CRO for eCommerce: Is It Worth It? Costs of Continuous Testing

Is CRO worth it for your business? Learn more about the costs involved and average eCommerce pricing to make the best choice for your website.

When it comes to digital marketing strategies for your eCommerce site, perhaps nothing provides as much of a return as conversion rate optimization (CRO). In fact, one study estimates that return at an average of 223%.

But, when you’re already investing in tactics like SEO, PPC, and social media marketing, finding room in your budget for a comprehensive CRO strategy can be difficult — even more so when you don’t know what to expect.

In this guide, we’ll help you better understand the facts and figures behind this marketing tactic. By the end of this piece, you’ll have a clearer answer to the question, “Is CRO worth it for my business?”  — so you can make the best business decision for your eCommerce store.

Get ready to learn:

  • How much different CRO options cost
  • Which factors will impact your overall pricing
  • And whether this investment is worth it for your business

Table of Contents

CRO Costs: Why No Two Programs are the Same

Although we’d love to talk dollars and cents off the bat, the truth is that it’s frankly impossible to say exactly what your CRO efforts are going to cost. 

That’s because no two CRO projects are the same. 

Depending on your website, your products, and your target audience, wildly different efforts may be necessary to generate the results you’re looking for. 

For some eCommerce sites, the solutions are very basic, like relocating the add to cart button. For others, it can be something more nuanced, like building trust in your target audience through long-term marketing campaigns and site updates.

Let’s consider two examples from our client list:

  1. Quick and easy fix: TrailCamPro was able to increase its sales by 20% by prominently posting free shipping and return notifications. Prior to this update, customers didn’t know the company even offered this feature; their new knowledge of it was quickly reflected in the revenue increase after our update.
  2. More complicated, long-term project: For Mountain House, our team leveraged user-generated content (UGC) to ultimately increase sales by 13% — but finding out where that social proof should be positioned took several tests (some of which resulted in smaller lifts, no lifts at all, or even a decrease in sales).

To create the most effective eCommerce conversion rate optimization strategy for each client, many agencies (including Inflow) offer a range of services. You’ll need to understand what these are and how they work before you can start comparing costs from agency to agency.

Here at Inflow, we offer two types: a one-time audit and a continuous testing program

1. CRO Audit

An eCommerce CRO audit is a one-time investment that reveals your site’s biggest opportunities for improvement — and, in most cases, the less expensive approach to conversion rate optimization.

It typically includes four steps:

  1. Understanding your business
  2. Auditing your site
  3. Presenting recommendations
  4. Reviewing site changes before launch

While an audit always involves a personal review of your site, many recommendations are made based on an agency’s running list of industry standards. For example, Inflow’s CRO experts have spent hundreds of hours creating a Best in Class list of practices, which guide all of our client work.

Using that list, we evaluate every single page template of your site (homepage, category pages, product pages, etc.), reviewing metrics and factors like:

  • Bounce rates
  • Cart abandonment rates
  • User experience (UX) features
  • Calls to action (CTAs)
  • Chatbots and live chat
  • Site coding
  • Product descriptions
  • Product images
  • Checkout processes
  • Customer reviews
  • Pop-ups and banners
  • Shopping cart pages
  • And more

Then, our team delivers a list of one-time recommendations for your site, including the changes most likely to result in significantly higher conversion rates. 

It’s important to remember that a one-time audit does not include A/B testing, which can often be the secret ingredient for maximum improvement.

Still, a one-time CRO audit might be best for your eCommerce website if you:

  • Have a very low conversion rate
  • Have never had an outside CRO audit
  • Don’t have enough traffic to justify monthly CRO efforts

In short, a CRO audit is a great choice for small or medium businesses that are looking to improve their profitability on a budget — or, on the other hand, bigger brands looking for optimization opportunities that they can test and implement with their own in-house team.

2. Continuous Testing

In contrast to a one-time CRO audit, a continuous testing program involves ongoing A/B tests to improve conversion rates for site visitors. 

With this kind of program, strategists continuously run multiple tests on your website, tweaking your CRO strategy in real-time for steady improvement. 

