Welcome to Training Module 3

Module 3 is jam-packed full of practical skills. 

The tools and techniques that we are about to cover are your bread and butter. You will use them every single day. So far we have gone over how to write copy that keeps readers scrolling, but that is only one part of what goes into writing six-figure copy. 

This lesson will focus on SEO. Equipping you a solid foundational knowledge that you can later refine into expertise. 

We will discuss strategies to move up the rankings, and start to look at your everyday online writing tools. Tools like WordPress and Yoast that you will use everytime you write and publish your blogs. 

Let’s get stuck in, shall we? 

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is an overused often misunderstood term that’s thrown around the world of online writing.  

Understand this, every client will have a different preconception about SEO. 

If you aren’t fluent in SEO lingo, you’re going to have a bad time. I bet that right now, on Upwork, there are amateur content writers days behind schedule and working for $5 an hour. How did this happen? A simple writing job took twice as long as it was supposed to. Why? Well because the client demanded the freelancer organically meet an 8% keyword density requirement. 

The freelancer didn’t realise what was being asked of them and agreed to the impossible. 

SEO is riddled with misconceptions. Clients will ask you to stuff their articles, over-optimize headlines and write 300-word alt tags. 

Someone told them it would make Google like them, and you are paying the price for their ignorance. There was a time when keyword stuffing worked really well. Search engines are smarter now. Hopefully, if you know your stuff, you can convince clients otherwise. At the very least, you’ll understand that an 8% keyword density isn’t something you should get involved with, and you can tactfully decline.

Why Do Clients Care About SEO?

The purpose of SEO is to rank on the front page of Google. An ideal outcome is to have your page at position 1 for your targetted keyword. Google’s top spot receives 38% of all search traffic. Clickthrough rates decline exponentially as you travel down the list. Result number 5 receives less than 2% of all search traffic.  

Keywords and The Text on a Site Determine Google Rankings

When Google’s algorithm crawls websites it reads all the written text on-page to try to determine what the content is about. 

Say for example I wrote a blog which had the keyphrase “Novelty Jar Jugs”. When Google crawls the text it finds several mentions of “Novelty Jar Jugs”

We strategically use keywords to influence the results.

Once the clever algorithm has completed it’s crawl and is confident it knows what this page is about it indexes it with all the other novelty jar jug pages. 

Then along comes an internet user. They search for “Where to buy novelty jar jugs”. The algorithm will do all kinds of search engine magic to show them an ordered list of what it deems to be the best pages for that search term

Basically, SEO is moving up that list.

General SEO Terminology. Talking the Talk

Heading - Behind the scenes, a markup language called HTML is used to format websites. You don’t need to know HTML to write online content, but there is a lot of cross-over. The term “headings” for example refers to h1 h2 h3 tags. There are pre-styled tags that make text bigger, bolder and more important on the page. Google pays more attention to keywords in headings. 

Title

The title is the text within the title tag of a website. It is what Google will display on the search page and is also called a headline. Your title tag is also displayed at the top of your web browser, in tabs, and in shared content on social media. 

Meta Description

The meta description is the text under the title on the search engine results page.

Keywords in your Meta description are valued highly by Google. For this reason the meta description is a focal point for SEO. Write a good one. It’s important for ranking and for convincing people to read your content. 

Alt-tag

Alt tags are text descriptions for images on the page. Originally intended for screen readers and the visually impaired, alt tags have since become an SEO necessity. Put keywords in your alt-tags. 

Backlinks 

Backlinks are a defining metric of SEO success A backlink is a link back to your site from another site. The higher the link authority of the linker the better it is for the linkee. Backlinks will really help improve search ranking. 

Technical SEO 

You don’t need to worry about technical SEO: Site maps, robot.txt, https, don’t stress. Leave it all to the programmers. As a writer, you need to concern yourself with on-page SEO. While you don’t need to worry about technical SEO, it definitely won’t hurt you to have a passable understanding of the subject. Not top priority but something to look into later on.

SEO Best Practice: Walking the Walk

SEO is constantly changing. Google updates its algorithm, practices come into and fall out of favour. It’s a wild ride. No one knows exactly how Google ranks pages, and the entire industry of SEO is built on correlation and not causation. 

Include a keyword in the following

  • Title 
  • Meta description
  • H1 tag
  • The first paragraph of your text
  • Alt tags
  • 30% - 50% of your H2 headings 
  • Filename 
  • Links

Title and Meta Lengths: Don’t let Google Interrupt you  

Google will typically display the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. Smaller screens display fewer characters. A title that is too long will be trimmed or truncated. Not necessarily a problem for SEO however it can reduce the impact for the reader if the zesty bit of your title go missing.

Meta descriptions are also cut off after x number of characters. Before 2016, pretty much every description was cut at about 150 characters. No longer is that the case. 

Some descriptions Google will let run to 250 or ever 300 words, other’s are cut right at the old limit. What decides what is and isn’t cut? It’s impossible to say. Meta descriptions for videos and content that’s rated on-page seem to be shorter, but there is no clear indication of why some meta descriptions are longer than others.

As a rule of thumb, stick with the old 150 - 160 characters limit. It’s just safer that way. 

WordPress: A Content Writer’s Battle Station

WordPress is a CRM (Content Management System) It’s a pretty user interface that allows non-technical people to do technical things. This idea caught on and today WordPress powers 26% of the internet.

When you create a blog and upload it, there is some fairly complex PHP code that goes down and links that blog to the existing website. Before tools like WordPress, you would have had to have known how to code to do basic freelance writer tasks. 

General WordPress Guidelines  

  • Every page should have a tag and a category
  • Only use a focus keyword once throughout the whole site or you are competing with yourself. It’s almost impossible to rank several pages on the first page of Google for one keyword
  • Use the keyword in the URL if possible
  • Use the keyword in the alt tag
  • Keep the URL as short as possible
  • Don’t use the stop words in URL (and, or, but, of, the, a, etc.)
  • Minimise the use of folders

Yoast: The Plugin You’ll Want to Unplug

Yoast is a plugin for WordPress that’s become the industry standard for monitoring SEO performance across individual blogs and entier sites.

Currently, I write on-and-off for about 5 clients. Only one client doesn't use WordPress, and everyone who uses WordPress is also using Yoast. It will come up Let’s get comfortable with it. 

Click Here To Move On To The Advanced Training