Freelance SEO Writers: Here are Some Questions Clients are Asking These Days

As the SEO writing industry has matured, the types of questions freelancers who specialize in this form of technical writing can expect from clients have changed. For example, back in 2007, one of the most frequently asked questions revolved around keywords and keyword density.

Now, mentioning keyword density is an absolute no-no. Clients expect that you know to write themed SEO content, which is about as far away from keyword-stuffed articles as you can possibly get. All of this is discussed in the updated version of the SEO writing ebook, by the way.

Questions from a Prospect

This past October, I received the following inquiry from a prospect asking the following six questions. It gives some insight into the types of things prospective clients want to know these days. She wrote:

We are looking for a company who can provide good SEO writing services. I just need to ask a few questions.

  1. How much do you charge per word?
  2. Can you send me samples of your work?
  3. How long have you been on [sic] the business?
  4. Where in US are you based?
  5. What is your turnaround time?
  6. How many articles can you complete in a day?

Following are my answers.

My Answers

J:

First, thank you for your interest in New Media Words’ services. We appreciate you reaching out. In answer to your questions:

1. How much do you charge per word? 

You can find out all of our pricing here. Articles start at $85 per (we charge by the piece, not by the word). Special pricing can be arranged based on volume.

2. Can you send me samples of your work? 

See some samples here. This is the quality of the work we turn out.

3. How long have you been in business?

Since 1993; writing SEO content since 2007.

4. Where in the US are you based? 

As the owner of the firm, I’m mobile. Learn more about me. I’m American (lived/worked in New York City and Atlanta for years; currently living and working from abroad — Jamaica (Negril)). All of my writers are U.S.-based and I do quality checks on every project before it goes back to a client.

5. What is your turnaround time? 

It depends on the nature and volume of the project. Most jobs can be completed in 2-3 business days.

6. How many articles can you complete in a day? 

Again, it depends on the nature and volume of the project. I have four writers, and can hire others on an as-need basis. So whatever your needs, we can most likely accommodate.

If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We look forward to the possibility of working with you.

Sincerely,
Yuwanda Black, Content Manager
http://NewMediaWords.biz
info@NewMediaWords.biz

(Post continued below)

SEO Writing Questions

Questions Freelance SEO Writers Should be Asking Clients

When a prospect contacts you, not only are they “interviewing” you, you should be asking them some questions as well. If you’re thinking, “But I have no clue what to ask potential clients. I’m new to SEO copywriting” – never fear. Here are 40 questions right here.

Sure, you want the work, but you want to ensure that you can deliver as well. It’s better to lose a potential client because you’re honest about what you can deliver, than to take on a job and not deliver.

Also, you can save yourself a lot of grief from possibly taking on the wrong client by getting answers to even a quarter of the questions on this list. Not every question listed is going to be pertinent to the writing job at hand, but it’s a great list to keep handy and refer to as jobs come in.

Select the ones that fit the gig at hand, and get answers to them before you start. Also, many of these questions will help you clarify where your strengths and weaknesses are as a writer and freelance business owner.

Some other questions you can expect these days include turnaround time, your rate(s), and what type of content you can provide (eg, can you write about cloud technology). This all goes to niche.

Why It’s an Exciting Time to Be a Web (SEO) Writer

Thanks to content marketing, there’s never been more work out there, as the latest Content Marketing Institute report underscores. For example, did you know that 51% of the B2B marketers surveyed said that they planned to increase their content marketing budgets next year?

Some other stats that underscore this point include:

88% use content marketing.

The average proportion of total marketing budget allocated to content marketing last year was also 28%.

82% of B2B marketers cite creating more engaging content as a bigger priority for those who are in the first stages of their content marketing maturity program.

72% cite e-newsletter as the most common offer it asks its audience to subscribe to (hint, hint — in your marketing, offer newsletter writing services when you contact prospects)

Marketers used an average of 6 social media platforms to distribute their content. (again hint hint — get familiar with social media and offer content distribution to potential clients).

I hope this insight helps.

