Freelancing remains one of the most flexible and low-overhead ways of earning online, or to make money from home fast. Among the most popular skills to apply a freelance model to is search engine optimization, or SEO, as it serves the demand of those seeking effective ways to promote their websites. Given the continuing domination of search engines (or Google in particular) as the main way people are getting new traffic to their pages, the need for learning how to optimize a site, or to hire someone who does, is greater now than it ever was.
This leads to freelancing opportunities for people with SEO skills of various levels. The blunt reality of the matter is that most clients who desire more web traffic do not have the time or inclination to master SEO, or to stay updated as to the best methodologies, or to pay market rates for serious optimization services. According to a recent MOZ “How Much Does SEO Cost?” industry survey, the average rate for professional SEO work ranges from $750-$1500, on up (with larger businesses comprising the high end), yet this is a price point most smaller site owners are not inclined to pay.
As a result, a person with average SEO proficiency can offer lower end clients a more affordable rate based on short term activity, or by offering “packages” that deliver components of SEO services. Scaling the activity in this manner creates many freelancing options or arrangements that may satisfy both client and the provider, so long as the client does not expect “guaranteed results” in the form of permanent or stable ranking improvement from the work, and the provider does not over-promise what can be delivered. Below are additional tips about offering a viable SEO freelance service:
Stress Simplicity: The flexibility of freelancing is largely a result of the degree of directness possible in the SEO jobs arranged between the client and provider. Assignments can be as simple as being set up by email or by Skype, as the result of a free classified, or marketing forum posting. Deals can also be made on freelancing sites such as Upwork or ‘gig sites’ like Fiverr, where there are protections for buyers and sellers, but many are willing to forego use of a middleman (and the extra fees that come with them) for the sake of conducting a quick transaction. This is key to the freelancer being paid fast for taking on the assignment–e.g., receiving a payment by Paypal today, for a job agreed upon yesterday.
Emphasize the Basics: Part of the job of an SEO service provider, depending on the case, may be to educate, or otherwise communicate clearly with the client about the range of SEO elements and their difficulty level. SEO comes down to quality links (offpage) and optimal page construction as per the keywords (onpage), while advanced SEO comes down to offering compelling value that establishes the site’s authority, or encouraging repeat visits. A SEO freelancer should clarify what methods he can or cannot do, based on the humble budget of the client. In most cases, only the basic techniques can be performed on the lower price level.
Discuss Realism Regarding Keywords: Again, given clients may have TaJ Mahal expectations, that they want met with a tiny house price tag. In the case of keywords, they may insist upon ranking terms that may have sky high competition, instead of permitting the SEO provider to find less difficult alternatives. Even where low competition keywords may exist for a niche, the niche itself may have overly high competition (e.g., weight loss). The competent freelancer should recommend realistic variation keywords to head off any confusion the buyer may have as to why their site is not ranking in a heavily saturated niche.
Discuss Realism Regarding Rankings: Ranking is no longer a static process of one-time optimizing the on page content for keywords, and (off page) obtaining relevant backlinks with good authority. Google’s recent changes to its algorithm (including innovations like Rankbrain) factors in how visitors receive the site they go to. If they bounce out of it, or use the back button as they found the page to be of low value, Google will lower the ranking regardless of what hyper power authority backlinks were created to originally rank it. Good linking, or even linkbait has to lead to value bait, or reasons stay on the page, to optimize rankings and keep them optimized. A SEO provider will have to remind clients of this dynamic factor, and ensure the buyer knows the package or services offered may only solve X part of the ranking the site, but not the entire ranking issue.
Another alternative for the buyer, depending on their budget, is to hire somebody to write the main content for the site, another to set up the on page SEO, and/or supply a good links package (including from high percentage, though controversial sources such as PBN links, or editorial links). This work is split up to prevent the situation where a provider may be good at backlinking, but subpar at doing compelling writing, or vice versa). While it may cost more to use multiple freelancers, this may help the client accomplish more in maintaining the rankings overall.
Consider Getting Paid Through Crypto: SEO freelancing, like most online earning done through gig work, is usually paid at least partly upfront, via instant methods like Paypal or credit card invoice. While this is the preferred method and can be trouble-free, the sad fact is that there are instances where payments will be charged back, due to disputes over whether the SEO services provided were satisfactory. These disputes can range from good faith disagreements, to seller fraud, to buyers willfully ripping off the provider for services rendered. Due to this, consider supplementing your freelancing by taking payment in cryptocurrency, which is non-refundable, or using an escrow system such as provided by Upwork or similar sites. This will provide a freelancer peace of mind that their time and labor were not wasted, or subject to a one-sided deal where their payment could be reversed or eliminated.
Limit your exposure to, or reliance on SEO ‘gurus:’ A few worth following are Matthew Woodward and Brian Dean (of Backlinko), or sometimes Neil Patel (Quicksprout), but for the purposes of getting actual work done, the bulk of SEO experts are distractions. Don’t spend excess time on forums such as Search Engine Journal and the like, as you can get lost in the forest of ever changing SEO minutia. At some point, enough updates are enough. Use a small handful of SEO mentors as a guidepost as to what is the ‘state of the art’ in ranking methods, tools and resources, and cite them to explain your own methodology to clients. Then get out and make money, usually fast and simple, as an SEO freelancer!