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In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Witty Content Writers, Silvia and Minnie to discuss how to write better content briefs.
Jack: Coming up on this week's show, I am joined by the duo known as the Witty Content Writers. Both Silvia and Minnie will be joining me on the show to talk all about content briefs and how you can really elevate your content brief game in 2023, and I'll be diving into the latest TrendWatch from our fantastic sponsors over at SISTRIX. Welcome to episode 65 of season two of the Search with Candour podcast. I am your host for this week, Jack Chambers-Ward, and this week I am joined by the dynamic duo known as the Witty Content Writers. Both Silvia and Minnie are joining me this week and we're going to dive into content briefs, the big, big topic to tackle, and Silvia and Minnie are full of fantastic advice for both you and me. I learn a few things on this show as well. Yeah, it's a really, really great conversation. I hope you really, really enjoy it. There's five top tips that you really should be doing in your content briefs, as well as a couple of don'ts essentially, please don't do this in your content briefs and please remember to do these things in your content briefs. It's a really, really great conversation that'll be coming up in just a couple of minutes.
Before I get into my conversation with the Witty Content Writers, let's dive in and look at the latest TrendWatch, shall we? The fantastic Nicole Scott has done a brilliant job of looking at some very interesting topics for the March 2023 edition of TrendWatch. You can, of course, go do sistrix.com/trends, where you can get the monthly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox every single month. Oh, there's some interesting stuff here. Let's start off with Jellycat, shall we? Something I've never heard of in my entire life, but apparently they are pretty, pretty big. Funnily enough, this ties into a previous conversation we were having about Squishmallows many months ago, so much so that I know the SISTRIX office now has a Squishmallow in person, essentially in the flesh, in the plush, in the SISTRIX office. Maybe, I don't know, Steve, if you're going to do this in the Bonn office for SISTRIX.
Maybe they'll get a Jellycat as well because they are kind of these little plushy, I'm trying to think how to describe them, kind of cutesy plushy things where they often have funny little jokes or little messages written on them. They're kind of like cartoony things. You get avocados and lobsters and different types of fruit and stuff. They're also super-duper cheap and in places like Aldi and things like that. They are very accessible and very affordable as well. So if you or your kids or any of your relations want to have a new, weird, quirky toy to play with, Jellycat is the place to go. It seems to be driven very, very much so unsurprisingly by TikTok and social media because of course, it is. A lot of these kind of trends are driven by TikTok. Yeah. Jellycat kind of had a little spike by the looks of it early to mid 2022, but has absolutely skyrocketed over the last month or so throughout March 2023. So definitely worth checking out and they are definitely on the up if you are interested in getting into the Jellycat game as it were.
Next up, I have something I do actually have experience with, which is Phrazel. It's a word game not dissimilar to Wordle, which I'm sure you've heard of since it was the single most Googled phrase last year in the world. Yeah, it's a very interesting kind of thing where you are taking a set of words and trying to create the longest phrase possible. So it's not letter by letter, it's actually word by word and you're trying to construct phrases and sentences and all that kind of stuff.
There's a great article from The Guardian that SISTRIX linked to that gives you a quick little breakdown of what it is. I'm okay. I'm not great at Phrazel. I think it's fun and I tend to use these things very early on in the morning to wake my brain up. I do a Wordle. I do a couple of the other image-based ones as well, just to get the brain organized stuff. Me and my wife will play and be a bit competitive with each other and see who can get it quicker and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, Phrazel, if you are going to check it out, that is spelled P-H-R-A-Z-E-L, if you want to go and check that out. It is kind of a fun, quirky little word game.
The third little tease for TrendWatch I'll talk about out of the 10 trends, by the way, you can get delivered straight to your inbox. I'm just going to give you a little sneak peek of three of them. The third and final one is a pothos plant. Speaking of my wife, once again, she knows a lot about plants. She's very much the one who sorts all of our house plants out, picks out the right ones, making sure they are not non-toxic to our cat and all that kind of stuff. Pothos plants are particularly popular at the moment because from what I understand, I don't think we have one in the house. They are very, very low maintenance and that is great for the weird weather we've been having recently here in the UK. I know they're very popular in the US as well because you could have it across different parts of the US with very, very different climates.
They also are kind of cool-looking as well. They've got these really interesting shaped leaves. They've got a cool green and yellow combo color to them that I think is really interesting. Yeah. They seem to really be shooting up in terms of popularity. Funnily enough, they were also very popular during COVID times, during 2020 and 2021. They had some similar peaks happening there as well, but they are even more popular than ever now in April of 2023 according to the days I hear from Nicole and the SISTRIX data journalist and team. So yeah, definitely go and check that out. Like I said, pathos plants. There's also stuff about HubSpot in there, Wim Hof, GoFundMe, I already mentioned Phrazel, Jellycat, and even one of the other search engines and why that might be particularly popular. Go sistrix.com/trends, where you can subscribe to the newsletter and you'll get 10 brand new trends delivered to your inbox every single month.
