Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a crucial inbound strategy for businesses looking to drive qualified organic traffic to their website. However, optimising a website for SEO requires skill and experience. That's why many businesses turn to SEO agencies for help.
To ensure the agency understands your business goals and can create an effective SEO strategy, you need to provide them with a detailed brief. Here's our guide to writing an SEO brief for a marketing agency that will set your organic efforts up for success.
What is an SEO Brief?
An SEO brief is a document you provide to an SEO agency which outlines your business, goals, target audience, competitors, and other relevant information. This brief helps the agency gain a clear understanding of your expectations so they can tailor their SEO services accordingly, getting you relevant traffic to the most important pages of your website.
A strong SEO brief includes an overview of your business, specific goals and metrics you want to achieve, information about your target audience and competitors, technical considerations, budget, and timescales. Providing this level of detail upfront helps facilitate an open and productive relationship with your chosen agency.
Some agencies may give you their own template or list of information they require. Others may have a more flexible approach, which is when it’s particularly useful to know what you should be including in a brief.
Is it Worth writing an SEO Brief?
Taking the time to write a comprehensive SEO brief is absolutely worth the effort. Here are some key benefits:
It aligns you and the agency on goals from the start. Having clearly defined SEO goals and metrics for success provides focus and ensures efforts stay on track.
It helps the agency understand your target audience. By describing your ideal customer in detail, the agency can optimise content for relevance.
It provides key information upfront. Providing competitors, technical, historical, and budget details early allows the agency to craft a tailored strategy without an extensive setup and research period at the start of your project.
It sets clear expectations. Explaining what you want to achieve avoids miscommunications that can derail projects.
Investing time in an SEO brief gives agencies the insights they need to deliver the results you want. It lays the groundwork for a successful partnership.
What to Include in an SEO Brief
Here are the key components to cover in an effective SEO brief:
- Overview of Your Business and Brand
Give the agency background on your company, products/services, and brand identity. Help them understand your business goals and what makes your brand unique. Share your current website and highlight any aspects you want to improve.
This is also where you can expand a little on your business origins - How did the business get started? What milestones and growth have you achieved? Providing this context helps the agency better understand your brand story.
Outline your brand mission, values, tone of voice, and imagery style. This helps the agency craft SEO content that aligns with your broader branding. Explain what sets your brand apart from competitors in your space.
- SEO-Related Business Goals
Outline your specific SEO goals and targets. Do you want to increase organic traffic by a certain percentage? Rank for target keywords? Improve lead generation from organic search?
Make sure to define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your overarching business goals. Setting clear objectives provides focus. One good way to set measurable goals could be by implementing SMART goals.
It’s a good idea to prioritise the 3-5 most important SEO goals for your agency partner to focus on first. Be as specific as possible with targets and metrics. For example, "increase organic traffic from UK searchers by 30% over the next 6 months" or "rank #1 for 10 target keywords related to [key service] within a year."
If your goal is a position ranking one, make sure you’ve thought about what impact you believe it will have on your business and included this in your brief. Sometimes agencies will be able to suggest more quickly achievable ways to reach the same result, such as targeting long-tail keywords on a similar topic which may be less competitive.
Having measurable goals makes it easier to track progress and ROI from the agency engagement. Where possible, tie SEO objectives directly back to business KPIs like leads, sales, and revenue.
- Target Audience
Describe the demographics, interests, challenges, and goals of your ideal customers. Help the agency understand your target audience's motivations so content can be tailored to them. It’s also a good idea to share any existing buyer personas or customer research.
Include any quantitative data you have on your target audience, like age ranges, geographic locations, gender, income levels, or other stats. List any common behaviours, pain points, or objections.
Outline the types of content and messaging that resonate most with your audience. Share examples of your best performing landing pages, blogs, emails, ads, etc. These insights help the agency craft content.
- Competitors Analysis
In business, no one knows your competitors better than you. Provide a summary of key competitors and what they're doing well in organic search.
List the top 3-5 competitors and review any SEO strengths or weaknesses you’ve noticed. Sharing insights into their strategies helps the agency identify opportunities.
For each competitor, outline:
Their SEO strength - what are they currently ranking for? Which keywords drive traffic?
Content strategy - what kinds of content do they create? How often do they publish?
Link building - what link building tactics are they using? I.E - are they writing guest blogs for other websites? What online directory lists do they show up on? Are they engaging in PR tactics to attract links from news sites?
Keyword gaps - what don’t they mention on your website that you do?
- Technical Considerations
Cover any technical limitations, like a site redesign planned for the next year or a restrictive content management system. Providing these details upfront prevents the agency from recommending strategies that aren't feasible.
You should also think about the functionalities of your website builder, what permissions you plan to give the agency, and who they should consult before making changes to the site. If you use a separate web development team, they might need to be involved in these decisions.
Share any technical SEO issues you're aware of that need addressing, like site speed, broken links, metadata problems, etc. List your current platforms and CMS - the more technical context the better.
- Historical SEO Activities
Summarise all previous SEO activities, including past strategies, content created, and keyword targets. Share previous successes, failures, and site migrations. This info helps the agency understand what’s been tried and shape future tactics.
Provide examples of existing SEO content and assets the agency can optimise, rather than starting from scratch. List any domains you’ve redirected in the past or other technical efforts that may impact SEO.
- Budget and Time Scales
Be transparent about your budget and time expectations so the agency can scope projects realistically. Provide an ideal budget range and timeframe for achieving results. Align on whether you want to pay per deliverable, monthly retainer, etc.
Many agencies offer flexible models like project-based fees or monthly retainers. Outline your preferred billing setup. Share any budget constraints and expected timeline - e.g. 6 month or 12 month engagements. In doing this, make sure to consider that SEO is a slow burn strategy which generally will not show results for at least 6 months.
In summary, investing time in writing a detailed SEO brief sets your agency partnership up for success. Being transparent about your business, goals, audience, and competitors allows the agency to craft a data-driven strategy tailored to your needs. The result is an SEO approach that delivers on objectives and ROI.
Looking for help improving your website's organic rankings? SpiderDigital offers data-driven SEO optimisation services to UK businesses to boost traffic, leads, and sales.
Our SEO experts specialise in technical audits, keyword research, SEO-rich content creation, and more. Contact SpiderDigital today for a custom SEO proposal aimed at driving real business results.