Whether you’re working at an SEO agency specializing in SaaS or on an in-house SaaS marketing team, you’ve probably created an SEO content brief once or twice.
Content briefs can be a great way to bridge the communication gap between the SEO team and the content team. Without having a content brief in place it’s easy for both departments to become misaligned on the goals and objectives for each content piece.
In order to have success with your SaaS SEO strategy right out the gate, it’s important to bridge this gap and ensure everyone’s on the same page.
So in this article, I’m going to talk about some of the ways you can set up an SEO-focused content brief that’s well-written by content and optimized well for SEO.
What is a Content Brief and How Can SaaS Companies Use Them For SEO and Content Writing?
An SEO content brief is a set of instructions that guide a writer on how to create a piece of content that’s optimized for search.
This content can be anything from a blog post, a landing page, an ebook, a white paper, or any other initiative that would bring that would require the content team’s input.
Without a content brief, there’s no expectations for what should be created in the first place. SEOs are unable to communicate the goal of the article and what we should be targeting, and content teams end up creating something that may be misaligned with search.
This leads to content that very likely won’t rank.
How is the Content Brief SEO-Focused?
A Content brief becomes SEO focus when it includes things like
- Internal links
- Keywords (primary/secondary)
- Search Intent
- SERP analysis
- Organic Purpose
12 Things to Include in Your SaaS Content Brief
So now that we know what an SEO-content brief is, here are 12 things that you can include that will help guide your writer to creating an awesome piece of optimized content:
- Target Audience
- Primary Query/Keyword and Intent
- Secondary Keywords
- Meta Data
- Internal Links
- Brand Voice
- Content Outline
- SERP Landscape
- The Goal of the Content
First and foremost, the thing you ultimately want to be writing for is your target audience. Who’s going to be the one reading this content? Who will take value from your content? With your target audience in mind, you want to understand what they’re looking for and how this content will help them.
So before you even get started on creating content, make sure you include a section that describes your target audience and what they should gain from this content.
You can even use social media platforms like Reddit for audience and keyword research.
Primary Query/Keyword and Intent
Next after adding the target audience, we’ll want to include the primary keyword or query we’ll be covering in the content.
It should be said that this article won’t be keyword-focused, but topic-focused. The keyword is basically the entryway into a topic.
So it’s important to note the primary keyword that we want to rank for, whether that’s long tail or head terms. With that being said, you’ll want to avoid keyword stuffing as it can negatively impact you.
Just keep in mind that this keyword will have our content built around it.
The next thing we want to include is intent. Which is Google’s understanding of the intent behind a user’s search.
If your target audience is using this keyword in a search, what do you think they’re hoping to gain? Basically, you need to understand as an SEO what Google thinks is the right intent behind a user’s search.
What they show the user in the top 3 results is generally what they perceive to be the most relevant results for that user.
The way to check for this is to manually audit the SERPs before creating your content outline to understand what the intent is.
You’ll want to look out for things like:
- What kind of content they’re covering
- What topics they’re covering
- What type of information they’re showing
- What questions they’re answering
You can put all of this together by looking at the top 3 results on SERPs. Look for patterns within their content.
What Is Your Target Audience Looking For?
Now tie the intent behind the search with your target audience. What do they ultimately hope to gain by reading your content? These are questions that you need to ask yourself when you’re creating your content outline. What your target audience wants to see.
After you have your primary query selected, you can include secondary keywords as well.
Secondary keywords are keywords that are related to your primary keyword that will also rank from your content.
Instead of using the same keyword over and over again, use secondary variations to rank for more keywords and prevent keyword stuffing.
You can use third-party SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to start your keyword research for your SaaS, gauge these keywords, and see if they have similar SERP appearances.
Meaning, if these keywords are still showing the same results on the SERPs then that means these keywords are clustered and they can help your content rank for more keywords and drive more traffic.
So instead of having a singular view on keywords, try to include clustered keywords.
As Google algorithms start relying more heavily on natural language processing for understanding web page content, writing around entities has become a necessity in SEO.
