I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993, but learning search engine optimization (SEO) changed my entire freelance writing career. In this post, I detail how specifically, but first, let me back up a bit.
This site was recently redesigned. As discussed in this post, I did it mainly because it wasn’t mobile-friendly, and because it has a new mission.
The site’s new slogan is our mission, which is to teach aspiring freelance writers how to “Make Money Writing … for Yourself and for Others.” And that’s why learning SEO is important, which brings me to the title of this post.
Video: What You’ll Learn In This Post
Note: Sorry about all the “ahm’s.” I’m new to this medium. I’m learning. 🙂
“You said when you learned SEO that your income got better. How?”
Recently, a reader interested in Inkwell Editorial’s SEO Copywriter Training e-course emailed me the following:
I have a question about copy writing. … You said when you learned SEO that your income got better. So knowing about SEO would make me good at advertising and I could do some copy writing work also if I choose to?
Following is the email I sent to her.
What I meant by that statement is that learning SEO taught me how to market online. If you read the first module of the course, you’ll see that there’s a lot that goes into SEO.
It’s not like marketing offline; online marketing really is a world unto itself. SEO taught me some “ground rules” that allowed me to be a better online marketer. And since I produce my own products (in addition to affiliate marketing), my sales increased.
Writing SEO copy is all about getting more traffic and sales — and u can put that knowledge to use to promote your own products and services, do affiliate marketing, and/or write for clients. So yes, having the skill is valuable on several levels.
I hope this explanation helps.
As for [the name of an organization she was thinking of taking a class with that she asked me about], I know they’ve been around for a while. Other that that, I have no affiliation or personal knowledge of what their products/services are like.
You’re doing the right thing — researching. Look for FIRST-HAND information and reach out to ppl where possible to ask questions. I’ve found that most who purchase online products/services are only too happy to share.
FYI, reach out via social media to ask if anyone has first-hand insight about whatever program you’re considering (in addition to other research methods). SM tends to yield a quicker response.
Good luck however you decide to proceed.
By this time I sent that response, it was almost 3 o’clock in the morning, which is why I wanted to revisit this and do a proper post. So following are some specifics.
5 Ways Knowing How to Write SEO Content Can Help You Increase Your Online Earnings (Like I Did)
FYI, once you know what search engine optimization is, it’s like all the secrets of the online marketing world are revealed to you. So, here we go …
1. Knowing SEO Teaches You How Search Engines Work
Search engines are like little spiders. They crawl the bazillion of sites on the internet, cataloging them and putting them into the right category so that when a web surfer searches for something online, they can return releveant sites in search results.
Search engine optimization is all about the behind-the-scenes stuff that needs to be done to a site to: (i) get it recognized by search engines; (ii) get it put in the right category; and (iii) keep you from running afoul of Google guidelines so that your site gets “banned” and never show up.
FYI, “banned” is in quotation marks because it’s extremely rare for a search engine to outright ban a site, so this term is somewhat misleading. What search engines do is rank a site so low that it will practically never get seen.
SEO Statistics: Which Web Pages Get the Most Traffic & Why
Following is how important it is to rank well in search engines (ie, Google). The following stats were pulled from the Search Engine Land post, 24 Eye-Popping SEO Statistics.
- 75% of usersnever scroll past the first page of search results.
- 70% of the links search users click on are organic.
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (2016)
- 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.
- The first organic search result will get nearly 33% of clicks. (2013)
- For Google, a study from Slingshot SEO shows 18% of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10% of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 7% of organic clicks go to the #3 position. Note: These are all stats for the FIRST PAGE of Google.
So if you’ve written an ebook, or an e-course, or are promoting an affiliate product, and your website/web page is not ranking well organically – guess how much money you’re probably earning? Not much, right? So yeah, not showing up in relevant search results can seem like an actual ban.
And this is why I say learning how to write SEO content changed things for me. As a prolific writer and self-publisher of ebooks, I wanted and needed organic search traffic. More traffic meant more sales; more newsletter subscribers (which meant sales of successive products); more social media shares; which meant more traffic – and the cycle repeats itself. See how it all works?
2. SEO Teaches You the Value of Content to Drive Traffic
Just so you know, content is not only the written word, eg, articles and blog posts. It’s any kind of content you post online, eg, videos, podcasts, slideshares, infographics, memes, white papers, case studies, etc. Google likes to return “mixed media” results. And it must be properly “SEO’d” to show up no matter what kind of content it is; so just keep that in mind.
