Tips for the SEO-Stressed Freelance Article Writer
By Vangie Beal, Freelance Writer,
SEO rules, or “search engine optimization rules,” for on-page optimization follow the same basic article writing rules that freelance writers have used for years. If feeling sick to your stomach is your reaction to mere mention of “SEO,”
then there is obviously one tip that you haven’t discovered or been told
about yet. One big SEO secret that will cure the cold sweats and bellyaches for
all freelancer writers…
Implementing article SEO practices will not change how or what you write. In fact, SEO rules and best practices for article writing is no more difficult than what you already do as a freelance writer.
Learn SEO Rules First Then Write The Article
There is no way around it — freelance writers producing Web articles must learn proper SEO rules for article writing. This isn’t something you can call an “added
service” or an optional inclusion. It is the new standard for getting hired, and now is the time to learn the best on-page optimization practices for your articles.
The key to being comfortable with optimizing articles is to understand that you
will always follow the same basic article writing principals that you have been using for years. Search engine optimization simply requires you to add a little extra to what you already do best – and that is to write a good article that is laid out in a specific format for your client.
Article SEO needs to be a part of the writing processes: don’t make SEO an “add-on” and go back and edit a finished piece to include article SEO. Freelance writers must learn the SEO rules first and then incorporate the
mark-up and tactics as you write. When you do this, the finished article will educate or delight your readers — as it always has — but be optimized for search engines, naturally.
As an added bonus, by incorporating the tactics as you write, you’ll find that after a couple pieces you won’t even think about these rules as a separate task because the SEO process will simply become a natural part of your writing style.
SEO Rules For Article Content And Titles
There are many SEO rules to learn and follow, but the good news is that a freelance writer is usually tasked only with optimizing the article itself. Your SEO tasks should begin end when you provide your client with an article that is in proper format for Web publishing. Your client is normally the one who is responsible for the largest bulk of all SEO tasks, like overall site optimization, meta data, backlinks, and other important elements of search engine optimization.
I’m only going to focus on the SEO rules that are applicable to most freelance writers, which is primarily on-page optimization tactics. This includes the article content, article title, sub-headings and keyword usage. To produce
the HTML elements we will cover, you will need to file the article with your client in an HTML format, or simply indicate in your non-HTML document (e.g. Microsoft Word) where tags should be used when the client edits for Web publishing.
Write Something worth Reading: Is that really an optimization rule?
The funniest of all the SEO rules you’ll hear is this one. Someone has
decided that “writing something worth reading” is an on-page search engine
optimization rule. Isn’t this really just common sense combined with good writing skills? This rule is not for freelance writers, but for people who are not writers that produce Web content. For the sake of being thorough, we’ll go through the details of this anyway.
Freelance writers who focus on the story during the writing phase will always
meet the requirements of this SEO rule. As a successful freelance writer with many articles for a number of publications showing up in top Google searches, take this next bit of advice to heart:
Never let any other SEO rule have priority over this one. If you have to change your article to incorporate a optimization element – and that change makes the
article seem forced or fake – don’t do it. Producing a well-written article is
the number one SEO rule that a freelance writer cannot break. If you have a client who insists on adding a keyword an extra twenty or thirty times to your article and it reads like crap, insist your byline be removed.
Optimize The Article Title, Heading, and Sub-Headings for Search Engines
The basic rules for handling the headline (article title) and sub-headings are done in the very same way that you would normally produce any article. So again, don’t stress SEO — the things you already do will make up the bulk of your on-page optimization tasks.
1. Article Title Tips
Note that the following rules for title specifications have nothing to do with the
HTML title tag. These are two very different types of titles. This section is about the article title — this is the first things a reader will see when they load your article in their browser.
A title is something that every article must have — in Web or print
publishing. When writing an article the standard is to put the title first, at the top of the page before the article text. Titles are a larger font and should contain an indicator of your main subject (your keyword). This is standard article writing procedure but for SEO the rule is to enclose the article title in the <H1> tag.
2. Tips for Optimizing Headings and Sub-Headings
As you write, you will want to separate main content sections of the article
with headings. These headings, for optimization, should be enclosed in the <H1> or <H2> tags and follow the same SEO rules used for the article title as noted above.
Additional sub-headings: under each main heading can also be used, but for optimization, you wrap these in <H3> tags and do not use your keyword. Instead use related keywords and phrases to introduce the
3. Examples of Title, Heading and Sub-Heading Code
<H1> SEO Rules: Tips for the SEO-Stressed Freelance Writer</H1>
1. The article title is at the very top of the page
2. It is enclosed in the <H1> tag
3. The title contains the article subject which is the keywords (“SEO Rules, freelance writer”)
4. The content sections (headings) describe the exact topic that follow
<H2> Learn SEO Rules First Then Write The Article</H2>
<H2> SEO Rules For Article Content And Titles</H2>
1. The first sub heading follows the initial summary
2. The sub heading is enclosed in the <H2> tag
3. The sub heading contains the article subject which is the keyword
4. The keyword is close to the beginning of the title and heading — starting
titles and headings with the keyword is the goal
<H3>Write Something worth Reading: Is that really an optimization rule?</H3>
<H3>Tips for Optimizing the Article Title, Headings, and
Sub-Headings for Search Engines</H3>
<H3> Tips for Optimizing Headings and Sub-Headings</H3>
1. The sub-heading breaks up topics under your main content section headings.
2. Sub-headings use the <H3> tag.
3. Sub-headings use related keywords and phrases that describe the next paragraph, not your
So, there you have it. Writing your title, article heading and sub-headings to be optimized for search engines does not change the way you write an article at all. You simply need to remember the HTML tags and when (and where) to use keywords in them.