While these services are more expensive, it’s worth it, especially for larger eCommerce websites. You’ll see significant and steady improvement in your sales through the program, as your experts hone in on your customers’ experience and their unique online shopping behavior.

Dollars & Cents: What You Can Expect to Pay for CRO

Now that you know what CRO services entail and why they vary from client to client, it’s time to get into the numbers.

Using our own package rates and those from competitors in the industry, we’ve compiled typical conversion rate optimization prices below, based on a few specific business factors:

Ongoing CRO Testing

  • Tier 1: $3,000–$6,000 per month 
    • Website size: Small or mid-size eCommerce sites
    • Monthly traffic: 50,000+ visitors per month
    • Annual revenue: $10–30 million
  • Tier 2: $6,000–$10,000
    • Website size: Mid-size or large eCommerce sites
    • Traffic: 1+ million visitors per month
    • Annual revenue: $30–50 million
  • Tier 3: $10,000–$30,000 per month
    • Website size: Enterprise-level eCommerce sites
    • Traffic: 100+ million visitors per month
    • Annual revenue: $50+ million

Remember, the more complicated your project, the more you can expect to pay. If your scope of work is less (or more) than an agency’s typical engagement, your program costs will reflect that.

The best way to really understand how much CRO costs for your needs is by requesting quotes from several professionals. You’ll get a better idea of how far your budget will go — and what kind of results you can expect for those services (more on that later).

One-Time CRO Audit

Typically, an a la carte CRO audit costs between 150% and 300% of an agency’s typical monthly fee. However, additional services may increase that project cost.

Let’s say you choose to conduct user testing during your audit. User testing can be done cheaply (with a DIY method) or in an expensive manner (with a live test lab and costly staff and equipment). For example, a program like Foresee Results — which collects feedback from live website visitors to “audit” your site — can easily cost upwards of $50,000, depending on your site size.

Like with an ongoing CRO testing program, you’ll need to request quotes from several professionals for an accurate pricing estimate.

The 3 Main Costs of CRO

So, why does CRO cost so much?

Like with most digital marketing services, there are three important factors that influence a CRO program’s pricing.

1. CRO Professional

You have several options for your CRO professional. You could choose to use an agency, hire an outside contractor, or run some initial tests in-house.

As demonstrated above, a digital marketing agency is often the most expensive of these options — but for good reason. An agency maintains a team of trained CRO specialists, who perform website tests day in and day out. They’re up to date on the latest industry trends (thanks to working with so many clients), and they’ll bring that knowledge to your engagement.

For this reason, an agency typically provides the most bang for your buck. While pricier than your other options, the detailed and experienced services are more likely to result in a substantial revenue increase.

If your budget isn’t ready for the commitment of an agency program, you have two other options:

  • Contractor/Freelancer: Most CRO contractors work on an hourly basis, and you’ll find a wide range of options for your budget. However, you get what you pay for here. Be wary of any consultants charging extremely low rates (anything under $50 an hour); they may not have the experience needed to manage a comprehensive testing program or deliver real results for your business. Instead, look for contractors with a substantial portfolio and a detailed proposal for your site. Typically, these experts can cost anywhere from $150 to $300 an hour.
  • In-house: If your budget is severely limited, we recommend saving your money and running a few tests on your own instead. Recognize that your results will be limited with this option, too, and you’ll still need to pay your development team and for a testing program (read more below). There are a few ways you can develop your test ideas:
    • By purchasing a one-time audit from an agency
    • By researching industry best practices (like our list of DIY eCommerce CRO tactics)

Because CRO can be a hefty investment of both money and time, consider all of your options for improving your eCommerce website’s profitability before committing to a CRO solution. Always review a few competing agencies, as well as freelance options, before signing any contract.

2. Testing Tools & Software

In order to successfully run CRO tests, you need a testing program. These programs and tools can sometimes cost thousands per month, but they’re crucial for delivering statistically significant results.

