As an entrepreneur, you set aside time to brainstorm, plan, learn, iterate, and meet your goals. But there’s so much to do in your business every day that it’s impossible to do it all—and do it all well—on your own. The solution is to outsource, and one of the tasks that’s prime for outsourcing is search engine optimization, also known as SEO. A strong SEO strategy requires a lot of time and, more importantly, skill, so outsourcing SEO efforts to a skilled freelancer is one of the best investments a business can make.
What is SEO?
SEO is using specific techniques to get your website in front of your target audience when they’re searching for what you provide. When a customer doesn’t have a preferred brand in mind (and even sometimes when they do), they start their journey with an online search. This means your products, offers, services, and content need to be ready to rank on search engines so potential customers can find you.
Why would you outsource this part of your business if it’s so critical to getting new customers? You’re the expert in your business—you know how to treat your customers and how to sell your products. But that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at online technologies or on the various nuances of ranking on search engines. Sure, you could learn SEO, but that’s an investment of time, your most valuable resource. Even once you do have a grasp of SEO basics, you’re not done. SEO is an ongoing, time-intensive business activity that rarely makes sense for a founder to do him or herself. In other words, the best recourse is to outsource to an experienced, qualified SEO expert.
How to Budget for SEO Services
Before you determine the amount of money you can expect to spend on SEO services, you first need to understand your company’s needs. Determine whether you want a project-based effort or an ongoing commitment to continually build momentum.
Project Based SEO
An SEO project is just a small part of the overall SEO need. It may consist of a tune-up, a few technical aspects on your website, or an analysis of the keywords used and which you should be targeting.
Ongoing SEO Retainers
Online competition is tough, and many companies compete with each other to outrank them on the search engines. It is this competition, and the ever-changing requirements of the search engines, especially Google, that require consistent SEO work. This is why most businesses prefer to establish ongoing retainers when they outsource SEO services. If a business needs to have a constant influx of customers, especially if that first contact is through organic search, there needs to be a consistent SEO effort to keep online traffic coming in.
What are Typical SEO Costs?
Like any other product or service, SEO costs will vary. Even so, here are some guidelines for what SEO costs may look like. When referring to consistent monthly work, most SEO professionals charge a monthly retainer. Pricing varies depending on the freelancer or agency you choose, and many SEO specialists offer several pricing options. Price packages can range from a $250 to $500 per month tier, to a monthly retainer of $2,000 or more. It all depends on the experience level of the provider, the expected outcome, and the work to be completed.
If the project is task-based and billed hourly, you can expect to see $30+ per hour for the strategic SEO work. For some of the more basic tactical work, you could expect in the $10 – $20 per hour range, but you’ll likely have to lay out documented processes and procedures for the most success.
The Process of Outsourcing SEO
Almost any business can benefit from outsourcing their SEO to a freelancer. Having an SEO expert in-house usually costs more, is more difficult to find, and may not be as effective as hiring a dedicated expert. Plus, most organizations don’t get the best SEO ROI with one full-time person. The optimal setup is one part-time, dedicated person for most businesses, or a team with diverse skills for a larger organization. You can outsource your SEO needs to an expert who has studied and works on SEO full time—without paying full-time costs.
Here’s how to get the best results from outsourcing your SEO.
Step 1: Know Which SEO Tasks to Outsource
Whether or not you have content marketing, web development, and other skills on your team, you can benefit from outsourcing the following to an SEO expert:
- SEO Strategy/Audit – An expert can go through your existing web presence and recommend the best approach for getting SEO results and meeting your goals.
- Keyword Research – Understanding the right keywords to optimize for and in what order is a great project for an SEO expert to tackle.
- On-page SEO – Optimizing a website for SEO—one of the most important SEO activities—requires a mix of technical development expertise as well as SEO copywriting skills, so outsourcing on-page SEO cleanup to a freelancer or agency can have big benefits.
- Link Building – Building backlinks to your site and content is a time-consuming, ongoing, and very valuable activity that’s perfect for a freelancer to take charge of.
- Guest Article Outreach and Partnerships – Having someone foster relationships for guest articles and other content partnerships helps the overall backlinking and ranking strategy.
- Podcast Interview Placement – Similar to guest articles, podcast interviews help get your company’s name out there and build backlinks.
- Directory Optimization – Managing directory listings can be tedious and time-consuming but is a simple task to outsource.
- Forum and Social Media Posting – Social media sites and forums have high domain authority, so links from these sites—by your profile and others—helps in the search engine algorithm.
Once you know what type of work you need completed, you can find the freelancer that fits the bill.
Step 2: Know the Right Type of Freelancer to Hire
Based on the tasks you’re outsourcing, you can look for the right person or people to hire. In general, you’ll want to know the following criteria:
- Agency or individual freelancer – Do you want to work with an individual freelancer, or would you prefer to outsource to an SEO agency? Learn the pros and cons of each.
- Level of experience – Do you want someone who can walk in on day one and take ownership of SEO? Or are you willing to be patient with someone less experience who may need more of your time?
- Location – Do you want to outsource to someone in the US, UK, or Canada? Or are you looking for someone outside the US, for example in the Philippines?
