If you’re looking to outsource your copywriting and want to rank pages in Google search, you’ll need to create a comprehensive content brief. You also need to use content on your website which is visitor or client-focused, invokes emotions with your audience, and compels your visitors to take your desired course of action.
71% of marketing professionals agree that targeting the use of strategic keywords in their web copy is the number one strategy for SEO and to improve search rankings (source hubspot.com). So this should be the focus for anyone who needs to create a website or page copy, whether you create the copy yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.
This article will discuss all the information a professional copywriter needs to produce high-quality web copy that targets your desired keywords and hopefully converts your visitors into customers. We’ll cover seven key points for what to include in your content brief and best practice SEO techniques that will help your pages rank higher in Google search results.
Let’s get started!
Table of contents
What is a content brief, and why do you need it?
A ‘content brief’ or ‘copy brief’ are two terms you may or may not be familiar with. They have subtle differences in meaning but are often used in either context to mean the same thing. They are documents that provide high-level guidance to copywriters or content creators. No matter what you call it, the key takeaway is that it’s an essential step in any content strategy or professional writing project. In this article, we will refer to either term as if they mean the same thing.
A content brief sets out the requirements, expectations, and recommendations to a copywriter to create a piece of professional, high-quality, written content with a clear direction and set of instructions.
Creating a well-crafted content brief will save you time and money in the long run by preventing scope creep, misaligned expectations, forgetting to include key points, and wasted effort.
You may use a content brief to guide the creation of a range of web copy types, including:
- Web copy
- Blog posts
- Newsletter articles
- Social media posts
- Product descriptions
- Services pages
- Landing pages
- Email marketing content
- Case studies
- And lots more!
Note – a copywriting brief is especially important when you want to produce SEO content that targets specific keywords or search terms you wish to rank for in search results.
(We talked about Keyword Research in a previous article. Click this link if you missed it:
Signs of a good copywriting brief include:
- Lots of details on the requirements
- Examples of things you like/want
- Examples of things you don’t like/don’t want
- A clear scope of work, along with expectations, any contractual obligations, milestones, deadlines, and payments for the copywriting services
The basics of briefing your copywriter
Okay. So you now know what a copywriting brief is and why it’s important to have one, let’s dive a little deeper into the things you need to consider including in your brief.
1. Introduce yourself or your business
This may seem obvious, but you must introduce yourself or your business in the brief. The copywriter needs to understand who they are writing for and the context. Include things like:
- Your name
- Your position
- What you/your company do
- Where you are located (if relevant)
- Date you submitted the brief
- Any industry associations or accreditations you hold (if relevant)
- Any other information you think is important for the copywriter to know
If this is part of a larger project, it’s also useful to include some background on the project. This might include why the project is happening, what problem it’s solving, and who else is involved.
Including this information will help the copywriter understand the context in which they are working and produce content aligned with your brand and voice.
2. Introduce your products or services
This is where you provide an overview of your products or services. Include things like:
- A description of each product/service
- The key features and benefits for each product/service
- Your current sales figures (if relevant)
- Any relevant case studies, customer testimonials, or reviews you have related to your products or services
Including this information will help the copywriter understand what you do, who you do it for, and your goals. In addition, this will ensure that they produce content aligned with your products, services, and target market.
For example, you may have marketing materials like a website, brochures, or social media profiles. In that case, it’s useful to include these in the brief so the copywriter can understand your current brand voice and style.
3. Explain the project
This is where you provide an overview of the project requirements, aims, and end goal. Include things like:
- A description of what you need the copy for (e.g., a landing page, social media post, product description, etc.)
- Any aims or objectives the copy should try to achieve (e.g., increase traffic to a certain page for a given search term, increase conversions for a particular product, generate more email subscriptions from a lead magnet, etc.)
- The key message or call to action you want the copy to communicate or for your target audience to do after reading the copy
- The expected content length or word count of the finished piece (e.g., 500 words, 2000 words, etc.)
- The date you need the first draft
- The date you need the final edit (the final deadline)
Including this information will help the copywriter understand an overview of what it is you want them to do, who they are doing it for, and what the end goal is. This will ensure that they produce content that is aligned with your objectives and meets your target audience’s needs.
4. Talk about your target audience
Provide more information on the people you are targeting with your content. Include things like:
- Demographic information (e.g., age, gender, location, etc.)
- Psychographic information (e.g., interests, lifestyle, values, etc.)
- Any relevant buyer persona profiles you have developed
- Any research on your target audience (e.g., surveys, interviews, etc.)
