SEO Content Writing: What Skills are Employers Looking for in Freelancers These Days?

Written by Yuwanda Black

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you know that every Monday, we post freelance writing job leads. I spend hours every week scouring job boards for these leads.

FYI, this is a great way to stay abreast of the changes in the writing industry, eg, what types of jobs are most in demand, what’s the going rate for certain types of gigs, what employers are looking for in freelance talent (which is what we’re going to discuss today), etc.

As you may know, search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly changing. For those who don’t, Google has said that it does hundreds (500-600) of updates per year to its search algorithm. With this being said, following are some key skills I’ve noticed that employers are looking for in web (SEO) writers these days.

Key Skills Employers Seeking in Freelance SEO Writers These Days

1. Content strategy experience: Duties include being able to conceptualize, research and create high quality content that maintains the tone of voice consistent with the company’s mission. Here’s a position that illustrates this skill.

2. Content management experience: Content management (CM) is the administration of digital content throughout its lifecycle, from creation to permanent storage or deletion. The content involved may be images, video, audio and multimedia as well as text. The usual stages in digital content management are: creation; editing; publishing; oversight; and removal.

FYI, this means having knowledge of content management systems, of which there are many, eg, wordpress, drupal, joomla (three of the most common, FYI). Most clients are willing to train you on their in-house system if it’s out of the norm/proprietary to them. So don’t worry about having this skill.

You should, however, at least know how to maneuver around in wordpress.

3. Social media savviness (aka social media writing): Must have the ability to demonstrate knowledge of multiple forms of writing, such as tweeting, blogging, Facebook posting, web, SEO rules, etc.

As you can see, SEO writers are being required to know a bit more than just how to write content. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Why? Well, because it signals that companies are hiring freelancers as part of their team. So, when they outsource content, they’re outsourcing more than just the writing; they’re outsourcing a position.

For example, they may hire you to be the ghostwriter for their blog; ie, they want you to take it over. This means planning the content, uploading it, editing it, sourcing photos for it, etc. As I observed in this weekly list of freelance writing jobs:

. . . more and more companies seem to be looking for writers/bloggers to “take over” their blogs (ie, become long-term ghost bloggers). In case you didn’t know, time is the number one reason many companies say that they don’t do things like blogging (aka content marketing) and social media CONSISTENTLY; hence the need for freelance writers to take over and be their voice on the web.

Evergreen Skills Every SEO Writer Should Have

Knowing how to conduct keyword research, where to put keywords in copy, what to use as anchor text, what long-tail keywords are and how to write themed SEO content are all skills every SEO writer should know. These are basics.

Once you know them, you’ll be incorporating them into your copy without even realizing it. Now, while rules governing how these concepts should be used change from time to time (as discussed in the post below), it’s just a matter of staying abreast of the changes — NOT relearning the concepts all over again.

Related Post: How Should SEO Content be Written in 2014 to Stay on the Right Side of Google? Here’s How

Conclusion

One of the objections I hear from new and aspiring online writers is that there’s a lot to learn about writing for search engines. And it’s true. BUT … once you get the learn the foundation of SEO writing, it’s easy to stay abreast of the tweaks that Google makes to its algorithm.

Why Google Is the Only Search Engine You Need to Worry About (IMO)

And FYI, I talk about Google because it is — by far — the number one search engine. It delivers more traffic than all the others combined. Proof?

Google gets almost four times as much traffic as its nearest competitor (BING), and almost five times as much as the #3 search engine (Yahoo!), as the graphic below illustrates.

Google: Hands Down the #1 Search Engine
This is why I say that if Google is where web surfers are heading first when the go to search for stuff online, then as an SEO writer, focus on following their guidelines when you’re writing client copy. Again, this is just my opinion.

FYI, you have a lot of people who hate Google. But as an SEO writer, you can’t afford to ignore what they bring to the table is all I’m saying.

Share Your Thoughts

Did I miss anything? What skills have you noticed your clients are asking for these days? Please share in the comments section below.

Published Posts

Following is what was published on InkwellEditorial.com, this blog’s parent blog, this week.

Monday: Freelance Writing Jobs for the Week of 4/21/2014

Tuesday: Self-Publishing Insights: Is It Best to Sell Your Ebooks from Your Own Site/Blog or via Biggies Like Amazon?

P.S.: Did you know that the average salary of SEO writers is $66,000 as of this writing? That’s $15,000 above the median household income in the U.S. right now.

SEO Copywriting Training: Course Discoun

P.P.S.: Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you learn so much more than this one skill because it gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your financial future.

Which Part of an SEO Article Should You Spend the Most Time On?

Written by Yuwanda Black

I’m a Type-A personality, and tend to like systems and procedures I can use to approach almost any task. Writing is no different. When writing SEO content for clients – or any content for the web really – there’s a formula I use. What I do is basically break the article down into parts; this way I can seamlessly move through it. It makes the writing go faster and is just much more enjoyable to me.

