Having worked both in-house and as a consultant, I would like to answer some of the questions that I get asked fairly regularly, but I want to stress, these points here are far from everything. There is so much to know and understand that it would be almost impossible to put it all down on paper.
Hopefully, you will get some use from this.
What is search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it important?
Before deciding that you want to become a freelance SEO consultant, it helps to know what SEO is and why it’s really important. Simply put, SEO is the process of optimizing web pages to rank higher in search results for specific queries or keywords (according to Google).
To understand why this matters we should think about what happens when people type a query into their favourite browser and press enter: The engine will then deliver back several links that are ranked according to on relevance determined by factors such as how often other sites link them; whether they contain certain words within anchor text pointing at those websites etc., but most importantly – through algorithms which attempt “a good fit” with user intent of particular interest.
Who is going to be hiring a freelance SEO consultant?
In my experience, there are two types of people who hire freelance SEO consultants. The first group is made up of business owners or marketing managers who have been told by a friend that they should be doing SEO for their website but don’t know where to start. The second group is made up of business owners or marketing managers who already understand the basics and want to take their campaign to the next level. In this post, I’m going to speak about how it feels being in both groups so you can get an idea of what your future as a freelancer might look like!
The role of a freelance SEO consultant
A freelance SEO consultant is typically someone who is hired on contract to take care of SEO for particular clients. It’s not necessary that a freelance consultant would only be working one client at any given time; they could also work with many, and switch from project-to-project as it suits them or the individual needs
What does your freelancing role entail? As you can see I’m just giving an introduction in this post about what my life is like but there are so many more interesting things which will come out soon! Stay tuned
A day in the life of an SEO
My typical working day is much like others. I get into the office and check my emails, make a coffee and then I’m ready to get started.
Today, for example, one of my clients needed a new website built from scratch with SEO in mind and another client wanted me to look at their rankings on Google so that they could see how things were going. I filtered some of the spam that I get daily and then started to write this article.
These are some examples but it is not always this way! Sometimes there will be meetings or phone calls if you need an update quickly about your project status otherwise work can come up unexpectedly which means more hours than expected- great news though right? You’re getting paid while working overtime
Do you need qualifications to become an SEO consultant?
You don’t actually need any. SEO is one of those industries where there are no real exams to sit, so you just need to have a certain level of knowledge about SEO in order for you to be able to speak with your clients and help them understand what needs doing.
And that’s it!
But how do you learn about SEO? This is something you do need. You can’t just offer services and know nothing about it. Luckily, there are many sites where you can learn about SEO, and they usually have free content. I recommend starting with Moz’s Beginner Guide to Search Engine Optimization- it covers a lot of the basics so you’ll be able get your head around all this stuff in no time!
There isn’t only MOZ – it helps to engage with other SEO‘s on the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn. There are also many other sites that offer free content and I recommend bookmarking some of these to have on hand for future reference – maybe you won’t need them, but it’s good to know they’re there in case!
Gauging your understanding of SEO
If you have worked as an in-house SEO or at an agency, then you need to gauge how much you know about the industry. Remember, you are selling yourself as a service, so you need to be credible. You will need a blog, social media presence and other digital marketing skills in order for your services as an SEO consultant or content marketer
You are going up against many different freelance consultants who have found their niche – so it is important that you find yours too!
For example, I focus on technical SEO audits with clients- they want someone reliable but affordable without spending tens of thousands of pounds like some large firms charge.
I have also worked hard to gather reviews from previous clients on Google and TrustPilot, so if someone mentions my name, then they can see what I have done for other people in the past. This helps by building my brand and credibility, two very important aspects of being a freelancer.
How to find work
Put simply, I don’t. I have been in the SEO industry for more than 21 years and have spent many years making a name for myself. But if I were starting out again, I would suggest three ways of finding clients:
The first is to contact other SEO consultants and see if they have any overflow work.
The second would be by looking for freelance job boards, like Upwork or Freelancer- these are not always the most reliable way but you never know what opportunities may arise from them (or indeed where else).
And finally I think there’s a lot more potential in marketing yourself via social media – it seems that many companies want someone with good online engagement who understands how important this can now become when people buy products nowadays! You could also offer your services on sites such as Fiverr to get yourself started.
Get a website and list your services
This is a must – there is no way that you can be a freelance SEO consultant without having your own online presence. When someone searches for you, you want to be found in as many places as possible, but a website is imperative.
I would also suggest that you hire someone to create you a website, or purchase a template from sites such as Theme Forest. This way you can easily set up your site and get it live quickly – but make sure to include the following key points:
Your homepage should tell people who they are dealing with when working for them; what services there will be provided by this freelance SEO consultant in terms which clients would understand- not just technical language!
Secondly, you should also provide testimonials about you on your website so potential customers know how good previous jobs have been handled before making contact themselves – these could come either via email references alongside text messages if possible too.
Finally, I think blogs/news updates is another easy thing any freelancer out here really needs.
Learning by doing
No client is ever going to be happy if you test theories out on their website, so if you want to try something new or just experiment with a blog post then do it on your own websites.
When working for clients, the only time where testing out different strategies is acceptable (and advised) would be when there’s no cost involved- such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads experiments, which can’t directly hurt their listings in Google, but while bringing in potential customers from niche markets they may not have been aware of before now!
In general though… Never break trust by experimenting without permission at any point – so stay safe & keep testing on your own sites.
Promote yourself on freelancing portals
If you need to get clients, one great way to get off the ground is by listing yourself on some of the more popular freelancing portals such as Upwork or Freelancer.com and bidding on jobs posted there that you’re qualified to do (obviously).
This is a great way for SEO consultants in particular, as you can easily gain access not only to general freelancing portals but niche ones where people are more likely searching specifically by skill/area of expertise than anything else.
Advice would I give to someone who wants to become an SEO consultant
This is a tough one because there is so much you need to know, but if I had to get three pieces of advice, they would be, first of all, to get a good understanding of SEO basics (assuming you don’t already have this).
Secondly: Have a good understanding of what makes Google tick. Read their guidelines, understand their algorithm and keep up to date with what they’re doing.
Thirdly: make great use of social media platforms (like LinkedIn). Through these channels, there may be some opportunity down the line if they’re following what their employees are posting online/doing outside job hours – which can lead to more referrals coming back towards them
What is the best thing about going freelance?
For me, it has to be that I am my own boss and can take on work that I really enjoy.
It’s such a relief to be able to take the pressure off and still get paid well for my time, skillset or knowledge without having someone breathing down your back telling you what can and can’t do next.
But you must be disciplined – You need to deliver on time, you have to be organised and keep track of your hours. You will likely no longer be working a 9-5 day either, as you will have times where you are working evenings and weekends to hit deadlines. Gotta be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
How much does a freelance SEO make? Knowing your worth
There have been a number of freelance SEOs who have shared their earnings, and the average seems to be £25 an hour, but remember, this is just an average. As you progress, so can your rate, right up until you are earning £1000+ per day.
Put in the work and you can reap the rewards.
Specialising as an SEO consultant
There comes a point where you might not want to be a generalist and start specializing in one area. For example by focusing on building backlinks from authoritative sites or like me, becoming a technical SEO who specialises in SEO auditing.
Specialising means that you only work on one or a small number of areas. It is a way for you to improve in that particular area while at the same time, it means higher rates and less competition from other freelance consultants who are generalists.
Begin with a small budget and get reviews
I hope that this has been useful, but in parting, I would always suggest you walk before you can run. Build up solid reviews from smaller jobs before branching out and attempting to take on bigger projects.