Are you interested to learn about the basics of SEO for freelance writers?
Are you interested to offer SEO Writing as a service to your clients?
Do you understand the basic tactics in ranking for a search engine results page?
If you are just beginning to study more about it, I’m glad you’re here.
Let me share with you the basic terms and information about this niche.
What is the first thing that you do if you want to know about a certain product or service? You search it online, don’t you?
How do you research? Do you use one or two keywords or do you type in the full question?
In my case, I normally type the full question on search engines such as Google or Youtube. This is because I want to make sure that the search results will be completely relevant with my query.
To give you an easy example, let’s say I want to cut short my daughter’s hair. However, I don’t know how to do it.
The first thing I would do is go to Google and type in “How to cut my daughter’s hair short”
Then, Google will show relevant results of my query, but I would normally look at the first page only.
Now, the top results that search engines like Google will show you are called optimized content. Have you ever wondered why these results are on the first page?
That’s where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes in. Through the use of SEO strategies, search engines would recognize your content and will place it on the first page. We will dive further on how your content can be one of the top results on search engine pages.
Why is this important? If you are at the top of search engine results, you can most likely drive organic traffic to your website. This desired reaction may eventually result in a sale, a new subscription, or whatever you are trying to accomplish on your website.
Honestly, there are a lot of helpful articles online about SEO. A lot of them are written by experts and gurus. However, if you are just beginning to study more about it, you may end up being more confused.
I completely understand! Since you are already here, let me help demystify this for you.
Disclaimer: Everything that I’m about to share here is based on my experiences, learnings, and strategies I used as an SEO website copywriter.
In this blog, I will be answering the most common questions in understanding SEO for freelance writers. Also, once you get to the end, you will find that I have included another in-depth training resource about SEO.
WHAT IS SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a strategy used to rank your content or website on top of a search engine’s results page.
One of the most commonly known search engines is Google. Search engines may have different algorithms but in this article, we’ll be focusing on Google’s.
WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?
Now that you know the basic definition of SEO, let’s dig deeper on why it is important.
Studies show that the first 3 pages that come up after a search are the ones most likely clicked or scanned.
For example, you are the “searcher”. You will type in your query on Google. When you see the answer to your question on the first page, would you still scan the next pages? I bet you wouldn’t, right?
You see, that’s why SEO is important. Its goal is to place your content on the top page results to make it more visible to your target audiences. Once your content is shown on the first page of the search engine results, you are more likely to drive traffic to your website.
What is a Search Engine Results Page or SERP?
As you learn more about SEO, you will also often encounter the acronym SERP or Search Engine Results Page.
SERP is part of SEO. When you search on Google using key phrases or what we call keywords, you will see the relevant results on the SERPs.
In this page, search engines will show you either paid results or organic results.
Paid results or sponsored contents normally have an “Ad” icon which means payment was made to show up on the top results.
On the other hand, there are also Organic Results or unpaid contents. This is where SEO makes a significant difference. Key phrases or keywords are strategically used to make the content rank high on search engines. This can potentially drive organic traffic to your website.
As an SEO freelance writer or an entrepreneur, you can either opt for Paid Results or aim for Organic Results. Other businesses would practice both. However, if you are tight in budget but would still want to rank high on SERPs, you can use SEO to your advantage.
Reasons Why Businesses Practice SEO
Needless to say, you’ll often hear or see me talk about ranking on the Search Engine Results Page.
It’s because this is one of the main goals of SEO.
Aside from that, there are also other reasons why they use the strategy of SEO.
To generate Organic Traffic
Organic results drive organic traffic to their website which also means they don’t need to pay any amount. They just need to optimize their content and make it more compelling.
To gain the trust of their audiences
Basically, if you are a searcher and you always see the same content on the first page of SERPs, you would trust that content, right? Most likely you would think that this certain website has reliable results for you.
Some businesses use SEO as their competitive strategy. If their competitors are working on reaching more audiences online, then so should they.
As you might have noticed, savvy business owners observe where their competitors and customers are and hang out in the same place. No business would want to be left behind.
To achieve higher returns on investment
You may be wondering how SEO could help in gaining returns for the business. Well, it’s simple.
Once you rank on the first page of SERPs, you generate organic traffic. Once you get relevant leads to your website, you are more likely to get more sales and/or subscriptions, too.
