Earlier this week, Alyssa wrote about search engine optimization, or SEO, for your writer Web site. I’d like to pick up that thread and offer a story on why SEO matters.
I think writers hear about SEO until they’re blue in the face, but many put off working on it because they’re not getting the connection to how it can pay off.
But you should work on your site’s SEO beause increasingly, companies looking for writers Google some search terms and call the writers they find. It really happens. It happened to me last week.
Here’s the story of how a big client found me, and how you can replicate my success:
I got an email out of the blue from a Fortune 500 company based in my town. One of the best-known, still-thriving brands around. They were interested in having me possibly write for a new email newsletter they want to create! As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.
Like any good marketer, before the conversation went too far, I stopped to ask: “Where’d you hear about me?”
Now, in the case of this company, there were any number of ways they might have known my name. As it happens, I covered this company as a reporter for more than six years as a staff writer for a local business journal. They might have remembered me from back then. I currently also write and blog for many business publications…maybe they saw one of those pieces online?
But no. The editor says, “I just Googled ‘Seattle freelance writer’ and looked at the sites of the writers I found.”
I was blown away. SEO win! As it happens, I have been working hard on upping my natural-search results. To keep my site content changing, I try to pick a newly published article at least once a week and add it to my ‘favorites’ box on my landing page, now that my blog has gone off to its own home. I rewrote my landing-page copy to say “Seattle freelance writer” in the heading and body.
Go ahead, Google that phrase right now, and see what happens. Or click that link I left you in the previous sentence. I’ll wait.
Behold! I’m on the first page of results for that search three times out of the top six responses. No wonder he called me!
How’d I do that?
Besides working on my site keywords and keeping my site content fresh, I also got on Google Local, the feature where you can enter your business on their local maps. See it in the graphic above?
Being in Google Local shot me right into the top few listings, as Google promotes itself by putting that map first in results that mention a city name. I’ve also got not one but two other natural-search links, to my main author site and one of my popular blog entries.
One little bitty freelance writer really can do this simple SEO stuff for free and get noticed online by major companies looking for writers. Being tops in search makes you look insanely pro.
I can even also track the natural-search results I’m getting through Google Places. It says I appeared in their search results 238 times last month, and five people went to my site as a result. Wahoo! And the most popular phrases they searched on that turned me up were “blogger,” “mentor,” “freelance writer” and “freelance writing.” Useful, free information for future SEO efforts.
One nervous-making aspect of using Google Local was it wanted an exact address, which I didn’t want to provide since like most of us it’s my home. But I discovered the feature will settle for a general description of where you are, which worked for me.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Googled common search terms for your market? See what you find, and then start working on moving up in natural search. It’s really worth the effort.
I have to conclude this article by giving props to my mentee Lindsay Woolman, who blogs on WM as well, for cannily taking the URL BoiseFreelanceWriter. SEO doesn’t get any better than that for getting local clients! Wish I’d thought of it, but somebody in my market’s already locked that down.
This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.
Graphic via Flickr user Ethan Bloch