Are you a freelance writer? Then, you need to learn SEO writing because it’s a lucrative opportunity to get free website traffic and sales for your clients — and so for you!
Let’s begin by understanding the rubrics writing for search engines. Later in the article, I’ll also share tips to become a sought after SEO writer.
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Frequently Asked Questions About SEO Writing
Here are answers to a few queries you might have as a beginner SEO writer.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process of optimizing your website and its content to get easily accessed and understood by web crawler software of search engines. Generally businesses and creators focus their optimization efforts on Google as it has over 90% of the search engine market share.
What are keywords?
The phrases that people type in Google and other search engines are referred to as keywords. It’s helpful to think of them by what a user “intends” to do and use the classification by Google Quality Rater guidelines: know, do, website, and visit-in-person. SEO writing involves usage of exact keywords, and they are generally from the “know” category.
What is SEO writing?
Writing for SEO involves creating content that’s optimized for ranking in search engines. It consists of researching the phrases and topics your prospects are searching, then writing about them as comprehensively and efficiently as possible.
Why is great content important for SEO?
Businesses that don’t appear on the first page of Google are practically invisible to their prospective customers. Further for a web page to rank in the top spots of search engines, high-quality content that genuinely helps the searcher is a bare minimum requirement.
What are SEO copywriters?
A writing professional who crafts a website’s copy, video scripts, product descriptions, PDF brochures, and other marketing collateral — while optimizing them for keywords relevant to their business. Writing good SEO copy could make you an irresistible hire and let you command top drawer prices because businesses can leverage your skills to drive revenue for a long period.
How many keywords should you focus on per page?
It’s ideal to target one big “topic” per page which might be represented by one keyword. But you should also include the close variations of this phrase in your content.
Next, let’s look at how to go about writing articles for SEO.
How To Write SEO Articles: Five Tips For Beginners
Most writers never get started with learning the ropes SEO as they fear it’s too technical. And that Google changes its algorithm too often to find your feet, and excel at SEO writing.
Well, what if I told you that the fundamentals of SEO never change? That it’s just about learning to research and write well. You need to comprehensively but succinctly help your prospective readers achieve their goals. Here are five SEO writing tips to take you achieve these:
1. Put Your Readers First
Many writers confuse writing for SEO with trying to serve search engine spiders to understand their content. That’s incorrect. Any profitable business wants to add value to their customers — that includes search engines like Google.
You need to serve your target audience and make your writing as engaging for them as possible. It begins with conducting research on what they want to read in the first place. The SEO equivalent of this is keyword research through SEO tools like Answer The Public.
When you plug any phrase related to the subject you’re writing on, it returns with specific questions people are asking on it:
And some long-tail phrases which tend to have lower competition:
Before you begin putting words in Google documents (or the writing software of your choice), remember your writing is a means to an end: helping the searcher do what they are after. Technically it’s referred to as satisfying the “user intent.”
2. Sprinkle’em Keywords
I know I told you to focus on the audience, but using your target keyword(s) in your article is important — especially at prominent places such as the title and subtitles. Referred to as on page SEO, it helps search engine spiders form association and understand the context and meaning of your content. Then rank it for appropriate keywords in search engines.
Indeed some related keywords to your “main keyword” for an article can even inform your subtopics.
I like to keep a list of “related keywords” that I found from Google autocomplete and other tools at the top of my outline. Whenever I find an opportunity to include them in my content, I do it. But don’t fret about “forcing” them into my article either because it makes for a bad user experience.
3. Be Comprehensive, But Keep It Engaging
Many industries where SEO writing is now leveraged by lots of businesses have become super competitive. Everyone has a blog and publishes articles targeting the same keywords. So the only way to stand out is by writing “longer” articles that span 2500, 5000, or even more words.
Depending on the subject you’re writing about, you may need to write long-form content. But remember the goal isn’t length for its sake. Your goal is being comprehensive so that your readers don’t leave your website for finding information on the subject they are reading.
While writing long articles, it’s also important to:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs: Because web users scan and don’t read articles word-for-word, you want to “hijack” into this reading habit. They may ignore long walls of text, but shorter sentences and paragraphs will be still welcoming — and make for a great reading experience.
- Format appropriately: Use tables, pull out quotes, images, bullets and numbers for breaking your content. They provide breathing space to your readers and keep them engaged.
- Go multimedia: Videos and images are the way in which people communicate on social media. So use this convenient content format by embedding videos, images, and even Tweets related to your subject in your article. They can improve the engagement on your website and lead to higher search rankings.
4. Pump Out Five Headlines, Then Some More!
Your headlines are critical to the performance of your article. If they can catch the attention of a searcher scrolling through the search engine results page (SERP) for your target keyword, it will help you get more clicks. That means more traffic for your or your clients’ website.
I like to plug my headlines inside the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, a free headline writing tool. It generates a score with details about the words I’ve used in the title and how my title might appear in search results:
From there, I can keep iterating with more headlines until I find the one which scores high and sounds appealing as well. Remember headlines longer than 70 characters
Here are a few headline templates you can begin with. You can try to integrate keywords or take inspiration from them to come up with own examples:
- How to become a superstar/ridiculously good in “x”?
