As a Freelance Writer, Do You Need to Know a Lot About SEO?

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One of the biggest reasons that clients decide to hire freelance writers to create content is to improve their Google Search ranking in order to attract a higher number of potential customers. Companies hire freelance writers regularly in order to ensure that their website is filled with content that their target audience will find when searching. In order to get the best results, it’s also important that each piece of website content uses the best search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Because of this, SEO is an important topic for the majority of freelance writers, especially those who write a lot of content for websites and blogs. As a freelancer, clients are much more likely to order more work from you if the content that you have already provided them with has brought them the results that they were hoping for – increased page views, and more customers. Even if you write the most engaging, interesting piece of content, failing to make it SEO friendly is going to leave your client with less chance of good results. So, it’s definitely important that freelance writers have a good understanding of the basics of SEO and ensure that they apply it to their content.

Here are just some of the most important things that you should know about SEO in order to make sure that your clients return to you for content time and time again.

Identifying Commonly Used Keywords

Some clients, such as SEO and digital marketing agency Baldyne, will be nice (and knowledgeable!) enough to identify keywords for you and provide you with them to incorporate into your content. But, what do you do when you get an order from a client who doesn’t know the last thing about SEO?

Even with Google’s latest algorithms putting more emphasis on content quality and less on keywords and phrases, it’s still important to know which keywords are searched for the most in order to be able to write your content accordingly. Even if you do not use the exact keywords in the content that you create, you can still make use of them by basing the content on them – for example if a key search phrase is a question, you can write content which aims to provide an answer. Since useful, relevant content is key to good on-page SEO, knowing what it is that the client’s users are asking for is absolutely essential to making sure that your content produces good results for them.

Writing Meta Descriptions

A meta description is the text which appears on the reader’s browser after they have entered a search query, and is also located in the HTML code of the page where the content appears. Google highly prioritizes site Meta descriptions, and therefore it is absolutely essential to ensure that keywords appear in this text. It’s also essential that the Meta description that you write is relevant to the content that appears on the page – Meta descriptions that don’t tie in with page content will result in your client being penalized by Google, and you’ll probably never hear from them again. If you’re sending your work to the client and not posting it to the website yourself, it’s highly recommended that you also write the Meta description and provide it to your client to include in the page field for the content.

Quality Links

Quality links to content can be hugely useful in increasing the SEO of the page. Google’s search engine crawlers look at any links which lead to the piece of content and if quality links are found, the page will be rewarded with improved SEO and often better rankings. Because of this, it’s a good idea for freelance writers to talk with their clients about different ways in which they can help with link building for SEO, such as guest posting on popular blogs, being included in association databases, or features in related publications – all of which you can write. Since many freelance writers are asked to find sources for links and post the content themselves, knowing what makes a quality link building strategy is a very useful skill to have.

Guest posting itself is becoming a popular request for many freelance writers, so it’s important to have a good idea of what makes a guest post good and bad. Even if your client has provided you with placement sites for the guest posts that you’re writing, understanding how to ensure that your content is relevant to both the placement site and the client’s site whilst looking and reading natural is vital.

Organic Target Keywords

Although there is less and less emphasis on keywords and more on informative content from Google’s algorithm these days, this doesn’t mean that you can’t combine the two organically. In fact, many SEO content writers find that when they have a target keyword for each piece of content that they use organically and naturally, SEO is significantly improved.

The key to good SEO when using keywords is to ensure that the keywords and phrases are not the goal of the piece. Since your content should be relevant to the keywords to start with, choosing one and including it in the content in a natural manner can produce great results. For example, if you’re writing for a client who owns a hotel in New York, your keyword might be ‘best NY hotel’. Then, you can include it in the content naturally, for example: ‘In order to make sure that you’re staying in the best NY hotel during your trip, look at customer reviews and recommendations.’ In this sentence, the keyword appears naturally and goes with the flow, rather than looking like it has been randomly inserted into the content simply for the sake of it.

As a freelance writer, the majority of work you receive will probably be related to SEO in one way or another. Whether you’re writing product descriptions, guest posts, blog posts for a client’s website or even Meta descriptions, having a good understanding of basic SEO will ensure that you produce the best results for your clients.

header image courtesy of Fireart Studio

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.