I’ve been meaning to update my SEO writing website for quite some time now – probably going on two years. I made it a resolution and finally got around to it this week. My main goal was to get it to a state where I wouldn’t be embarrassed about it. Yesterday, I finished it (for now).
It took three days of 10-12 hours of work to revamp it. Some things jumped out at me that I want to share with you that can help you rank well. So whether you’re new to SEO writing and don’t have a website, or if you’ve had your site up for a while and are thinking about revamping it, keep the following in mind to get that all-important search engine boost.
1. Get Your Site Designed in WordPress
Let me say right off the bat that mine is still in HTML. What’s the difference?
In short, WordPress is interactive, whereas HTML is static. For example, WordPress has plugins that show you things like “Most Popular Post”; “Most Read Post”; “Related Content;” etc. An HTML site has none of these features. It’s literally just like a brochure on the web.
So why is my site still in HTML? I had a WordPress theme designed for it a couple of years go, but never got around to using it. At the time, I’d planned to start a content marketing blog – speaking to prospective SEO writing clients.
But I never got around to doing that because the two blogs I already operate (this one and InkwellEditorial.com) are almost more than I can handle. So, I decided to keep New Media Words as just a static web presence that showcases the services we offer.
Most of my clients these days come via referral, and when I do need to market, I reach out to them directly. So while blogging — and of course, building a mailing list targeting potential clients — could have brought in more business, it’s just not something that’s necessary for me right now.
FYI, learn more about the difference between WordPress and HTML.
2. Write Your Meta Tags
For years, search marketing experts have been disagreeing about how important (or not) meta tags are. Google still uses them to some degree to judge what a page is all about, so yes, meta tags are still important.
2 Meta Tags You Should Absolutely Write
If you don’t write any others, take the time to at least write your description and title tags. These tags tell search engines what a specific page on your site is all about. If you don’t write your meta tags, Google (search engines) will generate snippets of what it thinks the page is all about.
But, consider this – wouldn’t you rather have your site described by you, not a search engine? It could mis-classify it or not describe it as well as you would. So that’s why it pays to write them.
FYI, the “Keyword” meta tag is useless now. Matt Cutts – Google’s SEO guru – has said that they don’t use that one anymore (see video below). There used to be a lot of keyword stuffing going on back in the day, so that’s why they stopped using it. Now they rely on other metrics — eg, content, load time, etc. — to find and rank sites.
Tips for Writing Your Meta Tags
i) Describe exactly what’s on a given page, not your WHOLE site. For example, on the page that describes New Media Words’ SEO copywriting services, here’s what my Title and Description tags say:
<title>SEO Content Writing Services for B2B and B2C Businesses. All Copy Is Written by Professional, Native-English Speaking and Writing SEO Copywriters</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”New Media Words provides themed SEO content for websites, blogs, social media sites, etc. All content is 100 percent original by native English speakers/writers.”>
Remember, Google indexes sites page by page, ie, each page is treated as an individual entity. So make sure your tags reflect that.
ii) Be as descriptive as possible. Remember, the description you write is returned in search results. Surfers can actually see it, so you want to be sure it describes accurately what’s on the page so surfers can decide if they want to click on it or not.
iii) Meta tag length: While there is no one correct length for meta tags, it’s considered best to limit them to 160 characters or less. Why? Because that’s when most search engines cut them off.
Some of mine run longer than this, but I’m mindful to put the most important info within the first 160 characters.
iv) Use keywords: Don’t keyword stuff, but do use keywords where possible in your meta tags. That’s what search engines use to find and rank pages, so be sure to get them in within the first 160 characters (not words, CHARACTERS).
As an aside, currently New Media Words ranks on the first page of Google for the keyword phrase “SEO writing company” (without quotes). It’s in the #6 position as of this writing. On Bing, it’s in two spots on the first page — positions #2 and #5.
I point this out because I don’t do any web marketing for New Media Words – no blogging, no article marketing, no pay-per-click – nothing. Now I’m sure my other writings on SEO where I do reference the company (eg, like here in this post) help, but writing the meta tags contributes to the ranking too.
New Media Words has ranked for years for this keyword phrase. And while it’s not terribly competitive, being on the first page of Google for a keyword phrase that returns over 23,000,000 results (and will only grow over time IMO) is helpful when trying to get noticed online.
Even though my site was ugly as all get out and had outdated information before this re-design (here’s the new design), it still got me leads. That’s the power of taking the time to do the behind-the-scenes work like writing your meta tags.
Now that we’ve discussed meta tags in detail, let’s move on to what else I learned as I updated the site.