One last little thing before I get into the main topic of the show and I get to talking with the Witty Content Writers, if you're coming to BrightonSEO SEO this week and you're listening to this on Monday, on Wednesday, that's Wednesday the 19th of April, 2023, I'll be teaming up with the SEO Mindset crew of Sarah and Tazmin to do a live in-person episode of the podcast talking all about anxiety at conferences. Tickets are free. They are still available. There'll be a link in the show notes. Go and check that out. So if you're coming to BrightonSEO or if you're already living in Brighton, you don't have to go to BrightonSEO if you don't want to and you want to come and see me talk on stage and do a live podcast with some other fantastic podcasters and some of the SISTRIX team will be there as well, like I said, link in the show notes for the Eventbrite. Tickets are free and drinks are included as well. Thanks to our fantastic other sponsor that is Captivate. So if you want to come and see a live podcast for free and get some free drinks on Wednesday night in Brighton, please do check out the link in the show notes.
Joining me this week is the dynamic duo from Wittycontentwriters.com, Silvia and Minnie. Welcome to the show, Silvia and Minnie. How are you both?
Silvia: We're great.
Minnie: We're good. Thank you.
Silvia: How are you?
Jack: I'm good. Thank you. Yeah. It's a Friday afternoon. I'm excited to finally get a chance to talk to you both. We've got an interesting topic, I think, we're going to dive into and really get our teeth around in and talk a bit in detail and really get stuck into, which I'm very excited about. It's a thing I deal with a lot in my job and I'm sure it's something you guys have a lot of experience with. But before we get to actually talking about content briefs and diving into all the detail, Silvia, I'll come to you first, I guess, what has been your experience building Witty Content Writers with Minnie and how did you come to building this business together and coming up with such a fantastic name as well, by the way?
Silvia: Oh, thank you. Well, it was something just so crazy. I don't know. Do you have time for this? Because this is a long story, but let me cut it short and say that way back in 2017, I met Minnie. I wanted to learn about writing and her brother actually introduced me to her. So she gave me the basics and told me, "Okay. Go first and write." So I started doing that in the middle of doing a regular eight-to-five job. And then came 2020 and then COVID happened, and all this while she kept on telling me, "Stop doing this eight-to-five thing. Come right with me. Let's do this." I like, "No, I will." The eight-to-five job type of security thing that we all have and want to stick to.
So come 2020, we sat down and I was like, "Yep, I guess this is it." Because I lost my job. I was working at a church as a head deputy department. Yeah. So when that went fast, I was like, "Okay. This is it." And then we started Witty Content Writers. Working with Minnie is amazing. She knows so much and together we've learned so much. Yeah, it's just been amazing.
Jack: Amazing. Minnie, is it a similar kind of story? You sound like you're the bad influence, or the good influence I suppose as well.
Minnie: Yes, I'm the badass in the team. I'm definitely the badass.
Jack: So Minnie, were you a writer before and that was what inspired you to go freelance? Had you been working the nine-to-five job before and found that freelancing was the right thing for you?
Minnie: Yes. Yes. Actually, I was employed eight-to-five job and the pay was really bad because I was getting $100 a month.
Minnie: Yeah, that wasn't enough. I couldn't pay my bills. Everything was wrong. So I woke up one day and I decided I want to quit. I was like, "I want to go do..." Actually, I was calling content writing, online writing because I didn't have the knowledge. I didn't know where to begin. So I resigned and I started there, online writing. I did a lot of research. I started on Upwork and became operated and I build my account. Then I later felt that I needed to start a business. That was now in 2017.
Silvia was a good friend that was introduced by my brother. I was like, "Silvia, I've given you several gigs and you write really, really, really, really good. Please, can we join together and write?" She was like, "No, I don't see the security," and that encouraged her and she build her Upwork and she became an operator. I was like, "Silvia, you see, you can't earn $1,000 in a week. What is preventing you from doing this?" She was like, "No, I'm not comfortable." Then COVID now happened and she was like, "Yeah. No, we can do this. No, I don't have a plan B." And that's when we started with Witty Content Writers, and so far so good. It has been amazing. It has been an amazing journey. We've learned so much. There have been ups, downs and we embrace the journey. We are loving every second.