Step 3: Find and Hire Vetted Freelancers and Agencies
After you know what you’re looking for, based on steps 1 and 2, you’ll be able to find a freelancer or agency to bring onboard for your SEO project and/or ongoing optimization.
On FreeeUp, simply create your account, submit a request, and you’ll be connected with highly skilled professionals who meet your needs.
Step 4: Set Clear Expectations and Check in Regularly
When you begin your relationship with a new outsourced SEO provider, you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page. Document your expectations, ask questions until you’re comfortable with their process, and set up regular meetings and reporting structures.
Be Wary of Certain SEO Promises
There are a few promises you should be wary of when it comes to SEO. These are common advertising methods used by low-quality SEO providers whose only interest is to get your money and maybe provide fast but quickly depleting results.
Many people claim to be SEO experts but are not willing to put in the work and instead make false claims. Their advertising is simple: Get ranked fast! When you see this type of claim, you could be dealing with a scammer SEO service provider.
SEO is a delicate process. It takes time and if you do rank fast, your ranking may not stick, and you might have to start over in a couple of weeks. Good SEO is slow and deliberate. It is real—organic, if you will. The quick-hit SEO tactics may even get you penalized by Google, in which case you’ll fall further behind where you started.
The Guaranteed Ranking
Your SEO provider should be confident, but not enough to absolutely guarantee your ranking. Guaranteed rankings are generally offered by black-hat SEO providers who use methods Google prohibits. A legitimate SEO provider does not use guarantees to advertise their services.
When SEO experts start telling you about the types of returns they can achieve for you, especially without knowing your business or your competition, you should be wary. They don’t know your business and shouldn’t be offering you estimated returns without having proper information.
We’re not trying to scare you; it’s just a reality of the SEO landscape. But when you outsource SEO through FreeeUp, you can rest assured the agencies and freelancers you’re connected with are vetted and reliable.
How to Choose an SEO Service Provider
A qualified SEO service provider will have metrics to demonstrate progress and areas of need. They will talk about the methodology and the process of achieving the rankings as well as the tools used to measure the success rate. Above all, a successful SEO provider will be able to explain the process in simple language, making it easy to understand.
How to Determine the Effectiveness of an SEO Provider
When you find an SEO company to work with, you’ll eventually need to evaluate whether the company you have chosen is working effectively for you. There are certain things you need to look out for to determine the effectiveness of SEO for your company. These are the things you should be on the lookout for:
- Specific keyword rankings – Your site should start to rank for specific keywords decided upon by both you and the freelancer. It is probably not realistic to expect your site to rank for all the chosen keywords, however it should rank for a few.
- Growth in organic traffic – You should start to see more traffic on your site. You can measure this through Google Analytics or other similar website tracking software.
- Increased revenue – More sales, especially for e-commerce businesses, is probably the most determining factor of effective SEO.
What Deliverables to Expect
When outsourcing your SEO, you can expect regular reports demonstrating the effort in content creation and backlink production. The amount of progress depends on the agreement you made with the freelancer or agency. In general, you should expect:
- Monthly reports, usually a dashboard or graph report.
- Quality content built for your website and other sites (guest posts).
- The research and earning of quality links from other websites.
- Clear details on any technical changes made to your website.
Tools Used by SEO Freelancers
All SEO companies use tools to help give them insight and to help perform all the tasks involved in the SEO process. The most common tools used to monitor progress and meet targets are:
What Kind of ROI Does SEO Offer?
SEO can be extremely effective and it can substantially increase your ROI. However, it is important to be realistic and track the dollar value of your leads and sales. The most important key factor in helping you determine the ROI of your outsourced SEO services is your lead and sales value.
You’ll need to determine the value of your lead and the sales produced by the SEO services. This is a metric that can only be determined by you and it’s important to take the time to do so. It will help you evaluate your SEO efforts and their fiscal return.
How to Evaluate Your Outsourced SEO
Basically, when it is right, you will know. The company you work with will be responsive to your needs and will aggressively pursue the targeted results. They will continually offer:
- New information
- New updates and developments in SEO
- Results that produce more money for your business
Google’s algorithm is always changing so it’s important that the methods used by SEO specialists also change. This means that sometimes the original agreements need to evolve, and you will need to examine the relationship and the terms of your agreement if needed. Above all, both parties need to be honest and clear about what is important.
How Long Will SEO Results Take?
It takes time for the relationship to develop and for your SEO expert to find the right path to success. It takes a certain amount of time and patience, but the value of the work grows over time. Sometimes it can take as long as a year to experience real change, but after about 3 to 6 months, you should see some gains and clear traction.
If after a year, the ROI is not that clear, you should consider adjustments or a new partner.
SEO is a high-value business activity that makes a lot of sense to outsource. It’s time-consuming and requires in-depth knowledge of continually changing tactics, making it a great project to bring in a freelancer or agency to complete. As with all outsourcing, make sure you know what you’re looking for, use a trusted marketplace to find and hire, set clear expectations, and continually monitor progress.
Megan Horn is a B2B writer and marketer. She works with companies to tell their unique stories to create engaged, loyal customers. Learn more at https://www.meganhorn.com.