As a freelance writer, you may think your only concern is making sure your content is free from grammatical errors and that you provide all the content details (topics, keywords, etc.) your client asks for. Search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer your concern, but that of the SEO professional your client has hired, right? Well, you are actually only half right.
Remember that as a content provider, you not only need to satisfy the requirements of your current client; you also need to make sure you’ll still have work in the coming days, months, and years (whether from the same client or from others). And guess what? One of the best ways to cement your reputation as a reliable content writer is to make SEO your concern.
SEO gets your articles read by the people for whom it was intended. It helps your client build and nurture a healthy customer base. It prevents your content from getting lost in 50 or so search results pages (SERPs). It gets more people to click through to your client’s website and possibly increase conversion rates and revenue. And the more traffic your client gets because of your content, the likelier they will be to retain your services and maybe even recommend you to others.
Here are five content writing tips that successfully goes hand-in-hand with your client’s SEO efforts:
Leave the Keywords for Later
It’s very common for companies to provide keywords freelance writers should incorporate into the articles they submit. The tendency for most freelance writers is to have the keywords in mind all the time as their article begins to take shape. Subconsciously, they are already planning where they are going to place the given keywords.This isn’t a problem per se, but the danger of writing in this manner is that you may not be able to integrate the keywords naturally and the entire article may come off as half-baked. What you need to do, instead, is focus on your client’s target audience and write for them first. Create your content as if you are speaking directly to them and worry about the keywords later.When you’re done writing the article, go over it to see where you can possibly insert the keywords without disrupting the flow of discussion. When you write freely, thinking only of addressing the needs of your target audience and without worrying about such details as keywords and links, your content will be more sincere and the overall quality will be much higher. Besides it’s much easier to insert keywords into complete paragraphs than into a context that’s still being developed.
Use Specific Keywords
Remember that your client has chosen the keywords you’ve been provided primarily because they reflect, to a certain extent, the search terms people commonly use when they do an online search for something related to your client’s product/service offerings. This is why keywords need to be as specific as possible.If your client gives you head keywords (single words), you may want to pair them up with two or more words that’ll make them more specific. If your client is in the business of selling cosmetic contact lenses, for example, and you were given “contacts” as a keyword, it would make a huge difference if you used “cosmetic contacts” or “cosplay contacts” instead. People who are interested in cosmetic contact lenses would most likely use the latter terms in conducting an online search, instead of the generic “contacts” or “contact lenses.”
Of course, you should use the keywords sparingly because keyword-stuffing is now being penalized by Google and other search engines. Even your target audience will likely get turned off by too many keywords. As a general rule, it is wise to incorporate keywords once in the title and Meta tags, and once or twice in the body of the article.
Adopt a Structure
No matter how useful the information in your content is, it won’t do your audience (or your client and you) much good if it gets lost in an unorganized writing format. And no matter how meaty the substance of your post is, it isn’t likely to get consumed by the people for whom it was meant (or by anyone, for that matter) unless it is presented in an easily digestible format.It is often a good idea to break your content down into short paragraphs (about three sentences) and to use two or more sub-headings. This technique makes the article easy on the eyes and more attractive to online users. Bear in mind that most people do not read these days – they browse; so make your content easy to browse through.
To make your content friendly to search engines as well, you may also want to learn about back-end organization. In most cases, proper tag hierarchy (H1 – titles, H2 – subtitles) is very useful when you’re tagging headlines because it helps you maintain a good structure for your article. Even if your client has someone else working on the tags, it still pays to learn how proper tagging is done.
1. Be Wise in Linking
Many people say link-building is dead, and they are partly right. The old practice of buying links and then using them unscrupulously to get more traffic for a website is indeed best forgotten, but you can still use links to influence how a search engine ranks your client’s web pages. The key is in using links wisely.When adding links to your content, for example, it would be best for you to make the links part of your copy instead of simply adding “click here” or “view it here” at the end of a sentence or paragraph. Going back to our contact lens example, instead of placing a “Check out some contact lenses here” link at the end of the article, you could hyperlink the term “cosmetic contacts” so readers will be directed to your desired site when they click on the link.Making links part of your copy helps make your content flow naturally and subtly encourages readers to actually click on the links. It is also a good idea to add backlinks from authority websites that you used as sources of information, as this helps you build trust and adds to your credibility because readers will be able to verify the information you share.Just like keywords, be sure to keep your links at a minimum. Stuffing your content with links will likely annoy readers and make them leave your client’s site, and they aren’t likely to come back for any more of your content. It may also make your client’s credibility suffer.
2. Save the Title for Last
Of course you already know what your content is about. You already have a general idea as to what specific topics you’ll be discussing within the article. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to begin the writing process by coming up with a title.Just as it is advisable to finish the content before inserting keywords, it is also a good idea to write the article in full before creating a title. When you create the title before writing the body of the content, you are subconsciously limiting yourself to a particular approach. As mentioned earlier, it’s better to write freely because it makes the content more sincere.Another point to consider is this: As you go about creating your content, you might find yourself in need of changing the approach you take with the article. And when you’re finally done with it, you may be surprised to see that the title you came up with at the outset doesn’t really fit the finished product at all. Save yourself from such hassle and just leave the title-writing for last.
Above all, you should make sure your content is always entertaining and useful so readers will want to keep coming back for more. You may not be the company that’s directly selling something, but you should never forget that as a content creator, you are actually selling your expertise to your client. And the best way to make them acknowledge and value your expertise is to get their target audience to always choose your content over others.
Just because you’re not into SEO doesn’t mean you can treat SEO and content-writing as two completely separate concepts. Rather, you should see them as separate parts of a single body. When one suffers, the other part feels the suffering as well. And one part works as a complement to the other. Therefore, you have to make sure both parts are always well taken care of.
Remember as well that this is the age of social media. Make your content easy to share across various social platforms such that it has the potential to go viral. Search engines now take social media sharing into account when they rank web pages, which means the easier it is to share your content, the higher the possibility of your client’s web pages ranking high on SERPs. This can translate to more success for you as a freelance writer.