Your Insight

Freelance SEO writers, what kinds of questions are clients asking you these days? Please share in the comments section below.

Next week’s post (January 25th): Addictive SEO Content: 13 Must-Know Tips for Creating it – Now!

P.S.: Starting an online writing biz? Learn why I trust HostGator for my web hosting needs.

P.P.S.: Get the Training You Need to Start a Successful Freelance SEO Writing Career.

SEO Copywriting Course Online

Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you get the knowledge you need to take control of your career — and your financial future.

How to Write SEO Content in 2016: 6 Things Freelancers Need to Know

Since I started writing search engine optimized content in 2007, the rules have definitely changed. Thanks Google — NOT! It released its zoo of animalistic algorithm changes on us – Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird – and things haven’t been the same.

Following is how to write SEO content — the right way — in 2016.

I. Write Longer Copy

Gone are the days when you could churn out a 300-word or 500-word article, throw in some keywords and rise to the top of search engine results. This used to work beautifully – I know; I dominated my niches for years using these “tricks of the trade” in my article marketing campaigns. Proof? See the following graphic from 2011.

For years, an article written by me entitled, How to Write SEO Articles in Four Easy Steps, was in the #1 spot, as the graphic below illustrates. Notice the date of the article (12 Nov 2007)? This was an article I had written for the now-defunct AssociatedContent.

Any time you used some variation of the keyword phrase “how to write SEO content,” that article would pop up somewhere on the first 3 pages of Google – sometimes a few times on different sites. Ahh, the good ole days … sigh.
How to Write SEO Articles Keyword Phrase SE Results

Google’s Panda update in February 2011 basically did away with this method of achieving a high rank in search results. Nowadays though, it’s all about longer, unique content. How long? According to search marketing expert Brian Dean, 2,000 words.  Say what?! He writes:

The SEO adage “length is strength” was supported by a SERPIQ.com industry study which found that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page.

Why Long Content Dominates Search Results

Aim for at least 2000-words when targeting competitive keywords.

Google wants content that engages readers; that gives them detailed, in-depth info when they come to a site. No fluff article of 300 or 400 words can deliver what a well-researched, in-depth, 2,000-word piece can. This keeps a lot of spammers and made-for-click sites (aka MFA (Made for AdSense sites)) out of the mix.

Bottom line – write longer copy. I tend to be a wordy writer and most of my posts are in the 700 to 1,200-word range anyway. Will I change that and start writing longer posts? Probably not; at least not significantly longer. But length is definitely something that’s on my mind when I do sit down to write a post these days.

FYI, this is something you need to pass on to your clients too – which means you can charge more. In fact, you may even want to specialize in foundation/cornerstone content. What is this? It’s just “meaty” posts – in-depth, well-researched, well-written content. It can be anywhere from a couple of thousand words, on up to 4,000 or 5,000 words, or more.

II. Know Distribution Outlets

We’re now in the age of content marketing. What does this have to do with results? In short, clients want measureable results from the content they commission. For example, they may look at metrics like how many shares and/or Likes it got on Facebook; how many pins on Pinterest; how many retweets on Twitter; how many new newsletter subscribers they picked up; etc.

One of the things that freelance SEO writers need to know is how to distribute content effectively, even if they are not in charge of distributing it for clients.

Marketing Tip: One thing you can do is write a downloadable free report for your clients – especially if you market to a defined niche – letting them know some of the most effective outlets to distribute content. This can separate you from the pack – and land you more writing jobs.

I’m a big believer in writing special reports/tutorials to drum up business. It’s worked really well for me in the past. And no wonder, it’s just “content marketing;” a phrase that wasn’t really on the radar when I started doing it in 2007.

III. Get Intimate with Social Media

Social media is an integral part of SEO content writing these days. The two go hand in hand simply because it’s one of the main outlets – if not the main outlet – where clients distribute content outside of their own blogs and websites. And, social signals are a ranking measure used by search engines.

So it pays to learn the demographics of each social media outlet. It will enable you to give clients a heads up, if you will, about where to distribute the content you produce for them for maximum results.