- Any split-testing you may wish to use to see which content performs best over a given trial period
Including this information will help the copywriter understand more about the people they are writing for and their needs and wants. This will ensure that they produce relevant and engaging content for your target audience and invokes the desired emotions which may lead them to move ahead with your call to action.
5. Inform your copywriter about your competitors
Provide an overview of your main competitors and how they position themselves in the market. Include things like:
- A description of each competitor
- What similar products or services do they offer (include full URLs to their pages or articles)
- How they are different from you
- What their key marketing messages are
- What keywords or search terms do they rank for in Google
- What your unique selling point(s) (USP)s are in the market compared to the competition
- What you do better than them. Why?
- What they may do better than you. Why?
- Any other relevant competitor information that will help
Including this information should give your copywriter enough information to conduct their market research into the industry or niche in which you operate. It may also give them insights into possible market gaps and market trends. A good copywriter will use this information to your advantage and thoroughly analyze your industry or niche and the project requirements.
6. Define any specific content or project requirements
This is where you provide more in-depth information on the content itself and what specific requirements you have for the finished piece. Include things like:
- The content format (e.g., blog post, article, web page copy, social media post, etc.)
- Define the tone of voice or style (casual, professional, witty, Robin Williams, etc.)
- Any industry-specific jargon or technical terms that need to be used
- SEO optimized page title and meta description
- Any specific keywords or search terms you want the copy to target (very important)
- Any research you expect your copywriter to conduct as part of the content creation
- The level of detail you require (e.g., high-level overview, in-depth analysis, links to external sources of information or references as part of any research, etc.)
- If you want the content to be optimized for SEO and what techniques you want the copywriter to use
- How the copywriter should aim to satisfy any search intent for the targeted keywords
- If the content should answer any specific questions or address any specific topics
- What is your brand’s viewpoint on the topic?
- Your key messages, including:
- Any headings to include
- Any key points or topics that need to be discussed or communicated
- The use of any bulleted or numbered lists
- Any text or statements that they should highlight to stand out
- Brand writing rules (e.g., always use the active voice, refer to the brand using plural pro-nouns – we/us/our, etc.)
- Any internal or external links to be included
- You should provide copies of any accompanying images, infographics, or videos that may be complemented by the copy to be created
- Provide any other supporting documents or other contextually relevant information
- Define any Call to Action(s) (CTA)s the page should include and any positioning of these CTAs (e.g., A button below the testimonial section which links to your contact form, an email subscriber opt-in, a buy now button, etc.)
- Define do’s and don’ts. Be specific about what to include and what you do not wish to read
- Provide examples of other work or similar pages or websites. You can use this to show things you like, as well as things you hate
- Inform your copywriter if there are any cultural norms or taboo topics that they need to be aware of for the audiences they are writing for
- Clearly define all of the copywriting project’s deliverables
- Define and agree to the maximum number of revisions or drafts that will be submitted and included as part of the fee
- Define the charges or fees for revisions outside of the included revisions scope
- Communicate your budget (very important)
- Communicate your deadlines (very important)
- Define the signing-off process/acceptance of work
- Details of any fees and their payment schedules
- Define who will own the intellectual property rights of any copy and how those rights will be transferred
- Define what happens when things go wrong and you are unsatisfied with the results
Including this information will help the copywriter understand more about what you need and how you want it delivered. It is also crucial for keeping your project on track and setting expectations for both parties and the finer details. This will ensure that they produce content that meets your specific requirements and that is delivered in the style you are after.
Everyone has their preferred tools to do the job. But your go-to Word Processor or communication platform may not be the same as your copywriters. So include a section on logistics and the tools and processes for communications and delivery of your project. Include things like:
- Communication technologies (e.g., email, telephone, slack, WhatsApp, facetime, project management platforms, etc.)
- Word Processor for reviewing and editing (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Open Office, etc.)
- Preferred file formats for final delivery (e.g., doc, docx, pdf, etc.)
- Any project management tools you want the copywriter to use (e.g., Trello, Asana, Basecamp, etc.)
- Hours of work or timezones that you or your copywriter operate under
- Web publishing platforms for drafts or publishing content (WordPress, Wix, Drupal, etc.)
- Persons responsible – Try to include details of individuals who will be responsible for receiving and reviewing or editing the content drafts. Include multiple contact methods if possible
By following and including the points in these seven steps, you can be sure that you will provide your copywriter with enough information to produce content aligned with your business objectives, resonate with your target audience, and rank well in Google search.
So what are you waiting for? Get started on creating your content brief today!