As a freelance writer, knowing the right strategies and tactics behind effective content writing is essential. You need to utilize them because you will often write for clients who rely on you to produce engaging, high-quality content. In fact, in 2022, HubSpot research revealed that 83% of marketers prioritize content quality over quantity, even if it means posting less often. In addition, you may also write your own work, such as books, blogs, and portfolios.
The path to success in an internet based industry requires an intimate knowledge of SEO. As a freelance writer, being familiar with SEO is an asset you can’t afford to be without.
As with any industry, SEO has its own terminology and while exploring SEO strategies, these terms will be constantly encountered. Learning all of these might be difficult but is ultimately crucial. Below are listed twelve SEO related terms that you should learn. [Read more…]
It is quite understandable if you know little to nothing about SEO, but times have changed and it is now important for you to understand at least the basics of SEO as most clients who need website work require SEO knowledge.
SEO is embraced by countless businesses because they understand that if they want to be visible on search engines and drive traffic to their website, they need to implement effective SEO tactics.
A major part of SEO is content creation. So this is where the freelancer fits in all of this. Content creation for blogs is important for every website. The more up to date you keep the blog, the better it is for SEO. Have a look at this blog example to see how awesome posts should be written.
You may still be thinking “Why should I even learn SEO?”. There are 3 main reasons freelance writers need to learn SEO.Why Freelance Writers Need to Learn SEO and How to Get Started Click To Tweet
Search engine optimisation is necessary for driving traffic to a website. A large volume of traffic increases sales and profits. Although there are a few simple search engine optimisation techniques that most business owners can implement, for the best results such as quickly ranking on the first page of search engines, you need to hire a SEO expert. Professional tactics greatly improve your SEO. Search engine optimisation experts have a variety of tools in their area of expertise to help any business increase its online visibility and exposure.
1. Meta Descriptions
For search engine optimisation, there has to be a summary of the content of each web page. This is called the meta description. It’s important to use the main keywords of your website in the description. The description appears on the search engines results pages and gives visitors an overview of what your site is about. SEO experts create a unique meta description for every page of the website. These descriptions are usually 150 to 160 characters long. A compelling description entices people to click-through to the webpage.
A sitemap is one advanced search engine optimisation technique that many business owners don’t think about. A sitemap is a directory of the website pages. Sitemaps provide a great deal of information about these pages. For example, the metadata of a sitemap lists the different format types on the website such as articles, videos, and images. The files of the sitemap have to be submitted using Google’s Webmaster Tools.
3. Image SEO
For websites with many images, search engine optimisation also extends to pictures, photographs, illustrations, and other graphics. The ALT tag is underused by beginners, but SEO experts realise its importance. Each image uses a caption and a brief description. Using keywords helps the web page to rank higher. This is why image tags are growing in importance for SEO.
Search engines also use robots to crawl a website. If there are pages on your website that you don’t want the search engines to index, there is an advanced search engine optimisation technique that experts use to prevent this. Professionals create the robots.txt file for these websites. This file tells search engines how to access your website and prevents spiders from crawling these pages.
Search engine optimisation tactics can greatly improve your website’s online presence. With advanced methods utilised by SEO professionals, your website has a much better chance of getting more traffic to it. However, if you have time to research and do your own search engine optimisation go for it! I always recommend link building along with your SEO company. The links that you can get as a business owner are typically more natural and valuable to your website (and rankings) than the links that your SEO company can get you. In the end, you, as the business owner, are responsible for your own PR. Hire an SEO company like ROI (roi.com.au) that has experience in all areas of digital marketing and can help get your business and website the publicity and traffic needed to be successful.
There are many reasons why many freelancers choose WordPress for building their portfolio of websites: It’s easy, reliable and flexible (thanks, of course, to plugins). Okay, maybe you will occasionally be told that Tumblr or Blogger is the better choice especially for those looking for a more casual blogging experience. But for the professionals, WordPress always comes out on top — and for good reason, considering the number of features, tools and free plugins you can access to customize and monetize your content. [Read more…]
Blogging offers writers great rewards. We get to share our words with others. We educate and entertain. If we’re really lucky, our blogs generate income or interest from book agents. To do any of this, however, you need readers, and in the early days of any blog, readers are hard to come by. [Read more…]
I’ve been a (more than) full-time writer for ten years. It takes talent, ambition and the ability to manage your time and money to be successful. Contrary to popular belief, you can be a successful freelance writer without starting your own business. However, if you have a habit of slacking or procrastinating, this probably isn’t the path for you.
