Freelance SEO Copywriters: 4 Things Clients are Looking for in 2016
Since I started writing search engine-optimized (SEO) content in 2007, the rules have definitely changed. It's one of the things that make this form of technical writing exciting - and frustrating - at the same time.
To land clients, stay on the right side of Google and get rewarded in search results in 2016, following are four things you should know as a freelance SEO copywriter.
I. Become a Master Story Teller: Writing online content used to be all about keywords and keyword density. You would do your research; put keywords in the appropriate places, eg, title, subheadings, body of article; then distribute it and bam - land on the first few pages of Google (if you did this often enough).
I know. I used to dominate the first few pages of Google for quite a few keywords pertinent to niches of products and services I promoted.
Nowadays, it's not so simple. Google's Panda update in February 2011 basically did away with this method of achieving high rank. Nowadays, it's all about quality content, and what content marketers want are "master story tellers."
They want content that can engage their customers and make them take the next step in the sales cycle -- whether it's making a purchase directly, or downloading a free report (thereby capturing an email address so they can market to prospects later).
As a freelance SEO writer, if you can become a skilled story teller, your income will only be limited by your marketing ability.
How to Write Content That Tells a Good Story
FYI, the Outbrain article, How to Write Good, SEO-Friendly Articles, gives some great tips on how to do this, staying:
(a) Use concrete, relatable examples in your copy;
(b) Find your voice -- and use it: for example, if you're funny, don't be afraid to let that shine through in the copy; and
(c) Know your audience. You have to know who you're writing for to make the copy relatable.
II. Get Results: With the advent of content marketing, quality is arguably the main ranking factor in Google, especially since its Penguin and Panda updates in 2011 and 2012.
What does this have to do with results? Since it's harder to reach the top of search results just by cranking out some articles with keywords in the right places, clients are using other metrics to measure results.
While search engine rank is still important, when you write a piece for a client, they look at actionable metrics like how many clicks did it get, how often was it share on social media, how many visitors did it drive to their blog, etc.
This all goes back to becoming a master story teller -- and knowing how to distribute content effectively, which brings me to my next point.
III. Know Social Media: Social media is an integral part of SEO content writing these days. The two go hand in hand. Why? Because you can write the greatest piece of content since Hemingway's, The Old Man and the Sea, but if nobody reads it (ie, knows it exists), then it don't mean a thang!
This is why distribution is important.
Knowing the demographics and user behavior of the major social media outlets will help you effectively distribute content you write for clients. And an added bonus is, this can add an extra income stream for you (social media account management), which is a pretty easy upsell to clients who already use you.
IV. Learn How to Write Effective Headlines: This is important because it's the first part of your content that web surfers see. If the headline doesn't lure a reader in, no matter how great the rest of your content is, it's not going to get read - or distributed, or create sales, or generate leads for clients.
And consider this ...
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.~David Ogilvy
In case you don't know, David Ogilvy was an advertising executive who was widely hailed as "The Father of Advertising". He founded Ogilvy & Mather, one of the largest marketing companies in the world today.
See why learning to write headlines is critically important as a SEO writer?
Writing is a skill that many take for granted - until they need it. This is why good SEO writers can make a ton of money - if they take to heart the advice outlined here. Because of the growth of content marketing, companies need what you can provide, and they're willing to pay a pretty penny to the ones who can provide results.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black has been a freelancer since 1993. She heads New Media Words, an online writing company, and is the webmaster of InkwellEditorial.com, a leading portal for information on how to start a successful freelance writing business. Log on and get the free eBook, "Living the Freelance Life! How I Live Internationally and Have Earned a Living Completely Online Since 2007," when you subscribe.
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