Part 6 of the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand Series teaches you some easy search engine optimization tips to help you boost search results for your name, brand, and targeted keywords.
Most traffic to websites and blogs comes from search engines (with Google driving the vast majority of traffic). Therefore, it’s important that you understand the do’s and don’ts of search engine optimization, so you can get the most traffic possible.
1. Use your keywords in your titles.
The title of your page, titles of your blog posts, headlines, etc. should use your keywords. Search engines rank keywords found in titles and headlines with more weight than other text on a web page.
2. Use your keywords in your links.
Try to use your keywords in applicable links on your web pages, blog posts, etc. Search engines rank keywords found in links (or near links) higher than text outside of links.
3. Use your keywords in image titles and Alt-tags.
If you include images on your web page or in your blog posts, name them with your keywords and use your keywords in the HTML Alt-tag, so that text appears if the image cannot load in a browser window.
4. Go after the long tail.
Long tail search engine optimization relates to targeting very specific keyword phrases, because the competition for those specific keyword phrases is typically less but the results can be powerful in terms of sending niche traffic to your site.
5. Don’t keyword stuff.
Don’t be tempted to fill your web pages or blog posts with your targeted keywords, and don’t try to hide those keywords by setting them in an extremely small font or matching the color to the background of your web page. Those tactics are flagged as spam techniques by search engines and can get your site banned from search results.
6. Work to get incoming links to your blog or website.
Search engines rank pages with a lot of incoming links higher than sites with few incoming links (particularly if those incoming links come from popular, authoritative sites). The thinking is that sites with a lot of incoming links must include great content or no one would link to them. Spend time building relationships across the social web on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Share great content and in time, you’ll see your social web connections share your content with their followers, too.
7. Don’t pay for links or publish text links in exchange for payment.
Text link ads are considered spam by search engines because they artificially inflate the popularity of web pages by making it seem like a lot of sites are linking to them. Both the site that publishes paid text links and the site that paid links lead to could be banned from search engine results if they’re caught.
8. Get focused.
Choose one or two keyword phrases per page and focus on maximizing them on that specific page.
9. Don’t go link crazy.
It’s commonly thought by search engine optimization experts that including one link per 125 words of content is a safe ratio to maximize search traffic without being flagged as spam.
10. Publish original content.
Always make sure the content you publish on your blog or website is original and has not already been published elsewhere online. Search engines decrease rankings of sites that don’t publish original content and those sites can even be flagged as spam. Even if you wrote a piece of content, be sure you publish it on your site first, because the first site where it is published gets the best search engine optimization benefits from it.
Stay tuned for Part 7 of the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand Series where I’ll discuss the tangible elements of branding and why they should matter to you.
Read Parts 1-5 of the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand Series