Standing out as a freelancer takes more than just having the right skillset. With over 1.1 billion freelancers in the world, you need to have a smart way to drive more eyeballs to your services. Creating actionable Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content is one of the effective ways a freelancer can market their services and get inbound leads.
Whether you’re a freelance content writer, web designer or you help clients with Amazon product photography, SEO is a cost-effective way to drive leads and land new clients through search engine traffic. Additionally, creating optimized content for clients is a great way to position yourself as an expert in their industry.
Before we get down to the nuts and bolts of SEO, what exactly are some of its major benefits for freelancers?
- It is a very effective way for driving organic traffic to your site.
- It can help drive more visibility and leads to your sales funnel.
- Clients sometimes prefer hiring freelance SEO writers that understand how search engines work
Now that we have that out of the way, here are some of the things you should know about SEO as a freelancer.
Conduct Keyword Research
Coming up with random topics to write on without keyword research like starting a journey without a map—it’s very easy to get lost. On the other hand, conducting keyword research allows freelancers to have a better insight into what their target audience is looking for on search engines.
There are a lot of tools you can employ to conduct simple keyword research. Some of these tools are:
With these tools, you can see the estimated search volume for a keyword. Not only that, you can use them to uncover new keywords, their traffic potential and how difficult it is to rank for them. This information also serves as an indicator of the level of relevance and how competitive your seed keyword is. Most keyword tools will also suggest keywords related to your seed keyword.
Generally, doing keyword research gives you more info about your target market and how you can create content that is relevant to them.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
According to Google Central Search, keyword stuffing “refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.” And in the past few years, keyword stuffing is a popular black hat tactic that many use to get their content ranking on faster.
However, while this tactic used to work, search engines have gotten smarter in detecting keyword-stuffed content. Not only that, keyword stuffing can harm your site ranking which makes it counterproductive in the long run.
When creating content, it’s important to avoid:
- Repeating keywords or phrases more often than it’s natural
- Using keywords that are obviously out of context
- Overusing block of the same keyword
When you stuff your blog post with keywords, you’re prioritizing search engine robots over human readers. As a freelancer, you need human readers to consume your content with the hopes of converting them to clients.
In general, keyword stuffing creates a bad user experience because they are hard for human readers to understand. With a bad user experience, you risk sending potential customers away from your site.
Guest Post on Notable Publications
Most times, freelancing revolves around marketing a product or service to a certain audience. Writing guest posts for top publications in your industry will do a lot of good for your career as a marketer. Other than that, guest posting has a lot of additional benefits.
- It mirrors your level of expertise to prospective clients.
- It enhances your website’s SEO authority.
- It is a great avenue to reach out to new audiences.
- It is one surefire way to build credibility.
- Guest posting helps you generate organic traffic and build links to your website. You can add a relevant link from your website in your guest post.
To get started, come up with a list of notable publications in your niche that accept guest posts. It’s preferable if these publications have high domain authority. Get accustomed to the kinds of posts they publish. Is it a how-to blog post, listicle or review? Before pitching your ideas, take note of posts that performed really well on the site you’re guest posting by using BuzzSumo or Ahrefs.
Optimize Your Images for Search Engines
Image optimization is as important as writing content. Blog posts and website content with images make your content more engaging to your readers. Additionally, adding context to your images makes it easy for search engines and humans to understand them better.
According to Google, you should consider the following when adding images to a webpage:
- Provides additional value
- Relevancy to the page you’re adding them
- Place image near relevant text
- Use descriptive image titles, filenames, alt text and captions
- Create a good URL structure for your images
- Optimize your image for speed. You can use image optimization software like JPEG-Optimizer, Optimizilla and Optimole.
It is also important to use copyright-free images on your website. If you have the bandwidth to create your images, you should do so. However, if you don’t have the resources to do so, you can always opt for royalty-free images on sites like Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels.
Create High-Quality Content
Different factors are contributing to quality content and one of them is readability.
It takes 10 to 20 seconds to capture a reader’s attention. If your content is so hard to read, readers will leave your site for another website that has done a better job making their content easy to consume. By creating content that is readable and user-friendly, you’re encouraging your audience to spend more time consuming your content. It’s also a great way to increase your time on the page, which is an important ranking factor.