3. Check Your SEO Service Listings
I offered a lot more services on the old site. But, I realized that some of them were outdated (eg, article marketing and submission), and some I just didn’t sell a lot of, eg, SEO consulting. So, I got rid of those.
When was the last time you updated your SEO writing services? If it’s been a while, take a look at your numbers to see what’s selling – and get rid of unprofitable, low-paying and/or outdated services.
4. Review Your SEO Writing Rates
Piggybacking on the last point, when was the last time you checked your SEO writing rates? Mine had been the same for a while, so I increased them in some areas and lowered them in others.
About Listing Your Rates on Your Freelance Site
I used to list all of my firm’s rates on the site. Now, I just give a beginning range. The reason is, I found myself changing my rates a lot depending on what clients want: eg, are they ordering in bulk; do they want us to conduct keyword research in addition to writing; are they a long-time client I want to extend a discount to; etc.
I still like the idea of listing rates as opposed to not listing them. By listing a minimum, I still give prospects an idea of what our rates are. This way, they can judge if it’s worth it to get in touch with us or not.
5. Add a Photo
This is totally subjective, but I added my photo to the home page. I added it because I looked at some sites and found that those I responded to more were those that showcased photos of people, eg, the founder and/or employees.
SEO can be very cold. For me, seeing the people behind all the gobbledygook, technical speak humanized a business. When prospective clients look for SEO writing, I want them to know who they’re doing business with –- that there’s a real person here who cares about them and their business.
FYI, here’s a post that expounds upon the pros of including a photo of yourself on your site. Freelance SEO writers are “professional services providers,” and I couldn’t agree more with the following assessment:
For those of us in professional services, we are our product. It is “us” that someone is “buying”, so it would make sense that we provide that prospect with as much information as possible for them to make a “buying” decision. Working virtually is now a very common way that many of us with a professional service now operate. We meet our clients over phone calls and work with them via phone and email.
Many of us have many clients that we have never actually meet in person. So the website becomes your sales tool, and you should take advantage of every opportunity for your prospect to feel a connection with you, to see that you are a real person. Establishing trust and credibility is the first step of having a successful website, and by having your photo on your website you have taken that first step.
FYI, this post also gives some great tips on what type of photo to use.
The photo I used went against most of this advice, but as she says, it’s a personal decision. The photo I used is one I happened to take after a dental visit this past December. It’s not professionally shot or anything; it was taken with a camera phone. So don’t think you have to worry about spending money to get a pro to do a photo for you.
If you do choose to put a photo on your site, just make sure that you’re adequately covered and that it has some personality to it (eg, a smile works wonders).
6. Keep It Simple to Stay on the Right Side of Google
If your web design skills are basic (like mine) and you don’t want to hire someone to redesign your site, keep the design simple; don’t try to get all fancy.
I went for a clean design – focusing more on the quality of the content. I looked at a lot of sites while redoing mine and some were pretty awesomely high-gloss and fancy. But you know what? A lot of them were very basic too – even those of seemingly big firms. So don’t be afraid to be basic – as long as it doesn’t look too amateurish.
Also, keep things like Flash and other interactive design elements to a minimum. Why? Because it slows down the load time of a site. And this is extremely important, especially in today’s world where many users access sites via mobile devices. Consider the following:
- 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
- If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.
Also, search engines count load time as one of the metrics they use to rank sites. So load time is important – from a web surfer standpoint, and from an SEO point.
Bonus Web Redesign Tip
If you have a lot of old material on your site, don’t just delete it. The reason is, you never want a prospect to encounter a dead link on your site. That’s earned traffic that you worked hard for, so redirect that traffic (using the Redirect feature in your web hosting control panel) to another page on your site.
I used to have a page on my site entitled “Free SEO Tools & Articles.” I had free reports and articles on that page. A lot of the information was outdated, so I redirected all of those links either to the home page, general service page, or to a specific service page on the site.
For example, if I had an article gave SEO writing tips, I redirected all traffic that came from that link to the SEO Copywriting services page. See what I mean? No lost traffic.
SEO content writing has constantly evolving rules and practices. Some services become obsolete (eg, article marketing); others emerge (eg, social media marketing) and yet others are unprofitable, so it’s necessary to update your site to remain professional.
My site was looonnnnngggg overdue for an update. I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get around to it. I’ll never do that again. Now it’s one I’m proud to log onto.
When was the last time you updated your SEO writing website? Is it time for an overhaul? Feel free to share in the comments section below.
How? Click through to get details.
I’ve made my living as an online (SEO) content writer since 2007 — and have trained many others how to start this type of freelance business as well. Are you next?