Jack: Amazing. How did you guys come up with a name as well? I feel like it's a great name for just a small business, but also an improvised institutional comedy duo as well. I felt like you guys would make good comedians, as well as writers.
Minnie: I don't know. I don't know how how came up with it. We just sat down and started Googling. I really don't know how we pinpointed that particular, but we are good. Trust me, Jack-
Jack: It's catchy. I like it a lot.
Minnie: ... all that, we had another one because we wanted to concentrate on the pet industry and so we had pets something before we had-
Silvia: Awesome Pet Parents.
Minnie: Yeah. Awesome Pet Parents but then Witty came along and it stuck. Yeah.
Jack: I kind of like Awesome Pet Parents as well, to be fair. It's not terrible.
Minnie: Good one. We should be with that.
Jack: But it is like you said it, maybe that's a niche idea and then the Witty Content Writers is the main money drive, the main business. There's always room for more side hustles or more niches and other ideas as well. So judging by the title, Witty Content Writers, you guys are both content specialists. You are both professional writers. So, we're going to be talking about content briefs. Essentially, listeners, we're going to dive into how to make a good content brief, how to basically get the most out of it for you, your clients and the people you are going to be working with and everything like that. I think content briefs are something that so many of us in SEO know a bit about but maybe aren't getting the most out of the opportunity, right? Maybe we use an old template that was made by an old colleague of ours, or you download a checklist online and you just use that kind of thing as the basics and that kind of thing. But what I think we are going to go through today is something that is going to really elevate you to the next level and give you some five top tips essentially to make sure you are writing the best content briefs you possibly can. I write a lot of content briefs here at Candour. I have done for quite a few years in my previous roles as well. So I'm excited to learn from you guys as well and really get stuck into some content brief discussion. It's one of my favorite things to talk about, so I am very excited.
Jack: So, should we start off? Silvia, I'll start with you and pass over to you for a little bit of intro. On a very top level, what would you consider are the essential elements of a content brief?
Silvia: Well, Jack, before I get to that, let me just clarify, we are SEO content writers, strategists. That's what we do, just so that we don't get into the content briefs and people are like, "Oh, so they do content briefs." So we're SEO content writers and we're SEO strategies. But to dive into your question, a great content brief has so many things that you have, but from the top of the list, the major things which are what we want to talk about today are thorough keyword research, the what count, target audience, visual elements, and links. Those are the things, the most things we wanted talk about.
Jack: Awesome. Awesome. Well, let's dive into point number one then, shall we? Let's talk about some thorough keyword research because again, I think this is a thing a lot of us in SEO are very guilty of of knowing the basics, maybe using a template, doing a checklist here and there, but really, really getting stuck into keyword research is a whole job in and of itself, right? That is a whole extra task to be done. So, what makes good keyword research? How do we do thorough keyword research to accompany our content briefs?
Silvia: Minnie, do you want to take this one or should I?
Minnie: You. I'll go, Silvia.
Minnie: I like to say that keyword research is the foundation of a great SEO content that will become visible on Google. So the first step, we need to identify the best and the most appropriate primary keyword. I want to think I'm doing the content brief so that I can give my writers to work on it and produce this great piece of content. So the first thing is to identify the best and the most appropriate keyword, primary keyword. We do not want them to guess, do guesswork when they're writing the piece of content so we need to identify the best primary keyword.
That's the first point. Other keyword should match the search intent. What is the purpose of your content? Is it informational? Is it commercial? Is it navigational? So the primary keyword should match the search intent. Then we need to also to find out the best secondary stroke semantic keyword to support the primary keyword. And then we need to do a Google search using the primary keywords and look at what questions people are asking from the AlsoAsked section on the SERP and pick the most appropriate questions that will answer the questions that your piece of content will talk about. Then we need to head out to Quora and Reddit and see what people are talking about in regards to what you're going to write. We need also to make sure we are answering these questions. Doing all these will help you in doing a perfect keyword research.
Jack: Yeah, I think that's really, really interesting. Even bringing in things like Quora and Reddit I think is a really brilliant way of doing it because there's so many resources out there that I think people forget about or ignore. Like you said, people go to Reddit, go to Quora to ask questions about things all the time, and there is a rich resource of questions that you and your clients can answer are perfectly ready and waiting for you. From my experience, and I know I was speaking to Mark about this and we've spoken about it on the podcast before, a good rule of thumb is if you see a Reddit thread or a Quora thread that is ranking for your primary keyword or the particular question you're trying to answer, chances are you can probably outrank that thread because from my experience and from Mark's experience, you can get a proper website if you have a proper website with you or your clients.
