As a freelance writer on the internet, you’ll be damned if you don’t understand SEO or search engine optimization. And for those not in the ‘business’, the term may seem as alien as a UFO.

But fret not as this post will help unravel some of the mysteries of SEO.

What is SEO? 

Search engine optimization is the means to a very vital end in the internet business. It determines the ranking of a website by search engines.

The  ultimate aim is to optimize the website in a manner that it appears in the top 10 website listings (or the first page on Google) by a search engine whenever a visitor searches for information by entering key search words* or phrases.

Scope of SEO 

SEO involves website design, coding and content.

Search engine optimization is complicated business. SEO professionals have in-depth knowledge of how to design and code websites for making them SEO friendly.

Google Panda and Penguin are web scanning algorithms searching for genuine sites
Google Panda and Penguin

If you have ever heard of Google Panda and Penguin and wondered what oddly named creatures or programs these are, you are not alone. These represent complex rules or algorithms designed by Google to pick websites that have a history of presenting genuine and relevant content.

Role of the Content Writer in SEO 

Leaving the experts to figure out the Kung Fu ‘Panda’, as a freelance internet writer your understanding of SEO has to be in the context of making the text or website content SEO friendly.

10 Effective Tips on How to SEO a Website  (Source: Chapter 17, The Yahoo! Style Guide)

The missing puzzle - SEO
The missing puzzle – SEO

Search engine optimization of website content involves the following –

  1. Identifying SEO Keywords / Phrases* –  These are words / phrases that users looking for information on your product or service are likely to enter on a search engine.  The keywords for your website can be determined using online tools such as Google Adwords ( free).  Words that have medium or high competition indicate that there are already a number of competing websites that are using those keywords.  So search for words that have the maximum inquiries in your product category and country/ locality and have the lowest competition.  Also phrases are better than single keywords.  For example –     the header ‘ How to SEO a Website’ makes a lot more sense than ‘SEO’.
  2. Make a list of top 10 keywords on an excel sheet. List down the number of searches and competition level for each before finalizing  the top keywords you want to use.
  3. Once finalized use the exact keywords in your content
  4. Write content that is relevant and unique to your website. Stuffing a page with keywords while the content is disparate is equivalent to ‘internet writing hara-kiri’ and will adversely impact your search engine rankings.
  5. The keywords must be seamlessly spun into the website content. Remember that you are writing for human as much as search engines.
  6. Ensure that at least top 10% of pages of your website ( ones which draw the maximum traffic) are search engine optimized. Use the highest volume keywords on your homepage and intersperse others across other pages.
  7. And while it may sound silly, the true SEO skill lies in repeating the keywords a couple of times every 250-300 words of the web copy.
  8. Place keywords everywhere – page headers, article titles, image descriptions, web page link
  9. Link to other relevant pages on your site or even a couple of other sites
  10. Submit your site on online directories. Start with local directory listings.