As a freelancer, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to know that search engine optimization is in permanent flux. What worked last year is not going to bring the same results in 2018. So, you need to update your strategy with the latest SEO trends if you want to get more traffic in the future.
Google performs over one thousand updates of its search algorithm each year. Some of them pass unobserved because they have no immediate effect on SEO and SERPs. Yet, with time, the algorithms change, and so should your content strategy.
To keep your freelancer blog updated you need to put some SEO techniques into action. They will grow your personal blog by improving user experience and by making each page more appealing for search engines.
#1 Post Fresh High-Quality Content
Google improves its algorithms every day to give users the best search results. Its tools use Artificial Intelligence to crawl websites, looking for relevant content for each keyword. Under these conditions, no SEO strategy can replace good content.
Our favorite search engine uses around 200 ranking factors when indexing your blog. Putting all your energy into keeping up with SEO changes won’t provide your readers with a better experience. But great content will. So write for people, with optimization in mind, not the other way around.
Stuffing keywords and links in a 300-word text aren’t going to trick any search engine. To get the most out of your blog posts, you must give complete answers to questions people ask online. Offer high informative articles that can help people solve real problems. And post original content only – Google doesn’t like duplicates or plagiarism.
To make your content more appealing to both humans and search engines, focus on these things that make your blog posts easier to read:
- Grammar and spelling. Writing errors can ruin a blog post, no matter how interesting the topic. Use a spelling app or a grammar checker, such as Grammarly, to make everything you publish error-free.
- Updates. Up-to-date blog posts keep your page relevant to your niche. Visitors who find your website with search engines are more likely to stay and read the entire post if you give them fresh information.
- Word count. Mobile users tend to spend more time on articles longer than 1,000 words. Use as many words as you need to provide in-depth information about your topic, as long as you stay focused on your subject. 1,890 seems to be the magical number, but it all depends on the keywords you target. Some demand over 2,000 words, while others need a lot less. Analyze the search results for your target keyword to identify the right path for you.
- Structure. Break your text into chunks. Mark important ideas with headings and subheadings. Underline or bold crucial details to let your readers know what part they shouldn’t miss.
- Multimedia elements. Videos, diagrams, or infographics keep readers on your page. They’re also associated with smaller bounce rates and better user experience.
Use data, facts, and statistics to support all your statements. At the end of your articles, your readers should have answers to all their questions. If they’re still confused about the topic, they won’t be coming back anytime soon.
#2 Be Mobile to Rank Higher With Your Freelancer Blog
Google prefers mobile-friendly websites, so make your personal blog accessible for any type of device. This is easy if you use WordPress. Set a responsive layout for your blog and you’re ready to go mobile because these layouts allow your website to fit all screen sizes and devices – desktop, smartphone, table.
If you have doubts, Google helps website owners improve their users’ mobile experience. You can use this tool to test how fast your page loads on mobile devices. But if you’re not on a mobile-friendly platform, results will disappoint you.
If you’re more into writing than programming, then responsive design and accelerated mobile pages don’t mean that much to you. Yet, these words are the answer to making your blog mobile-friendly.
Get professional help to make your personal blog easy to access from smartphones. This investment will pay off in the long term, as more than half of searches happen on mobile devices.
And if this doesn’t convince you, the next statistics will: 40% of mobile users go to another search result when they enter a page that isn’t mobile-friendly. And 53% of smartphone users leave a page that needs more than three seconds to load.
What you can do to optimize your personal blog for mobile devices right now:
- Keep all files small – remove or resize large photos or graphics, which translate into slow loading;
- Do all updates – every time your platform asks you;
- Reduce text entry – don’t make your visitors tap too much from their smartphones;
#3 Work on Better Links to and from your Website
Links are an efficient method to win points in your SEO strategy. To get the most out of it, you must build a network that allows Google’s spiders to read all your content and index it properly.
Divide your link building strategy into three major parts:
These are the links to your personal blog coming from other websites. To get them, you must craft some strong pieces of content, which people can use to increase the value of their own articles.
Backlinks from important sites matter the most. And you hit the jackpot if you get backlinks from sites on domains like .edu or .gov. Yet, smaller websites can be good sources of traffic, too.
To grow your backlinks, you can write guest posts on various blogs. Keeping it in your niche is better, but never underestimate a good opportunity to reach new audiences.
Whatever you do, don’t buy backlinks. Google doesn’t like this strategy and bans bought links.
External Links (Outgoing links)
It makes sense since every good source gives your article higher value for your readers. For example, this article on SEO uses sources that rank on top positions in search results, such as HubSpot, Neil Patel, Search Engine Land and Google, important players in the SEO market.
Identify specialists in your domain and make them your primary sources when looking for facts and statistics. This way, Google will see the value of your content and will index it higher in the search results.
This means linking older pieces of content to your new content. Your internal pages have more visits and the time spent on your site increases. By using deep linking, you can also reduce your bounce rate by up to 20%.
Ranking higher for several pages inside your personal blog means better SERPs. When you have more than one popular page, Google will recognize your authority on the topic and will list your page higher in the search results.
Besides including your old content in your articles, you can integrate deep linking through some less-used methods:
- Link to internal pages instead of your homepage in comments and author biographies.
- Link an internal page as part of your email signature.
- Add a link to a relevant internal page when you write on forums.
#4 Do Some Photo Optimization
They say a photo’s worth one thousand words. But not to Google’s spiders. Photo optimization, though, gives search engines more details about what the image represents and why it’s important to users.
Start with using the right photos in the first place. Publishing the first photo you come across online isn’t the best solution for your reputation. And it can bring you lawsuits for violating image copyrights.
Use free stock photos instead. Or, if you want to invest in high-quality images, subscribe to a stock photo service.
All photos should be relevant to your blog post. If there’s no clear connection between the headline and the image, visitors get confused. This can make them leave your blog without reading a line.
Photo optimization best practices include:
- Putting keywords in the file name. Replace the number usually used to identify the file with relevant words that describe better the image.
- Making images responsive. Just like with responsive layouts, WordPress already does it automatically. For other platforms, you need some technical knowledge to make images adapt to devices.
- Writing captions. They draw readers’ attention, making visitors spend more time on your personal blog. Use them when they bring more value and include keywords only if they’re relevant.
- Add Alt text. If for any reason your visitor can see the photo, the Alt text will give information about the image. Optimize the text for SEO using relevant keywords.
#5 Use Social Media to Engage with your Audience
This technique doesn’t have a direct impact on your SEO in the short term, but it helps you to be where everyone’s looking. Social media will reach 2.62 billion users in 2018. If you aren’t there to share information with your followers, your competitors will.
Through social media, you get immediate reactions – comments, shares, tweets. Chances to get valuable backlinks grow as you’re mentioned more often on various channels. And, as we saw above, backlinks can still influence your ranking in search results.
This is a small piece of what social media can do for your personal blog. You can build a community around your website more easily and quickly, thanks to the fact that you get to connect with users in real time.
Add social share buttons on your website where visitors can see them. This way, you’ll increase social sharing and get more engagement from your visitors.
SEO is still important for growing your personal blog. Rules have changed and Google finds newer and better ways to improve the user experience. This doesn’t mean you must stop investing in SEO. Instead, you have to work harder, research more, and write better.
Invest your energy in well-written articles and keep SEO in mind when you create new pieces of content. However, remember that you write for humans. They’re the ones who read, comment, and share, so make every blog post for them, not for search engines.
High-quality content attracts backlinks and encourages social shares. So, once you’ve written your great article, you’ve completed more than half of the job. Then, optimize your photos, share your work on social media, and start measuring results.