Google will tend to prefer that if you are doing all of your SEO correctly on the site, obviously, compared to ranking a Reddit thread or a Quora thread, and that's a really, really good way and I think that brilliant, brilliant way of integrating all of that stuff together to bring it, because I think so many people get stuck on just using one tool, right? They'll just use SISTRIX or Semrush or Ahrefs or whatever it is they're using and then just get, "Okay. This is all my data, problem solved." But actually I think that's some brilliant advice there of go and actually look at the SERPs, go and actually look at different forums and find information. That is a brilliant, brilliant idea. Do you often find yourself targeting questions specifically from those Reddit threads and Quora threads?
Silvia: Yes. Yes.
Minnie: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Silvia: Yes, because the idea of doing any piece of content is answering the questions of who, the people who will read the content. So the best way to answer them is identifying the questions and answering them. I must add, because we are doing Candour, I must add, we also need to use AlsoAsked, otherwise Mark will come for our neck.
Jack: Thank you. You're keeping Mark happy there. Thank you. I appreciate that, Silvia. Keeping my job secure.
Silvia: Yeah. What Minnie said, go to where the people are, find out what they want to know about whatever topic you're talking about. Once you do that, half of the job is done.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. Again, I think a lot of people rely on tools a lot and things like that, actually looking at the SERPS, like you said, seeing where the people are, what are your customer base looking for and where are they looking for it. Are they using Google? Are they using Bing? Are they using other search engines and trying to find stuff? Yeah. Just relying on one source of information, I think, is not good enough in 2023, to be honest, because so many people are doing so much, such a good job now. There's so much competition. I think this is a brilliant piece of advice to really, really tackle your keyword research and bring it to the next level and make it really, really thorough. Cool.
Next up, next point, Silvia, I'll pass over to you, if you like, want to talk about some word count, a very controversial topic in SEO.
Silvia: Yes, very controversial! And then one thing I'll point out is sometimes somebody tells you, "I want a piece of content and I want it to be 2,000." To me, what that says is that you really don't understand what SEO is because what it come in the number of words you're going to write is not what you want. It's what does the research tell you? What does the SERP say? What are your competitors saying? Well, I mean, how long is their content? You can't just make that kind of decision out of a whim and say, "I want 2,000 ones." It doesn't work that way. So go in, look at your competitors, use tools, use phrase, use copy... What's it called, Minnie? Copyscape.
Silvia: SEOwind, those tools. What do they recommend? What is the suggested word count for that particular piece of content? And then after that, you'll know what you need to write. As you do that kind of research, then you'll know how many words you need to have, because if you just pick a number of words that should be there, there's something you're missing out on because when you do the research, it tells you how many headings should you have. What exactly should you talk about? What in combination of all the results in the SERP, from number one to number five? What are they talking about? So what information do you need to add so that you answer the question that people are asking? That's what you need to do.
Jack: Yeah, I think that is brilliant advice again, because I think I've totally been guilty of this as well, just thinking in a vacuum, you just think about you, your website, your client, and you don't think about the wider industry, and like you said, what competitors are doing and things like that. Maybe the audience just want a quick answer for how much does this thing cost and they want the price or something simple. Sometimes you want a full step by step guide. "I'm hoping for 1,500, 2,000, 3,000 words. I want every piece of information explained, a really comprehensive article," but those two intents are quite different, right?
Like you said, if you're just throwing 2,000 words out to an audience that actually only wants 50 and they're actually just looking for a featured snippet or something like that, you're not going to get anywhere. You're not going to get the clicks. You're not going to be targeting the right people. You're giving the wrong information and the wrong content to the wrong audience. Yeah. There's almost like understanding the audience and what they're expecting. From the other side of things, what is Google and other search engines, what are they presenting to the audience? What do they think the audience wants to see is another layer to that as well, right?
Silvia: Yeah. Yeah. And then even the people AlsoAsked section on the SERPs gives you a lot of information about what people actually really want to hear, what questions they have. So it's all about the user. We always say a SEO is all about the user. It's not what we want. It's all about the user.
Jack: Definitely. Speaking of users, Minnie, I'll pass it over to you to talk about target audience and our customers. So let's dive into a bit of user experience in identifying our clear target audience and things like that for point three.
Minnie: Yeah. With something we like to add on in our content brief, we need to understand, well, the language, the vocabulary that our target customers are using. Here, we do the BOC research. We go out on the social media platforms like Reddit, Quora, FB groups, LinkedIn, and we engage our clients to talk through the sales team so that we can understand what exactly their customers really want and the language they want, they use. Because most of the time, even if you write a piece of content and the person who's reading it, they do not feel the natural flow in interacting with the content. At the end of the day, they won't read that content. They'll pass reading the content and they might miss out on what you're trying to say. So we go out on it, Facebook groups, generally on the social media platforms. We understand their language. We understand the lingo. We understand the words they use, and then we put that on our content for the writer to use so that the reader can interact with the content in a way that they feel very comfortable with.