Once I learned how to write SEO content (remember, this was in 2007), I started investing heavily in article marketing. It was hugely popular back then and an easy way to get high rankings for the keywords you wanted pretty quickly.
Is Article Marketing Dead in 2016?
Nowadays, article marketing is not as effective. I still think it has a place in online marketing. What place is that?
Use it to drive traffic to a specific product/offer and to appear “everywhere” on the web. DON’T use it for SEO value (ie, to rank high in search engines). It’s just not effective and can, in fact, be counter-productive.
I used to rank high for a lot of keyword phrases pertinent to self-publishing, for example. Readers would tell me that they kept “bumping into” content written by me because the articles I wrote were picked up by a lot of blogs.
So the more they saw me/my content, the more they trusted that I knew what I was talking about; that I was “legit” so to speak – and they bought my products.
Why Article Marketing Got/Gets Such a Bad Rap
BTW, in my opinion, article marketing got/gets a bad rap because so much of it was spammy, keyword-driven content that offered no real value. I didn’t write content like that. I wrote genuinely helpful articles like this one – which ranked on the first page of Google for over 7 years for the keyword phrase “What is SEO writing” and “What is SEO Copywriting.”
It still ranks on the second page of Bing (as of this writing) for the keyword phrase “What is SEO writing.” See? Note: Search results/rankings change all the time.
FYI, nowadays it’s original, long-form content that drives traffic. This is what you should be filling your primary blog with.
3. Knowing SEO Keeps You Up to Date on What Search Engines Are Doing
What could get you good search engine juice and ranking today, could cause your site to sink like a stone tomorrow. And that’s why it’s important to stay current with what search engine guidelines are.
While this may sound like a pain to do, it’s really not – IF you have the foundational knowledge of SEO under you. And that’s what my SEO Copywriter Training course does. Once you have this knowledge, then you just read industry sites to stay up on what the current rules are, abide by them and keep stepping.
FYI, one thing I do in the course is give an overview of how SEO writing has evolved – from 2007 when I first started doing it, to today. I do this because it gives you a birds-eye view so you can better grasp why what worked two years ago is taboo now.
The long and short of it is, Google works to stay one step ahead of spammers, schemers and cheaters. So, the rules have to change. For example, did you know that right now, social media is one of the biggest drivers of organic traffic?
Formerly, organic search (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) made up the lion’s share of overall visits to sites. In 2014, the tables turned. Collectively, the top 8 social networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to sites in December 2014, up from 22.71% the same time last year.
If I wasn’t in the loop about “all things SEO,” it’s highly unlikely that I’d know this – and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to act on it.
4. Knowing SEO Helps You Do Other Online Marketing Better
What I mean by this is, did you know, for example, that email outperforms social media marketing? It does. I see this in my own business. I have over 12,000 Twitter subscribers, and about 3,000 newsletter subscribers.
The response I get when I send out a newsletter is vastly greater than when I tweet. Apparently, this is standard. Proof? Consider the following:
If you have 2,000 email subscribers, 2,000 Facebook fans and 2,000 followers on Twitter – this is what you will get:
- 435 people will open your email
- 120 Facebook fans will see your message
- 40 Twitter followers will see your message
You can clearly see that email marketing far outperforms social media in terms of reach. In same campaigns, you can reach out 40-45% open rates which is something that you can’t achieve with social media.
And FYI, email marketing is easily quantifiable. Email list management companies like AWeber provide you with a wealth of data, eg, how many subscribers opened your newsletter, how many clicked, how many it went out to, etc.
When you’re in the loop of all things SEO, in the industry reading you’ll do, you’ll learn stuff like this that doesn’t have anything directly to do with search engine optimization – but it’s online marketing insight you can put to good use. It’s why I advise freelancers to sign up with an email list management service like AWeber and start building their email list from day one.
Even if you never use it, it never hurts to have a list of people who are interested enough in you/your work at your disposal. This way, if you ever do decide to put on a webinar, or write an ebook, or develop an e-course, you have go-to list of potential interested buyers to start marketing to.
5. Knowing SEO Will Help You Become a Better Writer
Writing for the web is different than writing for other mediums. This is due to decreased attention spans; how our brains have been retrained to read on the web; how much competition there is for our attention online, and more.