Through SEO, businesses can also increase brand awareness.
It all starts in optimizing your content for better ranking results.
So if you want to be an SEO freelance writer, it is crucial for you to know what is your client’s specific reason. This way, you will be able to create more reliable and valuable content.
However, there are also important factors that you need to be aware of.
So what are the factors that could affect your ranking on SERPs?
Let’s dive deeper into that …
Factors Affecting SEO Ranking
#1 – Page Loading Speed
Page speed does affect SEO. It affects users’ experience in general.
Who would want to stay in a website that takes too long to load before it shows the results needed, right?
This is also being checked during an SEO Audit.
So you might want to test your page loading speed first to ensure a favorable user experience.
#2 – Mobile – Friendliness
Creating a mobile-friendly version of your site is an advanced way to retain the audience’s interest.
Your text and images should be accessible and readable to mobile users.
Nowadays, the percentage of mobile users seems to be more than the number of desktop viewers.
So if your content’s text appears to be so little or too large on a mobile screen, your audience might lose interest.
#3 – Niche-Relevant Content
It is necessary that you narrow down your niche. Once you already know your niche and who you serve, you build more authority in your industry.
At the same time, you are able to create articles that are related to other contents within your niche.
If you haven’t specified your niche yet, it’s okay. But it is best if you learn that first before you jump into SEO writing.
#4 – Length of URL
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is also known as a web address. An example of a URL is www.motherant.com/freelance-writing. This is the link that you always see on the web address portion.
Some experts would advise that the shorter url, the better.
There are some URLs that include month, date and year which make them too long.
When you put a date on your URL, it affects your audience’s interest, too. Let’s say you’ve published a blog in 2018 but your audience saw it only in 2020. Most probably, they wouldn’t click on your content. They would think that it’s no longer relevant or updated.
#5 -Length of the Content
As some SEO experts say, “the longer the content, the better.”
This would apply to written contents. As a freelance writer, the longer the article is, the better.
Content is the most crucial part of SEO. While you are considering the length, you also have to ensure that you are still producing reliable content.
#6 – Backlinking
Backlinks (also known as inbound links) are links coming from another website page to your website.
This helps you build authority in a certain niche. The more backlinks that you get on your website, the more chances that you appear on high search engine ranking.
#7 – Trust Rate or Brand Power
As mentioned earlier, it is essential that you provide quality content relevant to your niche. If you continuously appear at the top of the search engine results page, the audience would consider you a reliable source.
For this instance, there is more tendency for higher conversion rates.
#8 – Security
If you want to know if you are visiting a secure website, look at their URLs.
A secure website would have an “https” at the beginning. For example, https://motherant.com.
However, if you see a URL that has “http” only, some users might find this quite alarming and not safe to browse.
Website security affects ranking. A search engine’s algorithm usually scans the safety and security of a certain website.
These factors should always be considered as you go through your SEO writing journey. Knowing these factors would serve as your guide in creating quality content.
There are two categories in Search Engine Optimization strategy: On-Page SEO and OFF-PAGE SEO. Both strategies are crucial but have different functions. Let’s break it down.
What is On-Page SEO?
ON-Page SEO is also known as On-Site page.
These are strategies done within the website. It includes adding links to your content or blog post.
As freelance writers, we create and optimize contents of a website in order to rank on search engines.
External Links – inserting links into the blog post from outside sources.
Internal Links – inserting links of pages inside our website.
Aside from adding links to the content, there is also a so-called “Keyword Research”.
Earlier, I mentioned that as users, we use keywords to search for relevant contents on search engines.
As an SEO freelance writer, do keyword research first before you integrate it to your content. Why? Of course, you need to research “quality keywords”.
I won’t go into detail about researching quality keywords because that will be included in the free training that I will endorse you to. Are you excited now?
After looking for keywords, you need to strategically position and add them to headlines, subheading, paragraphs, alt images, and etc.
You will certainly learn more about this topic on the free training source that I will share with you. So hang in there …
I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with all these things but I’m just sharing the basic information to you.
At this stage, are you wondering how many keywords an article should have?
There are some clients that would require a certain number of keywords to be included in a blog post. However, some SEO masters would recommend to only use keywords that are relevant to the content.
