An Introduction to SEO for Freelance Writers

As a freelance writer, blogger, or content marketer, SEO will be a crucial tool in your kit.

Remember, 93% of online experiences start with a search on Google.

Whether you’re writing content to build your personal brand online, or you want to attract more clients, you’ll need to learn how to speak to the search engines.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you begin working with search engine optimization. Some freelancers fall behind because they forget that the SEO algorithms are constantly changing. Others struggle to stay on top because they’re so busy concentrating on SEO that they forget to deliver content that has value for their audience too.

So, how do you get started with SEO the right way?

Mastering the Basics of SEO Writing

Search Engine Optimization is the process of designing content that can earn the attention of the search engines just as much as your target audience. For written content, the SEO process often starts with finding a phrase or keyword that your target audience is searching for online.

Start by evaluating your target audience. If you have a buyer persona or profile to work with, that will help. Once you know what your reader’s fears, expectations, and needs are, you can begin to think of terms that they might be looking for related to the company you’re writing for. For instance, if you’re writing content for a social media marketing company, you might start with a term like “social media marketing tips”.

  •   Enter your keyword into Google and look for suggestions or inspiration on what to talk about. Check out some of the high-ranking content and look for featured snippets which can attract almost 40% of Google search traffic according to this study.
  •   Input keywords into research tools like Google Keywords Planner or Ahrefs. Try and find a term that gets plenty of search volume with minimal competition. It may sound overwhelming, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. 
  •   Try to avoid keywords that are extremely competitive. It’s impossible to rank for keywords like ‘MasterCard’ if you are trying to write for a local financial advisor. 
  •   Brainstorm ideas of what to write about based on your keywords. Remember to consider the intent of your reader and the problems they want to solve. The intent is more important than the volume of the traffic it brings. There is no point to rank your content for an audience that is not even interested in reading it.

Adding SEO to Your Writing

There’s more to SEO than content. Business leaders looking to thrive in the search engines will need to optimize their website backend for search engine crawling. They’ll also need to work on promoting their content and demonstrating trustworthiness to their clients.

However, the content that you produce can make a massive difference to a site’s ranking potential.

  •   Get the length right: Long-form content over 1000 words often ranks better than shorter pieces. That’s because you can get in-depth with long-form content and cover more ground. Just make sure that you’re not padding your content with fluff. 
  •   Know where to use your keywords: Keywords need to appear frequently in your content, but not so much that they look unnatural. You’ll need to organically place keywords in your titles and headlines, meta-data (descriptions and titles), image titles, and the body of your content. Remember, only use keywords when they sound natural.
  •   Make the most of links: Backlinks are an essential part of SEO. Link to internal content that you already have on your website to provide the search engines with more information. If you quote a relevant website, link back to that content too.
  •   Don’t forget about social signals: Making your content shareable is a great way to increase your brand’s visibility and expose you to a wider audience online. By attracting more people to your site, it helps increase your Brand’s social proof too.

Remember to Write for Your Audience

One of the biggest challenges of becoming an SEO writer is remembering to walk the line between writing for search engines, and people. Although you’ll need to earn the attention of the search engines with the right keywords, you’ll also need to provide value to readers. 

Delivering high-quality content that answers customer questions and provides value will naturally improve your SEO potential. Like in this example, Jason Snaddon who’s a life coach publishes a regular blog that provides true value to his potential clients. If your audience loves what they read, and are engaged with you will naturally want to share it with other people online. Don’t forget social icons on your profile for readers to easily share your content too!

Customers that appreciate your content will also keep coming back for more content because when people see quality content, they’ll stick around. Fewer readers hitting the back button means a lower bounce rate and better credibility with Google.

Practice Makes Perfect

Freelance writers rely on SEO to create happy clients and attract new customers. Whether you’re producing content for another business or building your own online reputation, it’s important to know how to manipulate the search engines. Just make sure that your SEO strategy doesn’t cause you to forget about your audience.

Remember the algorithms keep changing too. You’ll need to consistently update your knowledge if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

Kat Solukova is the Co-founder and Head of Strategy at Engine Scout, a boutique Digital Marketing Agency based in Melbourne, Australia. Engine Scout helps businesses to generate more sales through the combined power of Google and Social Media.

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