A testing tool allows your CRO professional to test several site changes at the same time without harming your current user experience. For example, a testing tool can present two separate calls to action to your site visitors. By displaying these simultaneously to a subset of your audience, the tool eliminates as many confounding variables as possible.

Like the price of CRO agencies, the price of your CRO testing program will vary based on your site size and needs. Many offer custom subscription plans built specifically for your business. 

Some examples include:

Keep in mind: Many CRO agencies will require you to cover the cost of these external tools (in addition to their own service costs), so they can test and implement changes on your site. But, here at Inflow, we use a proprietary A/B testing tool to build tests directly into your site — no extra fees required.

Therefore, make sure to discuss any testing program fees as part of your CRO agency evaluation process.

Note: A testing program is often not required for a CRO audit. If you choose this service option, you’ll save your team thousands of dollars in expenses.

3. Development Work

Finally, you need to consider the costs of hiring a development team (or increasing the engagement for your existing team).

Depending on your choice of professional, it may be your responsibility to implement changes to your site during tests and after those tests are complete. Not all agencies or contractors have the capability to complete this step for you, which will add another cost to your total price.

As you’re considering a CRO testing program, talk with your development team. How much extra bandwidth do they have? How much will those extra services cost?

Figure that into your decision-making process.

Is CRO Testing Worth It for Your Website?

Bottom line: CRO testing is an investment, which means your website needs to be ready to profit from this venture before you get started.

Therefore, CRO testing is usually only a good choice for mature eCommerce businesses that not only have a good sense of their customers but also know how to bring in enough shoppers and sales to be profitable in the first place. The more stable your site revenue, the more likely the high investment cost of CRO will be worth it — and will be able to drive the results you’re looking for.

When considering CRO services for your business, remember to ask yourself these questions first:

1. Is your online store generating enough traffic and sales?

CRO agencies need substantial traffic to run tests on a site — and enough baseline conversions from that traffic to provide statistical significance for the results. 

Typically, we recommend sites should only consider CRO when they have at least 50,000 monthly website visitors and at least 100 monthly conversions.

If your site has less than that, the money spent on a testing program simply won’t be worth it. You won’t be able to generate statistically significant results, and you’ll be better off simply following CRO best practices (without the A/B testing portion).

2. Is there space in your marketing budget?

If you want the best results from a CRO project, the best choice is a continuous testing program. However, if you don’t have the budget for a six-month commitment, consider a one-time CORE audit. 

Either way, be prepared to invest in your CRO — not expect a “get rich quick” solution. If you’re struggling to afford the costs of CRO in the first place, you won’t have the flexibility required to support the scaling up and down of your scope of work, not to mention the additional software and development costs involved.

3. Are you willing and able to make changes to your website?

Successful CRO depends on making changes to your website to make it more friendly for potential customers. 

If your website can’t be easily changed (maybe stakeholders are committed to its current design or administrative control makes updates hard), a CRO program is not the right choice for you. Similarly, if you have no room in your budget for increased work from your development team, all the tests you run will be for naught.

4. Are you ready for a long-term investment?

Like many digital marketing strategies, CRO is all about the long game. The right program will slowly convert more customers over time to steadily build up revenue increases. 

Yes, you can expect to see significant results within six months — but those results will accrue slowly, not suddenly spike. 

The longer you stick with CRO, the more stable those results will be, helping your brand become more profitable over the long term. For example, Inflow’s clients see an average of 20-30% increase in sales within six months of using our continuous testing service, with more substantial results for longer engagements. 

Get Custom CRO Pricing Today

If you’ve answered “yes” to all of the questions above, it’s time to start researching and pricing out your potential options. See where you might carve money for CRO out of your marketing budget, and review our case studies to see just why that money might be worth it for your brand.

Whether you’re ready to start a CRO program or simply want to know more about Inflow’s pricing structure, our team is always happy to help. Request a free proposal now to get started.

SEM Strategies When Your Brand is a Wholesaler and Retailer


Paid search marketing requires a lot of nuance, whether you’re figuring out how best to use automation, which keyword match types to use in your campaigns, or how to define your bidding KPIs.


