When you're starting as a freelance writer, it's easy to let yourself be distracted by shiny objects. You see a new tool, or a cool technique, and before you know it, you've fallen into the trap of thinking that those are the best ways to get more work...and that they'll make you look smarter than everyone else.
But there is one thing that will always keep you above water - and that's relevance. If you write what people want to read, you'll have a better chance of getting paid. But how do you actually go about doing that? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Start with Google analytics
You need to understand what kind of traffic you're getting before you can start planning your strategy. Get up-to-the-minute information about visitors to your website using Google Analytics. It's free and very simple to set up.
Analytics will tell you which words people are searching for that relate to your niche, and give you an idea of where your readers come from. There are also tools like Hubspot, which allows you to track your leads through email campaigns. These are great additions when you're just starting out, but if you already have a good base of subscribers, then you can probably afford to ignore them.
What does this all mean for you? It means you need to use keywords in your article titles and descriptions, and throughout your copy, so that when someone searches for something directly related to your business, your article shows up at the top of search results.
Use keyword research tools
The next step is to use a keyword research tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool or SEMrush to find keywords that are most likely to yield your target audience. This is especially important if you're writing for B2B clients, as well as anyone who wants to sell products online.
Then, once you've found your keywords, it's time to put them in your title and description. Make sure they're in a natural way, though - don't stuff them in there willy-nilly. That won't get you anywhere. It's also worth noting that some search engine optimization (SEO) experts might recommend avoiding keyword stuffing entirely.
If you're not sure what keyword density is, you can check our guide to keyword density. The bottom line is that you should avoid going over 20 percent, because you run the risk of being penalized by Google.
Create high quality content
Writing a blog post isn't enough; you also need to create a series of articles that answer questions about your field. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, you'd ideally publish three different pieces of content.
First, you could write articles answering common questions people ask about buying, fixing, and maintaining their equipment. Second, you could write articles answering common questions people ask about using their equipment. And finally, you could write articles answering common questions people ask about finding the best deals on their equipment.
This approach helps you build up a portfolio of useful content that gives potential customers exactly what they're looking for. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to test out new topics and ideas without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Focus on UX
It goes without saying that if you want to rank highly in search engines, you need to focus on user experience (UX). Your users are the ones who are searching for you, after all. So, what does this mean?
Well, if you want to win over any new clients, you need to consider your site's design and navigation. People are less likely to trust you if your site looks cluttered, or if it takes them too long to find the things they were looking for.
Make sure your site is clean and easy to navigate, and that people have plenty of room to view your content. You don't need to spend a fortune on fancy graphics, but you should invest in a quality template that makes your site look professional and relevant to your niche.
Format for featured snippets
To really increase your chances of ranking higher in search rankings, you should optimize your pages for featured snippets. This is a special section that appears towards the top of search results, usually in bold text.
These are often populated by Google itself, as it chooses the best result based on what it thinks would be most useful to its users. In other words, these are the perfect place to show off your expertise.
In order to appear here, you need to follow Google's guidelines for creating featured snippet-ready content. You need to include lots of relevant keywords, and ensure that each piece of content is focused on answering the question posed by the search engine.
For example, if your topic is "How to stop procrastinating," you may want to write about the benefits of meditation instead. Or maybe you should write about the benefits of exercising to relieve stress.
Keep the page short
Search engines only display snippets of your content, so you don't want to waste precious space with unnecessary fluff. Keep your content focused, and don't include irrelevant sidebars or sections.
This applies to both your articles and your landing pages. Don't forget to use images sparingly, too. Search engines love images, so try to add them whenever possible. Otherwise, you risk falling prey to link bait.
Remove everything that doesn't contribute
Sometimes, you'll get requests from clients asking you to remove certain elements from your site. This is a terrible idea! What they're trying to say is that they want you to change your existing content to fit their needs. This is bad practice, because you can never please everybody.
Instead, you should strive to maintain consistency across your entire site. If you need to change something, then you may want to rewrite it. But otherwise, stick to your original plans. Even if it means ignoring a request from a client, this is a small price to pay for keeping your site consistent.
And lastly, remember that you're only writing for humans. If your content seems boring or repetitive, you need to take a step back and reevaluate whether you're providing value for your audience. Think about why they came to your site in the first place, and try to connect with them.
If you can do that, then you'll have no trouble attracting paying clients in future.
Summary: Best SEO tips to grow your business and become a successful freelance writer
Writing for human beings is still the best way to build a successful career. However, writing for search engines can help you gain more visibility and attract new clients. It doesn't matter what industry you're working in, as long as you stay true to your purpose.