So writing for entities is basically to include words that aren’t necessarily keywords that fall under the umbrella of an overall topic.
So say if you were writing about the mechanics of a car, you would want to include mentions of items such as:
Another thing to add to your content brief is to include the format styling of the article.
Are they creating a list? Are they going to be creating a guide? Are they going to be creating a how-to?
It’s important as an SEO to understand the intent behind the search or what Google thinks the intent is and then creating an article based on that intent.
Another thing you’ll want to include in your content brief is metadata. You’ll want to include what the meta description is and what the title tag will be.
In this section you’ll want to include the styling of the title tag and what keywords you want included. As for your meta description, you can leave this up to the writer as descriptions are more CTR-focused than SEO-focused.
The next thing you’ll want to include are pages you want internally linked to. When your writers create this content, you’ll want them to include internal links that point to other pages naturally. Forgetting to internal link pages will leave them orphaned, which will hurt how their SEO performance.
Instead of going through every published article and adding internal links, it’s much easier to add in a link that you want your writer to include, naturally.
Instead of focusing primarily on exact match anchor text, your content writers can add an internal link where it fits in a natural way.
Another thing to include in your SEO brief is brand voice. While it’s not necessarily SEO-focused, it’s something that can help keep your content consistent.
You’ll want to have your content at least focus on the voice take after so focusing highlighting items such as:
- What style of writing are you going after?
- What are you trying to convey?
- What are people supposed to take away?
- Are you trying to be funny?
- Are you trying to entertain?
- Are you educating?
Whatever tone or voice you go for it’s important to consider that you at least keep it consistent across all marketing channels.
So when creating your brief, just leave a note about the type of voice to style this content after.
Images or Media
Another thing to consider when creating a content brief is to see if there are any opportunities to add images within the content. Say if you’re reviewing competitor pages and every single one has images or some kind of on-page media, then it would be ideal to include media within our own content.
Obviously your writers aren’t photographers and they’re not graphic designers so I would just give them an idea of what you’re looking for.
- What kind of images you’re looking for
- Whether you want one or two images
- Where the image should be
From there they can help find an opportunity to either add an image or collaborate with a graphic designer to create an infographic or anything else that may be relevant to the content.
You should check out this SaaS SEO checklist that will help guide your efforts here.
The next thing to include in your content brief is going to be the actual outline of the content or the skeleton. Here we’ll include what we want to say and how we’re supposed to say it.
So this is probably the most important part to get right, so we’ll be taking a deeper dive into some of the ways we can effectively and efficiently create an SEO content outline without creating confusion.
Obviously, everyone will have a different approach when it comes to creating an outline or brief, but the way I generally set them up is to mark each header as either an H1, H2, or H3.
This on-page SEO tactic helps writers and search engines understand the hierarchy of the article. So format your outline however you like, just always start with your <H1> and then the next being an <H2>.
From there, you can follow whatever format for the outline. The <H3>s will be the subsections, the <H2>s will be the main headers, and the <H1> will be the title of the page.
These headers will even be helpful if you plan to repurpose your content for other channels, which ideally you should.
Comments Under Each Header
Another thing that typically gets avoided in content outlines are comments that show the writer what you want written under each header. Let’s say your article is talking about the different types of cheeses, you’ll want to include comments under each header specifying the type of information that should be covered.
This doesn’t mean that you need to add comments for every single header but it can be helpful if there’s a section that may cause confusion with the writers.
It’s a lot easier if you just add a comment that helps explain your thinking and what they should know.
Links to Other Competitor Pages
Lastly, in addition to comments, you’ll also want to include links to competitor pages that you’re drawing inspiration from. This helps give your writers a better idea of how they should be writing each section.
Similar to search intent, another thing you’ll want to consider is the landscape of the SERPs. So looking out for things like:
- Which competitors are ranking?
- How high their domain Authority is?
- How many backlinks point towards that page?
- How well they’re covering the information?
- Is there any information they’re missing?
- How many keywords does their page rank for?
Basically, you’ll want to gauge if we’ll be able to outrank them. Then base our content around missing gaps in information (how can we provide more value) so this will give the writer a better understanding of the information to include to outrank your competitors.
