Freelance writers already know SEO, even if they don’t realize it.
SEO, the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, seems arcane but it isn’t, really. The goal of SEO is to make a web page findable by search engines, particularly Google.
Search engines use formulas, called algorithms, to determine where to display a web page. Known as page rank, the algorithm determines if your page shows up on the first page of a search for a particular keyword or the zillionth.
You search for keywords and phrases
When you think about how you search you’ll realize you’re already using the keywords and phrases used in SEO.
For example, Google analytics, a free service used by many to track the traffic on their websites, tells me that just over 44 percent of the traffic to this site comes from people using search engines. Among the key phrases used are freelance writing, freelance writing jobs, which are pretty obvious, and how to write an invoice and hemingway on writing, which always surprise me.
You apply the same sort of thinking when you’re writing an article, asking yourself what search terms you’d use to find whatever it is you’re writing about. Another way to say it is how would a reader be expected to search if they were looking for this information or story?
The trick, of course, is to include the keywords you want in a natural way. As a freelance writer I find it pretty easy to write an article, then go back through it and add the key words of phases I want.
Keywords aren’t the only thing that determine page rank. Ideally your article will be strong enough so others link to it, which increases the page rang tremendously. The right keywords and phrases help others find the piece so they can link to it.
Search keeps changing
While there are organizations and individuals who offer to “put you on the front page of google” or claim there is a particular combination of the right number of key words and links and length and, I suppose, holding your mouth exactly right, that will make your page go to the top, the truth is every search engine tweaks and even radically changes their algorithm regularly so what works today may not work tomorrow. And as more and more personalization comes to web search, creating filter bubbles, the harder it will be for writers and others figure out what will bring their information to the top.
The secret, I believe, is solid writing and some attention to optimization. How much? It’s hard to tell exactly. I do find Scribe, a tool that scores my posts before I publish them for good SEO, helpful, at least for now.
How do you work with SEO?