Jack: Yeah, I think that's such an important point, and it's something I touched on a couple of times before as well is the understanding of the audience is one layer of things, but understanding their understanding of what they're looking for. I've had this with a couple of clients here at Candour as well, where we're actually targeting people who are working in that industry already, so are more educated even than me coming from an external. I'm an SEO, I don't work in a particular in... Say, it's a construction industry for example. They know way more about construction and our products are targeted towards construction people, so the language you use needs to be targeted to their level of understanding, their level of education on the subject rather than general everyday stuff that I would understand as a non-person who doesn't work in construction, you need to have and understand that kind of language.
Like you said, the lingo is the perfect example, Minnie, of what language should people use when they're searching for it. You can search for all the generic keywords you want, but if you don't know what the people in that industry, that particular audience are looking for, if you have a more educated audience in a particular topic, you could just be almost come off as patronizing or silly or even stupid to some people because, "Yeah, we already know that. We're not interested in that. We already know this stuff. Why are you telling us things we already know?" You want to be answering, as you said, the questions they're asking, right? That's such an important part.
Silvia: If I may add on to that, another thing we also do is talk to the sales team.
Jack: Yes, that's so important.
Silvia: Yeah. Because they interact with your customers every single day. They know what they want. They know how they speak. They know everything that you don't. So when you interact with this kind of people, ask them those questions. What do they want? What do they say? What is it they really need? How can I open to this piece in a way that answers their question, they understand? So that helps a lot as well. Most of the time that is overlooked, but that's a very powerful thing to do.
Jack: Yeah. I think, again, there's something you said people overlook it because we are so digital and online and not really thinking about it, but actually just if you are working internally, lucky you. If you are in-house and working with people, literally govern to the other room and speak to the sales team in the other office or whatever it is, or get on a phone call or a video call and say, "Hey, I know you deal with the customers on the phone every day. You are answering emails. What are people asking? What are common questions that the customers are asking you guys?" and see how that translates to... Again, put that into a keyword research tool, put that into the SERPs straightaway and see what happens.
I have found you find some really, really interesting topic you would never have thought of because again, you lean on the client as the expert, right? You know that they're going to know their products, their services better than we are coming as external members of the team and that's where the experts lie. That's where the expertise that ties really well into WAT and proving expertise and everything like that. Using that information from the experts on your team is really, really... I totally agree, I think it's really overlooked by a lot of us in SEO and a really, really powerful tool we could be using a lot more.
I think social media is really important as well. You're totally right, Minnie, thinking about again, what are people searching for on Twitter, LinkedIn? Which of those platforms is important for your audience? So I found different clients perform very differently on social media. One will have 10,000 Instagram followers, but three people on LinkedIn or the other way around, 10,000 people on LinkedIn, three people on Instagram, and knowing which platform you should be targeting. Even coming around to things like advertising on social media, that's an important part of it as well, but having a clear idea of the kind of customer you are targeting for your content, where are they? Which platforms are they using? Where are they? Are they on YouTube searching for stuff? Should you be making video content, as well as text content, all that kind of stuff? Absolutely. Like you said, be where the people are.
Jack: So speaking of video content and other things, let's talk about some visual elements and things we can incorporate and recommend in our content briefs. Silvia, I'll come back around to you.
Silvia: I'll start by seeing when I started writing, I would go on Pixabay, pick images and very beautiful ones and put them on my piece of content and I'd be like, "Wow, this is so cool." Well, I'll start by saying refrain from using royalty-free images. Do not do it. I know it's easy, but do not do it. So what I'd recommend about the visual elements, look at what your competitors have. If you look in the SERPs and you see that one piece of content ranking on number one has a video, it has images and it has a video and it has ratings, then that gives you an idea of what you should have. If the top five people are using images and one has a video, incorporate all those aspects in your one piece of content. So have the images, have the video, have a table of contents, have whatever it is you see on the SERPs. Make sure you have those and probably add something extra to make yours pop a bit. So look at the SERPs, see what your competitors are doing. What do they have? Make sure you incorporate that and add something more that's unique. As for the images, take images that are original. If you're writing about, say, Candour or AlsoAsked, go in there. Actually, I know I'm really doing that one, huh?
Jack: You are. Yeah, you're doing my job for me. I appreciate it. We should hire you as a marketing person, funnily enough.
