SEO for Writers: 5 Top Tactics to Attract Search Engines (and Clients)

SEO for writers

As a writer, you know how to communicate ideas, tell interesting stories and ensure your clients’ satisfaction. However, do you understand SEO for writers?

You see, one area where you may be lacking is marketing yourself. You don’t know what it takes to get potential clients to visit your writing website.

That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, for writers can help.

Implementing a solid SEO strategy will help you rank closer to the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP) and make you more visible to searchers. According to a study by Ignite Visibility, the first search engine result will receive 20.5% of clicks, the second one will receive 13.32% and the third will receive 13.14%. Not surprisingly, it continues declining from there.

If you want to be competitive and grab that coveted top position, you need to use SEO tactics that will get you there.

Here are five tactics you can start with to gain your potential clients’ interest and have a thriving career as a freelance writer.

1. Earn backlinks for your website

Backlinks, which are links from another site to your own, are how Google determines which sites are worth ranking at the top. If many high-authority websites are linking to your site, it has a much better chance of ranking higher. On the flipside, if many low-authority, spammy websites are linking to your site, you could potentially rank lower. You need to find high-authority sites that are willing to link to yours and help you increase your ranking.

The first step is to see where you stand with your links. Use Moz’s Link Explorer tool, which shows which sites are linking to you already, how many sites link to you, what your domain authority is and which sites on your page have the highest page authority.

Next, you’ll have to figure out how to acquire backlinks. You could reach out to sites you’ve already written for and ask if you can link your content or bio to their site. Just make sure the link is “follow” and not “no follow,” so it’ll contribute positively to your ranking. No follow links don’t allow search engines to follow your links and won’t help your page rank. Essentially, they will not contribute to your SEO efforts.

You could also submit guest posts to websites within your niche, websites for writers or to local news outlets if you’re targeting local clients. Before pitching an idea, check out a site’s domain authority (DA) to ensure the backlink will be valuable. You can do this by using MozBar, which shows a site’s DA. Typically, a DA of 60+ is excellent, between 50 and 60 is good and 40 to 50 is average.

Finally, check out your competitors’ backlinks through Ahrefs. Sign up for the tool, enter competing writers’ website addresses and see which sites are linking to theirs. You can get some great ideas on places to target for backlinks and guest posts.

One note: Be wary of offers for paid backlinks, as Google could severely penalize your website for using these. It’s simply not worth it. There are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO, so don’t try outsmarting the system.

2. Make your website mobile-friendly

More and more people are accessing the internet from their mobile phones. In 2014, 48.8% of the world’s global mobile phone population used their phones to go online; by 2018, that number had jumped to 61.2%. Since mobile phone usage is growing, Google now does mobile first indexing, which means Google ranks pages based on how they look on mobile devices.

Along with ranking high, you want potential clients to be able to easily navigate your website on any device. Your website builder platform, such as WordPress, may have an option to automatically create a mobile version of your website. If not, you’ll need to hire a designer who can make sure your site is responsive to mobile devices; this requires the pages to readjust to a size that is appropriate for the device. Your menu and buttons should be large enough to see and press on mobile and your font sizes should be large enough to see. Around 16px is recommended for a body font size, and captions and secondary text should be about 13 to 14px. In addition, your site images should be compressed and not too big. Avoid using Flash or pop-ups that are hard to click out of on mobile devices.

3. Repost snippets from your portfolio

When potential clients go to your website, they want to see samples of your work. While you might like to post full articles and blogs, you’ll need to use a canonical tag to signal that you’re posting content that appears somewhere else online. That way, you can attribute the ownership of the content to the original source. There’s a catch, though: Your content won’t rank on Google.

If you want to go the extra mile and get maximum SEO benefit while adding to your portfolio, include unique content about the piece. A short summary is all that’s needed, then you can reference the original source of the content. Now you’ve created a quality page with unique content on your site that will boost SEO and will still allow visitors to read the entire article.   

4. Use keywords in the right places

Figuring out what keywords you’re going to target – and then using them correctly on your website – is essential for SEO. Choose keywords wisely depending upon the services you offer and the potential clients you want to attract. For example, keywords like “freelance writer” and “blogger” are too broad; use local or niche keywords instead. “Healthcare writer,” “Marketing writer Dallas” or “content marketing consultant” are just a few examples.

Then, when building your website, insert keywords in these places:

  • The title tag. This is your page title, and it’s going to be the first thing about your website to appear on Google. Saying, “Robert Davis, healthcare content writer” or “Sally Jones, Dallas marketing writer” is much more descriptive and SEO-friendly than simply using your name.
  • The meta description. It shows directly under the title in the search results. When someone searches for a keyword, your site will pop up with the keyword bolded in the meta description. Including your main keyword there makes it easier for potential clients to find you.
  • Images. Since images are indexed, use keywords in the file name and image title, which shows up when you put the mouse over an image. Also, create descriptive alt text for the image that includes a keyword.
  • Content on your pages. On your services, about, blog, portfolio and other pages, incorporate your keywords.
  • URLs. The URLs for the pages and blog posts on your site should include one of your keywords instead of a generic URL.

Always use keywords naturally and don’t overstuff your site with them, since Google can penalize you for those practices. Use SEO for writers to attract, not repel Google.

5. Increase your website speed

Since many people are using mobile devices to access websites, Google ranks faster pages higher on the SERP. In fact, if a website doesn’t load within three seconds, 53% of mobile visitors will abandon it.

Make sure your site is fast. First, navigate to Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyze it. You’ll receive customized information on what’s making your site load slowly, such as your back-end code or your images.

Whether doing it yourself or hiring a website developer, the following steps can speed up your site:

  • Compress HTML, JavaScript and CSS files that are larger than 150 bytes.
  • Remove any unnecessary parts of your code, like spaces or commas.  
  • Allow caching up to one year, so previous visitors won’t have to load your images, JavaScript files, etc. every time they go to your site.
  • Compress images for the web in the right format. JPEG is ideal for photographs and PNG is best for graphics.

Getting Started with SEO for writers

Putting these SEO tactics into play will help your website rank higher on that SERP. You have a website; let SEO for writers work to boost your business and snag those valuable clients you deserve.

About the author

Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell is a marketing coordinator and magazine editor for madison/miles media. She has written about digital marketing, social media, content marketing and small business.