SEO Writing in 2017: 5 Things Freelance Online Writers Need to Know

I last had this site redesigned in 2008; going from an HTML-formatted designed to WordPress. The were two reasons I decided to have it redesigned this time.

One reason is that my freelance writing life has changed. I talked about that in the last post here. The other reason I had it redesigned is that it wasn’t mobile-friendly. This brings me to the first thing freelance SEO copywriters need to know going into 2017.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

I. Mobile Has Revolutionized How People Search the Web

And as this Search Engine Land article states, visitors are five times more likely to leave a site that isn’t mobile friendly. Mobile devices have taken over how web surfers access the internet.

Remember when we all had desktop computers? And for many of us, that was basically at work. This was how we got online. Then, we moved to having computers at home – and many more of us were online more often.

Then, we moved to laptops. We could now work from cafes, coffee shops, hotel rooms, in bed – at will. Say what?!!!

Now, it’s all about mobile devices.

Mobile Has Changed the Way Web Surfers Search for Information Dramatically

I was watching an episode of Judge Judy one day and some young guy was suing another one for not paying him for a laptop. When Judge Judy asked him why he would sell his only laptop, he replied, “Because I don’t need it. I do everything on my phone.” That made me realize, “Yuwanda, you’re definitely old school girl!

I don’t like accessing the web on my phone and rarely do so. But, my younger sister (she’s 15 years younger) uses her phone like I use my laptop, which are becoming dinosaurs – just like desktop computers. Then there are tablets and smart TV’s.

In short, if you’re not visible on mobile devices, you’re not visible. My site traffic has shown that over the last year or so, dropping significantly. So in essence, I was forced to upgrade to accommodate mobile users – just like in 2008 when I was forced to go from an HTML-based site to one designed in WordPress.

So the first thing you need to keep in mind as an online (SEO) content writer – and impress upon your clients – is the importance of writing for mobile.

3 Quick Mobile Writing Tips

Headlines: Keep them short and sweet, while giving the reader an exact idea of what the content is about.

Content: Keep it what I call “light and airy.” This means no chunky paragraphs. One commentor on an article about writing for mobile devices put it perfectly, stating, “More white space or shorter paragraphs or bullets are a win!

Keyword Research: Think local. Why? As this post explains brilliantly …

The content of your mobile website will also be optimized for the search engines. So, when users browse the Internet using the mobile phone, they should be able to find your website within the top pages in search engines. In a recent survey, it was found that 1 out of every 3 mobile searches done are local. Moreover, there are around 61% of the users who call up businesses and stores after checking on their mobile devices.

Learn more about how to write content for mobile devices.

II. Long-Form Content Will Continue to Grow in Demand

I was reading the post, 39 Experts Share Their Top 3 SEO Trends for 20173 and Beyond. It not only underscored the importance of writing for mobile – when asked the question, “What are your top 3 SEO trends for 2017 and beyond?,” optimization for mobile received 18 votes – it also pointed out some other things that online writers need to keep in mind.

The Science Behind Why Long-Form Content Is So Important

Jeremy Rivera is an SEO Consultant at JeremyRiveraSEO.com. He had this to say in the aforementioned article about long-form content going into 2017.

2000+ [word] posts with infographics and 10 or more citations to resources, that’s what’s killing it now, and will become the standard.

In August of 2013, Google changed its algorithm to rank in-depth articles. Since then, long-form content has grown in prominence. And the search giant is rewarding it.

Why is long-form content so popular and why does Google like it so much? As blogger Jeremy Miller over at Sticky Branding explains …

Long form content performs well, because it fulfills a user’s desire for answers. When we search a topic we’re not looking for linkbait entertainment. We want to find meaningful ideas and answers to solve problems. This is why long form content moves the sales needle.

Oh yeah, it does lead to sales too – another reason to tell your clients to invest in it if they’re not.

3 Tips for Writing Long-Form Content

1. Make it 2,000 to 3,000 words on average. Why this length? Because, according to a recent article on writing long-form content on SmallBizTrends.com …

The average word count of a Google result on the first page is 1,890. … pieces that are at least 1,200 words [get] the greatest social media performance [because] everyone publishes articles within the 500-800 range, and articles that standout avoid this cliché.

Also, according to SEOPressor.com, to be considered long-form, blog posts should be 2,000 words or more. The jury is out on the exact optimal length, but:

CopyPress claims 2,416 is the average length of top ranked blog posts.

The guys over at Buffer claim 1,600 words is best.

Neil Patel thinks 3,000 word posts convert best.

2. Cite multiple, credible sources: Nothing gives credence to a piece of writing like citing sources to back up what you say.

This not only gives the readers more confidence in your assertions, it gives them places to start their research should they want/need more insight.

3. Include a call-to-action statement: You don’t want to spend all that time writing and researching and proofreading and editing for nothing, do you? So tell readers EXACTLY what to do to take advantage of all that great information you’ve just dispensed.

