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How to Create a Winning Content Brief: Ultimate Guide

Do you want high-quality content for your marketing company? Then you need to know how to create detailed content briefs that will get the best results.

We've laid out all you need to know about creating a winning content brief. This is the first step to producing content that'll increase your rankings and build your brand's authority.

Creating Winning Content Briefs At A Glance

For those who haven't got time to read the full article, we've included a brief summary of the key points below.

Content briefs are really important documents. They show writers how and why you want a piece of content to be produced.

There are many benefits to using content briefs.

They lead to fewer rewrites and revisions. They save you time and money. They reduce information gaps and increase consistency. They provide a single reference point for the whole team. They provide clear direction and help you meet deadlines. They help to improve your rankings.

There are several key components that should be included in a content brief. You should include information about your desired audience and the keywords you want the writer to use. You must also include information about the desired formatting and the word count.

Make sure to mention the tone of voice and writing style you want to be used in the piece. Include examples of competitor articles and any links that should be included. A content outline should usually be included as well.

There are four steps involved in creating the ideal content brief:

  1. Find the best angle for your piece
  2. Carry out in-depth research into keywords
  3. Organize the internal information (style guides, objectives, reference materials, etc.)
  4. Create a detailed outline (example included at the end of this article)

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Table Of Contents

  • The Definition And Purpose Of Content Briefs
  • The Main Benefits Of Using A Content Brief
  • The Key Components Of A Content Brief
  • How To Create A Content Brief

The Definition And Purpose Of Content Briefs

Content briefs are documents that instruct writers on how to create pieces of content. The final brief will differ depending on the type of content that's being created. For example, the brief for a blog post will be different from the brief for a whitepaper.

Creating content briefs that are instructive and effective is very important. They're a key part of the content creation process. However, it's also crucial that a content brief isn't overly complicated. If you include too much information in your briefs you risk overwhelming the writers.

The Main Benefits Of Using A Content Brief

Reduces rewrites and revisions

Using a detailed content brief helps to reduce revisions and prevent rewrites. This means less time is wasted changing concepts, refocusing keywords, and making revisions. It also reduces the chances of an entire content idea being scrapped.

This can happen when the content that's produced doesn't fit with your brand. This is really frustrating if you've invested valuable time and effort into the content strategy.

Saves you time and money

Well-constructed content briefs can save you money. This is true if you have in-house writers or you outsource your SEO content. If you provide writers with a solid content brief, then they'll be able to focus more on the writing itself.

This leads to faster turnarounds and means you pay less for more content.

Reduces information gaps

When writing a content brief, research and strategic thinking will eliminate information gaps. Quality content should be authoritative and insightful. So, relevant articles, facts, and statistics help writers to produce the high-quality content you need.

Increases consistency

Content briefs are a great way to ensure consistency across your content marketing strategy. This can be done by focusing on tone, brand style, and target audience. The writers can then stick to these guidelines for all of the SEO-focused content they produce.

Provides a single reference point

If you have an in-house content team, then a content brief can serve as a single point of reference. If you outsource your content, then the content brief will act as a focal point for the agency writers. It allows everyone to be on the same page and makes communication easier.

Improves search rankings

SEO content is designed to improve your rankings in search engines. This is why it's vital that any specific keywords, key phrases, and sub-topics are detailed in the content brief.

This allows search engines to identify the core concepts of your articles. It also helps writers to identify the correct structure and keyword focus to get your articles ranking highly.

Helps you meet deadlines

Content briefs help you to meet deadlines in several ways. Presenting writers with clear objectives leads to fewer rewrites and revisions. It also leads to faster approval times. A successful content brief also reduces the amount of time it takes writers to produce content.

Provides clear direction

A good content brief gives a clear sense of direction to everyone involved. It lets your team quickly check that a submitted piece has met the brief. This speeds up approval times and boosts the quality of the content.

The Key Components Of A Content Brief

An effective SEO content brief doesn't just focus on the research, key points, and topic. It identifies your audience's problems and provides the information needed for the writer to solve them. Let's take a look at the most important c omponents of an SEO content brief.

Target audience

There are a number of ways to identify your target audience. You may identify it from your buyer persona, using a content analysis tool, or website analytics. You can also try typing your primary keyword into Google and examining the targets of the search results.

