SEO Writing for Dummies
An important tool in a freelance writer’s arsenal is search engine optimization, also called SEO. In this piece, we’ll answer key questions like “What is SEO content writing?” and “How can it help a client’s website?” Understanding how to write SEO content is key to your success as a freelance writer, so learn some of these helpful tips and tricks so that you can produce great work.
What is SEO Writing?
SEO writing is a form of writing that helps websites become more visible to major search engines like Google and Bing. A highly visible website with good content appears on the first few pages of results when someone searches for that topic. Those websites, in turn, get a tremendous boost in traffic from search engine users. That makes writing for SEO very worthwhile for websites seeking an audience. SEO content-writing jobs are increasingly in demand, so having an understanding of what exactly the job entails means you will be a more valuable asset to any company that hires you.
What Are Keyword Phrases?
Keywords are identical to the search phrases people type in when they are looking for information on the Internet. For example, if a reader wants to learn about guinea pigs, they will probably go to a search engine and type exactly that: guinea pigs. Thus, using the keyword phrase “guinea pigs” within an article allows the search engine know the article can help people learn about guinea pigs.
Due to the way search engines read pages, SEO writers should use keyword phrases exactly the way they appear in article instructions. If the instructions call for the phrase “guinea pigs,” to be most effective, you should include the phrase as a whole.
For editing purposes, Online Writing Jobs instructions typically ask our writers to signify the use of keywords with parentheses. For example:
There are many different types of pets. (Guinea pigs) are among the most popular because they are easy to care for and can be a great pet for younger children.
What if a Keyword Phrase Doesn’t Sound Natural?
Sometimes, you will get an article that calls for a keyword phrase totally unlike what you would use in everyday speech. That’s because people tend to type into Google whatever comes to their mind first, often in its most simplistic form. For example, someone looking for a divorce lawyer in Springfield will simply type “divorce lawyers Springfield.”
Since articles must sound natural and engaging, this can make writing for SEO a challenge.
However, there’s a plus side, as there are several different ways to handle a confusing keyword phrase like this. The first way is to separate the phrase with punctuation, as it’s been revealed that major search engines like Google don’t take into account most punctuation, with rare exceptions. So a few perfectly acceptable ways to address this issue are as follows:
If you’re comparing (divorce lawyers, Springfield) has many options.
At our law firm, you will find only the most reliable and compassionate (divorce lawyers. Springfield) residents have trusted us for more than 40 years.
This first method is the most classic way to handle keywords and what most writers think of when asked, “What is SEO writing?” But there’s also a newer way to handle odd keywords like these. There are short words and phrases that are often ignored by search engines. Prepositions and articles (i.e. words like “of,” “a,” “in,” and “on”) are often completely ignored. This can turn a bad keyword into one that’s more natural:
Her experience and expertise make her one of the best (divorce lawyers in Springfield).
Those keywords are often called “stop words.” A writer should not use them excessively in title tags, as they take up too much important real estate in your very short title, but within page content, this is perfectly fine.
Regardless of which method you use, your keywords must always fit naturally into the text of the article. Unnatural-sounding keywords with poor grammar will be very recognizable to more evolved search engines over time.
How Many Keywords Should I Use?
In simplistic terms: a lot, but not too many! Use as many keywords as you can while still sounding natural. While you want your keywords to appear in your content, you don’t want them to be stuffed in there awkwardly and too many times. This is called “over-optimizing” and can actually hurt a website’s rankings. A rule of thumb could be that in a piece that’s around 300-400 words, you should aim for 5-7 keyword phrases and never introduce keywords more than 10 times.
Tips for Better SEO Writing
- Write for the audience: While reading your article, the average person should have no idea that keywords were involved. Your tone may vary according to the article assignment but should always be informative, engaging, and centered on the needs of the reader.
- Read your article out loud: If you read your article out loud before submitting it, you might find places where the language doesn’t sound quite as clean as it should.
- Insert keywords before or after writing: Before you start writing SEO content, look at the style and the keyword list. Can you use any of the keywords in major headers or within opening sentences? These may be some of the more natural and easiest places to put your keyword phrases, and you can do it right away. Likewise, you might find it helpful to insert keywords after your first draft is done. Making small changes to sentences you already wrote can help them accommodate keywords easily and relieves you of the extra concern for keyword phrases before your first draft is done. Try to find a method that works best for you.
- Use a checklist: In addition to keeping the article instructions open in a separate window, you might find it helpful to copy and paste the keywords into a Word file where you can mark them as you go and make notes showing how many times you’ve used each one. Likewise, bolding the keywords as you spread them through the article will help you see them at a glance. (Just don’t forget to unbold the keywords before you submit the article!)
Where to Find Out More
You’ve now gained further knowledge about what SEO writing is and how it can help your clients. If you have a question about SEO writing, feel free to contact us. Online Writing Jobs is a longtime provider of high-quality SEO content. If you currently write with us, feel free to send our staff an email or to look up more information on our Writer Resources page.
If you’re not yet a writer with us, take a stab at it! Apply as a writer today!