My typical day includes writing for up to ten clients at a time. This includes everything from SEO-rich web content to brochures for international hotel chains. I scour job boards for new openings and apply daily, even if I have a full workload for the next few months. I’m also updating my resume, website and LinkedIn while learning new skills like SES qualifications as I accept new projects. [Read more…]
SEO consulting services can help a webmaster boost their websites presence by bringing in professionals who understand what it takes to create on-site and off-site optimization, however it’s important when choosing a service provider that you first investigate their past successes and understand their approach to site optimization.
Start your search by first examining how the SEO service ranks for keywords found on their own website. If an SEO “expert” isn’t ranking for basic terms such as “SEO” or “SEO Services” and “SEO consultants” it should raise a red flag.
Speak with several representatives from the company. While a one man organization may be able to assist you with the initial setup of your SEO practices, larger SEO consulting services can handle better monitoring of your targeted keywords once your site has been initially optimized. If you plan to build a long term strategy it’s good to know the company is large enough that it will likely be around to continue the implementation of the SEO strategy they initially implemented.
Request information about other customers the SEO consulting service has assisted with SEO development. Visit those websites and find common terms used throughout those websites, examine how those sites rank in Google, Yahoo and other search engines. Also examine the sites structure, saturation of keywords in articles and other basic SEO practices. If the site appears to be naturally written with keywords well placed and not overused it’s a good sign that the SEO firm knows how to optimize for search engines.
Ask the SEO Service if they belong to any professional SEO organizations. For example, are they a member of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) or perhaps the Search Marketing Organization of America (SMA-NA). Reputable search optimization organizations vet their customers and provide them with ongoing standards and practices in the search engine optimization market. If the SEO organization doesn’t appear to work with professional organizations it should raise another red flag.
Check to see if your potential SEO provider has published any case studies in regards to the SEO market. Case studies show that the company is serious about their business, it also likely means they are constantly attempting to find new trends in SEO which they can utilize for their customers. SEO firms that rely on case studies are often the first organizations to find new SEO practices that will benefit their customers, giving them an edge over competitors.
Finally, take a real world approach when making your final decision for who to hire, check the company’s name in Google and look for reviews of the organization on the first pages of Google search results. Established SEO consulting services should have enough of a reach that some reviews will exist, while their own URL should pop up in search results on a regular basis.
SEO consulting services are a mixed barrel, however with the right research you can find a firm that will best represent your needs and continue to represent your website in the future.
While many FWJ readers may write primarily for print, I know that many others (like me) have businesses built primarily on writing for online markets. This post targets those of us who make a living online, so to speak.
The Big Question
Why do people pay you to write?
Is it because…
- You’re so damn talented?
- They can’t do it themselves?
- You can make the content creation process more efficient?
- Clients love your website and/or pitches?
- You have a special skill or area of expertise?
Those may be reasons why clients choose you over other writers, but people come to the marketplace in the first place for another reason. They think they can use what you produce to turn a profit. They want to make money.
Sometimes I wonder if too many online writers spend way too much effort thinking about how to get work now and how to compete for gigs while spending far too little effort thinking about that bigger, core question. I wonder if many web-based freelancers may be setting themselves up for future struggles because of it, too.
A Change is Gonna Come
That’s not because I foresee a sudden drop in the demand for online content. On the contrary, I think that a variety of new and even lucrative opportunities is on the horizon. However, I do question the longer-term viability of many markets upon which writers are building businesses. I wonder how many writers will survive and/or react as the Internet and the way we use it changes.
In order to protect yourself and your business, it’s important to delve into the reason why demand for writing exists–the profit potential of the output. That means having both a solid understanding of the strategies clients are employing in pursuit of revenue and the greater trends that will undoubtedly force changes to those strategies and to the marketplace as a whole.
