational or SEO purposes.
  16. Internal and External Links: Suggest internal links to other content and external links to reputable sources that could enhance the content’s value and SEO.
  17. Length: Indicate the desired length of the content in terms of words or paragraphs.
  18. Tone: Specify the tone and style to be maintained throughout the piece, such as formal, casual, or conversational.
  19. Objectives: Clearly state what you aim to achieve with the content, whether to inform, entertain, or drive a specific action.
  20. Competitor Analysis: Insights from analyzing competitors’ content on the same topic, identifying what’s been covered, and where you can provide unique value.
  21. Content Format: Specify the format of the content, such as blog post, infographic, video or podcast script, etc.
  22. Visual Elements: Mention any visual elements like images, graphs, or videos that should be included, along with guidelines on the style or source of these visuals.
  23. Legal or Compliance Considerations: Mention any legal or compliance considerations to remember while creating the content.
  24. Attachment or References: Provide a section for attachments or references, including source documents, brand guidelines, or any other material that would aid in the content creation process.
  25. Call to Action (CTA): Define the action you want the audience to take after reading the content.

This comprehensive list should give you ideas for what to include in your briefs. You don’t have to use each one, and it’s actually best not to, as using all of these would be overkill and too much information to manage.

Instead, decide what’s most important for your goals and include those in your briefs. This should help you define priorities and eventually streamline your process as you get a feel for what information is most valuable.

Best Practices for Content Briefs

Apply these when creating briefs to get consistent, quality results:

  • Research Thoroughly: Conduct comprehensive research to inform your brief. Understand the topic, the competition, and relevant keywords. Even if you need to adjust the brief later, it’s better to start informed and refine from there.
  • Collaborate: Engage with other stakeholders, get their input, and ensure everyone is aligned. Collaboration can lead to a more well-rounded brief.
  • Use a Consistent Format: Utilize a standardized format for your content briefs to ensure consistency and understanding, especially when working with a team.
  • Provide Visuals and Examples: Where possible, provide visual aids or examples to convey your expectations. This can include reference materials, images, or links to similar content.
  • Be Flexible: While providing clear guidelines is important, allow some flexibility for creativity and unique input from collaborators.
  • Review and Revise: Once the first draft is ready, review it against the brief to ensure alignment. Be open to revising the brief and draft if new insights emerge during the content process.
  • Educate Your Team: If working with a team, ensure everyone understands how to use the content brief effectively and the importance of adhering to it.
  • Seek Feedback: After the content is published, seek feedback on the effectiveness of the brief in guiding the content creation. Use it to improve future briefs.
  • Use dynamic information: Tools like Notion make it easy to update information using relational databases and fields. Save yourself and your collaborators hours of needless manual work by automating your information flow.

Essentially, you should hone and improve briefs by finding what works, what’s most important to you and your team, and what isn’t valuable. Try to find opportunities as you gain experience with briefs and your editorial workflow.

Bottom Line

A brief is a useful tool in the content creation process. It ensures all stakeholders have a clear understanding of what is required, sets the right expectations, and guides content creators. Briefs establish a solid foundation for your content, improving its quality and chance of success. ?

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