- Why do you need “x” (And it’s okay…)
- Ultimate (or Simple or Complete Or Definitive) guide to “x”
- “Y” little known things about “y”
- Things nobody told you about “x”
Stay away from Buzzfeed style clickbait headlines such as “you won’t believe” like a plague. You can create a curiosity gap, but your content should justify the headline packaging it — else visitors will drop off from your site.
This will send a signal to Google that your writing isn’t delivering on promise, thereby tanking your rankings.
5. Comply With Known SEO Requirements
Remember I told you how some degree of usage of keywords is important? Same goes for using internal links, external links, your image names and tags, and the like.
It could feel daunting to check each of these manually. So use a plugin like Yoast for enforcing them in every article you publish.
Remember it’s only a tool though, so don’t take its score to heart. Just perform a compliance check with it to ensure you’re ticking necessary SEO boxes.
Bonus: Promote Your Article
Theories go though that early engagement signals of your article from social platforms help Google bots discover your page, then factor its engagement into their rankings. But it’s not known whether social media shares directly help Google rankings of an article, though Bing explicitly mentions relying on “social signals.”
There’s an additional layer to it though:
Social media visibility for your content could help it reach people who are likely to link to it, and that definitely helps its rankings.
Note: Links act as “votes” for your website in search engine algorithms and help your pages to rank for their target keyword.
SEO Writing Examples
Let me show you three examples of SEO writing from Elite Content Marketer to illustrate the kind of articles you might run into:
This is an article I wrote targeting the query “content creator.” It’s a broad topic, so probably beginner content practitioners are searching for it. I started with the basics of the profession leading up to six unconventional (but actionable) tips for folks to start their journey to become successful content creators.
This article was targeting the long-tail keyword phrase “how to promote your youtube channel”, and I tried to add a unique angle to introducing readers to free strategies exclusively. I’ve integrated examples and practical tactics that YouTube creators can execute right after reading the article.
Businesses usually target these kinds of “how to” queries when writing from an SEO perspective. They give an opportunity to educate a searcher and make them aware of your brand.
This eponymous article targeting the same phrase is a list of hosting platforms a podcaster foraying into launching their show professionally might consider.
It’s a comprehensive article highlighting all the software from this category available in the market with their unique features. I’ve also included the pricing, pros, cons, screengrabs, and other relevant information about each platform.
Such “best x for y” style search phrases are the most lucrative for companies. People searching for such queries have mostly made up their minds to “buy” a product, they are just exploring options. So your freelance SEO writing clients can appear in such a list — although it has to happen in a genuinely useful way to readers — and generate some leads for their business.
How To Get SEO Writing Jobs: Four Simple Steps
To become an in-demand SEO content writer, here are the four steps
1. Polish Your Writing
A college degree isn’t essential for getting a job in SEO content. But having one in literature, media, or related subjects might help you pick up relevant writing skills.
Understand that grammar, punctuation, and knowing your way with words are compliance requirements to get into SEO writing. There are many writers who write 100% error free content without plagiarism. If you’re lacking in these aspects, then ensure you find your way around it before moving forward.
Understand Consumer Psychology
If you feel under-confident about your writing,
The more important aspect to writing for SEO though is understanding how and why a prospective customer behaves. This is useful because SEO writing is a part of the “content” department at companies — and it’s a marketing channel.
So principles of persuasion of customers apply to your writing as well.
2. Learn SEO By Executing Own Projects
It need not be an exhaustive writing blog — even a Medium article on a subject you love can work. But follow all the tips I shared above to try and “rank” your articles. It takes about six months for an article to start showing up on the first page.
But if you manage to do the same, it could change your SEO writing career’s trajectory. Even if you don’t, you’ll learn what it takes to optimize content for search engines, promote it, and get traffic.
3. Pitch Freelance Writing Job Boards
Once you’ve polished your writing skills, and learned some bits of SEO, start applying for jobs with your writing portfolio.
Ranking in search can involve different factors for different industries. So try to stick with one niche you like and build your expertise in that. Businesses also tend to prefer working with subject matter experts over generalist writers who write on any subject.
4. Focus On Results Over Getting An English Major
Undoubtedly the best way to score a job is getting a few of your articles to rank. If your writing portfolio consists of articles ranking in search, then you’re game. Prospective clients would love to work with you.
If you become a writer who can champion SEO to your clients, you’ll be revered in your industry. It’s because optimizing your writing for search engines can generate compounding results for a website’s traffic.
If you’re a new writer dipping your toes in the content marketing industry, then learn SEO by conducting keyword research and optimizing your articles around a few phrases.
Use a self-publishing platform like Medium if you don’t have a website right now. You’ll learn a lot, and if you manage to rank a few of your articles — your future clients will be impressed with you and book your writing services.
Does writing content for SEO excite you now? Let me know your questions in the comments below.