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SEO – So Easy to Optimize Your Writing
by Melissa Mayntz

A hot buzzword in freelance writing is "SEO" but it's more than a buzzword or a writing fad. The rising influence of search engine marketing and targeted advertising coupled with the exponentially growing need for effective web content has made SEO writing ability a critical skill for today's productive freelancers.

Defining SEO Writing

Search engine optimization (SEO) writing is content that makes material more attractive to internet search engines through the effective use of popular keywords and search terms. An article that is attractive to search engines because it uses proper keywords will land higher in search results pages and be seen by more internet users, resulting in more readers and more revenue through advertising clicks, product sales, or direct marketing. In turn, this is beneficial to the writer, because a company that uses effective articles will build its client base and revenue, resulting in more opportunities to hire writers who can continue to craft effective SEO content.

What SEO is Not

When the internet was young and search engines were less sophisticated, keywords were heavily overused because a website could be highly ranked in search results simply by repetitive use of the keywords. That created poor quality content and keyword heavy articles that might sound something like…

"If you want the best chocolate chip cookie recipes you've come to the right place for chocolate chip cookie recipes. Our chocolate chip cookie recipes are the best chocolate chip cookie recipes anywhere because these chocolate chip cookie recipes are easy to make and the most delicious chocolate chip cookie recipes you can find anywhere."

In two sentences, that example uses the keyword phrase "chocolate chip cookie recipes" six times without giving the reader any useful information. For a short period of time, that type of monotonous repetition was how search engines ranked articles, assuming that if the keyword phrase were used frequently the content must be effectively addressing the topic. Clearly, that is not the case with keyword-laden material.

Today, keywords still play a critical role in SEO writing, but they must be used subtly and carefully. If a keyword phrase is used too frequently or with too high a density (used repetitively in a short space), the content will be rejected by search engines and will not be ranked profitably for either the company or the writer.

Tips for Effective SEO Writing

  • SEO articles are easy to write today, if writers understand the purpose of using keywords and how to include them in an article effectively.
  • Use a keyword or keyword phrase no more than once for every 180-200 words of text. Too much repetition is considered spam and will not be effective in getting content properly ranked with search engines. Smaller keyword phrases of just one or two words can be used more frequently, while longer phrases must be used sparingly.
  • In addition to using a specific keyword phrase, such as chocolate chip cookies, also use alternatives and synonyms that are closely related and can attract other internet searches, such as "chocolate chunk cookies," "chocolate lover cookies," or "chocoholic cookies."
  • Rearrange the words in the keyword phrase to keep using the key words without directly repeating the phrase. Instead of always using "chocolate chip cookies" for example, use "cookies with chocolate chips" for variation.
  • Take note of common misspellings and use them in an appropriate illustrative context. "Choclate chip cookies" is a common misspelling, and a keyword article could include a sentence such as: "Chocolate chip cookies, sometimes misspelled 'choclate chip cookies,' are a favorite treat for many people."
  • Spread out each use of the keyword phrase throughout the article. Ideally, the phrase should be used in the first sentence of content, in a relevant subheading (subheadings draw more attention from search engines), and in a concluding paragraph.
  • Provide useful content that is relevant to the keyword phrase. The point of using SEO writing is to draw readers to a specific website so they will buy a product, click on related advertising, or otherwise benefit the company at hand. No matter how effectively keywords may be used, if the content does not answer visitors' questions then it will not be profitable for the company. An article on chocolate chip cookies, for example, cannot just say they're a good treat. It could also address the history of chocolate chip cookies, variations on popular recipes, tips for baking the perfect cookie, storing cookies, or where to find additional recipes.

Where to Sell SEO Writing

Many companies are eager to hire writers who can provide outstanding written content — articles, letters, blog entries, etc. — that is optimized for effective search engine rankings. Private corporations, non-profit organizations, local business, and any other business with a web presence will need content that can draw visitors from search engines, creating endless opportunities for freelance writers. Informational companies also rely on SEO-driven content and regularly hire writers who can craft suitable articles using appropriate keywords. Writers can even create their own websites on any topic they wish using SEO techniques to attract visitors.

Markets hiring writers familiar with SEO include:

LoveToKnow: http://www.lovetoknow.com/write-for-us.htm
About.com: http://beaguide.about.com/
eHow: http://www.ehow.com/

Writers who know what readers want and who can deliver informative articles with effective keyword use are in high demand for internet writing. The biggest keyword of all to remember is profit—not only for the company using the keywords, but for the freelancer who can write them.

© Copyright 2008, Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a freelance writer and editor from Utah. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including About.com, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, ByLine Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, the Orlando Sentinel, LoveToKnow.com, and WritersWeekly. She has edited more than 20 fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for publishers and independent writers; for current project rates and additional details, visit www.MelissaMayntz.com.

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