Silvia: Go in and take if this... I'm so appreciative. I got AlsoAsked for free, so I really market. So go in there, take screenshots, put them in your piece of content. Don't use royalty-free images. That's a big no-no.
Jack: Yeah, those direct screenshots, I was talking to John Iwuozor about this. He does a lot of reviews for software and tech and things like that for Forbes advisor and how important it is to actually show those screenshots in the stage of... If you are reviewing a piece of software, people want to see what works, what doesn't work, what's the interface like, all that kind of stuff, especially if you're thinking like, "Oh, I've got a problem with this login page," or "Every time I click this thing, it doesn't work," or "Oh, look at how this thing animates brilliantly and this is in a really nice transition. This loads really quickly." Whatever it is, having your own original screenshots is, again, a really powerful tool there. Even simple things, if we come around to e-commerce and selling things, take photos of your products. Like you said, don't just go and find, Google. We'll stick with construction. Don't Google concrete mixer into Google, and then just take number one from one of the royalty-free websites like Pexels or whatever it is. Go and take photos. Again, this is part of talking to your sales team, thinking about who on the team? Do we have the budget to take photos? Can a member of the team who has a passion for photography takes some photos for us and all that kind of stuff? Think about your resources and how you can really maximize all that kind of stuff. You're totally right, that's a thing that a lot of people kind of forget is actually having original image content can be a whole other side of search. Image search can be a huge, huge traffic driver for some clients, and I think that's something some of us forget about and ignore, right?
Silvia: Yeah. Yeah, true. Yeah, true.
Jack: We won't get into talking about AI images because that's a very controversial topic at the moment. Everybody's generating AI things at the moment with Midjourney and DALL-E. Oh, good lord. Oh, it's a minefield down there.
Silvia: A whole new thing.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Silvia: Do you have one of those AI images? I see people using them on their profiles on LinkedIn and everywhere. Do you have one of those?
Jack: I have done it before. Yeah. I don't use it in the moment, because we have the official Candour... Again, we have photos of everyone here at Candour. We had a photographer come in and take photos of us.
Silvia: Oh, nice.
Jack: So for all of my professional stuff, I have a professional photo taker to me wearing a shirt, looking very professional, but I know a lot of other people do. Like you said, they use it for... I don't think there's that much harm in using it for social media. This is a whole other topic, but just for fun and profile pictures and stuff, I don't mind.
So, let's get to point number five, perhaps my favorite thing when it comes to talking about content, internal links and external links. This is something any client who's listening to this, I know a few of my clients do listen to the podcast, they will know this is the thing I talk about on every call, every conversation, my passion for links and anchor texts and all that kind of stuff. Minnie, how can we go about finding really good internal-linking best practices and even external links as well and factor those into our content briefs?
Minnie: Links are very important when it comes to SEO. I'll start with saying that we should choose links that are relevant to the piece of content that we are writing. Don't just choose links because you want to put links into your content. It is important to choose links that are relevant to your piece of content. I want to say if you're writing a piece of content about, let's say, cows, there's no way you'll want to link to a piece of content that is talking about building maybe such kind of a thing. So when you are linking, we also need to choose a good anchor text. We don't choose an anchor text that is generic. Don't choose an anchor text that is not talking about what your piece of content is. Do not choose an anchor text like 'click here', speaking of generic content.
Silvia: 'Find more'.
Minnie: 'Find more'. Yeah. Thank you, Silvia.
Jack: 'Read more' is a really common one I see a lot as well.
Minnie: Read more.
Jack: Yeah. Yeah.
Minnie: Yeah. You need to choose an anchor text that is descriptive. Yeah. When it comes to external links, this is where most of most people go wrong. Avoid choosing anchor texts from Wikipedia. Avoid choosing anchor texts that will not transfer any value to your website. Do not choose anchor texts from websites with low PA and low DA. You need to choose anchor text that will add value to your website.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. I think that's such a, like you said, something people misunderstand or get wrong a lot with external links. It ties so heavily into what Google has been updating recently with the Double E-A-T stuff and bringing in expertise, authoritativeness, experience and trust altogether. Linking to trustworthy sources is a way of proving you are trustworthy. Because I think a lot of clients I've spoken to in the past and they get into the kind of like, "Oh, we can't possibly link to another website. Everyone will leave our website and go to that website."
Like you said, if you link to a government source or a university source or a research paper or something, everybody will go off and read that thing instead. It's like, no, you are proving you have done your research. You are proving you were a trustworthy source of information. You are not just making everything up and just not having any references. Especially if you're talking about a complicated subject or a complex subject, having references to relevant topics from external sources can be a way of actually proving trust to the reader and to search engines as well. I think that's something a lot of people underestimate and misunderstand in many ways.
