Disclaimer: In this blog post, I will go over the basic steps you can complete to create an SEO website and portfolio; however, all content and information are for informational and educational purposes only, which is based on my experience.
Freelancers have a unique process when it comes to searching for and acquiring new clients. It is a process that is far away from the standard resume and cover letter to apply for a position. True, some open positions will request a resume and cover letter, but without a portfolio to showcase your written samples, it is more of a challenge to gain new clients or projects.
New freelance writers often wonder if a website is the best way to showcase their portfolios. In my opinion, it is.
There are ways to minimize start-up costs when it comes to showcasing a portfolio. For example, you can add your samples to your LinkedIn profile as a feature or you can use a folder in Google Drive. However, an SEO website and portfolio will help prospective clients find you online too. Isn’t that what we all aim for?
You may be wondering how to get started with your website and how to ensure it is set up for search engine optimization (SEO) success. As mentioned, SEO can help prospective clients find you more easily online. It also provides easy access to your portfolio or blog content relevant enough to keep visitors on your site longer and read your writing.
Fortunately, it’s not as difficult or daunting of a task as it may seem. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the basic steps to create an SEO website and portfolio – one with the goal of maximizing visibility and engagement with potential customers as you grow your freelance business. Let’s get started!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links so I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of my links, at no extra cost to you.
What is SEO and How Does it Work?
Let’s start with the basics. What is SEO? Moz.com defines SEO as a “set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results.” I like how they mentioned it is a set of practices, which I’ll go over in a bit, but first, let’s see how search engines work.
There are 4 stages of how search engines work, they are crawling, rendering, indexing, and ranking. During the first stage, search engines like Google use crawlers (Google’s is named Googlebot) that basically crawl a website to discover the content within it.
The third stage is indexing, which categorizes the content and information of the web pages based on key factors, including keywords, quality, and relevance. The last stage is ranking. Search engines evaluate each web page to determine its rank on the search engine results page (SERP).
Essentially, when a search engine discovers web pages, analyzes them, determines what the content is about, and ranks them for SERP. When you follow good SEO practices when you create an SEO website and portfolio, you can help your web page rank better on SERP.
How to Build an SEO Website and Portfolio
As a freelance writer who is ready to create an SEO website and portfolio, you will need three basic things: a domain name, a website platform, and a website host.
Pick a Domain Name
A domain name is your website name (e.g. https://dianalotti.com/), so picking one is the first step when you create an SEO website and portfolio. Before deciding on a domain name, develop a freelance business plan that includes the niche or industry you wish to work in, the services you plan to offer, and your brand personality.
Once your niche, services, and brand are established, you can brainstorm ideas for your domain name. You can use a name that fits your brand or reflects your type of business. Maybe you can include a keyword related to your industry in your website address; for example, [Name] Writes. Lastly, you can use your own name to keep it consistent as I did with this site.
Take your time, brainstorm some ideas, make sure it is available, and choose wisely.
Select a Website Platform
A website platform serves as the foundation for your website’s domain name. However, not all platforms are created equal (as the saying goes) and it can make all the difference when it comes to creating an SEO website and portfolio.
There are many platforms to choose from, including Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix, but I personally like WordPress because it allows you to use SEO-friendly themes.
Select a Website Host
A website host basically provides you with storage space in their servers, so it is where your SEO website and portfolio will live in the online world. Choosing the right website host is key in helping you run your site smoothly and efficiently. I use Siteground for my website host for a few different reasons:
- Amazing customer support. I remember when I had a small issue transferring my website host from Bluehost to Siteground, and the customer support was exceptional. They answered all my questions and helped me get the transfer completed.
- Free SSL security certificate. The SSL encrypts all data transmission so that your website visitors are protected.
- Good bandwidth and storage for the price.
- Easy to install WordPress hosting.
- Free CDN is available, which helps make your site faster.
- It allows you to transfer any domain names and add new ones.
Set Up Your Legal Pages
There are three must-have legal pages that you should include on your website to comply with the law and of course, to protect your freelance business. The three pages are the following:
- Disclaimer: A disclaimer informs your readers/visitors about the scope and limitations of a product, service, or information you provide on your site. The purpose of a disclaimer is to protect you against any harm or liability arising from the use of your products, services, affiliates, product reviews, or any other information you decide to include on your website or blog.
- Terms and Conditions: Think of this legal page as the rules for the people who visit your website, all with the purpose of protecting you from potential legal disputes.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer so this information about the must-have legal pages is for educational and informational purposes. An attorney is a person to contact to create these legal pages for you; however, attorneys cost money. I personally used the legal page templates from Amira from “A Self Guru”. She’s an attorney who specializes in creating affordable, easy, and quick legal templates for bloggers and entrepreneurs.
