I’m a huge proponent of blogs – especially for freelance writers.
For one, a blog gives you a creative outlet… somewhere to practice your skills, hone your talents and really get creative, even when you’re off the clock.
Blogging also gives you an easy way to create samples, giving clients a good, accurate look at what you can produce and just how great your content can be. This is perfect if you’re new to freelance writing or you don’t have many samples or clips to show off just yet.
But on top of all that?
A blog can actually draw in potential clients, increase your workload and improve the quality of projects you’re bringing in. And search engines love blogs because they supply regular, fresh content for them to index and show people who are searching. And we like to please the search engines because we want our content to come up as close as we can to the first page when people search for related words. This is just one other way we can market our services.
So when it comes to blogging tips for beginners, I recommend you learn a little about SEO. With SEO, you can transform your blog from just a static place where friends and family read your musings, to a website that pulls in potential prospects and gets them to contact you for real, paying work.
Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Then let me give you a quick primer on SEO. The sooner you start implementing it on your blog (and in your posts!) the quicker you’ll see results!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s an online marketing strategy used to ensure a website ranks highly in search engine results where potential visitors can find it, see it and click on it easily.
The real goal of SEO is to get your site ranking at the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing (think page 1 or page 2 of results) for certain “keywords” or key phrases.
What are keywords? Well, they’re simply what a user types into a search engine.
Here’s an example: Say you wanted to find a good Mexican restaurant to eat at tonight. What would you type into Google?
“Mexican restaurant Dallas?”
“Best Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe?”
“Best Mexican food in LA?”
Those are your keywords – and if Mexican restaurants really wanted to get your business, those are the phrases they’d use when optimizing their sites for SEO.
Getting Started with SEO
Though you’re certainly not a Mexican food restaurant, the same principles apply to any business, blog or website on the net.
You simply start by determining what keywords you want to be found for – what potential clients would be typing into the search bar when looking for your services and offerings.
Part of determining your keywords is common sense. Just think to yourself:
“What would I type into Google if I needed a freelance writer like myself?”
Whatever you come up with is probably a safe bet for a keyword. Here are some potential ones you may think of:
- Freelance writer
- Freelance writing services
- Freelance copywriter
- Freelance business writer (or whatever niche you specialize in)
- Houston freelance writer (sub in your geographic location)
These general terms are probably a good starting point for your blog’s SEO, but if you want to dig deeper, also use Google’s Keyword Planner. With this tool, you can type in the general terms you thought of, your website and other important details, and Google will show you other related terms that may be helpful.
You can also use the tool to get stats for how competitive a keyword is (meaning how many other sites are vying for it) and how many estimated searches it gets each month. Generally, you want to choose terms that are low or medium in competition, but have a good number of monthly searches.
Using SEO on Your Blog
Once you determine your keywords, implement SEO on your blog right away. Start working those keywords into your site so search engines recognize that your content matches up with searches related to those terms.
Now, there are a few places you’ll need to do this:
1. In the content of your blogs – Whenever possible, work in one or two of your keywords into your blog posts. Do this as seamlessly as possible, and don’t just throw keywords into the copy, over-stuffing it. It should flow naturally, and readers shouldn’t be able to tell a “keyword” from a regular word at all.
2. In the title of your blog posts – If you can, work a keyword into your post title, too. It’s even more effective if you can choose a keyword that was used in the post’s content. Consider it a double-whammy!
3. In the Meta tags of your post – This is a little more complicated, but if your blog is on WordPress, simply install a plug-in called “Yoast SEO,” and you’ll find the process easier. Yoast uses a simple traffic light image to let you know when your posts – and their Meta tags – are properly optimized. Essentially, you enter your chosen keyword, customize your title and Meta description with that keyword, and make a few other tweaks. When the traffic light is green, you’re good to post.
4. In your images – When you add an image to your post, optimize that image with a keyword, too. Not only will this help your blog’s SEO, but it will also help get your blog images into Google’s image search, too – yet another way potential clients can find you! To do this, simply find the “alt” tag area when uploading the image to your blog. Create a description for the image, including at least one of your post’s keywords, and hit save. That’s it!
Be careful, though, not to over-stuff your keywords in your image’s alt text. The text should be descriptive of the image and include a short, but concise description. If the image does not go along with your keywords, do not add a keyword in there just to add it.
If your blog is housed on your portfolio site, optimize the other pages on your website, too – your bio, homepage, contact page and other content areas. You’ll use the same process as with a post: Add a keyword to the page’s title, content, image and meta tags, and hit save.
Google, Yahoo and Bing regularly crawl sites on the web. Once all your pages have been optimized, these crawlers will pick up on your keywords, and they’ll start to display your site in results when a user types those terms into their search bars.
A quick note: SEO builds on itself, meaning the more people who navigate to your website from search results, the better you’ll rank. So create persuasive Meta descriptions for each post and page on your site, as this is what will display in search results and “convince” users to click on your site over another result. Think of the Meta description as your chance to win them over, and use those writing skills to your advantage!
One other important point…SEO has a lot to do with the value you provide on your blog.
Are you thinking about your audience with your content? Or just stuffing in keywords to try to rank? If you are doing the latter, the search engines will know and you won’t get anywhere.
Seek to OVERDELIVER with the content on your blog and this will help to optimize your blog along with all of the other strategies I outlined today. Writing valuable content is one of the most important SEO blogging tips I can offer you.
Use these SEO Blogging Tips for Beginners Today
Though SEO can go much, much deeper than this, these basic tactics lay the foundation for an effective, lead-generating blog that not only brings in potential clients, but also ones who are ready and willing to use your services.
Having a blog is one of the first steps to optimizing your website because the search engines love regular, fresh content. Then, implementing my tips above will take it to the next level.
If you want to learn more about SEO, read this Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.
Do you use SEO on your blog or portfolio site? Share your best tips in the comments.