How Much SEO Should a Freelance Writer Know in 2024?

How Much SEO Should a Freelance Writer Know in 2024?

In the world of freelance writing and content marketing, the term “SEO” often comes up as an important skill to have. But what exactly does it mean and how much SEO knowledge should a writer possess?

What is SEO for Freelance Writers

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimize online content to improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It involves a wide range of techniques and strategies that help websites attract more organic traffic by targeting specific keywords and providing valuable information to users.

As a freelance writer, having a solid understanding of SEO can be a game-changer. It allows you to create content that not only meets the needs of your clients but also performs well in search engines such as Google and Bing.

Incorporating SEO techniques in your writing can increase your chances of attracting more clients, earning higher rates, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

What are the Basics of SEO for Freelance Writers

While becoming an SEO expert may not be necessary for all freelance writers, mastering the basic principles is crucial. Some of these techniques that you should master are;

1. Keyword Research

This is the foundation of SEO. It involves identifying the right keywords and phrases that users enter into search engines when looking for information related to a specific topic.

For instance, when searching for information for the best places to rent in Nairobi, some of the keywords can be “rental houses in Gigiri” or “house for rent in Ngara”. You need to conduct proper keyword research to discover the most relevant and valuable keywords to target in your content.

To perform your keyword research effectively, you can use tools like;

  • Google AdWords

  • Ahrefs

  • SEMRush

  • Surfer SEO

  • Outranking

  • Keyword Planner

  • Moz

These tools provide valuable insights into search volume, competition, and related keywords, allowing you to make informed decisions when choosing which keywords to incorporate into your writing. However, you should explore the pros and cons of each to find out which tool works best for you.

2. On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization refers to the strategies used to optimize individual web pages to improve their search engine rankings. This includes optimizing –

  • Meta tags like meta titles and meta descriptions

  • Headings

  • URL structures

  • Content itself

When writing content, you should aim to include your target keyword in the meta title, meta description, headings, and throughout the body of the text. However, the main keywords and other keywords should be evenly distributed.

Use keywords organically and avoid keyword stuffing. Search engines view this as a malpractice and you can be penalized for such practices. Also, avoid using blackhat SEO strategies as this can kill your website completely.

3. Content Quality and Relevance

While keywords are important, it does not mean that you should forget the content quality. Search engines prioritize content that provides value to users and satisfies their search intent.

As a freelance writer, your goal should be to deliver informative, engaging, well-researched content that addresses the needs of your target audience.

By striking a balance between keyword optimization and content quality, you can create content that performs well in search engines while also resonating with readers.

4. Write one hell of a headline

You need a killer headline with a headline that scores at least 70 in CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. Besides, you should use a meta tag, title, and description where necessary. If your client asks for a few different headlines, that is totally okay.

It’s not a fair game when a client asks for over 100 headlines per content asset so as to pick the best one.

Or, asking you to get into Google Analytics, examine pages that are performing well, and try to fix/update titles in the hoping of ranking your content higher.

In real sense, writing 100 headlines isn’t something that should be done for free. At the same time, going through a client’s Google Analytics to push or suggest content optimization is an SEO strategist’s role not yours, unless you are hired to do so. That is not a fair ask of someone who hired you only to write articles or blog posts.

5. Understand the role of meta titles, descriptions, ad tags in optimizing your content

Meta tags, titles, and descriptions help in boosting the visibility of your content and keeps it engaging to reader. Let’s examine each closely.

  • Meta titles. The title of your content should be engaging, informative and include your main target keyword or keywords. A catchy title will improve the click-through rate to your site and increase site rankings.

  • Meta tags. These are labels that help you organize and categorize content. They help search engines to understand the content of your site. Like titles, relevant tags should also contain relevant keywords.

  • Meta description. This is a brief summary of your content that appears in SERPs. It provides a snapshot of what your content is about and helps the readers to click through your site. Meta descriptions should be compelling, informative, and includes the target keywords.

6. Know how to analyze competitors and identify gaps in their content strategy

As an expert writer, you should know how to analyze competitors and identify gaps in their content strategy. This way, you can be able to outperform them with your content. But, how do you do that?

  • Identify the competitors. You can do this using sites like Surfer SEO or Moz. Check on how they rank in different keywords.

  • Evaluate their content. Look at the patterns in topics they cover, their content format, and the type of content they produce.

  • Analyze their keywords using a research tool like Outranking or SEMRush and look for high-volume and low-competition keywords.

  • Identify gaps in their content strategy. Look for keywords they are not targeting, formats they are not using, and topics they are not covering.

  • Develop a unique content strategy that fills these gaps.

7. Know that higher page rankings don’t happen overnight

At times, you can be tempted to write a compelling and comprehensive article with relevant keywords and well optimized but at the end of the day your page doesn’t rank on page 1 of SERPs right away.

What you need to understand is that the technical side of page rankings is complex and not something that changes drastically overnight. What you can do is to push quality content to your site, share the content, and seek to get back links from other sites.

Keep the consistency and you will see tangible results.

Don’t stress about being an SEO expert, focus on creating quality content

Remember you don’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great freelance writer. Focus on doing everything right, do proper keyword research, and create engaging and authentic content.

Seek answers from others and make valuable content to your readers and clients. SEO doesn’t have to be scary in the long run. At little understanding helps though!

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