How to brief an SEO agency


Hiring an SEO agency, can be a daunting task, especially if it’s the first time you’ve explored working with an SEO agency. Providing specific information about your needs, expectations and resources can provide clarity ensuring that your search engine marketing strategy is built on solid foundations.

In this article, we show you how to create an SEO brief to ensure that you and your search marketing agency are on the same page.

The six essentials of an SEO brief

When you’re creating an SEO brief, there are six key elements you need to make clear to your agency:

  • Your goals: Your SEO goals – what constitutes success.
  • Your brand: Your company profile, your brand, where you are and where you want to be.
  • Your target audience: Who comprises your current market and what audiences you want to target.
  • Your competitors: The brands you need to stay ahead of and the ones you want to catch up or overtake.
  • Your budget: Your current budget.
  • Your SEO history: Everything you have (or haven’t) done with SEO up until now.

Clarifying these points isn’t only for your agency’s benefit, it’s for yours too.

We find writing a good brief can take some time, and if you challenge yourself to write a clear brief you’ll often find that some elements can be surprisingly difficult to define.

Let’s review each of the goals in more detail

1. Define your SEO goals

Before an SEO agency can put together a strategy for you, they need to know what you’re looking to achieve.

When we ask prospective clients what their SEO goals are, we often get answers like “we want to rank on page one of Google” for a specific search term. And that’s entirely acceptable.

Knowing why you want to be on page one or rank first for a search term can provide good granularity for your SEO agency.

It might be that you want to reduce your reliance on paid search marketing.

An organic search result at the top of a high-volume low conversion search term can reduce PPC budgets for the same term, or maybe there’s a particular competitor or search result that you want to rank ahead of – these are all viable reasons to include in your SEO agency brief.

Search ranking is not always a viable end game.

If your goal is to increase sales, for example, simply increasing traffic probably isn’t enough. We need to understand the intent behind the keyword (are people looking for information, to transact, is it a navigational search term or commercial search proposition?), we need to ensure that the web-page is optimised to convert – otherwise we’ll only be sending traffic to a page that isn’t optimised to convert (this is applicable for both eCommerce and Lead Generation).

If you’re not sure – then simply align your SEO goals to your wider business goals and try and ensure that they are SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable and timely); avoid vague ambitions like simply ranking higher or selling more products. Set goals like increase sales from organic traffic +30% by end of Q4 or increase organic conversion rates by 3.5% by start of Q1.

This will really help your SEO agency to find the right search engine marketing strategy to help you achieve your goals.

2. Your company profile

To create an SEO strategy that achieves your goals, your agency needs to know enough about your company. Over time, your SEO agency will become something of an expert about your business and your audiences, in the meantime, you need to provide enough details to get your SEO strategy up and running.

  • Your website URL and any associated domains
  • Existing channels (eg: Google Search, Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)
  • Your products/services
  • Locations your business operates in e.g. we’re a Napier SEO agency, but we have clients all over New Zealand and Australia.
  • Your most important products or services
  • Your key selling points
  • The image your brand should convey
  • Any information around keywords that you would like us to include or consider.

If you have brand guidelines then definitely ensure that your send a copy to your SEO agency.

3. Your target audience

Your SEO agency will also learn a great deal about your target audiences over time but you can give them a head start by providing as much relevant info as possible in your brief.

At the very least, draw up a list of general buyer personas – like families with children aged 12 and under living in the north island, couples aged 45+ who have an affinity for Art Deco, equestrian enthusiasts across Australasia, etc.

Include any relevant data you’ve acquired, such as demographics on target audiences (location, age, gender, etc.) or insights gained in the past. For example, if you have data that shows affluent homeowners in certain locations are your highest spenders, include this in your brief.

If you don’t have this kind of information, don’t worry these are the kind of insights your SEO agency can discover for you.

SEO agency report from a brief

4. Your SEO competitors

To maximise your search presence, you have to know who your competitors are and how to beat them, especially the ones currently ranking above you.

SEO Is a zero sum Game – that means that if you’re in position 1 for a specific keyword – your competitors aren’t. Conversely – whoever occupies position number 1 is preventing you from ranking in that first position.

In terms of SEO – everyone in those search results is a competitor and we can break competitors into two specific groups:-

  • Business rivals: These are the direct business rivals who are trying to sell to the same target audiences as you with similar products or services.
  • Search rivals: Companies competing against you for keywords – they might be your affiliates or they might be a company that sells something different or target a different audience.

Let’s say you sell eBike Tours In Hawke’s Bay, and you target keywords like “Bike Tour Napier”. You’re going to compete against other companies selling direct to your customer base, you might encounter Online Travel Agents, and you might find affiliates.

In this specific example – we want to outrank everyone. We also want our affiliates to rank above our competitors, because:-

  • Direct bookings provide the highest margin and we get 1st party data for our wider digital strategy
  • If customers prefer to book through an OTA, we would rather keep the sale at a reduced margin that lose our competitors

Understanding these kind of nuances of your business help us to formulate your wider SEO strategy to ensure we’re maximising all possible returns.

5. Set Your SEO Budget

Establishing a realistic SEO budget is crucial. It’s important to understand that the most significant expense in search optimisation often comes from content creation, including copywriting, design, and website development. While automation technology now efficiently manages many aspects of technical SEO, such as link audits and reporting, the strategic implementation and creative tasks remain predominantly manual and require substantial investment.

As an all-encompassing SEO agency, we offer a single point of contact for managing your SEO needs. This includes comprehensive reporting, timely content updates, engaging design, professional copywriting, and robust website development. Knowing your budget enables us to tailor a service schedule that aligns with both your objectives and financial constraints.

Specifically, copywriting for SEO, website design, and development are labour-intensive tasks that demand the most resources. We ensure these processes are handled with the utmost care and professionalism, directly influencing your site’s performance and ranking. By setting a clear budget, you empower us to devise a strategy that maximises your investment, ensuring every aspect of your SEO campaign is optimised for success.

6. Your SEO history

The final thing your SEO brief should include is your full search marketing history. Above all, if you’ve ever had any search penalties or warnings from Google, your SEO agency will need to know about them.

If you’ve worked with other agencies in the past, everything they did should be considered when devising your next strategy. Most of this information can be revealed via SEO audits but the more info you can provide upfront, the better.


In conclusion, crafting a detailed SEO brief is not just a preliminary step in your collaboration with an SEO agency; it’s a strategic investment in the future of your digital presence. By clearly defining your goals, brand, target audience, competitors, budget, and SEO history, you lay the groundwork for a partnership that can significantly enhance your online visibility and drive meaningful results.

Investing time and effort into this process can lead to a substantial return on investment. Businesses that align their SEO strategies closely with their overall business objectives often see a marked improvement in organic traffic, higher conversion rates, and, ultimately, an increase in revenue.

Remember, the clarity and detail you provide in your SEO brief directly contribute to the effectiveness of your search engine marketing strategy, making it a crucial component of your digital marketing efforts.

If you need any help in compiling an SEO agency brief – feel free to get in touch with FizzyPop and we’d be delighted to help.

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