Everyone’s favorite mystery: writing with SEO! Sometimes it can be awkward to work with search engine optimization (SEO) keywords. Here are 3 of my best tips from my years as a freelance writer.
Tip 1. It has to be natural
This is really the most important–whatever you write has to make sense. It needs to flow naturally for the reader, not just be a bunch of words with lots of phrases stuck in that you think will do well with the search engines. That’s weird.
So how do you write well and still get the keywords that you need into your copy?
I usually do this before writing. I look at my keywords and then try to think how I can naturally weave them in to what I’m writing. It takes a little bit of practice.
But if that will make you feel all tense when you’re writing, go ahead and write your first draft without worrying about the keywords. Then, go back and see where you could pop them in that makes sense. Kind of like editing keywords into your writing, instead of writing them in the first time.
Tip 2. You can add or remove punctuation
My understanding is that you can get away with adding or removing punctuation in keywords because the search engines don’t necessarily parse that. So if you have something that really needs a hyphen in it, you can add in the hyphen to make it grammatically correct. Then you won’t feel like a weirdo who’s publishing typos for the sake of SEO.
Another way that you can add in punctuation to help is if you have two phrases that are stuck together as one search term. For example, if you had the term “kids baking recipes.” That’s a natural phrase. That’s how people talk. But if you had “kids recipes baking,” that’s not how we phrase things in English. It’s really awkward.
You can switch it to “kids baking recipes,” and hope that you’ll still get some SEO juice, which I think you probably would, though not as much. Or instead, figure out if you can insert some sort of punctuation, usually a hyphen or comma. “Kids recipes baking” becomes “kids recipes, baking.”
Then you build a sentence around that, like “When it comes to kids recipes, baking is the most fun they can have in the kitchen.” It works, it still has your SEO keyword, but the comma in it makes sense.
The concept is to look at a strange keyword phrase, think how you can insert some punctuation, and then build a grammatically workable sentence around it. Nine times out of 10, there will be a way.
Now, if you’re an SEO expert and I’m totally wrong, please tell me, and I will run a correction, but this is my understanding at this exact point in time, and how it’s worked for me in the past.
Tip 3. Charge more for keyword research
Keyword research is beyond the scope of writing. If you’re doing it yourself for a client, it’s an additional service. By generating a list of keywords for a client, you’re branching out into content strategy.
You can and should charge a bit more for this service. You can either advertise it separately as an add-on, or make it part of your package and charge a higher package rate. But anything that involves “strategy” costs a bit more.
If you’re debating about whether writing with SEO is a service you even want to offer, check out my post on “How And When To Provide A New Client Service.”