Number two of a two-part series on getting more customers for your business. Read part one: How to attract the right customers to your freelance business.
In part one of this series, I shared how to get the right customer for your freelance business (you can also download your free ideal customer persona template).
But the best, and possibly the most effective way to get customers is through your online platform, in particular, your website, using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimising your website for search engines, so that it comes up in search engine results (SERPs) for your target audience. If you are a freelancer and your website is not optimised for search, you are leaving money on the table, or even worse, in danger of becoming invisible online.
Why is SEO important?
The first place people go to find out information about services or people is Google (yes, there are other search engines, but Google is the father of them all, so we’ll stick to it for now).
When they need a copywriter or business blogger in their city, they’ll search for copywriting services, London or business blogger, London.
If you’re offering those services, you would want your website to appear in search engine results for whoever is looking for copywriting services or business blogger in London, wouldn’t you?
And that is why SEO is important.
By optimising your website for search (using some simple SEO techniques I’ll share in this post), your website can turn up in Search Engine Results (SERPs) for people actively looking for your services.
When they see your website in their SERPs, they click through to your website, and if they like what they see or read, they will buy your services and you get some $$$s (#winning).
And that, in effect, is how SEO works. Do it well and it can attract the right customers to your website and help you grow your business.
So, how can you use SEO and consequently, Google, to connect you to your target customers?
Google prioritises fresh content in its search engine results, and the best way to have fresh content is by blogging. So if you haven’t started blogging for your freelance business, start now.
Start by blogging once a week, aiming for 600-1000 words per blog post (this blog post is about 1,400 words :)). If you’re wondering what to blog about, start by addressing your ideal customer’s pain points. Many freelancers don’t like doing this, because they think that if they share their tools of their trade with prospects, they will lose sales. After all, why would anyone buy from you if you’re showing them how to resolve their problem (the reason they’re coming to you in the first place)?
Here’s a real-life example of why you should do this:
When I ran my content agency, the biggest challenge for my ideal customers (B2B companies in the legal, tech and finance sectors) was making their content accessible and engaging. As you would imagine, their content tended to be on the technical side, so they struggled with low conversions.
I understood their pain point, so would write detailed blogs on how to transform their technical content into plain English for their customers.
The result? More projects for my agency.
How, you ask?
It’s quite simple: blogging about those topics showcased my skills, expertise and knowledge of plain English and how it could be used to transform technical content like law, finance and tech, into accessible content, without losing its original intent.
Essentially, the blog post demonstrated my understanding of my customers’ challenges and pain points, and because I also showed them how to resolve those pain points, they didn’t need further convincing of my ability and expertise in those areas.
And that was how I got quite a few of my clients: Blog posts>Google SERPs>clickthrough to blog post>query email>project commissioned>sales for my biz.
And the clients? Symantec, Exterion Media and the Co-operative Legal Services (and yes, I worked with SMEs, too), just to name a few.
My experience is not unique. Practically everyone who has a business blog will tell you the same.
So if you’re yet to start blogging for your freelance business, start now. It’s a win-win. Google likes fresh content, and blogging is the best way to keep your content fresh and at the top of search engine results for your ideal customers.
When your blog post appear in those SERPs and they click through to your website, they’ll see your blog, be convinced of your expertise>useyour freelance services>$$$s for you.
Add metadata to your website pages
The metadata consists of page title and page description. This is what your ideal customers see when your content comes up in search engine results.
Here’s an example of a page title and page description (metadata):
The key is to make both as compelling and as engaging as possible, because you want people to click through to your website.
The page title should be about 50 characters. Any more than that and it will most likely be cut off in search engine results.
Your page description should be no more than 150 characters.
Make sure you use active tenses as this will compel your prospects to act and click through to your website.
The one objective of your metadata is to encourage clickthroughs to your website. There is no point in being on page one of SERPs for your target keywords if you’re not getting clickthroughs (traffic) to your website. So make sure your metadata is optimised for search, as well for clickthroughs!
SEO tools to help you with your metadata:
By far, the best one, if you use WordPress, is the free Yoast SEO plugin.
Even if you do not use WordPress, most website platforms have a basic SEO tool to help you to input your metadata, so that it can perform well in SERPs.
Use longtail keywords in your content and metadata
Keywords are an essential element of your SEO strategy. Knowing the keywords that your target customers use to search for your services is key to your online success.
If you do not know the phrases that people use to search for your services, then you cannot embed the keywords in your web content and you probably won’t attract traffic from search engines.
Why keywords matter in SEO
Keywords are important, because people use them to search for information and services in Google:
- By embedding those keywords in your website in a natural and engaging way, your website can appear in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for your target customers
- When these customers click through to your website from search engines, the idea is that they will be converted into paying customers
- The higher the clickthroughs to your website, the more traffic you’ll get, and conversely, the higher your visitor-customer conversion rate.
Keyword stuffing (the practice of stuffing your content with keywords in the hope that it will turn up on page one of Google for that search term) might be an outdated keyword strategy, but using keywords is still important.
The key to using them effectively is by embedding them in a natural way and with links to your product/service pages in your content.
You can see the keywords I used in this post in blue in this image. I used those keywords because I want to rank in SERPs for people searching for customer persona template or information on how to use Google to get customers.
You can see how naturally those longtail keyword fit in with the content.
You can use Keywords Everywhere (a free tool) that gives you the search volume of keywords (search volume gives you an indication of the number of searches for a keyword). Sign up for the tool and download the Chrome extension.
You can see in this image how Keywords Everywhere works in practice:
There is a lot more to SEO than what I have shared in this post (really, this is the Cliff notes version). But this is a good start to using Google to get more customers for your business.
Optimise your website for search. Use keywords and metadata so that it can be found on Google for people searching for your services. Start blogging and showcasing your expertise and you will get those ideal customers.
Tired of blogging and not getting results? Find out how to write blog posts that convert.
Also published on Medium.