Paid search marketing requires a lot of nuance, whether you’re figuring out how best to use automation, which keyword match types to use in your campaigns, or how to define your bidding KPIs.

Content Consolidation & Pruning: Benefits, How-To, & Examples

Learn how your eCommerce site can benefit from content consolidation and pruning — and follow our step-by-step process to get started

If a little is good, a lot is better, right?

Not always.

It’s common for new digital marketers and SEOs to believe that more content on a website is always better. After all, it shows depth and breadth and gives crawlers more places to look!

But, if that content is low-quality or redundant, your optimization efforts would be better off without it.

Finding low performers among potentially thousands of pages can be challenging. Knowing which ones to merge or prune can be an even bigger headache.

Today, we’re going to share the strategies we follow when it comes to consolidating and pruning content for our eCommerce SEO clients. This step-by-step process will show you how to get started in order to see greater impressions, clicks, and even revenue with improved content density.

Along the way, we’ll also tell you how this process helped one of our clients see a 70% increase in impressions and a 92% increase in clicks — results you could emulate for your site with a few easy updates.

What is Content Consolidation?

Before we get too deep into the process, let’s understand what content consolidation is.

In short, content consolidation involves taking low-performing webpages (often targeting similar keywords or discussing similar topics) and merging them into one, to streamline content marketing and SEO efforts. 

Here’s a common scenario: 

Let’s say your eCommerce site has been around a while. During this time, you’ve been creating content regularly to keep your audience informed and to keep the crawl bots happy with new information. 

Even with the best content marketing strategies, it’s likely you’ll eventually reproduce pieces that cover some of the same topics.

Remember that a search engine results page (SERP) will usually only show one or two results from a website for any given request. That means that, if you have duplicate, redundant, or thin content, your own website might be competing against itself for search engine rankings — not just with your competitors’ sites.

Conducting a complete content audit is a great starting point to understanding the current state of your site’s pages. Once you have a clearer lay of the land (and know which low performers to focus on), you’ll be able to develop initiatives to clean up your content and provide more value to your customers — often, through content consolidation.

Benefits of Content Consolidation: An eCommerce Case Study

Removing subpar website content (also called content pruning) can seem like a small effort — but it can lead to big results in your SEO.

Take our client BlueWater Technologies, which came to us looking for greater engagement on their web pages. During our initial audit, we identified two pages that contained similar content and were good candidates for consolidation.

After updating and merging them, we conducted a five-week test period to see what the results might yield. In that time frame, we saw a 70% increase in clicks per day and a 92% increase in impressions!

Test results comparing two two-month time periods. Clicks per day: Control period. 0.88. Test Period. 1.5. Change. 70.27 percent. Impressions Per Day: Control Period. 306.38. Test Period. 589.83. Change. 92.52 percent. Average position: Control Period 50.02. Test Period: 47.09. Click Through Rate: Control Period. 0.29 percent. Test Period. 0.25 percent. Queries per day: Control Period. 67. Test Period. 106.

It was clear that the two pages were cannibalizing each other’s rankings and damaging their digital marketing efforts. Now, with a single dedicated page for that information, this eCommerce site is on its way to better revenue and engagement.

Keep in mind: These improvements were the result of consolidating just two pages into one. 

Can you imagine how many more clicks and impressions you can get when you take on your entire website?

How to Consolidate Website Content

Quality content over quantity of content is the name of the game for this website upgrade. 

During pruning and consolidation, we want to remove low-performing pages that are doing more harm than good — in turn, making it easier for search engines and your audience to find the content they’re looking for. 

Below, we’ll introduce you to the step-by-step process our team uses to consolidate and prune website content, so that you can improve your eCommerce website’s SEO strategy & boost link-building efforts, too. 

These steps include:

  1. Identifying potential candidates
  2. Choosing whether to consolidate or prune
  3. Creating a consolidation content brief
  4. Updating your content
  5. Redirecting the pruned URL

Step 1: Identify potential candidates for consolidation.

Any duplicate content and cannibalizing pages tend to surface during our comprehensive content audit. That’s because, while we’re gathering the data for the audit, we start to notice similar URLs, which tips us off to potentially parallel content. 

