DIY (Do-It-Yourself) SEO Guidelines for Freelance Writers

SEO is definitely something you can do yourself. For freelance writers, it is encouraged as you enhance your value to your clients. These 7 guidelines will help you craft winning, SEO-optimized content.

Updated: May 11, 2023
Do it yourself SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a must-have skill for freelance writers and contributes to your increased earnings and success. 

Most clients will specify they want SEO-optimized content, others will be impressed when you return an optimized article without prompting, and you’ll bring clients back again and again. 

Bringing working SEO knowledge to the table sets you apart and increases your value.

Understanding SEO and optimizing it in your writing isn’t necessarily difficult if you follow several essential do-it-yourself SEO tips.

    Know What SEO Is and Why It’s Necessary

    SEO is essential to helping a website rank higher in search engine results when someone searches for specific terms. 

    The higher the website ranks in the search results, the more traffic it will receive, and more traffic equals more leads and increased sales.

    The primary goal of SEO is getting a website on the first page of the search results. 

    It’s an accomplishment that massively elevates a site and its reach.

    Can I Do My Own SEO?

    Yes, some clients will even prefer it. 

    In some cases, clients will provide you with a list of keywords that they want to see in their content, but most times, it is up to you to produce winning content that is optimized. 

    Submitting a final product that includes SEO work is a winning strategy for every writer.

    Yesterday, I submitted content to a client with an analysis of its SEO effectiveness not because I had to, but because I knew they’d be back for more.

    7 Steps to SEO Excellence

    It’s not difficult to craft winning, SEO-optimized content. Considering the value it brings to the table, these seven guidelines are content gold.

    1. Know the keywords

    A little research is necessary and should be performed before you start writing. 

    Give it some thought first. 

    • What words does somebody use when looking for what the business offers? 
    • What would you search for to find the right product or service if you were the customer?

    A great way to think about search terms isn’t just the products or services offered but the problems they solve.

    If someone asks a question, will your content come back as a way to solve it?

    Now search for the main keywords you’ve identified through one of the free keyword search tools. 

    You’ll be looking for the top matches based on the volume of searches and which words or terms have the lowest competition. 

    A mix of both is suggested, so your content competes for the most prevalent searches and will rank highly on searches for keywords without such intense competition.

    Armed with your list, search for the words or phrases and see what is ranking on page one. 

    A quick evaluation helps make your content unique as you weigh up what will make it more credible, up-to-date, and user-friendly

    The goal is to create content that is more relevant to the search.

    1. Optimize your content

    With your excellent list of keywords, it’s time to take a strategic approach to their placement. 

    You needn’t overdo it and should place them where they fit organically. 

    Your writing is your primary talent, don’t compromise it by placing words where they don’t sound correct. 

    There’s no point in ranking a page that doesn’t serve its purpose when read and Google won’t let you get away with it anyway.

    Two vital considerations are placing your primary keyword or phrase early in the content, preferably the first paragraph, and within headlines. 

    Google will view headers and the intro as the most essential parts of your content.

    It is ideal if your primary keyword is part of the content title.

    1. Don’t fret function words

    Many phrases you’ll find in your research seem nonsensical as they miss prepositions, articles, conjunctions, or other words that make the phrase work within your content. 

    Most people are unaware that Google no longer requires exact phrase matches and omits function words when analyzing for keywords.

    People don’t search using prepositions, but good content requires phrases that make sense. 

    Don’t ruin your content trying to include a nonsensical phrase match.

    1. Use backlinks

    Using backlinks to external sources and internal relevant content improves your chances of ranking higher in the results. 

    You don’t need to go overboard, though. 

    Also, if your research produces information from another site, providing a link that gives that site credit is the right thing to do; so don’t use competitors as sources.

    Placing internal links needn’t be excessive, either. 

    Typically, one relevant link to another blog article on the site and a link to the “contact us” page as part of the CTA is plenty.

    1. Know that SEO requirements change

    Change is the only sure thing in life, and Google likes to change things. 

    A high-ranking page with excellent domain authority can see its ranking drop dramatically if Google updates its algorithm

    It’s essential to do a little research occasionally and ensure the SEO best practices you’ve been using haven’t changed.

    1. Tell your clients you’re awesome

    There’s no point in delivering outstanding SEO-optimized content if your clients don’t know you’ve gone above and beyond. 

    Advertise your skills to existing and potential clients. 

    It increases your value as a writer, and everyone wants to be better paid and appreciated.

    1. Don’t expect your content on page one overnight

    You wrote compelling and engaging content using an excellent SEO strategy; that’s fabulous! 

    Please don’t get frustrated that it isn’t on the top of the search results tomorrow.

    Before anything, Google will index the webpage with your content, but improving a site’s results is a slow process that requires consistent focus. 

    The best thing for any site is more relevant content, and it’s an excellent reason for your clients to continue using you regularly and consistently.

    Wrapping It Up

    Writers that incorporate SEO consistently in their writing increase their value and the client’s happiness. 

    Using SEO best practices will differentiate you from others.

    A little research, incorporation of the right words and phrases into your content, a few backlinks, and knowledge of SEO changes will get you to the SEO gold standard. 

    Following this formula will help you deliver great results to your clients and make more money.

    SEO is constantly changing, and with each year, awareness of what those changes mean to your content is essential. 

    Get to know 2022’s biggest SEO challenges and ways to overcome them.


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    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

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