IV. Learn How to Write “Click Bait” Headlines

Okay, so you’ve written a great 2,500-word piece. You’ve targeted the outlets your clients can distribute it on to get a lot of eyeballs. You’re rocking and rolling! But it falls flat. It didn’t get nearly the amount of buzz/interactivity/reads you thought. What happened? Could it be that no one clicked on it?

This is why learning how to write effective – aka click-bait – headlines is important. Consider the following  …

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.~David Ogilvy

In case you don’t know, Ogilvy is that Ogilvy – the one founder of Ogilvy & Mather, one of the largest marketing companies in the world today. He has been widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising.”

Like nothing happens in business until a sale takes place; nothing happens with a piece of content until it gets clicked on – no reads, no shares, no downloads, no site visits – zilch, nada, nothing. SEO writers these days need to get really good at writing effective headlines so that clients can quantify results (and keep banging down their virtual door with more writing jobs).

A few days ago while doing some research, I ran across a stat that said headlines with numbers usually shared more on Facebook and Twitter. Now, that’s stuck in my head. So when I’m composing headlines for posts, I’m thinking, “Hmm, can I work a number in here?

Even if you only employ a few of the tips you read, it can significantly improve your headline writing abilities. FYI, here’s a great tutorial on how to write clickable headlines. Tip #1 is what drew me in – so these things work!

V. Themed SEO Content

This has been the acceptable way to write content for a few years now. If you don’t know what it is or how to do it, it’s time to learn.

What Is Themed SEO Content?

Instead of focusing on specific keywords, themed SEO content focuses on a myriad of keyword phrases. Remember, search engines are just robots, they’re not human. So, they if they read a block of content with the word “apple” in it, they don’t know if you’re talking about apple pie or Apple computers. And this is what themed SEO content is all about.

It helps search engines accurately discern what a piece of content is all about — and keeps keyword-stuffed content from rising to the top of search engine results.

For example, if you have business that sells homemade apple pies and you write a post about how to make an apple pie, some of the “keyword phrases” that search engines would expect to find in that post are: how to bake apple pie, apple pie recipe, make an apple pie, how to make an apple pie from scratch, etc.

A keyword-stuffed, SEO article on this topic might just have the phrase “apple pie recipe” repeated over and over again, whereas a themed SEO article on this topic would have many different, related keyword phrases. Understand the difference?

This type of SEO writing takes more time – and it’s why a lot of spammers don’t use it. Google (and other search engines) know this, and it’s why they rank themed SEO content higher than keyword-stuffed content.

Andy Williams is one of the leading authorities on how to write themed SEO content (or “fat  content” as he calls it). He gives away a free course, which used to cost $127. You’ll learn everything you need to know about not only how to write themed SEO content, but why it ranks so well in search engines.

VI. Keep Foundational SEO Writing Guidelines in Mind

In the latest update of the SEO writing ebook, I did a history of SEO writing – from 2007 to the present, to show newbies how the industry has evolved (it has some other new goodies too, eg, a detailed plan for how to find writing jobs using social media).

And you know what, even with Google’s 500 to 600 algorithm changes per year (yeah, they do that many), the foundational basics of writing good SEO content hasn’t changed. Sure, now you need to vary anchor text, instead of doing for example, exact match anchor text linking, but what is the same?

Using grammatically correct language.

Citing trusted authorities.

Is the information well researched and trustworthy?

Is the content interesting/useful enough to share?

In short, Google just wants you to focus on giving readers good, solid info when they land on your page. So worry less about what writing for search engines, and more about are you giving readers what they need.

Conclusion

Google hasn’t done any major updates lately that have had a riveting effect on how SEO content should be written – thank goodness. But you can bet your bottom dollar, they have more animals in the zoo ready to take aim at content producers. So just be prepared. But if you focus on the basics – as advised in the last tip here – you’ll be well prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

Next week’s post (January 18th): Questions SEO Writing Clients are Asking These Days

Have a great week! 🙂
Yuwanda

P.S.: Starting an online writing biz? Learn why I trust HostGator for my web hosting needs.

