Leaving Work Behind

How to Use WordPress Plugins to Offer SEO Services to Writing Clients

Written by Anne Dorko on July 27, 2017. 6 Comments

Hands holding pen and writingFreelancer bloggers are often hired with the goal of increasing organic traffic from search engines by building authority through content marketing. You may find it difficult to land a serious writing gig without knowing how to optimize your posts for search engines.

SEO is a valuable skill to add to your freelance writing repertoire. Understanding the concepts behind content marketing and how it connects to SEO will help you land new clients. Additionally, you’ll stand apart as an expert when you can recommend (and use!) the top SEO WordPress plugins for your clients.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to the concepts behind content marketing and SEO for freelance writers. Then, I’ll introduce you to the top SEO plugins for WordPress and how to use them on the job. Let’s get started!

Organic Search Engine Optimization for Freelance Writers

Google Search Homepage

Google is the most-used search engine.

Organic search engine optimization refers to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques designed to rank high in regular search engine results, as opposed to paid ads. The term ‘organic’ here simply means the content itself is optimized to trigger high rankings from search engines and readers alike without paying. Content marketing is a long-term strategy to attracting warm leads to a business by publishing lots of content.

Content marketing and SEO are intrinsically connected. Many clients hire freelance writers to improve their organic traffic, so you want to be ready to showcase your abilities to help them achieve their goals. Understanding SEO means:

  1. You’ll be able to generate stronger topics.
  2. Your pitches will be in line with client goals.
  3. You can prove value as a writer beyond word-smithing passable articles.

This one focus is probably the single biggest contributor to my success as a freelance blogger. My longest-term freelance writing clients hired me because I knew how to write and optimize posts for SEO.

Now it’s time for you to learn how to optimize for search! Let’s take a look at WordPress’ top SEO plugins, and review how to use them effectively. You’ll be offering full-on optimization services in no time.

The Top 2 SEO Plugins for WordPress

Specializing in WordPress-specific SEO gives you a niche advantage over other writers. Being familiar with these top plugins will help you stand apart from the competition! You can include them in your skills list when applying to new jobs, and recommend them to existing clients to strengthen the relationship and earn yourself a raise.

Let’s have a closer look at the top two SEO plugins. Once we’re finished, I’ll give you an idea of which features you should know how to use in both.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO plugins, and is available in a robust free version as well as an advanced premium version. As far as free features go, Yoast SEO has the most comprehensive options. It even includes readability analysis to help you improve your writing. (I used it extensively to write this post!)

It’s worth noting that Yoast SEO is available in 17 languages and there are currently more than 3 million active installations. You can get started with their easy to read documentation.

All In One SEO Pack

All In One SEO Pack Plugin

All In One SEO Pack is another powerful option! From beginner to advanced users, All In One SEO Pack has everything you need for optimizing your content. The only element it’s missing is Yoast SEO’s powerful readability analysis tool.

If you don’t need this tool, whether you choose between this and Yoast SEO comes down to personal preference. Both are neck-and-neck in features and usability, and it’s a good idea to try both for yourself. Learn more about using All In One SEO Pack by reading the documentation.

How to Use SEO Plugins in Your Freelance Writing Career

While each of these plugins have their own strengths and weaknesses, they share a few similar features you’ll want to use on each post. There are even some technical tweaks you can do even without extra plugins!

Each of these plugins will have a place for you to optimize your individual blog posts, which you can find at below the content box in the WordPress editor screen. Here are the settings to look out for, and how to use them to optimize for organic search traffic.

Global Settings

Before you get started, check that social media tags are enabled on the SEO plugin! You may need additional administrative permissions in WordPress, so if you can’t access it, talk to your client about proper configuration. This will vary per plugin, but you can refer to each plugin’s documentation to find it. Yoast SEO has it available under SEO > Social.

Yoast SEO social settings

Yoast SEO makes it easy to enable social media tags

Per Post Settings

Now, it’s time to optimize the post. Start by looking for the SEO title area. Here, you can rewrite your headline to include the target keyword toward the beginning.

Editing area for SEO title

Yoast’s SEO title editor

Next, you’ll want to write a curiosity-piquing meta description. The meta description is what typically displays in URL previews, both in search engines and on social media. This should give a good preview of what to expect when they read the page.

