Freelance writing, freelance writer, writing tips, the word sword

How Much of SEO Should a Freelance Content Writer Know?

It is a blurry line where Content Writing ends, and Search Engine Optimization begins. In fact, SEO starts well before content writing does and ends well after it ends. If you are a Freelance Content Writer, you are surely wondering if learning SEO is your responsibility.

By definition, the job of a Content Writer entails only the creative part of the Writing-Marketing curve. That is, to create in-depth, business-centric content addressing the audience and their interests.

By definition, the job of an SEO expert entails tweaking the website for a better web design that can be easily “crawled” by the search engines, and targeting words and phrases in specific parts on each web page.

Websites need SEO for better search engine rankings so that when a person searches for a particular service or product, this website is ranked ahead of its competitors.

It is rightly said that if your business does not exist on the first page of a search engine (read “Google”), it does not exist at all! And, therefore the hype around Search Engine Optimization for businesses is justified.

Coming back to content writers, it is expected that they have a fair amount of working knowledge about SEO.

Why? Because they are ones who are deemed responsible for a part of it.

Keyword Incorporation

It is not smart to ask an SEO expert to modify the content and stuff in the targeted keywords. In fact, let me be frank, it’s stupid to do so! The best person to do that is the content writer. So, a content writer must know how to better place keywords in her copies for enhancing the search engine rankings of the web page.

This leads to the next expectation from a content writer today- striking the balance between effective writing that convinces and makes sense, and placing keywords properly.

In many organizations today, a piece written by a content writer is passed on to an SEO expert, who reviews it for proper keyword placement, and bounces it back to the writer at times for making necessary changes.

This often leads to a cold war between the two departments!

Well, if you are a freelance content writer, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy by doing the right thing at the right time- learning about SEO just enough!

Just as unfair it is to ask an SEO person to incorporate the right keywords into the content, so is to ask of a content writer to research what keywords could be fitted in.

Keyword Research is not your JOB!

Also, the frequency of each keyword must be duly communicated to the writer by the SEO person. And, it is your job now to not let the keyword stuffing come in the way of the message that you are trying to give out through your writing.

Understand that the readers come first, the search engines second. This is one of the most crucial of Effective Copywriting Tips!

If your readers don’t derive any value from your writing, it is a waste of time trying to persuade the search engines to place you above everyone else. Your customers are humans!

Know what Search Engines love?

A creatively crafted content with intense research that ponders on a subject from a fresh perspective. And that’s QUALITY!

*take a moment and let it sink within*

Quality writing will always be in demand because it is worthy of the attention. The writer has put in time and efforts to get it done and is offering some value to her readers that not many are.

Something that can alone get you started on learning SEO basics is that you can increase your asking price. *Yayy!* Since you are providing a range of services now, you are eligible for demanding a pay higher than what an average content writer earns.

While learning SEO can greatly enhance your resume, you can not completely replace an SEO expert. SEO is not just about keywords, it is much more!

Do not be disturbed by the thought of working both as a writer and an SEO expert. You can’t sail two boats at a time!

Key takeaways from this piece

  1. Good Keyword Placement does not mess with the overall meaning of an article.
  2. Determining the right keywords and their frequency is not a part of Content Writing.
  3. Quality above everything else.
  4. SEO basics can greatly add to your skill set as a content writer and help you deliver more to your clients.
  5. Draw a line, though! You cannot double as an SEO expert.

Where do I even begin?

If you are ready to dive into SEO, here are some pointers you can follow for a kickstart-

  • Know about the optimum length of a piece of content.
  • Learn the importance of external and internal links in an article.
  • Find out the importance of the headings and sub-headings in your content.
  • Learn the art of keyword placement.
  • Optimize images for SEO (Optional)


Freelancing isn’t a cakewalk. Make sure you optimize your investments in learning and enhance your personal ROI (Return on Investment).

What is your take on SEO for Content writers? Let me know in the comments section below!


Recommended read: How To Ensure A Fraud-Proof Freelance Writing Career

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