Minnie: True. It's sad that most people think that Wikipedia is great source, but it isn't, but it wouldn't because anybody can change the content on Wikipedia, so it's highly recommended that we refrain from using any files from Wikipedia.
Jack: Yeah, Wikipedia is an interesting one. It feels like it's such a hub of information, but so much of it can be wrong, so much of it is never fact-checked. There's never any citations or anything like that. So yeah, Wikipedia, you need to sort your external links out. How about that?
Jack: They need to get better sources at Wikipedia as well.
Silvia: I hope they get to listen to this.
Jack: Yeah. I'm sure, loads of people working at Wikipedia listen to the podcast, promise. Really important coming back around to anchor text as well, again, this is something I've talked to a lot about with clients and things like that, when it comes to anchor text, we mentioned the obvious examples, the click here, the read more or that kind of stuff, that's not descriptive. But even going the next step further, I had a client the other day and we did a technical audit on one of their sites and I found one where they were advertising courses for things and that's what they sell. It had like, "Oh, this is a one-day course or a two-day course," that kind of thing, and just the anchor text was just two day or one day and where they didn't say two day and then the subject and then the course and one day the subject and the course.
I was like, "This might not be picked up by tools," because most of the tools, like we said, will look for read more, click here, all the obvious kind of examples, but this is still not ideal anchor text. You can really, really optimize it and make sure it's doing the best thing that it can by including more information and including... My golden rule is, I think the thing I've spoken to many people about, if you don't know what the page is going to be about just by the anchor text, the anchor text is not descriptive enough. Just by looking at it on the page, you should be able to pretty much guess like, "Oh, what am I expecting to see from this page I'm clicking through to?" External, internal, it doesn't matter, you still need to... The same rule applies for search engine as well. As a user, I find that useful. Even for accessibility reasons as well, that's a huge factor in anchor text as well because as a screen reader is going through and reading text, it will say, "Link to using text," and that can give the users a clear example of what they can expect when they click that link, rather than just clicking the link and guessing and then getting frustrated and coming back around and, "Oh no, that wasn't the thing I thought it was. I'm going to have to come back to the original article and search again," or all that kind of stuff. I think an anchor text is so important. And so, again, I think pretty much everything we talked about is underutilized and overlooked in many ways.
Silvia: Yes. Definitely. That's true.
Jack: Hopefully people are getting some good advice and some good tips.
Silvia: Thank you.
Minnie: That's it.
Jack: So let's finish off, shall we, with some kind of the opposite, some don'ts rather than some top tips. Silvia, I'll come back around to you for a quick don't for people when they're creating content briefs.
Silvia: Well, the past don't is don't assume that you are writing this to somebody who even understands what you're talking about. Write it like you're writing it down for a two-year-old. Give them very, very precise direction on what they should do. Cover everything because you never know who's going to be writing your content and how they're going to interpret it. So don't leave any room for guesswork. Tell them exactly what they should do, every single step.
Jack: Yeah, I think that's hugely important because you don't know which member of the team for your client, or even if you're working in-house necessarily, maybe you have a brilliant relationship with a content writer on their end of things, who's going to take that brief and you've been working together for a year and it's going great, now they're on holiday. Now they're sick.
Jack: Somebody else has got to pick that up and write it. You are perfectly right there, Silvia. How to write it for basically anyone in that team who has a familiarity with that business should be able to pick that up and write it themselves and at least get a clear idea of what it's about and where to go and what the next steps are and things like that because I think we rely too much on, "Oh, everyone knows SEO best practice. Everyone knows SEO in 2023. That's normal, right? Everybody knows how everything works." Don't rely on that. Definitely. Definitely. The less room you can leave for guesswork, the more likely you're going to get accurate results from what you expect from that content brief, right? The more room you leave for interpretation and guessing and things like that, then maybe you'll write a content brief and you see the final piece and it's completely different to what you expected because your descriptions weren't clear enough. Your expectations weren't set correctly. I think that's a huge, huge factor in that can make a big, big difference.
Minnie: Just to add on what Silvia has just said, yeah, I like to narrate down to a specific number of words and H2 or H3. We do not want writers to write maybe 300 words, 500 words that are relevant, want to give a cap, the number of words that should be included under every subheading. Another thing, the briefs, the content briefs probably should be given for be in a very valuable channel. I remember back then, we had a client with Silvia who had sent a brief on Messenger and the instructions are all over. They were all over. I mean, we couldn't even follow whatever the client wanted. So we wrote the piece of content and he was like, "No, I don't want this." And that's how we ended being...
