SEO - What is it anyway?

Many think that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is marketing, and some believe it's technical, still others will argue that it's writing. It certainly aids in the promotion of sites if the writer has the requisite technical knowledge and a bit of marketing knowledge--and it doesn't hurt to understand hypertext markup language. So is search engine optimization a method better accomplished by a marketing strategist, a technical person, or a copywriter?

Some would define this "technical marketing copy" as the method of optimizing web pages to enable a higher search-engine ranking when specific words used to search (keywords) are strategically placed within a page. Since a writer can easily acquire the skills necessary (keyword understanding, soft selling, and basic HTML-know-how) much easier and more efficiently than a technical person can learn to write, I’d say that this method is better accomplished by a copywriter. I don't even need to mention that a marketing guru's time is much better served analyzing demographics and market niches for her clients...but I did. The industry would probably agree since writers and copywriters conduct the majority of this type of work, although they may not always be the best writers for the subjects chosen.

Unfortunately for the website owners, even if a good writer is well versed in keyword placement and HTML, that doesn’t mean the site will rank high; it doesn't even mean that the page(s) will find its place in the top 50. At the same time, if one doesn’t follow SEO rules, high rankings will definitely not be achieved. Ultimately, SEO is not advertising, although it may help push page ranking, amplify exposure, and increase traffic.

Advertising to increase a web page’s ranking can be guaranteed with techniques such as Google AdWords or paid placement, those ads you see on the side panels. Of course, everyone’s dream is to get top placement on search engine result pages without paying for that type of advertising, and of course to have some relevancy to the consumers’ search.

Some of the easiest SEO copywriting can be simple strategic placement of the keywords, according to SEO rules; some of the most difficult can be making the copy appeal to human readers after doing so. The time necessary for such endeavors depends on the subject, the writer, and the keywords. SEO may be a one-time endeavor for a site, or it may be a continuing work-in-progress, as popular search terms change.

If you’re just starting to write for SEO, pay special attention to the site owner’s keywords and the specific rules she’s given, and of course, when you research, make sure you do not use someone else’s work as your own…paraphrase, cite, or rewrite.

Now, can you tell what the keywords are in this article?


Writing the Successful Freelance Copywriter Inquiry Letter

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

As a freelance copywriter, have you finally created (or found) the perfect inquiry letter that lands jobs? That seems to be the beginning freelance copywriter’s problem: he doesn’t understand the importance of the inquiry, or he doesn’t address the key points.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Here are a few tips that I’ve found help when writing a successful freelance copywriting inquiry letter. If your letter isn’t getting at least a response from 50% of your inquiries, consider rewriting it, addressing these points in this order:freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

  1. Address owner’s needs
  2. List your credentials and/or qualifications (no diatribes)
  3. List your applicable experience (again, keep it short)
  4. Offer a link to (related, if available) samples but don’t include or attach any unless they’re requested. I would opt for a link or pasting rather than attaching, if possible
  5. Briefly address any industry concerns: one major industry concern is originality
  6. Include your rates, if applicable
  7. Use a professional format
  8. Avoid overly formal or informal language
  9. End with the assumption that you’ll hear from the owner
  10. Be enthusiastic

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
There are some creative approaches that I've used with publishers, but I wouldn't advise using them when you're inquiring for copy jobs. These tips should get you started writing your successful freelance inquiry letter. If you have someone who can proofread the letter, take advantage of it. Now go get those jobs!

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

This Week's Projects

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Besides the course I'm teaching this semester, Composition 105, I'm working this week on two projects:freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
The first of which is for Wedding Planners. I'm writing 15 articles per month, and I've submitted three this week. The project owner is great to work with: his guidelines were clear, thorough, and consistent. This truly makes the difference between enjoying your work and dreading contact with an owner. Because he submitted samples of what he LIKES, I was able to match the style, tone, readability, etc., hence fewer iterations/edits have been required. In fact, I've added only one sentence to one article that I've submitted thus far. I am thoroughly enjoying working on the topic and with this project owner.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
The other project I am working on is for a photographer's website, specifically I am writing an article on how to find talent; the article thus far is about 1500 words in length and contains keyword density of about 5%. The original guidelines stated 500 words. The website owner knows exactly what he wants, but he is having a bit of a struggle putting that into solid guidelines. We have one completed and accepted article thus far.
freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

Hélène Cixous: A Dichotomy of Styles (Sample Writing Excerpt)

freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Audience: Academic; Length: 1000 words.

