How to Become an SEO Content Writer: Career Roadmap

Search engine optimization (SEO) represents the ranking of a company's or organization's Internet content on Web search engines. SEO content writers are responsible for creating content for websites using keywords that will be ranked highly by search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Be an SEO Content Writer?

SEO content writers conduct keyword research to determine the most popular search terms, and they use analytic tools to monitor and measure ranking performance. Now that digital communication is common, more freelance writers may vie for work-at-home content writing positions. The educational requirements vary for content writers. However, many writers hold a bachelor's degree in English, marketing, communications or another related field.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; bachelor's degree common
Degree Fields Journalism, English, communications, or similar field
Experience Varies by employer
Key Skills Strong writing, editing, and proofreading skills; proficient with Web programming languages such as HTML or XML; basic knowledge of SEO preferred/required for some positions
Salary $40,951 (2016 median salary for all online marketing content writers)

Sources: CareerBuilder, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com

Employers of SEO content writers may not specify a degree requirement, though bachelor's degrees in journalism, English, communications or similar fields are common. Related experience may be required, and SEO content writers should have strong writing, editing and proofreading skills. Aditionally, they should be proficient with Web programming languages, such as HTML or XML, and basic knowledge of SEO is preferred or required for some positions. According to 2016 earnings data gathered by Payscale.com, content writers earned a median salary of $40,951.

Steps to Be an SEO Content Writer

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Writers can develop their skills through a bachelor's degree program that offers coursework in creative and technical writing, grammar, proofreading, editing and revising. Good research skills are essential, since knowing the appropriate way to use and cite authoritative sources is how content writers gain credibility. Some jobs also ask that SEO writers have a background in marketing or another field.

Aspiring SEO content writers should also study programming languages. Prospective SEO writers can gain skills in HTML, XML or other programming areas through elective coursework or certificate programs. This type of background is preferred or required by employers.

Additionally, internship opportunities specifically in SEO are available and should be pursued. Students learn about related areas such as social networking and Internet marketing.

Step 2: Build a Professional Portfolio

To appeal to companies that might hire them, SEO content writers should be able to show their writing skills through a history of publication. Online writing communities are good for sharing writing samples and networking with other writers. In addition to school assignments or internships, writers can accumulate portfolio samples by getting published in newspapers, magazines, professional journals and blogs.

It is important for SEO content writers to perform research. They must master the art of incorporating precise keywords into their writing in order to optimize their company's ranking on search engines. Some clients provide a list of keywords to be used in articles, while other SEO content writers are left to the task of researching and developing lists of their own.

SEO content writing jobs may have social media and blogging components. As a result, aspiring SEO writers should be familiar with using the most popular social media and be willing to adopt new technologies and applications as they emerge.

Step 3: Apply for Jobs

Some SEO writing positions with corporations and other organizations are full-time, while others are freelance jobs with flexible hours. An organization like the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) helps SEO writers find employment. SEO writing jobs can be long- or short-term, and compensation rates depend on the type of project.

SEO content writers should have a bachelor's degree in a related field and writing experience, as well as knowledge of online media, programming languages and keywords for optimizing Web content.

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