As the freelancing community knows, sometimes, business is great, and sometimes, it feels like an uphill battle. I have been spending my most recent drought working tirelessly to build my online presence and credibility as a freelance writer.
Today, I want to talk a little bit about SEO. For all of my freelancer friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it should be enough to make you feel a little more confident about promoting your website to potential clients.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is the thing to know if you want to be marketable in the online writing world. Here's an article with a comprehensive overview of this industry. I have been working diligently on SEO training so I can optimize my website and learn how to help all of my clients, with their optimization needs.
Why should everyone care about it?
Despite what many users think about the internet, there are many programs and algorithms working nonstop trying to filter out all the spammy scams floating around. In fact, Google changes its algorithms 500-600 times each year in an effort to stay one step ahead of these ad sites. For example, Panda is a program created by Google to ensure that empty, click-ad filled articles are properly identified, so you, the consumer, don't inadvertently give money for a a junk product thinking it is something great because the website seemed reputable. Here's some more info on Panda updates.
This update ensures that you don't fall victim to paragraph stuffing. This happens when a website loads the same key words into one paragraph over and over again hoping that the more the keyword appears, the higher their URL will appear in the rank.
Unfortunately, that high ranking will convince you, the reader, to go to this site only to find that there is no content, just a repeated link to a company's products. These websites often have bogus testimonials that might seem too good to be true — because they are! That's where Google's ad tags come in. These little green tags tell you when a site is an ad and when it actually has something to offer.
How can writers put this knowledge to use?
As a writer, my job is to make sure that whatever content I write is truthful and helpful to you, the reader. That's why I thought you would all enjoy learning what I do behind the scenes. When I write an article, I first want to know my client's target audience. Who do they want to reach?
For example, if they own a hardware store, they might want to get more people to buy their gardening equipment. How would they do this? With a writer, of course!
I would write an article providing gardening tips, the best way to freshen up the neglected garden, how to start a garden: the beginner's guide — their choice!
How could this help? Their customers will get inspired to garden, because the client will post this article on their website or social media platform. Their followers (i.e., customers) will read it and purchase those supplies. Within the guide, I can place links to gardening articles such as this one. I would also link to the client's website in the article, like this one for Lowe's.
No, I'm not paid by Lowe's, it was just an example — although I do find myself there quite frequently with DIY projects (check my lifestyle section for that one, coming soon!).
Not only does my client get more customers in their store, they also build credibility as a business, because they show the consumer that they are about more than simply making money. The message it sends is that this client wants their patrons to get the most out of their shopping experience. They want them to buy gardening equipment, but they also want them to win the "best garden" contest in their neighborhood. This is good for both parties!
For my writer friends, this means you should be interested in SEO, because this knowledge helps bring traffic to your clients' pages. The more traffic, the better — just make sure you don't paragraph stuff.
You can also talk about your expertise in this field to prove to clients that you know how to help them provide quality content for their customers. This goal is why programs like Panda exist. They keep writers and business owners honest and service-minded.
This is just some of the mountain of information that I have come across in my training. If you want to know more about SEO and the ins and outs of Google, check out this link to get training from LinkedIn. Another great place for writers and business owners is Moz.com.