At the same time, it is not advisable to do keyword stuffing. In this case, you end up writing for the robot or for the algorithm, and not for humans. That doesn’t sound interesting, right?
What is Off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO includes backlinking. It’s when other web pages are linked into your content.
For example, your content was shared on social media sites. Other people would see your content link from that site. Then, they would click on that link going to your website. Also, if someone from your niche writes a blog post related to your content, they would include your link as their “external links”.
TIP #1: In order to succeed in backlinking strategy, make sure that you provide quality and valuable contents.
If you write quality content, you’re giving your audience a reason to share it outside your website. So, knowing who you write for is a MUST. Once you’re able to captivate the emotion of your audience, they are more likely to share it, say on social media.
Of course, keep in mind that you also need to solve your target audience’s pain points.
TIP #2: Opt for long form content
Just like the one you’re reading right now. Do you think this is long enough?
According to the research done by Buzz Sumo, long form content is more likely to get backlinking. Long blog posts generate better content performance as compared to short form blog posts.
Another way to increase chances of getting a backlink is to do guest posts on another website.
If the website owner allows you to add your link to the blog post, that’s already a win for you.
And, you don’t necessarily have to add too many links going to your web page, one is enough to start with.
Now, you already have a basic understanding of ON-PAGE & OFF-PAGE SEO, do you want to know which is better?
Well, they have separate roles and represent different strategies. I would say that they both go hand in hand.
As an SEO freelance writer, you don’t need to do both. However, if you can practice both strategies, the better.
Why? Because you need to go back to your client’s reasons. If your goal is to have a high tendency of visibility on the first page of SERP, it won’t hurt much if you do both.
But, if you want to do it one at a time, it’s up to you.
There are different approaches in SEO writing depending on the goal of business or client. This includes Black hat SEO and White Hat SEO. In this blog, we will discuss only the BLACK HAT SEO to give you a basic understanding of it and on how to avoid such. You will learn more about WHITE HAT on the training reference I will give you, shortly.
WHAT IS BLACKHAT SEO?
Have you heard about the famous Filipino saying, “Lahat ng sobra, masama”?
Well, that would apply in using the Blackhat SEO strategy.
To better explain this type, here are some samples.
EXAMPLES OF BLACKHAT SEO STRATEGY
#1 – Keyword Stuffing
or using too many keywords which makes the content ineffective.
If you overuse keywords for the sake of ranking on SERPs, you are only pleasing the search engine algorithm. You must consider that your content will be consumed by humans.
Therefore, if your content includes too many non relevant keywords, it won’t be compelling to the readers anymore. You won’t be able to gain your audience’s trust.
#2- Failure to deliver the promise.
Your blog post title or headline says a lot about your content. If you promise to solve a problem with your headline but your content says otherwise, it’s already considered blackhat.
Why? Because your blog post is not relevant to your title. You seem to hook the audience only by your title but not by the content. You are not delivering the promise.
#3- Link to irrelevant sites
This is as simple as adding external links to your anchor text. Only that, the links you are using are not related to your content.
Anchor text is a specific word where you will insert the links.
For example, I placed an external link to the word “freelance writer”. When you click that word, it will redirect you to other sites that are completely irrelevant to freelance writing.
That is a big NO! You will lose your readers’ trust by doing that.
You may also encounter comments that include irrelevant links.
It’s when you see other people’s comments on a certain blog post which includes links to unrelated sites.
CONCLUSION: Learning SEO for Freelance Writers Take Time
So, I’ve already shared with you the basic information about SEO.
If you want to practice it, I suggest you have your own website where you can apply SEO strategies. It would help you track your progress and results.
It’s always better to apply what you have learned.
If you have a client, you can make it your case study and apply SEO tactics on your client’s website.
And now, here is my treat for you. At the same time, a challenge.
I would encourage you to attend the 7-week SEO Course by Neil Patel.
Neil Patel is one of my trusted resources when it comes to SEO. You will have an in-depth understanding of SEO that you can use in your freelance writing business. The videos are pre-recorded so I’m hoping you can complete the 7-week training course.
Taking action is the name of the game!
P:S (If this blog post has somehow helped you in learning the basics of SEO, I would love to know your takeaways. Feel free to join our facebook community- Freelance Writing Side Gig Community – it’s FREE. See you there!)