Tag Archives: SEO writing

SEO: A Crash Course

Amanda Smyth Connor1148745_crashed_car

More often, you may see “knowledge of SEO” popping up on job descriptions and in your freelance positions. Having a working knowledge of SEO best practices, keyword usage, and proper linking strategies makes you that much more valuable and gives you an extra leg up over the other shlubs applying for the same projects.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of adding keywords that will make your copy “search-friendly,” adding links that will help the bots find your copy, and being able to make informed decisions regarding how to use the two to add power to the copy you create. What good is this great copy if it doesn’t get read/found? SEO helps Google (and other search engines) find and list your copy so that it appears in appropriate search results. Continue reading SEO: A Crash Course

Barack Obama Reads This Blog

freelance-writing-advice-3No, he doesn’t. But that headline serves two purposes—the first is it definitely grabs your attention. Even if it’s just for a moment. The second is, for better or worse this headline will be scooped up by Google and will give yours truly a lot more clicks.

Am I suggesting that you put misleading information into your blog headlines? HELL NO. What I am suggestion is that people don’t put enough though into those headlines. They don’t realize that Google latches on to keywords–especially those found in headlines–and may give your next blog entry higher placement if you use Google-friendly buzzwords such as “freelance rates” or “freelance jobs”.

Headlines can be a very powerful way to attract more clicks if you structure them correctly. Notice that my bogus Barack Obama headline leads with the most Googleable word in the string. “Barack Obama” is very hot right now, so I capitalized on that to pull add SEO value to the headline. “Blog” can also be a hot Google word depending on what you use it with. In my case, the usage is weak because I don’t tie the word “blog” in with anything else, so I lose points for that.

Headlines can be your best friend depending on the topic you’re writing about…when you write them, think GOOGLE.

The Future of Freelancing: 2009 Beckons

freelance-writing-advice-3In our current economy, more and more people are being driven out of the traditional workplace and into contract positions, freelance gigs and other arrangements formerly the exclusive territory of the full-time freelancer.

What’s going to happen to freelance writers in 2009? From where I sit, it will be a combination of  “more of the same” and a major shift to the Internet from the newsstand.

I remember when the dot com bubble burst back in the late 90s, and many net workers were out of a job after being paid staggering sums by overvalued .com companies. The dot commers killed themselves inthe late 90s because companies that had nothing to sell were getting mad startup money, tricking out their offices with pool tables and video games, and basically driving themselves into the ground.

Now we see the inverse happening damn near exactly ten years later–solid companies with much to offer are being pulverized while companies selling dollar electronic widgets (see the iPhone App store for a great example) are thriving. What does any of this mean for US?

Two big things spring to mind. If your website still looks like a web 1.0 dinosaur, you’ve got trouble coming. What is the sound of no mouse clicking? That zen riddle I just made up is something you’ll be pondering next year unless you get into web 2.0-land. Things are shifting to the net so completely that some people are actually discussing the “death of bookstores”.

The second thing–which is already happening to my fellow freelancer pals in some quarters–is that there will be a larger tidal wave of ridiculous freelance clients out there who actually expect you to take the penny-per-word rates they offer. Folks—one cent per word is what NOOB FICTION WRITERS make. Not freelancers who deal in non-fiction, e-commerce, SEO writing or other skilled areas.

There are plenty of people who will settle for these rates. I strongly urge you to re-evaluate your rates NOW and tell clients who want you to accept their peanuts for your hard work a polite version of the following:

“I understand your need to keep your overhead low and I am happy to work with you on a volume discout basis, but I also want to explain someting to you: with today’s SEO environment, you GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. You will find a writer willing to write for a penny per word, I assure you. I can also assure you that NOBODY WILL TAKE THAT WRITING SERIOUSLY. You may get the right attention from Google, but when HUMANS read that crap, they will click away from your page.  Today’s market is not just about Google placement–it’s about CONVERSION. What good does 10,000 unique visits do you if you have 0% conversion from those visits?”

I could rage on about this, but why bother? Everything you need to know (in this context) is in those last two sentences.

The “Just Say No” Thread Continues…

mar-dugan-ganesh1.jpgMark Dugas wrote an interesting post at FreelanceSwitch.com on saying no to low-paying freelance work you don’t feel is worthy of your skill and experience. This makes me think of a post I recently raved about at WritingHermit which touches on the same notion.

I had some painful choices to make in 2007, and the agony of cutting loose dependable, but ultimately time-wasting gigs is very real. You wind up accumulating some serious time-waster projects if you aren’t careful. My dilemma was that I was earning just barely enough to justify the work, but the time investment was actually costing me money. The strange thing about freelancing–at least in my world–is that it usually pays off when you go out on a limb, treat yourself right and say no to money that isn’t worth the effort. I found much better projects to replace the ones I ditched, and fairly quickly!

You’re probably wondering what the relevance of the above photo is–it’s a still from Mark Dugas’s documentary, Ganesh. Something I’d be interested in seeing as I’ve always loved the Ganesh imagery. Being a fellow documentary filmmaker doesn’t hurt either, so in the spirit of cross promotion, please take a second to have a look at Dugas’s site. Doc films don’t get enough love at film festivals in my opinion–though it’s been several years since I submitted one, so maybe the tide has changed. But I digress…

Stuntdubl Speaks Up On LinkBait

Internet marketing consultant Todd Malicoat, better known in the SEO community as Stuntdubl, had quite a lot to say about the ins and outs of linkbait in a recent interview at VKI Studios. Stuntdubl is a site dedicated to helping SEO writers and marketers find jobs, learn the trade and discover a few secrets about search engine optimization. I find this site quite useful for writers–even fiction and trade mag writers who have little to do with SEO on a daily basis.

What? You don’t know what SEO or “linkbait” is and you’re pissed off that I didn’t spell it out for you? Shame on you, writer. You need to know how your career can be affected by Google, search engine optimization, and building traffic through linkbait. A writing blog or resume site needs to be optimized with these things in mind or risk being left in the dust by more savvy writers.

Any technique you can learn as a writer to increase traffic to your own site is an important tool of your trade. If you aren’t a restless self-promoter, you are behind your game. For every one of us who doesn’t bother to seek the cutting edge for their resume sites, blogs and other promotional tools, there are five writers who ARE hip to these things and they will beat you to the next gig. No writer should ever be caught saying “I don’t understand the Internet.”

I know I’ve got much to catch up on with regard to SEO, linkbait and other tools–Todd Malicoat’s blog is one way I try to keep up with the times. I just wish I’d found this one sooner.

Listen to the interview here.