You: “Oh, I’m a writer. I don’t do SEO.” Yes, you do. If you’re a writer, then search engine optimization is part of your job. And that’s because you write for the internet, which SEO plays a huge part in. In this blog, we’re going to start with some of the SEO basics.
Psst! Is video more your style? Check this out!
Here’s the good news: Learning SEO basics is probably a lot more straightforward than you’re thinking, and even making small adjustments to your content can drive noticeable change.
This blog is not exhaustive. We won’t cover everything, because there’s too much. If you want a more in-depth tutorial, then go enroll in my course for writers, How to Blog Like a Pro. You can use the code 33off to get 33% off at checkout.
Alright, SEO basics. Let’s go.
The SEO Basics That Freelance Writers Need to Know
How can you possibly know what to write about if you don’t know what people want to read about? That’s why topic research matters. Because why would you create content around topics that people don’t care about?
Don’t just pull an idea out of thin air. You need a reason to write about it.
There are a number of ways to research topics. One really simple way is to see what your competitors are covering. You can also see what’s trending on social media, because that’s going to give you a good indication of what people are paying attention to and searching for.
Another strategy is to take blogs you’ve already written that have performed really well, and piggyback off of them.
For example, on my own website, one of my best performing blogs is on SMMAs — social media marketing agencies. That tells me that maybe SMMAs are something people really want to learn about. So, recently, I went and published a second blog on SMMAs.
I’m going to give this new content some time, and if it outperforms my other blogs (just like the first blog I wrote on SMMAs), then I know that my audience really loves this topic.
Coming second after topic research is…
SEO largely involves optimizing your blog around a certain keyword, so you’re going to need… a keyword.
Like the topic of your blog, the keyword isn’t something you want to pull out of thin air. There’s more strategy involved if you want to do this successfully. As a very general rule of thumb, look for keywords that are high-volume and low-competition.
This means that a lot of people are searching for it, but not a lot of content creators are building content around it. There’s demand, there’s search traffic, but it’s not saturated, so you’ll have an easier time being seen in the search results.
There are tons of tools you can use to do keyword research. Ubersuggest from Neil Patel is one of my favorites. You can use this for free for up to three searches.
Keywords Everywhere is another one. This is a browser extension. They have it available for Chrome and Firefox. This is a paid tool. But if you start with the cheapest tier, which is $10, it will go a very long way. I purchased it a long time ago and I still haven’t used up all my credits.
Topic research and keyword research are where it all starts. If you want more in-depth help with this, I recently launched my new mini-course, Writing Wizardry, which focuses on these two things specifically. You can use the code launch10 to get $10 off at checkout.
(1) Topic research, (2) keyword research.
Third, we’ve got…
This is what most freelance writers immediately think about when they think of SEO.
We’re talking about using the keyword in the title, the URL, the first paragraph, and so on.
It goes further than this, though. Cramming your keyword in your blog as many times as possible used to work. It used to get you to rank.
It does not anymore. Google is way smarter than that.
This means you’re going to have to do much more to make SEO work for your content.
For instance, you’ll want to consider LSI keywords — latent semantic indexing — and incorporate those in your blog.
As an extension, keyword research also includes looking into user intent, also referred to as search intent. This means understanding exactly what someone wants to learn when they type in a specific phrase in Google or any other search engine.
For example, if someone searches “email marketing” in Google, what about email marketing are they trying to find? Strategies? Email templates? Tips? Software and tools? Reviews and ratings? How to grow their email list?
What is their search intent?
Having the keyword is part of it, and optimizing your blog around that keyword is the next step.
But you need to make sure that when people search that keyword, they get the exact information they want to know.
I’ve got a whole video on search intent. Check it out…
(1)Topic research, (2) keyword research, (3) keyword optimization.
These are the first three things I do before every single blog I write.
Notice what these three things have in common: They’re all about making sure we’re giving the user what they want. That’s all that matters. It’s so important to give the user what they want because that is Google’s #1 priority.
Make the user happy and you’ll make Google happy. And if you do that, Google will rank you well and send you lots of delicious traffic.
In this blog, we’ve quickly scratched the surface of SEO basics for freelance writers, but as you probably guessed, there’s a lot more here. My writing course, How to Blog Like a Pro, goes into all the nitty-gritty. And you can enroll for 33% off using the code 33off. Click here to learn more and enroll.