Implement SEO Basics
Now we are getting to the good stuff, implementing the SEO basics when it is time to create an SEO website and portfolio. I’ll focus on mapping your site structure in WordPress, setting up your URL structure, SSL certification, and the tools to help you analyze your SEO.
Map Your Site Structure
An essential part of your SEO strategy is to ensure you map your site structure so that is easy to follow and makes sense. Your site structure is how the pages on your website are organized based on the type of content you plan to include.
Let’s think of the navigation and footer menu. For example, on my website, I included several pages on my navigation menu, including a home page, about page, services, blog, portfolio, and contact. My portfolio page also includes subpages, three for different niches of my writing portfolio and one for my travel photography. In my footer menu, I have my legal pages.
Remember that the Googlebot will crawl your website, so as part of your SEO strategy, use internal and external links with a well-done site structure to make it easy for the Googlebot to navigate the site. For example, on my “Home” page, I have a few “Learn More” buttons that lead to my “About” and “Contact” pages within my site, those are my internal links. My external links are mostly on my portfolio where I linked to sites holding my written work.
There are different types of website structures you can implement, it all depends on your freelance business structure. However, make sure your site structure makes sense for readers/visitors. You don’t want them to get frustrated trying to find the information they need or worst, leave your site because they can’t find it.
WordPress Basics for SEO
The WordPress dashboard is pretty easy to navigate once you understand what you’re looking for. To help you create an SEO website and portfolio, first, go to your WordPress Dashboard and click on “Settings” then “Reading”.
Where it says “Search engine visibility”, make sure the box is left unchecked to ensure search engines index the content on your site. See the screenshot below:
Next is the permalink. A permalink, or permanent link, is the URL that points to a specific blog post or page on your website. It includes your website’s domain name and the path to the content (e.g. example.com/post-name). Search engines use permalinks to properly index and rank web pages in search results. Here’s what you will do:
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks > Select post name > save changes.
Lastly, go to your Settings > General > make sure the WordPress Address (URL) and the Site Address (URL) match > save changes. See the screenshot sample below:
HTTPS is an encrypted protocol that appears as a lock next to your URL.
HTTPS basically ensures the protection of personal data, such as usernames and passwords, credit card information, and any other type of sensitive information. Why do you need it for SEO? Well, HTTPS shows search engines that your website is trustworthy, which can help boost its ranking in search results.
Have you ever noticed that Google includes a not secure label next to a website’s URL? If you perform a Google search and encounter an unsecured site, would you click on it? I know I don’t. As such, you risk your chances of increasing organic traffic to your site. When you choose your web host, make sure you include your SSL certificate so your site has HTTPS.
Yoast or RankMath
There are two WordPress plugins that will help you create an SEO website and portfolio: Yoast and RankMath. I have used both of these plugins in the past, but I prefer RankMath at the moment. Both of these provide a checklist of items to complete to make sure you follow SEO practices for your web pages and blog posts. They also provide you with recommendations to improve them.
These plugins allow you to update your meta title, permalink, and meta description too. These are important for SEO. Remember that SEO titles should be under 60 characters and meta descriptions should be between 145-160 characters. Your permalink should include the SEO keyword too.
For more information, you can join my mailing list to receive a FREE SEO Keyword Placement Sheet Cheat. Scroll to the end of this page to join.
When a site takes a while to upload, it is frustrating, and the higher the chances users will leave the site. This is because site speed matters and it plays a role in your search rankings. You can use the WP Rocket to boost your website speed.
Table of Contents
If you plan to include a blog when you create an SEO website and portfolio, a table of contents plugin will help with SEO. Plus, users can use the table of contents to get to the section they want to read faster.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Google Analytics collects data that you can use to evaluate how your website traffic is doing and implement any changes accordingly.
The Google Search Console will help you evaluate your SEO performance while letting you catch potential errors on your website. To learn more about Google Search Console, I recommend you read the Ahrefs blog post titled, “How to Use Google Search Console to Improve SEO (Beginner’s Guide).”
The Bottom Line
For freelance writers, creating an SEO website and portfolio becomes essential in the long term because it helps you showcase your samples, gain leads, attract clients, and grow your freelance business. Remember that SEO is a long game and it can take time to rank on the first pages of Google, but you can start by implementing these basic steps to help you get started.
If you are interested in learning more about SEO, contact me or let me know in the comments below what you’re struggling with so I can help!