As a freelance writer scouring the online job market, a recurring request from clients looking for content is SEO writing. You can be certain that among a list of requirements in a client brief there are bound to be mentions of keywords and SEO.
SEO in simple terms
So what is SEO or Search Engine Optimization? It is just what the words seems to imply. As many websites, from Wikipedia to SEO specialists will tell you, it’s somewhat like making offerings to search engines. Google after all is god. In basic terms, it is developing content that is search friendly. In other words, content that contains words that will serve to organically increase visibility in search engine results.
For instance, if you are looking for some pointers to start out as a freelance writer, you may typically type in ‘freelance writing’ in the search box. Keywords are just that – the words that are commonly used in search engines and it would serve well if your content included them.
DOs and Don’ts of SEO
That said, keyword stuffing is not only painful for the writer but also for the reader and will not benefit your content in the long-term. Search engines like Google have found ways to discourage keyword stuffing or over optimizing – a practice that falls under Black Hat SEO. Conversely, having content integrity and adhering to best practices for a greater user experience are in line with White Hat SEO.
Google’s algorithm updates like hummingbird is an example of the trend search engines are taking in developing search results. These updates are in favour of content with substance. They dentify what words mean rather than picking up solely on keywords. In fact search engines today can penalize content that are created purely to draw traffic and not inform readers. As a result content that may be loaded with keywords and tricks to gain clicks will only achieve results short-term. Content of this nature will eventually be phased out of SERP – Search Engine Results Page. Given these developments it serves well to have an understanding of SEO especially when approaching clients asking for SEO content.
How to get around keywords
A drawback that writers experience when writing SEO content is the type of keywords and the number of repeats that clients request. Keyword phrases can sometimes be grammatically incorrect. For example if a client wants a phrase such as ‘hiking gloves summer’ repeated twice or thrice in a short description, you will find yourself struggling to deliver content that sits well with your quality conscience! A way around this is to break the phrase and still have the keyword phrase intact: ‘…a comfortable pair of hiking gloves. Summer is the time to go on vacation…’
However, there’s only so much you can do with awkward phrases. Sometimes you simply have to tell a client to rethink the number of repeats or to have the phrase changed so that grammatical sense is possible when including them.
How to find keywords
The easiest source for keyword ideas is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. One of the first things you can set about is finding search volumes for keywords and getting keyword ideas from google. These numbers can be influenced by location and timing – in the case of seasonal events or products for instance. But even this tool recommends to choose keywords wisely, where quality precedes numbers. After all keywords are all about relevance to your content and not simply about search traffic.