In her 1975 essay “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous presents a treatise that manifests "écriture féminine" and the theoretical views of the French feminist school of literary thought, according to Bizzell and Herzberg (1521). In this manner, the essay presents itself as an elevated, academic text; however, the essay differs in style from conventional academic works--it includes an informal style of prose. Cixous writes without the more usual scholarly restraint, her words seeming to spill onto the page in a stream-of-consciousness manner.freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
In her essay, Cixous calls for and demonstrates what she hopes is a new way of writing for women. The tone is one of passion and excitement, and there is a strong sense of exhortation: Cixous is urging to women to write, not using the constraints of man's language, but in a liquid expression of feminine identity. She is appealing to others to follow her, to join her in a literary campaign away from man's language and toward woman's. Bizzell and Hertzberg state that Cixous "hopes to bring about, by celebrating in this essay, a rejection of male-dominated systems of interpretation that classify female bodies, mouths, and words as inferior" (1522). In this way, the text may seem to have more in common with a feminist movement pamphlet than with an academic study:freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

"And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know why you haven’t written. (And why I didn’t write before the age of twenty-seven.) Because writing is at once too high, too great for you, it’s reserved for the great – that is for ‘great men’; and it’s ‘silly’." (Cixous 1525)

Cixous's unconventional style is further illustrated in her method of appealing to the audience. She wants not only to address her readers as a collective being, that is, woman, but also to appeal to each reader as an individual. To achieve this, she adopts a personal--intimate--manner, using both language and techniques. Many of her appeals are in the form of questions. Hans Guth recommends using questions in writing when making appeals or calling for action from the reader (697). Conversely, in writing academic text, one would not normally use this method, but the technique used would display detachment and formality--without personal appeals. (End of excerpt)

freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

Questions to ask before you begin your freelance writing project.

writer, freelance, freelance writer, freelance jobs, jobs, work at home
Many new freelance writers find it frustrating when working with clients who seem to change guidelines AFTER a draft is submitted. Here are a few format- and content-related questions that you can ask BEFORE writing that will help you better understand a client's needs. There are so many others, so please post a comment if you have more.

  1. Who is the audience, i.e., academic, Internet, newspaper, etc.? This will affect the readability level.
  2. If the audience is Internet, do humans, spiders, or both read the writing?
  3. If the audience is Internet, what keyword density is required, and what are the keywords?
  4. If the audience is Internet, what percentage or number of links is required, if any?
  5. What voice of writing is preferred? Here are a couple examples:
    · First-person, conversational (informal) – written using the pronoun “I” as if the writer is having a conversation with the reader, used to make a personal connection.
    · Authoritative (formal) – written primarily to gain respect and credibility from the reader and avoids first-person; appropriate for providing factual information, used often with medical or legal topics, for example.
  6. If research is required, should it be cited (provide references/links to original information)?
  7. Related to question #1, does the client prefer more bulleted items or paragraph format?
  8. Are images required? If so, is it the writer’s responsibility to gather them, or is there a library?
  9. Will the writer release copyrights when payment is made?
  10. May the writer have a byline?

There are so many other questions that will be asked before and after a project is received, but this should get you started on the content. I'll create another list related to fees and payment.


writer, freelance, freelance writer, freelance jobs, jobs, work at home

Cultural Pluralism and Ethnic Violence in America (Sample Writing Excerpt)

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Audience: Academic; Length: 3000 words.