And when they stay for long, it helps your content rank higher. You can achieve readability by making use of shorter sentences, correct punctuation/spelling, bullet points, headings and smaller sentences/paragraphs. Tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway Editor can also improve your readability.
Quality content must also be engaging. Engagement boils down to building up an emotional connection with your audience. One way to do that is to identify their pain points and come up with a feasible resolution at the end of the content.
Utilize Internal Links
Internal links are hyperlinks that direct users to pages of the same domain. This should not be confused with external links that link to pages of other domains. When you are strategic with the way you utilize internal links, it improves the chances of your content ranking higher. Also, it’s a great way to encourage readers to spend more time on your website.
Freelancers should always note that Google locates, indexes and has a deep-rooted understanding of pages linked on the web. Consequently, this is one of the major reasons why content with internal links ranks higher than the ones without.
Now that you are familiar with internal links, here are some of the things to take into consideration before using internal links:
- Add links that are relevant to the source content.
- Use a decent amount of internal links
- Natural links improve the level of engagement. Therefore, add links that are natural to the reader.
Create Long-Form Content
Ordinarily, you’d think people don’t like to read lengthy content. But the reverse is the case. The truth is long-form content tends to rank higher on Google. This claim was backed by SerpIQ in a study that indicated that the average content length of the top 10 search results was over 2,000 words.
The thing is, Google understands the user’s plight. Users won’t like to search for content bit by bit on different pages. They like to have everything on a single page. When you look closely at top-ranking long-form content, they possess every bit of information and data on a particular subject.
However, long-form content won’t guarantee that you’ll be ranking on the first page of Google. It takes more than word counts. Your content has to be valuable to the reader. It has to provide in-depth information and answers to the reader.
Understand Search Intent
What is search intent? And how can it improve your SEO? Search intent is the motive behind every search inquiry. Google prioritizes content that understands and fulfills a search intent. When you vet content on the first page of a search, you will realize they take note of the search intent to the letter.
Let’s say we enter “How to make pancakes” on Google. The top search result will be recipes that include “how-to videos” and blogs. Not e-commerce pages or a brick-and-mortar pancake restaurant. As a freelancer, you need to create content that matches your audience’s search intent.
If you’re creating a piece for your target audience, make sure it provides an in-depth answer to their pain point. Doing so will increase your chances to rank better on search engines. However, search intent is not always as easy to spot as the pancake example above. Here are some types of search intent to enrich your understanding of how you can align your content with search intent.
- Commercial Intent: Searchers with commercial intent are looking for a product but are yet to make final decisions. An example of this kind of search intent looks like this: “Why should I hire a freelance designer?”
- Transactional Intent: Here, the searcher is in the decision-making stage of the buyer’s journey and is ready to decide on a product or service. Transactional intent looks like this: “Best Webinar Software” or “Best Video Marketing Tools”
- Informational intent: With this intent, the searcher is making inquiries about specific information. This inquiry often starts with what, when, who, where and how. It could be “when did women start voting in England?” Or “how many countries are in Eastern Europe?”
- Navigational intent: The intent behind a search tends to be navigational when the searcher is looking for a page or website. Searchers with the navigational intent search for pages like “Twitter login” and “Reset Gmail password.”
Ensure Your Page Loads Fast
When it takes forever for your site to load, it frustrates users and has adverse effects on ranking. Page speed has been a ranking factor on the web (since 2010) and mobile devices (since 2018). Apart from that, it plays a significant role in higher conversion rates, lower bounce rates, engagement and longer visitor duration on site.
One of the factors that affect the speed of a page is the image size. Heavy image files can make your page slow. You can fix this by compressing the image to reduce the size. Also, free tools like Google PageSpeed Insight, GTmetrix and WebPage Test can be used to check your speed page.
With everything that has been said here, I hope you have picked one or two SEO tips to employ when writing your next strategy or piece of content as a freelancer. However, when it comes to SEO, consistency is the key. Creating one or two pieces of content optimized for SEO can get you to the first page of search engine result pages or lead to streams of inbound leads.