SEO is part art, part science.
Your potential clients are looking for someone who can balance a visitor’s needs and desires with those of the search engines, so the right people find their website. And, because SEO is part science, it’s easy to track your results — your clients can see very quickly if the changes you’re making are impacting their rankings.
Like any other specialty, your prospective clients want to see that you know what you’re doing before they hire you. But, unlike many web-writing areas, you can show the benefits you deliver in black-and-white terms … as long as you know how to position yourself and what you offer.
You can use the following five strategies to demonstrate your SEO skills and to position yourself as an expert in the field.
Show the World Your SEO Expertise
1. Make sure your own site is well optimized. Review your rankings to see where your site is positioned and brainstorm ways you can increase your position and, ultimately, Page Rank. Review keywords, your meta data, and your inbound links to see where you can make some changes that pay off down the line.
Don’t overlook the importance of a site map and a good internal-linking structure.
Creating a site map is simple. Go to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ and follow the instructions. The site map helps Google to index your pages and understand the hierarchy of your website. It can especially make a big difference when you’re dealing with a site that has hundreds of pages.
The internal-linking structure is the way your pages relate to one another. Link relevant pages and blog posts within your site. This has the dual effect of keeping visitors on your site longer so they build a stronger relationship with you.
Another key for building traffic and expert status is to get more inbound links.
Create a plan for building links on a week-by-week or monthly basis. Guest posting to industry blogs is one of the most effective ways. You add value to another site and you get a link. It’s a slow process but it works.
Remember, the search engines index pages, not sites. The more links you have for different pages, the greater your opportunity for showing up not just on the front page of Google once, but several times for different key phrases.
2. Write about SEO. Once you have you own website in top SEO shape, it’s time to start building your reputation within the industry. In an earlier article, “A Quick-Start SEO How-To Guide for Web Writers,” I talked about guest posting and effective ways to go about doing that.
Writing blog posts, web pages, and e-books will build your reputation and keep you learning about best practices in this rapidly-changing field. Publishing regularly will also connect you with other SEO folks as they try to keep up with the latest in the field.
Once you start growing a reputation and building your credibility, you can begin reaching out to trade journals to write guest articles and expand your reach and expert status.
3. Connect with SEO experts on Twitter and Facebook and read and respond to their posts. Positioning yourself within the SEO expert community conveys several benefits. You’ll learn some great information. You can build relationships that will lead to guest posting opportunities. And, people looking for SEO experts will see you engaged in the thick of the industry social media, which helps to establish you by association. I’m warning you, though … this is a prolific bunch. You may want to set a timer so you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of the Internet!
4. Educate your audience. As an SEO copywriter, optimized web copy is part of the service you offer to your clients. However, you don’t just optimize a site and call it a day. You can educate your client on the need for ongoing original content in the form of web pages, blog posts, and video. Every page or blog post added is another chance for your client to be found by customers via search engines — and for you to have another assignment!
5. Speak on the topic. Local networking groups are always looking for speakers, and local businesses are very interested in moving their websites up in Google’s search-engine results.
Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce and other professional groups and offer yourself as a knowledgeable speaker on the topic.
As a word of caution, never guarantee a page one ranking for a business. New competition comes online, the search algorithms change, and other things can happen beyond your control. I always tell clients I can improve their rankings — very easy if they’re sitting at #68 and they aren’t making good use of keywords. When they end up on page 1, everyone’s happy! But, even if they only climb to page 3, that’s still a big win.
Bonus Tip: Keep up. SEO rules change quickly, and if you want to keep your position as an expert, then you need to keep up with what’s working. Smart SEO writers have always written for their visitors and provided great value rather than spending all their time trying to outsmart Google.
You can keep up with the field by reading blogs like SEOmoz.com and SEObook.com, by taking a certification program like the one offered by Heather Lloyd-Martin, and through local networking.
If you live in or near a city with ad agencies, there’s likely a Meetup group that gets together monthly to discuss all things SEO. This is where the SEO types from ad agencies and SEO firms hang out and talk shop. You can learn a lot from listening to their discussions.
To find one near you, just Google Meetup.com and type in SEO in the search box and see what’s there. You’ll learn from people in the trenches focusing on SEO for clients every day. It’s a great way to pick up some tips and tricks. If there’s not such a group in your area, it’s a perfect opportunity to start your own!
Now … to get started: Pick two or three of these strategies to implement. Also, reach out to past clients and collect results from your work with them, or if they don’t have actual numbers for you, request a testimonial instead. You can use that information to support the positioning strategies you choose to use. With steady effort, you’ll start building your connections and establishing a solid position for yourself as an SEO expert.
What’s worked for you? Please share your experiences in the comments.