Since early in the 20th century, the dominant goal of American liberalism, in relation to minorities, has been that of assimilation into the mainstream of American life. “Cultural pluralism” is a term sometimes used to describe a society in which various cultures co-exist in a state of mutual tolerance and respect. Cultural tolerance is usually equated with democracy and progress. The liberal claim that all human beings are essentially equal, and so deserve fair and equal treatment and protection under the law, is now so generally accepted that even the most conservative politicians pay lip service to it. Liberalism could be considered the dominant ideological “discourse” of modern industrial (and post-industrial) society, although it has certainly been threatened by other ideologies – for example, by Fascism and Communism.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
According to the liberal ideal, different communities, with different beliefs and traditions, ought to be able to co-exist peacefully within a democratic framework. To their credit, liberals have always recognized that the presence of many different cultures within American life is not only a necessity for the functioning of an industrial system, but also, ultimately, beneficial to the political order. Yet, throughout American history, the co-existence of different cultures has often been a locus of intense conflict. The liberal ideology of cultural pluralism within a democratic framework has not always been able to contain or to resolve these conflicts. Why?freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
The mass immigrations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries created enormous tensions in American society and political culture. Yet, one might argue, it was this very immigration that fueled rapid industrial progress, and with it the creation of fortunes like that of the Mellons and the Carnegies. Here is a perfect example of what the Marxists called “the contradictions of capitalism.” Capitalism, in its dynamic, unrestrained phase, transformed American life from top to bottom. But it did not transform every part of American life in the same way, or at the same rate of speed. Nor did it make every American financially secure. As American transformed itself into the world’s greatest industrial power, it was also drawn into an international monetary and trade system. The current fashionable word for this process, still going on at more rarified levels, is “globalization.” On the plus side, globalization increased American wealth through trade relationships. On the minus side, it drew the country into brutal international conflicts such as the First World War.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
These developments were threatening to many Americans, particularly to those who did not benefit in any obvious way from industrial capitalism. Instead of sharing exuberantly in the liberal vision of universal equality and social progress, such Americans longed for the hierarchical, pre-industrial past. This was particularly true in the American South, where entire communities of white Anglo-Saxon Americans fastened onto romantic myths about the Old South of the type generated by films like The Birth of a Nation.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
So, even as the United States emerged from World War I as the most powerful industrial nation in the world and the major champion of liberal democracy, many American citizens – and not only in the backwoods – were clamoring for isolationism, segregation, and the closing of America’s borders to new immigration. Capitalism’s discontents, one might call them – although they did not see themselves in this way. Quite often, they seem to have seen themselves as heroic defenders of cherished moral values. Racist and anti-ethnic attitudes are, more than likely, part of our anthropological nature as human beings, yet such attitudes normally exist in an inchoate form. Something happened to American political culture during this period to focus the energies of racism into specific kinds of deadly action. (End of excerpt)

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

Need a Writer Reference?

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

I strongly suggest Diana Hacker's Writer Reference, published by Bedford/St.Martins.

I use this handbook in all my Composition 101 and 102 courses.
Check out her website for online reference material, model essays, even grammar exercises.

Now go write.

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

Using AdWords to drive Competitors’ Traffic to Your Site

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Are you an established, well-known sales person or service provider who relies on the Internet for a good deal of your inquiries? If you are, your client base could be in jeopardy. If you’re an up and coming sales person, you’ll want to read this article as much as your well-known competitor.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Recently, I received a call from a local real estate professional; we’ll call her Mary. She’s done business in the area for over 30 years. Mary was concerned because her web hits had dropped substantially in the last couple of months, and she asked me if I could review her website to see if there was a problem. I’m not a web developer, but I’ve written keyword content for Mary’s site, and I’ve known her for years.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
After realizing that I didn’t have her URL, I did a Google search for her name, and to my surprise, a different salesperson’s website appeared; we’ll call her Jane. I reviewed Jane’s keywords to see if my client’s name was being used there. No. Then I remembered using Google’s Adwords last year for my own promotion.
AdWords are one of Google’s Internet advertising programs. In this program, you can be in the top list of results when people are actively looking for information about your—-or your competitors’--products and services online. By creating a list of search terms, such as “Mary Smith,” Google’s AdWords will direct traffic to you every time that phrase is searched and clicked on Google. With AdWords' “cost-per-click” pricing, you pay only when people click your ad.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
It was immediately clear that Jane was using Mary’s name in her AdWords list. Because Jane’s site appeared at the top, as a paid advertiser, my suspicions were nearly confirmed. A pleasant call to Jane’s webmaster sealed the deal.

