Writing comprehensive blog briefs is essential to making sure your content ranks and is understandable and valuable for your readers.
It may seem like it takes more time, but it will save you a lot more and spare you headaches along the way.
This article will give you the simple step-by-step process that content marketers use to grow blogs from 0 to 1 and build audiences that convert.
It’s also free.
You won’t need expensive SEO tools that provide you with way more information than you’ll ever use.
10 Steps to creating the perfect blog post Brief
Step 1: Use Google Trends to search general terms.
Google created Trends to be free to use. You can search in topics and get the following information:
- Interest in the topic you search over time;
- Interest by location;
- Related topics; and,
- Related questions.
It’s like being able to search for something on Google but also understand who else is searching for the same topics and where. One caveat is that Google Trends works better the more general you are.
If you Google a long-tail keyword like “How can I become a content marketer?” you won’t get anything meaningful. But if you search for “ content marketing, you’ll be able to get much more useful information.
Look at the related queries box under the graph showing the interest over time. You’ll be able to use this information to start building out what related questions people are asking regarding that topic.
Pro tip: make sure you include these terms above the fold to make it obvious to Google what you’re writing about.
Step 2: Go to Google and look at the “people also ask” section for manual keyword research.
You don’t need expensive SEO tools to do keyword research. All you need is incognito mode and a few different tabs open to search terms without any cookies influencing the search results.
Copy and paste the relevant terms that you found in Google Trends and search them. Then, scroll down to the people also ask section and analyse what you see.
You may be starting to see more interesting questions to answer in your brief. Many of these questions can become the direct headings for your brief.
You can then explore what articles are already occupying those headings and see how you can create content that’s more comprehensive than theirs. Then, as you click them and open up their contents, more headings will appear, giving you even more ideas to answer in your content.
When you factor these search queries into your own post, you have a higher chance of nabbing a featured snippet.
Step 3: Go to the Related Searches section at the bottom.
After you include all the relevant headings from the “people also ask” section, you can find even more information by scrolling to the bottom of the search results page (SERPs) and explore the “related searches” section.
You can repeat the previous step with these results and efficiently determine all the different areas of your topic you need to cover.
The goal is to create a brief that is as exhaustive as possible. Google wants the most relevant searches to rise to the top, and they’ll reward you for putting in the effort to create the most helpful content. Doing so will improve your ranking over time.
Step 4: Include H3s to add structure to your brief
As you build out a comprehensive outline using the “people also ask” and “related searches” sections of Google’s incognito results, you’ll realise you need to prioritize your headings.
This step requires some intuition and decisions on how you want to structure your brief. Many of the questions and topics you noted from the previous steps don’t need to have an entire section or H2 dedicated to them (for an explanation of headings for your blog like H2’s and H3’s, refer to this guide on HTML headings).
The questions that are easy to answer in a sentence or two answer them in an H3 that’s within an H2 that covers it more broadly. By doing this, you’ll begin to get a comprehensive brief with sub-sections. At this point, your blog brief should be coming together nicely.
Step 5: Leave highlighted text as instructions for the writer.
Whether you’re writing this blog yourself or handing it off to someone else to write, it’s important to leave notes or points you want to make sure are covered. An easy way to do this is by highlighting headings with specific key phrases to include or provide links to resources that will support their claims.
Alternatively, you can leave them as comments in a Google Doc.
You should also leave notes for your writer at the very top of the article explaining who the intended audience is, what the word count should be, and the overarching goal of the content. This context is key to setting up your writer for success. Even if you’ll be writing it yourself, it’s still helpful to have specified as a reminder.
Step 6: Write the intro to include a hook or relevant statistic.
If you are handing it off to a writer, you may want to make sure you’re setting them up for success by writing the intro. In this way, you can ensure no confusion around what the other writer continues to write about in the rest of the article. You’ll be setting the tone.
You could write the first 500 words or have someone else do it for you. 500 words will cover the intro and likely the first H2.
From your research building the brief, you may have come across an interesting stat or thought of a compelling hook or angle to start the blog off strong. Include these pieces in your article to make your brief stronger.
Step 7: Write a section that drops your brand name and instruct the writer to include it, or leave a note that you’ll include it after.
You need to cover your company within the article. Why else are you writing it? If someone else is writing your blog based on your brief, you should still be the one to include a snippet about your business. It’s risky to leave it to someone else to promote your business unless they know it as intimately as you do.
For that reason, note that you will include a bottom-of-funnel section yourself or write it beforehand for the writer to include it.
Step 8: Leave notes for specific formatting instructions like the language, images, or screenshots.
As your brief gets closer to being finished, you can now move to take care of some of the finer details. Aspects like language and the images they should include can be covered.
These aspects are more related to branding than getting your brief to rank, but they are still important to establishing your branding and being consistent. As you produce more briefs, these areas will become easier to include and may even become something you can copy and paste. Commit to doing it once really well, and you may not have to do it again.
Step 9: Provide an anchor with internal links for them to insert under each H2.
An important part of building your website’s authority as you post high-quality blogs consistently is to link them to one another. Where relevant, include links to other blogs that you want the writer or yourself to remember to link.
Additionally, include the specific anchor text you want to have linked to your other articles. If you don’t know what anchor text to use, you can refer to your blog’s topic or any of the H2’s.
Alternatively, if you’ve been publishing for a while and your articles are beginning to rank, you can use the Google Search Console to see what the search terms are that bring up your blogs.
To learn more about using Google Search Console to see what your articles are ranking for, look at the queries report section of Google’s help article.
Step 10: Leave a note for them to include their author bio.
Lastly, if someone else is writing your article, make sure that they save you time by reminding them to include their bio and any links they want to include for themselves. If you’re writing it yourself, make sure you write an author bio that reinforces your credibility.
Readers will usually look at the author of articles I’m reading to investigate their bio to determine if I should trust their arguments or information.
It’s just one of the practices I have to cut through the noise prevalent in the 8 million blogs published each day.
If you follow the 10 steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect blog brief that has a strong chance of ranking for your desired keyword.
Before you start writing to create comprehensive outlines, spending the time pays back ten-fold when you see your article begin to rank. In addition, having a standardized process to follow makes it easy for bloggers and content marketers to create high-quality content consistently.
Don’t be a part of the noise that’s all over the internet, but focus on producing content that is helpful and answers all the questions people ask about your topic. If you do, you’ll build an audience that converts.