If you determine what your target audience is, then writers will be able to identify their pain points. This leads to high-quality content that resonates with your audience and drives clicks.

Primary and secondary keywords

In order to improve your rankings and increase organic traffic, your content brief needs to include a primary keyword. You can use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to identify your primary keyword. Topic also has a keyword research tool that's really useful.

Secondary keywords are also important. They should be tied closely to the primary keyword.


Different approaches are required depending on the format of the content. The most common content types are:

  • How-to articles
  • Listicles
  • Guides
  • Pillar pages
  • Infographics
  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • Tool or resource round-ups
  • Whitepapers

The easiest way to research formats is to search for your primary keyword in Google. If the top-ranking pages are mainly blog posts, then your content brief should be for a blog post. If the formats in the search results are mixed, then use a tool like Topic to do more research.

Tone of voice and writing style

Your brand's voice and writing style should be consistent and recognizable. Readers should be able to recognize your brand based on the word choice and style of a piece of content.

You should include a link to any style guides and editorial resources you have in your content brief. Including examples of some previous content is also a great way to ensure consistency in writing style.

Word count

The word count is another important thing to include in your content briefs.

But how do you work out the right word count for a piece?

This can be tricky as the word count can vary depending on several factors. It's usually best to work out an average word count from competitor articles and then use this as your own word count.

Remember, if the word count is too high, the writer may start rambling. If the word count is too low, they might not be able to fit in all of the relevant information.

Content outlines

Including an outline in your content brief is important. It makes it easier for writers to create flowing, readable content that will rank highly. An outline should include:

  • A title that includes the target keyword.
  • Subheadings related to relevant topics and secondary keywords.
  • Information about what should be covered under each heading.

Competitor examples

You should include examples of competing articles that are already ranking highly for your keyword. You can find these articles using SEMRush and Ahrefs. Once you've found the best competitors, include them in your content brief.

External and internal links

You also need to decide if you want any internal and external links to be included in the content. Internal links point toward your own site, and external links point to other sites. Make sure these links are included in the content brief.

How To Create A Content Brief

Your content briefs will vary depending on the topic. Still, you can create a basic content brief template to use each time. Your content brief template should have sections that cover all of the key components.

Let's have a look at how to create a content brief.

1) Find the best angle

The first thing to do is to decide the angle and editorial direction of your piece. There are several things you can analyze to get the right angle:

  • Keyword data and 'people also ask': use keyword research to determine the search intent behind your keywords. Are readers looking to be informed or entertained? Use 'people also ask' for sub-section ideas.
  • Competing articles: if you're planning a blog post, analyze other blog posts from competitors. Identify how your blog post could bring a new perspective to the topic. Use this approach for any other pieces outside of the blog post format too.
  • Check social media: search for your topic on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Look for any themes and trends that have developed.
  • Customer surveys: ask customers to take surveys on the topic. This will help you to understand the types of information they're looking for.

2) Carry out your keyword research

Keyword research can help you to identify things like competition levels and audience interest levels. These are essential to keep your content search-focused. The best SEO content involves two types of keyword research:

  • Target keywords: you can find your target keyword or keywords using tools such as SEMRush and Ahrefs. They should align with search intent and your story angle. You should filter out any keywords that are likely to attract irrelevant traffic.
  • Related and long-tail keywords: these are very important. They're used for search queries more often than primary keywords. Most searches are made up of multi-word combinations. However, it's time-consuming to find these keywords manually.Instead, you should use one of the many SEO content optimization tools to find them for you. These tools include Surfer SEO, Clearscope, MarketMuse, and Content Harmony.

3) Organize your internal information

Your writer should be carrying out detailed research on the topic. They should also be producing engaging content with a fresh perspective. A content brief helps the writer to stay aligned with your branding and goals. It ensures consistency and avoids contradictions.

Your content brief template should include the following sections.

Editorial style guide

Editorial style guides give writers instructions on the tone of voice. They also give advice on content formatting and brand positioning. They reduce the amount of editing that's required and create content uniformity.