For instance, any writer who isn’t thinking about inevitable changes in the nature of search engines is making a mistake. The search engines don’t stand still. Google and its smaller competitors are constantly refining their approaches and there are a number of reasons to believe that they’ll be forced to make some major adjustments in the relatively near future.
Those changes could have a major impact on what are “bread and butter” for many writers. Traditional article marketing and the mass production “content mill” approach will have a difficult time thriving in an improved search environment.
Last week I posted an interview with SEO Kieran Flanagan here at FWJ. He made a point of discussing both the changing face of link acquisition for SEO and the growing role of social media in his business. The days of using 500-word articles at a pre-ordained keyword density level and fueling them with a series of easy-to-acquire, low-grade links is on its way out. At the very least, the writing is on the wall.
At my blog, I recently posted about the less-than-rosy long-term future of low-quality content mill work due to market forces within the search sector and the increasingly untenable hypocrisy of Google in terms of how they’ve “banned” paid links yet are allowing other intentional methods of subverting their search algorithm to have an impact on SERPs.
You don’t need to agree with my perspective to recognize that there’s a lot boiling under the surface in the way people find and use information online. No matter how you think it all might unfold, you can be certain that, in the words of Sam Cooke, “a change is gonna come.”
Preparing for Change
We often talk about the need to spread risk when developing an overall approach to building a freelance writing business. That need is usually expressed in terms of “not putting all of your eggs in one basket.” That’s rock-solid advice–in the short run. In the longer run, it’s just as important to have a sense of what future eggs may look like and if there may be new ways to store them. Hell, the eggs we gather today may be poisonous before too long and we might all be laughing at the antiquated notion of using baskets.
People pay writers because they want to make money. Writers who aren’t sufficiently prepared to transition their talents and to apply them to new contexts aren’t going to be in the best position to help clients make money. Writers who have over-invested in strategies that seem to have a limited lifespan could be setting themselves up for a more difficult future.
That doesn’t mean anyone should abandon any part of his or her business that’s currently producing a nice stream of revenue. Make hay while the sun is shining. However, one should probably do that with an awareness of the need to move on to new markets and new approaches once the limitations of those activities start to become increasingly visible. Otherwise, you might find yourself well behind the curve while other writers profit from being ahead of it.
The Moral to the Story
Continue to focus on being a badass writer who offers the world’s greatest customer service. Continue to work on distinguishing yourself in the marketplace and do everything you can to become the best choice among those who are looking for a writer.
At the same time, look ahead. Make a point of learning more about why potential clients are looking for a writer in the first place and study the hell out of the marketplace and the kind of changes in advertising, search, social media, and all of the other things that are going to force changes in the way people conduct business and information acquisition on the ‘Net.
If you’re going to focus on online markets, be smart, nimble, well-informed and an expert in larger trends.
Just mention the term “SEO content” and you’ll rile up a large portion of the freelance writing community. The expression conjures up images of low-grade, barely comprehensible word-vomit designed to appease the Google god with no concern whatsoever for craft, readers or the dissemination of quality information.
However, I’ve found that working with SEO people doesn’t necessarily involve banging out meaningless junk. Writers who flat out dismiss SEO content may be missing some great opportunities.
No, it isn’t for everyone. No, it won’t usually net you a buck per word. I know there are many freelance writers who will pass even on the sector’s higher-paying work. That’s a ll a matter of preference and I have zero interest in turning this into Round 1,394,201 of the fight over rates. I do think people should know that SEO writing is not the mindless, evil drag many imagine it to be. Well, not always…
But you don’t need to take my word for that.
Kieran Flanagan, who owns SearchBrat.com and who has extensive professional experience in the SEO sector, was kind enough to answer a few questions about SEO firms and freelance writers.
Kieran is based in Dublin, Ireland. SEO services are in high demand there and all around the world and I’ve had the opportunity to write for him and have served as something akin to a project manager, organizing and overseeing production of content for some of his projects.
