The SEO for Freelancers Guide: Part Two
Stop panicking. As a freelancer, you only need to worry about a few of them. Just five, in fact. The rest will either be irrelevant to you or make so little impact you can ignore them and still do okay.
Feel better now?
Great. Let’s dig into what you actually need to worry about with regards to your freelance business.
Install an SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate is a Secure Socket Layer Certificate and changes your website from “http” to “https.” Google cares about it because it indicates any information your visitors share with your website is secure and encrypted.
Chrome and Safari (the two most commonly used internet browsers) have started alerting visitors when the site they’re trying to load doesn’t have an SSL Certificate.
In Chrome, it looks like this:
And in Safari, it looks like this:
The alert to visitors isn’t as dramatic as it used to be but it’s still not a good look.
Plus, it’s definitely hurting your SEO.
Some website hosting providers include SSL certificates as part of the hosting package. Others ask you to pay for it. If your hosting provider charges you but you’re a little tech savvy and want a free SSL certificate, you can check out CloudFlare.
Your SSL certificate is an easy win that can have a big impact, so do this one first. It’ll get you some nice momentum going to tackle slightly harder stuff later on.
Make Your Website Mobile Responsive
Nearly 50 percent of all searches worldwide are now performed on mobile or tablet devices. That means if your website isn’t mobile responsive, you could be scaring off nearly 50 percent of your website visitors. Because bounce rate (how fast someone leaves your site) matters for SEO, your site just needs to be mobile responsive.
Having a mobile responsive site also makes you look more professional so it’s a double win!
You can check if your website is mobile friendly by loading it on various devices or by using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
The upside of Google’s test is that if there are issues, you can click through to their suggestions about how to make your website mobile responsive. They outline it pretty nicely for you
If your website has issues, you can click on Additional Resources to get Google’s advice on how to fix them.
Boost Your Site Speed
Good news! Your newly installed SSL Certificate is probably helping your site speed.
If you’d like to see how quickly (or slowly) your website loads, you can check it for free. Pingdom will give your website a letter grade and provide a breakdown of all the components on your site that are slowing it down.
TinyPNG and TinyJPG will allow you to compress your images so the time it takes a browser to load them is massively reduced without impacting the quality of the images on a computer or mobile device. Having compressed images is super important for your page load speed, especially if your site is image heavy, like a photography or design portfolio.
Another important thing you can to do boost your site speed is to minimize your redirects. If The Freelance Hustle’s mobile site redirects looked like “thefreelancehustle.com -> www.thefreelancehustle.com -> m.thefreelancehustle.com -> m.thefreelancehustle.com/home,” those two extra redirects would be wasting time and losing costing visitors. Minimizing redirects saves time and keeps visitors from getting bored and wandering off.
Understand Search Intent
One of the most important things you can do to help your freelance website rank on a search engine like Google is to keep in mind who your audience is and what information they’re seeking when they type in that search query.
For example, we know that when someone is struggling to set up a new freelance website, the information they’re seeking can be found in our Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Freelance Website post. We made sure to answer all the questions we knew a freelance would have about the how’s and why’s of setting up a website.
All the SEO tips and tricks won’t help one bit if your website isn’t answering your visitor’s questions, so make sure you understand what information someone wants when they are searching with a specific keyword. We’ll get into this in more detail in Part Four of this series but what you can do right now is to look at each page on your site and ask yourself “what question(s) is this page answering?” If you don’t have a clear answer, neither will Google and that will impact your search engine ranking.
Make Your On-Page SEO Perfect
While things like a SSL Certificate and Site Speed impact your SEO on a website level, every page on your website matters for SEO. So you need to make sure every page has a few basic elements right. The three most important things to keep in mind right now are to:
Optimize Your Images
You shouldn’t just compress your images; you should also optimize them. This means figuring out your keywords and putting them not just in your content but also as part of your image titles and descriptions in a natural way.
If you haven’t been optimizing your images and are feeling overwhelmed by the idea, keep reading as we’ll talk about how to SEO your images in Part Five of this series.
Structure Your Pages and Content
You know what visitors and search engines both love? Structured content. Get comfortable using all the different types of header tags and bullet lists. Your human visitors will appreciate being able to quickly skim the content of your site for the information they’re seeking and search engines will too. Google will also take note of the fact visitors to your website are scrolling down and engaging with content further down the page, which will improve your rankings.
Now is a good time to check if your pages and content are structured properly. If they aren’t, don’t panic. We’ll cover the best practices for structuring your pages and content in Part Six of this series.
Don’t ‘Keyword Stuff’
If anyone ever tells you that you need to mention a keyword x number of times on a page in order to rank in Google, stop listening to them. Google now penalizes you for this tactic – which is called keyword stuffing – so always write naturally for a human being and trust Google to understand what you’re talking about.
Now that you’ve fixed the five most critical aspects of your website’s SEO, you’re ready to dig into the next step: learning how to find your keywords, which is Part Four of this series.