P.P.S.: Get the Training You Need to Start a Successful Freelance SEO Writing Career.

SEO Copywriting Course Online

Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you get the knowledge you need to take control of your career — and your financial future.

Freelance SEO Writers: One of The Best Things You Can Do to Ensure Success in 2016

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993. In 2007, I discovered SEO writing and it changed the course of my career – catapulting it in ways I never could have dreamed. One of the reasons this happened is that I marketed myself as a niche writer. Why? Two reasons.

2 Reasons to Specialize as an SEO Content Provider

(i) Specialists Land Work Easier: In my experience, it’s easier to sell yourself as a specialist instead of a generalist, and the work is easier to get. Statistics point to the fact that this holds up across all kinds of careers. Proof?

As you specialize, fewer and fewer people are vying for fewer and fewer jobs – because not everyone, sometimes for valid reasons, wants to get the degree/get the experience/take the test/or whatever that will allow them to specialize. On the other hand, by being a generalist, you may get many different types of jobs, but more people are vying for those positions.

And according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) chart, many general occupations are entry-level, requiring little to no education. [Source: GetRichSlowly.org, Should you be a generalist or a specialist?]

How to Become a Successful Freelance SEO WriterBecause generalist positions can require little to no education, they more often than not pay less than specialist positions.

When I first started writing SEO content, I pitched myself as a real estate writer. In my past professional lives, I have been a mortgage consultant and a real estate agent, so I know these subjects intimately.

How I Landed My First SEO Writing Job

The very first job I landed when I sent out email queries was writing SEO articles on mortgages for an internet marketing company in Canada. I already had ready-to-go writing samples, which I emailed to prospects, and literally a few hours later, I’d landed a gig.

I went on to write hundreds of articles for that company on topics completely unrelated to real estate or mortgages. But, I got my foot in the door because they needed someone who knew how to write content on mortgages. Once they saw that I was a competent freelancer, they entrusted me to write other content.

And this is how it usually goes when you’re a freelance SEO content provider. A firm will hire you because of your specialty, but if they like your writing, they’ll hire you to write other content.

(ii) Money: When I first started out as an SEO article writer, rates were ridiculously low, eg, $4 for 500 words. There was no way I was going to write for that!

When a company truly cares about their brand, they don’t want cheap writing. No one is going to put the same effort into an article they’re getting paid $5 for as they do if they’re getting paid $75, $100 or $150 or more for. They just aren’t.

And since companies now realize that that content drives web traffic and sales (eg, content marketing), companies are seeking writers who can provide in-depth, well-researched, engaging content.  Proof?

Lead generation (85%) and sales (84%) will be the most important goals for B2B content marketers over the next 12 months.

And how do they plan to generate sales and leads. Content marketing. Proof?

Over the last six years, B2B marketers have consistently cited website traffic as their most often used metric. This year, however, we also asked them to rate metrics by importance. The most important metrics are sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%), and higher conversion rates (82%). B2B marketers, as in years past, continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content (72%), citing it as the top priority … over the next year. [Source: The Content Marketing Institute: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report]

As you can see, content marketing is huge – and SEO writers provide the results they want — because they understand what search engine optimization is. And in my opinion, you have a much better chance of landing writing gigs if you specialize.

Imagine being the go-to writer for cloud computing, childhood obesity, or B2B social media writing. When you specialize, you know an industry inside out: stats, trends, go-to sources for quotes, etc. This means you earn more because you can produce content more quickly than someone who doesn’t know the industry as well.

Conclusion

There’s never been a better time to become a freelance SEO copywriter. And if you specialize, your earnings are limited only by your marketing ability.

P.S.: Starting an online writing biz? Learn why I trust HostGator for my web hosting needs.

P.P.S.: Get the Training You Need — at a MAJOR DISCOUNT (limited time offer) — to Start a Successful Online Freelance Writing Career.

SEO Copywriting Course Online

Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you get the knowledge you need to take control of your career — and your financial future.