Minnie: My piece of advice, the content briefs should be compiled in a document, well written for the writer to follow every step to avoid any confusions, any conflict so that everything can run smoothly.
Silvia: Especially the instructions, they should be clear.
Minnie: Especially the instruction. No Facebook messages for instructions. Do not expect that, actually, or WhatsApp text.
Jack: If there's one thing you learn, listeners, from this episode, don't use Facebook Messenger for content brief or WhatsApp or any other messenger service,
Jack: Let's finish things off, shall we, with one last little don't tip. Silvia, I'll come to you for this little last little one.
Silvia: Something sometimes we forget... I mean, human is to err. Sometimes it happens. Please remember to always give access to whoever you're sending the document to. If it's a Google document, which is often where we go to, please remember to give access. Don't wait for the client to ask you, "Could you please grant me access to this?" Remember to grant access.
Jack: I will hold my hands up right now, this is the one I'm the most guilty of by a million times. I do this all the time. I always forget to put it in the client folder so everyone has the same access or the sharing permissions on Google Docs, or I've linked to a sheet in there that is not shared. So the main doc is fine, but one of the references or one of the resources is not shareable.
Silvia: Yeah, exactly.
Jack: Oh my God. Yeah, Google. I appreciate the security of Google Docs and Google Drive, but I'm sure my colleagues at Candour can confirm this, I am very guilty of this.
Silvia: So many of us are. I always have to remember because it slips our minds, most of us. It does. Yeah.
Jack: Definitely. Definitely. Awesome. So listeners out there, hope that has been a fantastic little bit of advice and a bit of a guide through content briefs. So we had number one, thorough keyword research. Number two, think about your word count. Number two, think about your target audience. Number two? Number three, think about your target audience and your customers. Number four, think about your visual elements. Are you doing the same thing as your competitors? Is it all relevant? Number five, include your links, use good anchor text, internal and external. I think that is some brilliant content advice from the Witty Content Writers. Thank you so much both for joining me. That was a lot of fun, as well as very interesting and educational.
Silvia: Thank you for having us.
Minnie: Thank you for having us, Jack.
Jack: My pleasure. My absolute pleasure. So where can people follow you on the internet across the various social media things? Before we say anything else, of course, listeners, the links for everything will be in the show notes at search.withcandour.co.uk. So Silvia and Minnie are available across the social media platforms in the links in the show notes. Where is the best place to find you for your website and your main social media stuff, guys?
Silvia: I'm on LinkedIn. We are on LinkedIn. I'm on LinkedIn at Silvia Gituto. That's G-I-T-U-T-O. I'm on Twitter and I'm actually just clicking now so that I can see what my handle is.
Minnie: Time to check!
Jack: Perfect. There you go!
Jack: Amazing. Like I said, listeners, links for all of those things will be in the show notes so please do click below and you'll find links for everything there so you can go follow the Witty Content Writers, follow Silvia and follow Minnie and keep up to date with fantastic advice they give out across social media and on their website. If you want to inquire and hire these fantastic people to write some content briefs for you, go to the website and work with them. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining me. It's been an absolute pleasure. It's been really, really fun episode. I've really, really enjoyed it.
Minnie: Thank you so much, Jack.
Silvia: Thank you so much.
Jack: And that about wraps us up for this week. Thank you once again to Silvia and Minnie from the Witty Content Writers for joining me for a fantastic, really interesting conversation. I learned a lot. I think I really reaffirmed some of the things I thought I knew and I learned a few brilliant little tips from them as well about content briefs.
Of course, I'll be back next week. But if you are in Brighton coming up later on in this week, please do come and say hello. I'll be running around with my usual microphones and interviewing various people and attending talks and partying and all that kind of stuff. Me and quite a few of the Candourlourians will be going and heading down to Brighton and showing our faces, doing networking, all that kind of stuff. So, come and say hi to me, Mark, or any of the other Candourlourians you see at BrightonSEO later on this week.
I'll be back next week with the BrightonSEO special because I will be recording a bunch of interviews and snippets and asking questions and things all throughout the conference on Thursday and Friday. So next week's episode will be a little bit different. I don't know if you remember the Halloween special I did last October when I was joined by Stéphanie Walter and Myriam Jessier. There will be something like that, essentially, a similar kind of episode where I'm going to interview some of the superstars of SEO that goes to BrightonSEO and I'll have a particular question for them. It's not going to be horror stories this time. That was a bit more Halloween-themed. I've gone for something slightly different this time around, but stay tuned for that. Like I said, it'll be the BrightonSEO Spectacular coming up next week on the show. But until then, thank you so much for listening. Hopefully, I will see some of you in BrightonSEO and have a lovely week.