Typically, a style guide will cover:

  • Punctuation preferences
  • Your brand's tone of voice
  • Rules about syntax, abbreviations, and renderings
  • The correct spelling of brand names and product lines
  • Formatting rules

Objectives and summary

Include a brief summary of what you want to achieve with the piece of content. It's also good to outline what you want readers to take away from the piece. You can give examples to the writer of why your story angle works for this content.

Overview of your target audience

Include a brief description of your target audience. This will give the writer a better understanding of the depth that's needed. They can structure the piece around the challenges and aspirations of your audience.

You could even include your ideal buyer persona in the content brief. This means the writer will be absolutely certain about who you're targeting.

Reference materials

To make sure the content is good quality, include some internal and external links that can be used as references. You can also add some links that highlight your research on the topic. This could include:

  • Internal research data
  • Customer case studies
  • Interview transcripts
  • Recommended articles, videos, and books
  • Expert quotes
  • Demo videos and product documentation
  • Industry reports
  • Approved marketing claims

Calls to action

Calls to action (CTAs) are used to nudge readers toward taking specific actions. This could be things like buying a product, requesting a quote, or downloading an eBook.

If your content brief is for a MOFU/BOFU asset, you should be specific about the types of CTAs and where they need to be placed. For example, you may ask for a 'contact us' CTA in the closing paragraph.


Visuals are used by marketers to make content easier to process and to increase engagement. Include instructions in your content brief on how to source images. You can also leave references and notes for the design team. These notes may include:

  • Recommended lengths, formats, and widths of images
  • Types of visuals such as graphics, charts, and screenshots
  • How many images are required for each post

You should also let the writer know how you want them to share these images with you. This could be sending them as an attachment, uploading them to specific folders, or using a file exchange system.

Other technical requirements

Include any other technical requirements the writer needs to know about. This may include:

  • Meta descriptions and SEO title requirements
  • The due dates of the drafts and final pieces
  • Minimum content scores for SEO optimization tools
  • Competitors that shouldn't be linked out to or mentioned in the piece
  • The maximum readability grade of the content
  • The publishing dates you accept for reference materials
  • How many expert quotes should be used
  • Trademark guidelines
  • All other guidelines around preferences

4) Create an outline

Outlines help writers to stick to your vision for the content. A good outline makes it easier for a writer to maintain your selected angle and structure the piece around your research.

Your outlines should include headings, sub-headings, and lists. They should also include information that the writer needs to cover in the piece.

Of course, you could ask the writer to develop an outline for you. This can work, but you should always ask to review the outline before the writer starts creating the actual content.

Let's take a look at an example of an outline for a blog post.

H1: How To Hire An SEO Content Agency

Make the intro catchy. We want the piece to be engaging straight away. Tell the reader why SEO is important for their brand. Briefly outline what the article will cover.

H2: What Does An SEO Content Agency Do?

Give a brief overview of the role of an SEO agency. Discuss how they use keyword optimization to improve rankings. Make sure you focus on agencies and not freelancers.

Main services of an SEO content agency:

Use bullet points to list the main services these agencies offer. Include optimization, guest posts, and niche edits.

H3: Does SEO really work?

Keep this answer short. Don't go over 100 words. We want this section to be optimized for featured snippet results.

H2: How To Hire An SEO Content Agency: Tech Recruiter Tips

A short section that leads into the tips.

H3: Tip 1

H3: Tip 2

H3: Tip 3

H2: FAQs

Use the 'people also asked' section on Google to find relevant questions. Aim to include 3 to 4 FAQs.

H2: Final Thoughts

Close the piece with a short paragraph or two summarizing what's been covered. Make it upbeat and get the reader excited about hiring an SEO agency.


What is the most important section of a content brief?

The most important part of a content brief is explaining your objectives to the writer. You need to spend time thinking through your objectives and strategy before the project begins. Why is this project important to you? What do you want to achieve with it?

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Content marketing has many benefits. It helps to build awareness of your brand and trust amongst your desired audience. When readers consume your content, they start to develop a perception of your brand.

You should only publish informative and engaging content. Then, your brand will be viewed as trustworthy and authoritative within your niche.

How long should content briefs be?

Your content briefs will vary in length depending on the topic and how detailed you want the brief to be. Generally, you should try and keep them relatively short.

They should be clear, scannable, and actionable. This will make it easy for the writer to understand exactly what you want from the content.





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