Readers Scan: For one, readers tend to scan instead of outright read – at least at first. Researchers at Microsoft discussed this in a study, explaining why. They explained it in the following manner:
“Users typically “screen and glean” a website during the first moments of their visit in order to assess whether they have come to the right place. If a website passes this initial skimming test, the site is more likely to be explored longer and more thoroughly.
Meanwhile, if a website is deemed by the user to be unhelpful, the user is likely to leave within the first moments of their visit, and not wait around to see if their minds can be changed.
So learning how to write good headlines is key. Also, learning how to use subheadings to direct reader attention is very important. You see, if a reader sees a subheading with content that they think will address their concern, then they may hang around longer and read an entire post, then another, and another.
And maybe after that, they’ll bookmark your site to come back to later, or better yet, subscribe to your newsletter. And guess what, it all started with good writing.
Note: I’m “this close” to finishing an ebook on headline writing for internet marketers. It’ll be released when my new internet marketing site goes live on December 2nd. Stay tuned!
The 3-Second Rule: You have to capture online readers’ attention quick, otherwise they’ll be off to read the next article that catches their eye. And this means within seconds, ie:
Did you know that it takes a person between three to five seconds to form a first impression? There are others that claim it is 7 seconds. … The same can be said of the first impressions created by the written word. For example, the opening sentences of the first chapter of a book [or a blog post] may be the reason we choose to continue reading, or not.
As a writer, this forces you to create content that engages a reader, and makes them want to continue reading. This could be done via humor, a shocking statistic, a story that draws them in, etc. The point is, you put more thought into what you want to say. This makes for better writing.
Emotional Investment: Marketing online these days is all about creating a connection with prospects. I’ve said it more than a few times here, but people hate being “sold to,” these days. They want to feel a connection to, for or about the product, service, company, or person they’re buying from.
As an aside, this is why branding is becoming so important in online marketing – more than ever before.
One of the most effective ways to create an emotional connection with a prospect is to to tell a story. Stories suck readers in – and if it’s good enough, it’ll make them hang around longer; maybe long enough to buy. One of the sites that do this best is Copyblogger. Their tagline is not “Content Marketing Mastery” for nothing!
Online Writing Tip: Focus on the opening, because that’s what determines whether a reader will hang around. Second, focus on the end of your post. Use a strong call to action; put it in a postscript (a P.S.). Why? Because:
Research [revealed that] 79% of people who opened a direct mail pack read the post script first, before reading anything else. So does the PS translate to digital marketing? Not for web pages, sadly, since it is, by nature, hidden below the fold. But a PS still delivers a beautifully simple way to reinforce your message, create urgency and generate value in email marketing.
And I’d add, since long-form content is becoming more popular, the old P.S. will become even more effective, because it’s the last thing readers see, hence remember, hence are more likely to act on.
I hope what I’ve shared here gives you a better idea about how learning search engine optimization and writing SEO content has helped me to earn more. It’s about so much more than knowing which keywords to place where.
More Benefits of Knowing How to Write SEO Content
I could list at least half a dozen other ways knowing how to write SEO content has increased my earnings, eg: learning how to write effective CTA statements; getting paid to write landing pages and short reports; grasping an understanding of pay-per-click marketing; earning fees for doing keyword research; acquiring the skill of putting together – and implementing – a social media marketing strategy, etc.
I think you get the picture, no?
SEO is a language and a world unto itself. It’s not hype. Not knowing it while trying to make money online would be like going to study in a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language, and then being expected to read, write and conduct studies in said language. And it only gets more complicated every day.
This is why I tell aspiring internet marketers that the first thing they need to do to learn how to make money online is to learn SEO – at least get the foundational basics under you.
Then, you’ll know enough to know navigate the online marketing waters; to formulate questions and find answers to what you don’t know; and to devise a marketing plan that works – no matter what your budget is.
How Has Knowing SEO Helped You?
Get more freelance writing clients? Promote an affiliate product? Increase traffic to your blog? Sell more of your self-published ebooks? Let me know by sharing in comments section below (and sharing this post on your social media sites).
Here’s the first module of the SEO Writing E-course – absolutely free. Just download and read.
This module gives you a great overview of what SEO is all about. It’s jam-packed with a lot of info, so don’t get it and let it sit on your computer.
If you do, it will open up a whole new way of making money online for you, whether you use the knowledge to write for yourself … or for others.