So, you may be thinking, ‘what does this have to do with the title of this post?’ Well, once you know where to concentrate your efforts to get the most eyeballs on your content, then you can perhaps put systems and procedures in place to help you as well.

SEO Content Writing Tips

The Anatomy of an SEO Article

As discussed in this post, there are basically five parts to an SEO article, ie:

1. The Headline;

2. First Paragraph;

3. Subtitles;

4. Final Paragraph; and the

5. Body of Article (Throughout the Text).

So where should you be spending most of your time? In my opinion, it all depends on your writing skill. For example, some writers (ie, me!) are weak at headlines, so they’ll need to work on that. For others, researching is a problem, so they’ll need to spend time on that.

Once you know what your weak spots are, you can put systems and procedures in place to address them to make the writing easier.

Conclusion

Living in a web-based world, headlines are what get online readers to click. So if you’re weak in this area (I’m constantly studying to learn how to do it better), then this is the one area I’d spend the most time on.

Now, the other parts of your content should support your headline – so tangibles like research and call-to-action statements are extremely important too. But your content can be the greatest in the world, and it won’t mean squat if no one reads it – because the headline doesn’t draw them in. Proof?

Peter Koechley, a former a writer and editor at The Onion, and co-founder of the uber-popular site Upworthy.com, sums up the importance of creating clickable headlines this way:

“[Learning how to write better headlines is] the easiest way to dramatically increase the virality of what you do and I guarantee you’re not spending enough time on it.”

It’s worth noting that, “In just 11 months, with a smallish staff and not much original content, Upworthy built a sizable audience (8.7 million monthly unique visitors as of November 2012) for its socially progressive message, plus a Facebook following of more than 1 million fans. [Source: These Five Astonishing Headline Writing Secrets Will Make You Cry, Or At Least Click]

Which part of an SEO article do you spend the most time on – headline, body, keyword research, etc.? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Published Posts

Following is what was published on InkwellEditorial.com, this blog’s parent blog, this week.

Last Friday: The weekly Quick Tip for Freelance Writing Success.

Monday: Freelance Writing Jobs for the Week of 4/7/2014

Tuesday: Finding Freelance Writing Gigs: Are You REALLY Doing All You Can Do?

P.S.: Did you know that the average salary of search engine optimization writers is $66,000 as of this writing?

That’s $15,000 above the median household income in the U.S. right now.

SEO Writer Salary 2014

P.P.S.: Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you learn so much more than this one skill because it gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your financial future.

Is a Resume Necessary When Applying for SEO Content Writing Jobs?

Written by Yuwanda Black

Following is a question I received from an aspiring freelance SEO writer, which prompted this post:

Hi there,

One of your loyal readers suggested your site to me when I posted a request on how to write a resume for a SEO job.

I read your articles on how to write a resume, but I am still confused as to how I write a SEO resume. There is a big interview coming up for me and I would really appreciate if you could help me with that. Can you suggest me a template or sample resume by any chance?

Will be awaiting for your reply.

Natasha

SEO Writer Resume Advice
As we discussed in yesterday’s post on InkwellEditorial.com, this site’s parent site, no, you really don’t need a resume to apply for freelance SEO writing jobs. In fact, I totally advise against it for reasons I detail in that post.

Freelance writer Lisa Finn sent in a comment on that post. Check out her site, which is a great example of what a niche, freelance SEO writer’s site should look like in my opinion.

Get a Professional, FREE SEO Writing Website

FYI, I just wanted to point out that Lisa’s site is on a free platform (Weebly). While I advise against this if you’re going to be in this for the long haul, lots of freelancer writers use them.

Learn more about why I advise against using free web hosting platforms. This post details some trouble I had with wordpress – and what got me away from using “freebies” when it comes to my websites/blogs forever.

Learn More about Applying for SEO Writing Jobs

If you’re new to this profession, here’s an in-depth post that gives an overview of everything from salary expectations to where the jobs are.

Share Your Thoughts

Are there more tips you can share on about applying for SEO writing jobs? Please do so in the comments section below.

Published Posts

Following is what was published on InkwellEditorial.com, this blog’s parent blog, this week.

Last Friday: The weekly Quick Tip for Freelance Writing Success (we post one every Friday; this is the most recent one).

Monday: Freelance Writing Jobs for the Week of 3/31/2014

Tuesday: Freelance Writers: How to Get Over Your “I’m Not Good Enough” Blues (a guest post by Francesca Nicasio)

Yesterday: Freelance Writers: Why You Should Never Submit a Resume When Applying for Writing Gigs

P.S.: Did you know that the average salary of search engine optimization writers is $66,000 as of this writing?

That’s $15,000 above the median household income in the U.S. right now.

SEO Writer Salary 2014

P.P.S.: Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you learn so much more than this one skill because it gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your financial future.