It’s undeniable that freelancing is a fast-rising career on the Internet. What with several freelance job markets and ad boards around catering to a staggering number of independent contractors, there is no doubt that there should be a project for almost everybody – from writers to web developers, designers, and countless others.
I came across a question, just today, in a freelancing discussion board while I was going through my daily routine and I found it to make a lot of sense. Given that as freelancers we want to find the best prospects and work with them on a rather lucrative project, we sometimes seem at a loss as to how we would start finding them.
I have previously given an insight about how potential clients out there might just be looking for the services you offer, hence the need to employ SEO techniques. Although I have merely focused on optimising articles and other on-page content, I’m afraid I wasn’t able to give my two cents on how freelancers can optimise their own portfolio websites.
The question in the forum was:
DO I NEED TO USE S.E.O. ON MY PORTFOLIO SITE?
There were only four answers to the discussion so far, including mine. It suddenly dawned on me that this question is quite tricky yet it makes perfect sense.
What is it about optimising your portfolio website that a lot of freelancers are buzzing over it?
As freelancers, how do we put our portfolio websites to use?
What I thought would make sense before we even begin the hard work of getting our portfolio pages to the top Search Engine results is to define our purpose of creating the site. I made my own business channel website – and from time to time I change how it looks and even all the text written on it. However, I have never fussed much about looking it up on Google using the keywords I wrote it with.
I still haven’t figured it out. But maybe, just maybe, because I am not yet ready to be found. You see, my friends, when you’re offering freelancer services and you happen to be at the very top of search results, chances are you’ll be flooded with queries you wouldn’t know how to answer right away, especially if you’re working alone.
I am not saying we leave it to companies and bigger teams, and not bother trying to get found on Google if you’re merely an individual seeking projects.
We all deserve to be found by our potential clients.
“DRESS” TO IMPRESS
You’ve got the first ten seconds to make an impression with the look and the next thirty seconds to convince the audience that it’s worth staying to read more.
Of course, the look and the feel of your website has to be very impressive so that people drawn to your website will stay drawn and keep clicking one page after the other. However, keep in mind that your portfolio website does not go round in circles.
If you’re building a portfolio website to impress your prospects, combine aesthetics with technique. Be direct and attractive.
And if you’re an individual freelancer who looks to merely showcase what you’ve got and what you’ve done, make sure that your pages load fast enough, and thatthey contain audience-friendly content.
But, let’s try to find out why we even created the portfolio site in the first place. Let us define the very purpose of creating a website.
PURPOSE NUMBER 1: DRAWING ANONYMOUS PEOPLE BUT POTENTIAL PROSPECTS TO YOUR SITE
If you expect people to find you through various search engines and get in touch with you for queries and possible projects, then you should get to work.
The challenge of being “found” though is big. Of course, you’ll initially get to on-page optimisation and make sure that every page has enough component for search engines to crawl and index.
Content is a big factor. When creating content for your website, research is very important. If the services you offer and the projects you mean to showcase are worded in a way that no layman could ever come up using when using Google search, you have to find similar keywords and phrases to replace them.
HERE ARE A FEW RELEVANT LINKS YOU CAN READ TO GIVE YOU ADDITIONAL SEO INSIGHTS
AND THIS IS BASICALLY HOW GOOGLE SEARCH WORKS
PURPOSE NUMBER 2: BRINGING YOUR CONTACTS TO YOUR SITE
If you already have a list of people, groups, or companies that you see yourself working with at any given time, then there may not be too much need to get have your portfolio site at the top SERPs.
Send your contacts a link to your portfolio website so they can have a look at what you’ve got and what’s in it for them. It can sometimes be that simple. This works especially if you’re not over the moon about explaining your skills, services and talking about your portfolio in an email. That’s too much work for you, most importantly if you’ve got more than one skill set. Besides, an email with so much details may lead your prospects to disinterest.
Write a proposal, introduce who you are and then give them the link to what you believe they would want to learn about you. It works in a way that they don’t need to look for your site in Google.
This also effectively works if you’ve got yourself a profile on freelancing channels with rather lenient regulations on providing links to an external website. From there, you can bid on a project or propose to a job advertiser and then direct them to your website so they can review your previous work. It saves you time from doing screenshots and explanations about your past projects to include in your application. And although freelancing platforms have the facility to have your portfolio included, some of them limits you to display only the projects you completed through that site. If you’re a newbie in that platform, then you have limited ways to show what you’ve got.
Create your site, publish it on the web. Do the simple tricks of having it “crawlable” and indexable, but do not put so much work into it especially if you’re working alone and you’re managing your time between working on a project and prospecting.
Remember that this generally works if you’ve got your prospects’ contact information handy. If not, it’ll be wise to revert to drawing an efficient SEO strategy for your portfolio website.
THE UPS AND DOWNS OF WORKING AN SEO STRATEGY FOR INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTORS
Optimising your web pages can definitely increase your visitors. A reasonable percentage of these visitors are potential clients. And every freelancer online who wants this to happen should engage in the nitty gritty of it.
However, there is a big responsibility that comes along with being an individual at the top of search results. If you’re not prepared and equipped to manage the traffic and enquiries you’re getting, you’re going to defeat the purpose.
And there’s also so much work to do if you want to be visible on the first page of Search Engine Results. There’s making sure that your pages are credible enough for Search Engines to include. On-page optimisation itself requires you to dedicate so much time doing keyword research, content creation, keyword density analysis and other. Then you need to make sure that your off-page strategies are in sync with everything – being visible in Social Media, building and maintaining an online reputation, listening and participating in discussion boards, linking to and from relevant websites, advertising, blogging, and then some. These may require a lot of time for you to do and it just doesn’t end there. It’s a continuous process. If you slacked, then you’ll find your pages down at the bottom of search rankings.
MY FINAL THOUGHT
I am not discouraging anyone from doing SEO work on their own portfolio websites. In fact, I am really all up for it. I just want to suggest that we all think ahead and list down your reasons and purpose for wanting to be found on web searches.
Also, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will be wise not to expect your portfolio site to be searchable right away. Optimising is a work in progress and SEO is dynamic. The Google process itself changes from time to time – giving and taking away merits to various SEO factors. The SEO technique you might apply today may not have much bearing to Google’s process tomorrow.
Define your purpose for building your portfolio and work on it.
Stay tuned for additional insights on optimising your portfolio website.