Most websites have duplicate content in their blog posts. But, when it comes to eCommerce websites, you also need to assess other types of content, including product and category pages and internal search results.

For example, if you sell knives and knife paraphernalia, your product categories could be sheaths and knife sheaths, or perhaps large knife sheaths, medium knife sheaths, and small knife sheaths. Over time, some of this content could start mirroring other pages, which can hinder the performance of all involved.

While a complete content audit is the best way to collect this information, there are other ways to find consolidation and content pruning opportunities, if you’re not opting for that level of deep dive quite yet. 

Some of these tools are:

The Search Analytics for Sheets Chrome plugin

Between a content audit and these website survey tools, you’ll end up with a good list of potential candidates for the next step.

If you’re ready to DIY a full website content audit, download our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit for free templates and a step-by-step guide.

Download our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit Now. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Step 2: Choose whether to consolidate or prune completely.

Once we have our list of URLs, we consider multiple metrics and purposes to choose the best path forward for each.

There’s no black and white way to determine whether a page is worth merging or whether pruning content would be better.

Start by reviewing your existing content for thin, duplicated, obsolete, or outdated pieces, along with lonely pages that don’t get any website traffic. Then, make a list of URLs to examine further. 

Once you have that list, review important KPIs for each piece. Determine whether the page is receiving organic traffic or revenue, as well as the amount of dwell time, high bounce rates, or cannibalization of keywords by similar pages. 

Sometimes, the best thing is to remove or deindex a page entirely. In most cases, however, there will be some content worth saving that can be moved to another page; you just have to identify what that is.

For example, if you’re getting a decent amount of impressions but hardly any clicks, does that content need to be updated or deleted? (An update to your meta description might be the better first step.) 

If you’re getting clicks but no further activity and no revenue, how can you improve the on-page content itself? 

For duplicate or similar pages, which is performing the best? How can you best merge the content and topics of each so as to point all relevant traffic to a single page, funnel link equity, and boost rankings?

Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your SEO marketing team.

Step 3: Create a consolidation content brief.

Once you’ve decided which pages need to merge, you have to decide how best to do so.

Review all related posts, and determine which content is unique to each and which is duplicated. By first identifying the goal of the new, consolidated piece, you can then arrange the combined content so that it provides value to your customers. 

During this process, you should also conduct research on your target keywords and identify other SEO improvements, so that those goals are incorporated into the new, improved content as well. 

You can make this process more organized with a content brief that gathers the content from both pages, reevaluates keyword targeting and SEO possibilities, and clearly identifies the intent of the page.

Step 4: Update your content.

When it comes to updating your content, focus on bringing the best of the related pieces together and cutting out the redundancies, while prioritizing user experience. 

For example, if you’ve previously published blog posts that answer multiple customer questions on disparate pages, bringing them together into one FAQ page will provide more value to your audience.  

Best practices for updating your pages include balancing value-forward content for your customers with technical SEO-focused efforts. We have a few resources that might help you, including our SEO copywriting guide and an eCommerce copywriting guide.

And don’t forget the benefits of improving the content structure. Adding visuals/headers/subheaders and breaking up big blocks of text with ample white space goes a long way in boosting the content itself.

As you create new content for your site, keep these guidelines in mind. If you want to add to or update old content you’ve already published, don’t reinvent the wheel. Take the outdated content and optimize it for the current state of the market to avoid cannibalization.

eCommerce Content Optimization Checklist. 1. Rewrite or expand on-page content. 2. Update your product descriptions. 3. Add new images or videos. 4. Prune old, underperforming content. 5. Add user-generated content. 6. Refresh your content for accuracy. 7. Improve your content structure. 8. Update your CTAs. 9. Optimize your metadata. 10. Add internal links and remove broken links. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Step 5: Redirect the pruned URL.

Once you’ve spent all that time researching, pruning, and consolidating, you arrive at the most important part — redirecting the URL!

Without taking the time to set up a redirect, the pieces of content will continue to compete with each other, split up traffic, and prevent any SEO gains.

