This month marks two-and-a-half years for my freelancing career. Thankfully, it continues to provide enough work for me to feel relevant in the ever-changing world of content creation. The majority of my assignments, these days, are for blogs. This isn’t how it started out. The first months as a freelancer, I did some blog content, but most of the focus was on catalog copy, email copy and long-form online content. Today, I have about six regular clients — all asking for blogs.
Not everyone posts blogs to their website for the same reason, and it’s important to acknowledge the functional aspect of online content. Whether optimized or not, posted to inform or to track your business better in Google search — why are you blogging?
Information and education
Before people began hyper-focusing on page clicks, ROI, or even SEO, blogs were a way for people to share information. For a business, it was about the value-add of “free” information.
Not only are we great at what we do, but here’s a little DIY version of our services to get you started.
That was essentially the sentiment of a blog back then. Today, blogs can still inform and educate as their primary purpose. They may lack keyword research, but instead become a tool for a business to cross-promote. The blog content goes up on their site, gets shared in LinkedIn by a corporate thought-leader or gets teased out on social media. It’s multi-platform appeal makes it a great way for a business to establish an image or a brand that’s helpful beyond what you, as a consumer, can buy from them.
Content in this vein should be on the shorter, punchier side for tone, so that it easily converts to any platform.
Truthfully, this is how I write for this blog. It may not land me a lot of work, but it keeps me visible, which for a freelancer, is as good as gold.
Visibility and ranking
Another reason people blog is to improve their visibility in online search results. This strategy contains the inform and educate piece, but has an ulterior motive. Topics aren’t always chosen because it’s something people want to know. Instead, keyword searches and trending content is used to make informative decisions on what topics to cover. Pieces are carefully written to include certain keywords, a certain number of times. Length is also very important.
You’re still building your brand, and adding value to your site, but it’s done within the confines of these back-end parameters that ensure people who haven’t heard of your business can easily find out. The goal is to get your blog page up as high as possible in search results without having to pay to promote it.
For many who use this strategy, the main difference is the frequency in which they post blog content. Someone blogging simply to inform and educate might post once a week, or twice a month. Those blogging for rank want to post as much as possible. They’ll even load batches of content that ensure coverage of multiple keywords at once. Projects of this sort can mean a lot more work for content creators, but it’s doable, if you’ve got the time to get ahead of deadlines.
Optimization in every way
As a content writer, I feel my natural tendency is to blog for education and information, The research aspect of any piece I write is my favorite part. I usually learn something new, and get to become an expert of sorts if I write enough pieces for a particular business. It’s a lot of fun for me. However, I add value to my role as a content creator because I can also speak to how to improve visibility and ranking. This has been an evolving process for me, since the latest information is always changing. I make sure to listen to my clients who know more than me, and I try to stay on top of changes. You may not know all the buzzwords, but having a few useful tidbits regarding SEO and optimization can help the content you write for your clients perform better.
As of September 2020, here’s the latest on optimization:
- Google likes seeing fresh content. Adding to a blog regularly shows your site is alive and current. This can make for a higher search rank over time.
- Blogs let you use long-tail keywords in your pieces. These are phrases of four words or more. Most people don’t do a search with just one word, so blogging with these keywords in mind can get you to your target audience faster.
- Blogs give you an easy platform for internal linking (linking to other pages within the site.) This helps Google understand your content better and can strengthen your connection to important keywords.
- Long, well-written content attracts attention. Content over 1,000 words is no longer taboo.
There are other tricks and strategies that can help, but many of them focus on how the page is designed, tagged, and labeled once it’s uploaded. That’s not usually part of my role. I will say that writing a thoughtful snippet to accompany a page of content is extremely valuable in optimization, but make sure it features a keyword.
Strong content = better results
I don’t profess to be an optimization expert, but I’ve learned a few things that can help my clients if they’re interested. Sometimes though, they just want good content on their site for customers to read, and that’s great too. What’s important to me is that I’m a competent writer who understand the tone and style of a client’s business. I let me previous work speak for itself to demonstrate I not only know how to write, but can cite sources properly, translate an interview into a blog, and craft the best story possible for a business.
I keep my SEO knowledge in my back pocket though, bringing it up when the moment presents itself to add value to my own business.