III. Realize That There’s Still a Place for Short-Form Content

After all the talk about long-form content, you may be thinking, “WTH Yuwanda! Why are you trying to confuse me?” Hold on, I’m not, really. But, there’s still a need for shorter content. And FYI, “short-form content” these days tends to be anything under 1,000 words, with 500-750 words being somewhat of a norm.

Short-Form Content Still Has a Place at the Table in Content Marketing

Consider this: Steve Rayson of Buzzsumo stated that his firm found in a survey they conducted that 81 of the top 100 most shared B2B articles were short form content. And, when you look at popular entertainment sites, eg, PerezHilton, the articles are usually only a few hundred words long, if that.

The point? Which type of content works best depends on niche – and medium; eg, short-form content is more suited to mobile phones and tablets, and for sharing on social media.

It’s up to you as an SEO writer to research this when you bring on a new client, so you’ll know what type of content to produce for them that will be the most effective.

IV. Learning How to Write for Social Media Will Become Even More Important

In the aforementioned post, 39 Experts Share Their Top 3 SEO Trends for 20173 and Beyond, Andy Crestodina, the co-founder and strategic director at Orbit Media, said:

Google will buy Twitter. … Yes, this is going to happen. I’m telling you now so you won’t be surprised. It will happen suddenly, but the changes that follow will be very gradual over several years. Eventually, Twitter will integrate seamlessly into Google+ and AdWords will appear in Twitter streams.

Whether or not it happens is irrelevant for our purposes here. What it underscores is the importance of knowing how to write for social media.

Social Media Writing Will Become Even More Important in 2017

FYI, did you know that Facebook drives 25 percent of the web’s traffic, overtaking organic referral traffic in many cases? This is the power of social media and why social media writing is so important.

V. The Long-Tail Keyword Makes a Comeback

Ever since the spring of 2013, when Google did its Penguin Algorithmic Update, SEO writers have been paying close attention to keyword, specifically how not to misuse them. Now, we’re having to pay attention to keywords again … specifically long-tail keywords.

Long Tail Keywords are Once Again En Vogue

James Norquay the founder of the content marketing agency, Prosperity Media, states:

SEOs will need to focus on long tail – Google is adding more advertising listings and taking away space from organic listings, this means that SEOs will need to focus more on mid-long tail terms.

Also, with speech recognition software becoming more popular thanks in large part to mobile devices, writing content with long-tail keywords in it will become even more important.

Bonus Tip

Writing content that doesn’t run afoul of Google guidelines is where making money online as a writer – whether you’re writing for clients or for yourself – starts in my opinion. Why?

Writing SEO Content Correctly Is Important Because It Drives Traffic & Sales

Think about this: where do online sales start? With INFORMATION, right? Proof?

Eighty-one percent of shoppers conduct online research before they make a purchase. Sixty percent begin by using a search engine to find the products they want, and 61 percent will read product reviews before making any purchase. On average, a consumer will visit three stores before making their purchase. [Source: AdWeek]

Information consists of blog posts, reviews, product descriptions, case studies, etc. Content moves people to take action. But if you’re not writing it according to proper SEO guidelines, it may never get found. And this is why I tell all aspiring web writers that they must, must, must know the fundamentals of search engine optimization.

SEO writing is the building block for everything that comes after, eg: producing and marketing our own products online, advising clients on their content needs, promoting on social media, etc.


As I made my way through the post, 39 Experts Share Their Top 3 SEO Trends for 20173 and Beyond, I kept reflecting on how SEO writing has matured. But, what also stuck out is how the fundamentals of writing for SEO haven’t changed all that much.

This is why, once you learn the skill, it’s easy to absorb the changes Google throws your way and keep on producing content that ranks well – whether you’re writing for yourself, or for clients.

As one of the 39 experts featured in the article cited here, Garth O’Brien, the Director and Global Head of SEO for GoDaddy, pointed out the silver lining for SEO copywriters, stating:

… content, content and more content. This will never come off the list of top [SEO] trends. Hire good writers and publish quality articles, blog posts, guides and more.

Who should know better than the SEO Director of a domain registration and web hosting company, no?

P.S.: What Do You Want to Know/Share about SEO Writing? Tell Me Below. 🙂

P.P.S.: There’s an ever-growing need for SEO content. Get all the info you need to start this high-paying, online writing business — FAST!


How to Start a Freelance SEO Writing CareerGet the exact knowledge that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hey Yuwanda,

I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that this month marked the first month that my writing income surpassed that of my day job.

Thanks to your help and inspiration, I have more work than I know what to do with and have successfully landed a number of clients that give me recurring work. Thanks again for your advice!

SEO writing changed the trajectory of my freelance writing career. It can do the same for you!

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    1. & also make sure you do your keyword research first

    2. If you re not building a brand and getting regular searches for your brand, you may be irrelevant come 2017. Branding is more important than ever and branded search traffic will have a bigger impact on Google s trust for your domain than links in some instances. Start building branded resources that encourage users to search for brand + thing .

    3. Always good to make sure relevant keywords are included

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