Kieran is a great guy with whom to work and his perspective on writing and search engine optimization is indicative of what I tend to encounter when dealing with the “right” people. He’s the kind of person I’d recommend to anyone looking for someone to provide link building services
Don’t get any funny ideas about stealing my client, either. I’ve asked Kieran to tip me off if anyone tries to muscle in on my turf, lol!
Without further ado, here’s the Q&A:
1. You hire writers and you work in the SEO field, which has a reputation for being more interested in keyword use than in quality writing. Do you think it’s accurate to describe SEO experts, as a whole, as being focused more on the mechanics than they are on excellent writing?
Most SEO experts do understand the importance of the content they put out. The problem is, a large portion of the SEO industry is made up of people who are not experts and only see content as a means to generate some links.
This isn’t necessarily wrong, you can get a lot of links from low quality articles that have been spun to death. But the landscape of search is changing. Quality of content is just as important, if not more so, than the links you get as a result of that content.
Producing one quality guest blog post can be a lot more beneficial than getting 100 links from spun articles seeded across low level article directories. That guest blog post not only results in a single quality link from a themed site, but also highlights your knowledge on a particular subject and can product traffic in it’s own right.
When building links, you should always ask “Would a user click on this link”
2. What about you, personally? Do you find yourself in search of great writing or more interested in keeping prices low while simply hitting the “mechanical” benchmarks of density, original content, etc?
I used to try to keep costs low, but we’ve completely changed our view on content. I would prefer to get 10 quality articles that will leave a good impression on a reader, rather than 100 articles with questionable English.
In terms of keyword density and other SEO factors, I only look for a couple of keyword variations to be used in the first couple of paragraphs. Keyword density was never something I paid that much attention to.
3. Many freelance writers are really dismayed at the kind of money they’re offered for “SEO work” like keyword articles. Can you provide a little insight as to how and why SEO firms pay the way they do?
This is a great question and comes back to what we discussed in the first one. Most SEO firms purchase content in bulk and then plaster it across the web, with very little strategy behind it. They don’t expect the content to be read because it’s only used for links purposes. This results in the SEO firm looking for low level content, with no quality control on it (it doesn’t get proof read). In saying that, there are a huge amount of content houses that service this market by offering extremely low prices. It results in a race to the bottom, putting added pressure on those content services that do offer great articles for a far greater price.
In the end it comes down to knowledge and results. There is always going to be a demand for low quality content as plastering it over the web for links still delivers results. It is however important for freelancers to understand that SEO and links are vital to nearly any business with an online business these days so they need to be up to speed on how to write content with links in it. I would recommend they spend some time reading up about the importance of link building: https://notable.com.sg/link-building-singapore/
4. I find myself frequently preaching the virtues of providing clients with insights, recommendations and ideas instead of just “following orders.” Do you find that’s a valuable asset in a writer or would you prefer a simple “follow the specs and deliver on time” model?
The future of search is going to be massively effected by social media. Although I don’t feel social media has proven itself (in terms of delivering targeted traffic), it has certainly opened up a lot of opportunities when it comes to building links. Generating quality content for your market, that gets picked up by social channels, is a sure fire way of helping your site increase traffic.
This is where there are lots of opportunities for companies who deliver content to partner with SEO firms who understand it’s importance. An SEO expert can research any market and build a mind map consisting of popular keywords (topics) to target. They should be able to hand these of to a company who can deliver quality content around those topics, using familiar language and themes that will resonate with that market. For me there should always be some input by the content team.
5. List the three things you look for when hiring a writer. What’s important to you?
a. Online Marketing Background – For me it’s critical the writer has a background in online marketing and understands the purpose of each piece of content being produced.
b. Flexibility – This is an fast paced environment and things change a lot. I look for someone who is flexible enough to work around my hectic work load.
c. Quality Content – It goes without saying, I look for someone who can produce quality content.
6. What do you think is the most exciting new development in content creation and SEO? Is there anything new writers should be learning more about, etc?
For me social media is the biggest shift content writers should be paying attention to. It’s now possible to tap into the very language your market is using, by listening to twitter, facebook etc and create content that will connect with your market. Creating “social content” is something all content writers should be looking at.