SEO guide for freelancers
No matter what your area of expertise as a freelancer, it's likely that you'll also need to get to grips with some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) skills to achieve.
Now, the question is, how much do you know about optimising your website for search engines? Here is a guide on SEO for freelancers from Chris Anderson, in collaboration with Springhill Marketing.
Why do freelancers need websites?
Websites are important for freelancers. They can make you stand out from the rest. So, consider using one as a canvas for showcasing your best work. Once they see examples of your experience and skills, clients will be more inclined to hire you. However, people first need to find your website. This is where you’ll need SEO to attract potential clients.
Why the need for SEO?
SEO describes the various methods employed in improving a website’s ranking and online traffic. This means that you have to appear higher up the search engine result pages (SERPs) compared to your competitors. It’s a strategy that will involve the use of keywords and meta-tags.
SEO is essential to both business sites and freelancers like you. Having a website is a start, but, as mentioned above, you’ll need to appear high up on the SERPs. If they can’t find you, you’ll have a difficult time convincing people to use your services. Especially as studies show that online users typically choose websites within the top ten results.
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, consider ensuring that you rank on search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. As a freelancer who depends on online work, this strategy is a must for attracting clients.
The importance of ranking
Only by ranking in the search engine results can a website obtain much-needed exposure that will attract potential clients. However, to achieve this you also need to be aware of the algorithms used by the search engines.
In the case of Google, one of the factors its algorithm uses to rank websites is based on the links which point to them. The higher a site ranks for its backlink profile, the better its chances of appearing on the top of SERPs.
Also, another ranking factor is whether a website offers authoritative advice. Businesses that do so can also earn the trust of their target audience and hence appear higher in the SERPs.
Keywords are words or phrases that users typically type into the search engine when they are looking for something. For example, if you’re offering freelance writing, you can use keywords such as:
- ‘content writing’
- ‘digital writing’
- ‘online writer’
- ‘digital content writer’
How often you use keywords is another deciding factor. Google calculates the number of times keywords have been used on a webpage. Once you have enough keywords and phrases, your website will generally start ranking on the search engine pages.
Using too many keywords, however, will force search engines to classify your website as spam and will exclude it from the rankings.
Unfortunately, you can’t purchase rankings either. But there’s no need because Google does it for free, and their algorithm determines your rank. Instead, a website should climb the SERPs using appropriate methods discussed.
Search engines do however allow for paid promotions based on a particular keyword or phrase. They are often in the form of sponsored ads and are separate from free search results.
How can freelancers make use of SEO?
The best way to learn about SEO is by applying its concepts on your own website. Here are some of the essential questions you need to answer:
1. What are my clients looking for?
Optimise the website based on what your clients want. For example, if you’re a content writer based in Northamptonshire, many of your potential clients may use search terms such as:
- ‘writers in Northamptonshire’
- ‘online writer, Northamptonshire’
- ‘digital content writer, Northamptonshire’
Figuring out the common search terms used by your potential clients may take some time, but it’s worth the effort.
2. How can I make search engines like my website?
In addition to using the correct search terms or keywords, consider making sure that visitors find your website easy to navigate. This means enhancing your site’s design and typography to enhance the user experience (UX). Also, consider removing any element that can distract your visitors, such as pop-ups or opt-in boxes. Make your content easy to read and enticing to readers. If you’re not sure how to proceed, consider reading some SEO articles online or seek advice from an SEO professional.
3. How do I make my website attractive to both search engines and users?
All of the above SEO tips will help you to make your website popular with search engines and easy to find by prospective clients. Another factor to consider is making sure that your site loads quickly. Studies show that almost half of your visitors will leave your website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Also, many of your potential clients are likely to use a mobile device to access your site. So, it’s best to ensure that you have a mobile-friendly site.
Freelancers need multiple skills if they want to excel and attract more clients. One such skill is SEO expertise. While learning about it will take time, the results can mean more work and income for you. There is only one goal for SEO: to have a website appearing high up the page on the search engine results. However, there is a combination of ways to achieve this, including keywords and link building.