Yoast SEO's meta description editor

Yoast’s meta description editor

Featured images can show up in the theme, and also are used as the preview image wherever the links are embedded. A good featured image may rank for your desired keywords in image searches as well! This can be done in WordPress’ native interface (if your theme supports it), but you can also use a plugin to set custom featured images per social media.

Set featured image in Yoast for Facebook

Yoast’s Facebook Image uploader

You can also upload a separate optimized image for Twitter.

Set featured image in Yoast for Twitter

Yoast’s Twitter Image uploader

Finally, you should customize the permalink, also known as a slug because it trails behind at the end of the URL. Ideally, the target keyword will be at the beginning of the slug. It is a good idea to choose a short, memorable URL that properly sells the content of the page.

Yoast slug editor

Yoast’s permalink (slug) editor

You can also simply use the permalink section to customize the slug, useful for when no plugin is installed.

WordPress editor permalink

The default WordPress permalink editor

When pitching your work to a new client, be sure to mention your comprehensive expertise in optimizing for search engines. You’ll be able to ask for a higher fee, because the more you learn about blogging, the more you can get paid!


Being able to offer search engine friendly content makes you a more desirable freelance writer for clients. This means having a strong understanding of the goals of content marketing and how to use SEO plugins in WordPress.

In this article, I introduced you to the concepts behind content marketing, as well as the top SEO plugins to recommend to your clients. It’s important you use these to optimize:

  1. Keyword optimized title tags.
  2. Attention grabbing meta descriptions.
  3. Properly formatted featured images.
  4. Inclusion of social media tags.
  5. Customized permalinks.

What questions do you have about using SEO plugins in WordPress? Let me know so I can help you out in the comments section below!

Image Credit: Raw Pixel.

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6 Responses to “How to Use WordPress Plugins to Offer SEO Services to Writing Clients”

  1. Aula de canto
    July 28, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I really like yoast I already used it all in one seo but I prefer yoast

    • Anne Dorko
      July 28, 2017 at 10:37 am

      I agree, Yoast SEO is my personal favorite and I recommend it to my clients! Glad to find another Yoast supporter 😉

      That being said, All In One is still an important one to know about as many people prefer it. It’s good to be aware of the plugins potential clients may already be using!

  2. John Sykes
    August 3, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Anne,

    I have Yoast on my own website and find it excellent.
    However, can you suggest a way of using it for general copywriting without having access to a client’s website?
    I was thinking of using a page on my own website to prepare the text, “Yoast” it and then forward to the client, having deleted it from my website.


    • Anne Dorko
      August 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Hi John,

      Thanks for dropping by! It is always a little more difficult when you don’t have access to the client’s site. In this situation, I think you’re on the right track.

      I would probably set up a private WordPress site with Yoast somewhere where I could keep a log of my client submissions and test them using Yoast before sending it to them. That way it doubles as a place to test for SEO, while keeping the work somewhere safe if I need to access it again.

      I hope that helps! Best of luck 🙂


  3. Tracy Starreveld
    August 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Thanks Anne – this is very useful! I’ve been blogging for 4-5 months and have found Yoast SEO an AMAZING tool!

    2 things to ask you:

    1) Curious – what was the SEO keyword for your post?

    2) Confused – if I do change the permalink/slug on any pre-published post in order to boost its SEO – do I need to do anything else? Because Yoast tells me: ‘If you decide to rename the URL be sure to check the old URL 301 redirects to the new one!’ But I have no idea what that means!

    Many thanks : )

    • Anne Dorko
      August 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Hey again Tracy – yes, Yoast SEO is one of my all-time favorites! 😀

      1) Haha, great question! The keyword for this article was “seo services” 🙂

      2) A 301 redirect will make sure your old post slug properly redirects to your new slug. Otherwise, if someone clicks the old link in an email or something, they’ll get a “page not found” error.

      I believe the premium version of Yoast provides a tool for managing 301 redirects, but I use the WordPress plugin Redirection.

      Great questions!! Keep ’em coming 🙂 I’ll have to see why you’re not getting email notifications for these replies, as well.

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