If you’re an established salesperson or service provider who is known by name, do yourself a favor and search for your name on Google and Yahoo. If you’re a member of a local board, such as a Board of Realtors, you can report using this type of AdWords advertising as unethical, not that it necessarily is. What do you think? I invite comments.


freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

What Animal Would You Be?

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Lately, I’ve really been feeling like a territorial cat, so I’m certain, if I were an animal in another life, that’s what I would have been.

Not just a house cat, mind you. I would have been a Puma, also known as a mountain lion, sneak cat, deer tiger, Mexican lion, purple feather, mountain screamer, brown tiger, catamount, king cat, silver lion, cougar, mountain demon, Indian devil, and a panther.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Have you ever, just on a whim, decided you didn’t like your name? Well, no problem as a puma; you can pick from a variety of names—today, I feel like an Indian Devil!

My home would span from the tips of Canada to the depths of South America, and what girl doesn’t like a big house—a mansion even?freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
And what self-respecting woman doesn’t want to change her look occasionally? Hmmm? Tell me you’ve never wanted to color your hair! As a Mountain Screamer, I could be spotted, light gray, various shades of cinnamon to rust-red, light tan or red-brown, or possibly silver-gray. And for an even more sophisticated look, I may have black, mysterious markings around my face and white splatters under my neck. You girls tell me you wouldn’t want that kind of variety.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Now, I don’t know about you, but this girl can get moody, and when I’m feeling mean, nothing could be better than stalking and attacking my prey. Okay, that sounds a bit neurotic, I’ll admit; but as a cat, it’s totally normal, right? As a Sneak Cat, when someone takes my parking place, I’ll have the ability to leap on him from 45-feet away, and don’t even get me started if it’s mating season!freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Having twins in this life certainly makes me understand the demands I would have as a Panther. With up to three cubs, I’d have my hands (or paws) full, not to mention I’d be the one hunting for food, while my no-good husband lies around in the shade. Oh, did I mention that I’d be pregnant for only THREE months? What busy woman today wouldn’t love that?freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Yes, I’m certain that if I were an animal in another life, I would have been a Purple Feather. What about you? What animal would you be?

This post is dedicated to a Blog Carnival, "What Animal Would You Be." I'll provide a link to all the other animals once the roundup is done.

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter

It’s That Time of Year Again…Eating Season

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
The Eating Season starts with Halloween, if you’re a sugar fiend, and it doesn’t end until the Yule Tide rolls in. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, who’ll snatch a bag of M&Ms here or Twizzlers there, or if you’re a singleton, because if you live anywhere besides your car, you’re going to have a few pounds of goodies to hand out--and to eat!freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
Not to fear! We’ve got a plan to keep this year’s Eating Season from ruining your waistline. These suggestions come from people who’ve been healthy and fit for years:

1) Plan to eat a lot! No, I’m not kidding. The best plan of attack before any tempting event is to FILL up on healthy food before you leave the house. Cut up some raw vegetables and eat until you can’t eat any more. If you’re in a pinch, you can drink a large glass of water just before your meal, but this method is not as successful as filling up on veggies.


2) Slow down! When you eat slower, you appreciate aromas, tastes, and textures, and you’ll begin to feel full before you manage to eat an entire pecan pie. If you must, count the number of times you chew each bite (silently, of course). This will force you to slow down. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. I tried this, and it’s actually interesting what you notice when you focus on the qualities of a particular dish.freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter
3) During hor’devours, keep a glass in one hand and a napkin in the other. Do not let go of either. Okay, this does sound bit neurotic, but if anything can ruin a reasonable diet, it’s the meal before the meal. If you can’t hold on to those items, put a piece of gum in your mouth or sip on a cocktail. This is the most dangerous of all temptations: most appetizers contain some of the highest fat-content foods: cheese, lard, butter, you name it.

The bottom line is that we’re going to be tempted this Eating Season. The question is…what are YOU going to do about it?

freelance, freelance jobs, freelance writer, writer, copywriter, seo, seo optimization, seo copywriter