Drawing up the terms of reference for the copywriter is a large and scrupulous analytical work, which, as a result, bears fruit: the performer dives deeply into the topic, and you get the text you expected. It is enough to prescribe a significant part of the technical specification once - these are the rules and requirements that must be adhered to, regardless of the type of content and topic.
In total, the detailed study of the technical task takes a lot of time. But then you do not have to conduct a lot of days of correspondence with the copywriter, explaining and proving that their writing does not meet your expectations and the material needs to be redone for the eleventh time.
Decide on a site for posting content
If you need to update old content on a website or text for a new page that has already been created, post a link to it. After reviewing other materials on the portal, it will be much easier for the author to create content that matches the general style and manner of writing.
Describe the topic and the objectives of the text
What type of content do you need? For the blog, for the main page, for a specific section, for the media, for social networks, product cards?
What is the task of the text? Sell, inform, remove objections, involve?
What type of content do you need? Advertising, advertising and informational, informational? Genre affiliation depends on the site of the future publication and its goals.
Answer these questions and formulate your specific requirement, for example:
Collect the semantic core and the thematic (LSI) phrases
If writing content is one of the steps in SEO promotion, then in the TOR it is necessary to indicate which keywords to use by the performer for specific text on the web page. To collect a good semantic core, SEOs use special paid and free (Yandex.Wordstat, Google Keyword Planner) services, and also collect the most relevant keywords manually.
The structure of the text is based on the collected semantic core. The most important words go to the heading and subheadings, less important words are evenly distributed throughout the text in direct / indirect occurrences. Why do you need to know this? If you want to get a structured material, then in the TOR you need to paint the structure of the text with a ready-made heading and subheadings or draw up an assignment for their writing, for example:
In order for the author not to deviate from the topic and write the material in accordance with your expectations and the expectations of the reader, you additionally need to collect and indicate LSI phrases - thematic words and phrases that increase the correspondence of the web page with the text to the request of the Internet user. For example, for the keyword “submersible pumps”, the following LSI phrases can be used:
How to design a list of keywords simply and clearly:
What to do if you have no idea what the semantic core is
If you do not believe in the myth that everyone can collect semantics without knowledge and experience, then there are 2 options:
Find an SEO specialist who will audit the site and then collect the semantic core to update the content. They will give you the results of their work, and you can finish drawing up the technical assignment.
Contact a professional IT company that provides comprehensive services, from initial audit or website development to writing optimized and customer-oriented content. In this case, you relieve yourself of the need to draw up a technical task and delve into the intricacies of the process. The site will be filled with new content and ready to sell.
Take a look at the competitors
To better understand what kind of texts you need for the site, look at what and how your competitors in the niche write. Pay attention to the manner of presentation, structure of materials. It is also useful to look at the social networks: often there you can identify topics that most encourage audience engagement, and then reveal them on your portal.
The super four - volume, uniqueness, spaminess, water content
We have already described above what uniqueness, spaminess, water are and why they are important for promotion. You can find a middle ground and specify the values of these parameters that will be relevant for all texts, without exception:
As for the volume, it cannot be averaged. It depends on the topic, the number of main and additional keywords, place on the page and other factors. Sometimes a theme literally requires a full-fledged longread, and sometimes 1000 characters for a category is a lot.
If you have an information portal or blog and there is no strict binding to key queries, then to indicate the volume, you can start from the structure:
the introduction is usually short (up to 500-700 characters);
the blocks with descriptions/techniques/advantages/how to choose - this is from 1000 to 1500 characters);
the block “Why it is worth ordering from us” - 500-700 characters.
“Based on the number of keywords, it is advisable to use 1 key in a direct entry for +/- 1000 characters. For example, you give 4 main keywords and 3-5 thematic blocks in the text structure. The optimal size in this case is 4000-4500 characters without spaces.”
Do you want a cool text on the main page or in the "About Us" section? Do you dream to look like a professional, a reliable and reputable company in the eyes of Internet users? This is impossible if you give the terms of reference for writing such a text, but do not provide any information about yourself (year of foundation, success story, awards / achievements, staff size, USP, key areas of work and the benefits of working with the company).
The performer begins to think out of their head or rewrite the texts of the competitors, and as a result, instead of a selling or a branded content, you get the hackneyed “we are the leaders”, “we are the best”, “we can be trusted” and other watery phrases without a drop of specifics. And this is not the fault of the copywriter if you do not want to provide initial information about the company and do not give it out when they are trying to pull it out of you by asking leading questions.
The main goal of drawing up the structure is to maximize the disclosure of the topic, so that after reading the text, all questions and objections of the reader are closed. There are two options for making future material logically structured:
1. You describe in the TOR what questions should be disclosed, but the structure itself (the volume and sequence of thematic blocks) remains at the discretion of the author. In this case, you cannot make claims such as: “I wanted it first to be about the causes of the disease, and then about the symptoms. And the symptom block should have been larger. ” After submitting the finished work, you have no right to demand from the copywriter a free rework of the text on those points that were not in the TOT.
This option allows you to save time on drafting the terms of reference and is only suitable if you have been cooperating with the author for a long time and are confident in their competence. In all other situations, I recommend using option №2.
2. You completely write the structure:
make up the Н1, Н2 and Н3 or give an assignment, with which keywords they need to be drawn up;
briefly clarify what should be discussed in a specific subheading;
what is the optimal volume;
whether it is necessary to use bulleted lists or quotes in the text, if so, in which blocks.
For how such a structure looks in practice, see the end of this publication.
Presentation, style, literacy
The presentation and style are largely determined by the type and purpose of the content, and, of course, by the wishes of the customer. If you attach a link in the TOR to an article that you like the most in the manner of presentation, most likely you will get a very similar text.
How can you independently issue requirements for informational texts and blog articles:
The literacy is a separate issue. It seems that the absence of grammatical and punctuation errors in the text is a natural requirement that should be followed by default. But no. Copywriters are made, not born. When you contact a performer, you cannot always be sure: are they already a big shark or only a small shark that recently swam out of the harbor of copywriting exchanges. Therefore, the description of literacy requirements, as they say, is a must have. It is also advisable to indicate which services the author should use in order to check the quality of the written material:
You give the TOR for review to the copywriter, then the deadlines for the delivery of the finished material are negotiated. But often the preparation of the terms of reference is delayed, and as a result the text was needed “for yesterday”.
Not all performers are able and willing to work under tight deadlines. Therefore, the only way out is to contact a copywriting agency or a large IT company, which has a large staff and a high probability of getting a free author.
If you are an SEO specialist or a project manager and you need a ready-made material for a specific date, then you should specify the deadlines:
In 1-2 weeks, if the text goes to a novice author. What if theydoesn't have time or there will be a lot of mistakes? Leave some time for rework or finding another copywriter.
In 1-3 days if you work with verified authors. Consider your workload in order to have time to check the text and transfer it in the proper form to the customer.
List of things that should not be in the text
This can be a ban on the use of the letter "e" or specific words, for example, a hospital or institution in the text advertising the services of a private clinic. If it is unacceptable for you to use certain words, fonts, etc. in your publication, indicate them in a list.