The Goal of the Content
Another thing that we want to include is the goal of the content. As I mentioned above, we want to write for our target audience and satisfy their search intent, but once we satisfy that intent, what’s our next goal?
What next steps do you hope they take? Do you want them to:
- Download an Ebook?
- Sign up for your newsletter?
- Fill out a contact form?
- Free consultation?
Whatever it may be, include this goal in your outline so your writers know the CTA to focus on. Generally, with this information, your writer will be able to include a CTA in the very beginning of your content and in a natural way.
Lastly in your SEO content brief, you’ll want to include the estimated length of the content. Your headers will give your writer a better idea of the content structure and the content length will give them an idea of how long the content should be.
It doesn’t have to be an exact number but it should be a length range to give your writer a better idea of what they should be aiming for.
Things SaaS Companies Should Avoid When Writing Content Briefs
Now that we covered some of the things that you want to include in your content brief, here are a few things that you should avoid when creating your content brief.
Don’t Completely Copy Competitor’s Content
As I mentioned above, you’ll likely be taking inspiration from a competing article, but that doesn’t mean that you should just completely copy and plagiarize their content.
You don’t need to go and steal every single header that they have listed in their article, but it is a good idea to at least take inspiration from it and take it into consideration into how we can improve our own blog.
Whatever that may be, just avoid stealing competitors’ content. You can be penalized in the form of lost positioning for plagiarizing content.
Don’t Keyword Stuff
Another thing to avoid in your SEO brief is keyword stuffing. The primary keyword should be used naturally and shouldn’t be stuffed throughout every header or section.
Make it clear to your writer that this keyword needs to be included naturally and doesn’t need to be stuffed throughout.
Optimize for Intent, not Keyword Volume
One thing that you’ll want to avoid is keyword stuffing so instead of writing around the keyword, write around your target audience’s intent.
Write for the person who landed on your page instead of focusing on your keyword placements. Write for the audience who came to your page, the person you’re ultimately writing for.
So instead of writing around a keyword, write for your audience. Let your writers know this prior to writing.
Ignore Keyword Density
One thing you should completely avoid in your brief is any mentions of keyword density. Do not tell your writer that they should be focusing on any percentage when it comes to a keyword.
Keyword density is not a ranking factor and it will not affect how you’re able to rank so just completely throughout the idea. All it will do is encourage your writer to stuff in keywords in an unnatural way.
Just encourage your writer to include the keyword naturally and avoid keyword stuffing your content.
Ways SaaS Companies Can Better With Your Content Team
Now that you know the things you should be doing and the things that you should be avoiding, here are some things you can do before the brief is even created to help ensure the content process goes smoothly.
Plan Out Content With Them
Another thing to improve collaboration between the two teams is by planning out content together. To collaborate on your content, you’ll want the two departments to meet so you can plan out new content and goals for each content piece.
This helps get your content team involved from the start and ensures everyone is on the same page. Like which bottom of the funnel topics you should be starting with.
This meeting can also lead to unique insights for both SEO and copywriting.
The two departments think in different ways so it can be effective to meet together and offer unique input.
Leave Feedback and Comments For What You Like and Don’t Like
This isn’t necessarily during the brief creation process, but this will make your content creation more efficient and effective moving forward. Leave comments and feedback on the writing you think they can improve on.
Maybe they weren’t aligned with the brief or you think they got confused somewhere along the way, it’s helpful to have a conversation with them to let them know this is something they could improve on. Once you’re able to click with a writer, and they know what you like and you know how they write, the content creation process will be more efficient moving forward.
Build chemistry with your writers that way.
Highlight Things They Should Avoid
Another thing you can do to better collaborate with your writers is highlight some things they should avoid. Whether it’s writing about:
You should mention avoiding anything that could negatively impact your content or confuse your content team.
Creating Killer SaaS Content Starts With Your Content Briefs
Just some closing thoughts, teamwork really makes the dream work, so collaborate with your content teams and make sure everyone is on the same page, and go create some killer SaaS content.