Removing, deindexing, and redirecting URLs are some of the biggest possible improvements for the least amount of time and effort invested. Remember: Your site authority is determined by all of your indexed pages. If you have content on your site that is not bringing value, it might be dragging your whole site down with it.

Check out our step-by-step guide to 301 redirects now.

Start Improving Your Content Performance Today

With just a few simple steps, you can start realizing improvements in impressions and clicks, just as our clients have. Keep this guide handy during your SEO strategy planning, so you can quickly follow these five steps whenever an opportunity arises.

These easy fixes are an important and effective part of any SEO content strategy. To flesh out your site’s strategy, we recommend downloading our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit. It will give you a thorough look into maximizing your SEO efforts and identifying which pages should be pruned or consolidated on your site. 

Not sure where to start with your content consolidation strategy? Let Inflow’s team of eCommerce SEO experts craft a customized SEO approach just for your website. 

Request a free proposal today to get started.

Why Branding Investment is Essential to the Success of Performance Media

In today’s digital landscape, brands typically (and ideally) pursue a full-funnel strategy, connecting with consumers from the initial research stages through to the actual moment of purchase.  In the reality of the current economy, there isn’t always …

In today’s digital landscape, brands typically (and ideally) pursue a full-funnel strategy, connecting with consumers from the initial research stages through to the actual moment of purchase.  In the reality of the current economy, there isn’t always enough to realistically fund a full-funnel strategy. When that happens and budgets get cut, branding efforts are usually the first to go as brands strive for bottom-line growth.

2022 Loyalty Barometer: Building Loyalty Requires More Than a Loyalty Program

Our Loyalty Barometer Report covers emerging loyalty topics and examines how consumer mindsets are shifting, so brands can ensure their customer strategies are current and relevant. In the fifth annual report, we took an expanded view of loyalty, looki…

Our Loyalty Barometer Report covers emerging loyalty topics and examines how consumer mindsets are shifting, so brands can ensure their customer strategies are current and relevant. In the fifth annual report, we took an expanded view of loyalty, looking at how consumers feel about loyalty programs and understanding their view of loyalty within the customer experience and brand messaging.

Is it Time for a Martech Upgrade? 3 Steps to Understand the Path Forward

Navigating the current marketing technology (martech) landscape can be overwhelming and difficult. Sifting through all of the different vendors and capabilities available could leave your organization thinking it’s time for a technology upgrade. New te…

Navigating the current marketing technology (martech) landscape can be overwhelming and difficult. Sifting through all of the different vendors and capabilities available could leave your organization thinking it’s time for a technology upgrade. New technology and implementations are often expensive and take valuable time and resources, so before making the decision to upgrade, it is important to evaluate your organization’s current martech stack to ensure the most effective and financially wise investments are made.

How to Create an SEO Content Brief: Free Downloadable Template

In our how-to guide on creating SEO content briefs, we give you a step-by-step process, a successful case study, and a free downloadable template.

Whether you’re creating a piece of SEO content from scratch or updating a piece affected by content decay, you can’t just jump straight into writing. Instead, you must put in the preemptive work, evaluating your readers’ needs and the SEO opportunities for that particular landing page.

For most businesses, this means creating an SEO content brief.

Today, we’ll walk you through the five integral factors to include in your content briefs for maximum organic search performance. We’ll also share our in-house template (available to download for free!), so you can replicate the results our eCommerce SEO clients see daily.

Let’s get started.

What is an SEO Content Brief?

An SEO content brief is an outline for your content, incorporating not just key parts of the usual writing process but also important factors for search engine optimization.

Every team’s brief will look different. As you advance your content marketing strategy, you’ll identify which aspects are more (or less) important to your team, whether your content writers are in-house or outsourced.

When you’re just getting started, we recommend creating as in-depth a brief as possible. That way, you can tweak your template as you discover what your team does (or doesn’t) need during the writing process.

Typically, an SEO content brief will include:

  • A content outline
  • Alt text suggestions for images
  • Target keywords
  • Updated metadata (page titles and meta descriptions)
  • Insights on competitor content
  • Suggested topics to cover
  • And more

Download our SEO Content Brief Template below as a starting point.

Download our SEO Content Brief Template Now. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert.

Why Content Optimization & Re-optimization is Key

You can have the best-written content in the world — but, if you don’t optimize that content with SEO tactics, it can get buried in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and never get seen by your target audience.

By incorporating SEO techniques into your drafting (or rewriting) process, you make it easier for search engines to recognize the value of your content, giving your pages a leg up on your competition.

Remember that Google’s algorithm is always changing, serving up new results in the SERPs as it sees fit. Using an SEO content brief for your content decay strategy allows you to improve your existing content based on what’s working now, not when the original content was published.

Take, for example, a blog post on Restorative Practices in Schools that we recently updated for our client Next Generation Learning Challenges. While the original content was extremely well-written and in-depth for readers, it wasn’t very digestible for readers and search engine bots.

By improving key SEO factors — metadata, keywords, etc. — and reorganizing the copy with better headers and images, we aimed to drive more organic traffic to the page.

And it worked.

After we implemented our brief in late September 2021, year-over-year traffic improved by about 428%, with a 420% increase in new users to the site!

Screenshot of Google Analytics report for a URL, comparing September 29, 2021, through January 31, 2022, to September 29, 2020, through January 31, 2021. The line graph of sessions for the former period outperforms the latter, with an increase of 427% year over year.

The blog’s keyword footprint improved as well, almost doubling since the page update:

Ahrefs organic keyword footprint report. Highlighted is the date September 28, 2021, after which the keyword footprint dramatically increases.

With the right content brief, just a few hours of work can pay off in dividends, as this example shows. 

So, let’s talk about the key points of the brief that made this update work — and help you start crafting your SEO content briefs today.

How to Create an SEO-Focused Content Brief

As mentioned above, your SEO content brief will be unique to your team’s needs. You may need more detail in each brief as you begin, and then slowly reduce the amount of time and data you incorporate before the writing process.

Whatever you do, make sure to include the following important aspects every time. That way, you’ll maximize your organic performance and keep your content high-quality for your readers.

  1. Identify Your Goals.
  2. Conduct Keyword Research.
  3. Review Competing Content.
  4. Identify Multimedia Opportunities.
  5. Add Original Content & Notes.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals.

Before you start writing or even drafting your content, you need to decide what your goals will be.

Obviously, improving your organic performance (traffic, sessions, etc.) is part of this. But you also need to take into consideration your audience, brand voice, buyer personas, their buyer stage, and their needs.

Remember: You’re not creating content for Google. You’re creating content to educate and inform your readers about your products, services, and brand.

Consider writing a brief statement for each piece of content, identifying the page’s goals and how it will serve your audience. Don’t forget to include a statement on how this content will help you achieve your business goals, too.

Here’s an example for this blog:

“The goal of this content is to help readers understand the different aspects of an SEO content brief, so they can replicate it on their own. By offering a free downloadable template, we can help our readers kickstart their own SEO strategy. Because this is a top-of-funnel piece, most of these readers will be developing their own strategy from scratch or, contrarily, look to improve their existing processes. This blog will not only provide value to those readers; it will also add to Inflow’s position as a thought leader and go-to resource within the industry.”

Step 2: Conduct Keyword Research.

The base of any good content brief is your keywords. By deciding which phrases and terms to target, you can better control where your pages end up in the SERPs — and ensure that your content addresses your readers’ needs.

This research is a vital part of the content creation process. It will not only help you determine search intent and find related keywords but also subtopics that need to be included when writing content. Take advantage of free and paid keyword research tools, from Ahrefs to Google Search Console.

Many new digital marketers start by going after high-volume keywords in hopes of drawing in as much traffic as possible. For the highest-quality traffic with the most potential, we recommend using an intent-focused content strategy, instead.

Let’s take this blog as an example. It can be tempting to target keywords like “content brief,” which overshadow more niche phrases in terms of search volume. But, by focusing on lower-volume, long-tail keywords like “SEO content brief” and “SEO content brief template,” we more accurately represent our content to search engines and have less competition.

Keyword report for "content brief" keywords. Highlighted are phrases "S E O content brief" with search volume 30 and "S E O content brief template" with search volume of 20.

Of course, a well-rounded keyword strategy will also include a few of those higher-volume search terms for relevancy, even if they’re not the primary keywords.

For more guidance on selecting your primary and secondary keywords, read our advanced keyword research strategy now.

Step 3: Review Competing Content.

As you create your brief, don’t forget to review your competitors. Understanding which content is currently being served in the SERPs can help you improve your own. 

Look for content opportunities like:

  • Headings and subheadings
  • Popular image and video types
  • Featured snippets (like “People Also Ask” and other highlighted sections)

For example, when looking at competing content for this blog, we see that most results in the SERPs follow a “how-to” structure, with a list of aspects to include. If we hadn’t already planned to structure our piece in that way, we would consider changing up the outline to better reflect those pages in the results.

Google search results for S E O content brief. Results include a People Also Ask section, as well as organic results: How to Write an S E O -Focused Content Brief, How to Write a Better S E O Content Brief, Most Powerful Way to Create an S E O Content Brief, How to Write an S E O Content Brief: 10 Essential Elements.

Be wary of becoming a copycat, though. There are thousands of content mills out there that use AI and other tactics to quickly churn out almost identical content to what’s ranking in the SERPs. 

Your goal is to provide something new in this space, whether it’s by structuring your content differently, incorporating additional resources (like a free template), or taking a stance that goes against conventional wisdom.

If it doesn’t work, you can always reoptimize your content with a different strategy later on.

Step 4: Identify Multimedia Opportunities.

No one wants to read a block of text. So, as you’re creating your content brief and outline of topics, identify opportunities to add multimedia elements (like screenshots, video embeds, and infographics).

If you’re reoptimizing an old piece of content, review the images currently on the page. Should they be replaced with more modern versions? Are they really serving any value to your readers — or are they stock images you could find on any run-of-the-mill site?

Work to make your multimedia as unique and valuable as possible. It may take more time to create new images than simply use the old, but fresh multimedia will keep your readers on the page longer.

Don’t forget about alt text, which describes an image and makes your content more accessible for readers who are visually impaired.

Step 5: Add Original Content & Make Notes.

Now that you’ve done all the preemptive work, it’s time to update your content outline — or, if you’re reoptimizing a piece, add in your existing content and make some notes.

An outline is crucial to delivering a piece that meets your goals and standards (even more so if you’re outsourcing your writing to freelancers). The more detail you can provide in each section, the more on-target the final product will be.

Go through your outline or existing content with a fine-toothed comb before you start making edits, noting opportunities for:

  • Content length
  • Important topics to cover
  • Keyword usage
  • Multimedia placement
  • Internal and external links (with proper anchor text)
  • Brand mentions and CTAs

If you haven’t already, create brand standards and copywriting guidelines to reduce edits and rewrites later on.

Putting Your Briefs Into Action

While it’s tempting to “save time” and jump right into the writing/editing process, an SEO content brief will actually save your content team wasted hours later on. And, since SEO is a long game, the better your content is when first published, the better results you’ll see and fewer pain points you’ll run into.

To help you get started, we’ve created an SEO content brief template that you can download today for free. 

Download Our
SEO Content Brief Template Now

Our template is always evolving, and so should yours. Use this version as a starting point, and don’t be afraid to add and remove certain aspects based on what works best for your content creators.

When you’re ready to dive in on your content writing or rewriting, we’ve got plenty of other resources to help:

The Data Framework Needed to Power Real-time Decisioning

This is part of a series of blog posts about the Merkle Connected CX Cloud, and how this solution addresses the key use cases and most critical challenges our clients face in achieving a robust ROI from their CX technologies, practices, and strategies….

This is part of a series of blog posts about the Merkle Connected CX Cloud, and how this solution addresses the key use cases and most critical challenges our clients face in achieving a robust ROI from their CX technologies, practices, and strategies. Read part one here.