How to become an SEO Consultant Contractor

Contracting as an SEO consultant means your whole purpose and goal is to get that all important client’s website at the highest search engine position possible. Like most users of the internet, after scanning the first three result pages of a search engine, such as Google, it is likely that if you have not found an interesting site to look at, pages from four onwards are likely to get ignored!

That’s where as the SEO Consultant you come in as the expert. 2010 saw the demand for SEO contractors increase, with companies investing nearly £486m in the SEO market, and is forecasted to increase in the coming years.

Now it is true that not every business out there requires these services, with some businesses still successful without needing a website, let alone an SEO expert, however with directories such as the Yellow Pages playing second fiddle to that of the internet, more and more customers are likely to use the Internet to search for services and products…exactly the same can be said for Contractors trying to find work.

Getting Started

Unlike a lot of professions an SEO consultant is usually self-taught, or taught through an SEO specific course. Below are a few steps to help you start off your SEO career.

  • Understand how SEO works – Bit of an obvious starting point! However as the SEO expert it is essential that you clearly know which areas are your strengths and which areas still need developing. For example, some freelancers create content rich pages that will make search engines favour the copy on your website. Other SEO experts understand, what’s called ‘link building’, so be clear to clients what you specialize in.
  • Contact the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organisation (SEMPO) - SEMPO will allow you to practice being an SEO consultant so you could see how successful you could be. SEMPO can help with establishing a niche and obtaining free training options.
  • Create your own website – By creating your own website, you can not only promote your own services and background information; you can optimise the site using it as a case study to show other clients.
  • Offer your services to non-profit organizations - Offering your services for free to a nonprofit organization, websites and blogs, helps build on your skills of handling an already live site and is a great way of building up your portfolio that you can later use to promote your consulting business.

What are employers looking for?

The most important step in securing an SEO contract is your portfolio of work. Your CV needs to looks as appealing as possible, and can show the client base you have worked with, however employers will expect to see examples of your SEO skills. This could be in the form of print outs of reports stating the before and after Google ranking of a website you have Optimised. Visit the following pages for more advice on building up a successful CV: CV tips and Writing your CV.

Your own website is one of the best examples to showcase your work. Not only can you demonstrate how you have optimised your own website but you can use your site as an interactive CV.  Listed below are examples of content you could put on your website.

  • Put links to Google to show rankings of websites you’ve optimised. Accompanied with a screenshot of their before position. 
  • Display testimonials from previous clients.
  • Display the content to be the ‘perfect’ web copy. For example content should have:
    • A compelling offer
    • Target the right audience
    • Must have a reason
    • Must have a sense of credibility
    • Must be packed full of keywords
    • Sell yourself – Use a call to action at the end of each page, for example, once they have viewed the page, always leave a contact telephone number, email address and link to more of your work to further entice them to using your services.
  • Optimise your website!

It is important to remember you will be optimising a company’s website so any examples have to shine through how good you are at this.

How much can I earn as a SEO Consultant?

The average daily rate of an SEO Consultant is £325 per day. Daily rates vary from £320 to £2,500 a day for highly experienced SEO Consultants.

Daily rates vary so much as the more proven results you have the more clients are willing to pay for your services. With SEO it is important you have a solid portfolio of previous projects to show you can achieve the goals they are setting you.

Why SEO? Why contracting?  

More and more people are choosing to operate through their own limited company, partly due to changes in corporate working practices but also because of the freedom, control and enjoyment that comes from being your own boss.

The fact that contractors, can command much higher daily rates of pay may also be an influencing factor, but surely this is only to be expected, bearing in mind the lack of holiday and sick pay, and the other additional benefits which are lost when moving from employment to contract work.

In summary as an SEO Consultant you can benefit from:

  • Higher rates of pay - This is only fair as unlike permanent employees, you do not get holiday or sick pay, giving you a greater chance to negotiate a higher rate of pay.
  • Prospects – The SEO market is always needed presenting numerous opportunities.
  • Experience - The more contracts you take on the greater your practical and managerial skills. Giving you a wider choice of projects and the ability to charge higher daily rates.
  • Freedom - You can choose which contracts you take on and the length of time your contract is.
  • Flexibility – As a SEO Consultant you may have the option to work from home allowing you to choose the hours your work, and allowing you fit projects around any other commitments.
  • Experience - The more contracts you take on the greater your practical and managerial skills. Giving you a wider choice of projects and the ability to charge higher daily rates.
  • Lower Taxes - Any accountant will tell you that trading through your own Limited Company is the most tax efficient way possible. This only to be expected after all as a contractor you do not get sick pay, holiday pay, and have to manage your own tax affairs. However any good accountant will be able to remove most of the burden and you shouldn’t need to allow more than 15 – 20 minutes a month for Ltd company administration.

How do I find a Contract?

The most obvious way to find a contract is through recruitment sites. It would be advisable to look at niche agencies that specify in IT contractors, as these are more likely to advertise SEO contracts. 

You could also secure a contract by approaching companies direct. Often larger companies have a careers section with a contact telephone and email address for you to send through your CV and a covering letter.  The main benefit of becoming a Search Engine Optimisation consultant is that you have skills on a sector that is never ending. The internet is something nearly every customer uses and nearly any company with a website would be interested in your services giving you almost endless list of potential clients.

Marketing and PR agencies often have contracts available for SEO consultants. They may already have a preferred SEO Consultant on file, though this shouldn’t deter you from sending in examples.

It is advisable to build links with as many agencies as possible. Usually their contact numbers and addresses are on their websites. If you’re finding it difficult to find a point of contact, consider using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not the most obvious source when searching for a new contract, and it is very rare that you will actually find work using LinkedIn, however it is a good way to build up your network within the SEO sector and a way to make people aware of when you are looking for a new contract. For more information visit our LinkedIn for Contractors pages, which also contains a step by step video on using LinkedIn to find contract work.

Other avenues to explore could be a Facebook Page such as, SJD Accountancy's Facebook Page, a Twitter channel like, SJD Accountancy Twitter channel and other Social media platforms such as LinkedIn (SJD Accountancy LinkedIn), Digg and Reddit that can showcase your examples further. 

Alternatively you could advertise your service to potential clients, examples of these can be found on Gumtree. It is important though to remember this is a highly competitive marketplace, so the possibility of finding a contract is rather slim. 

For further hints and tips on starting your own SEO Consultanty. Please visit the below pages:

If you have any question about contracting or would like any further advice please contact our New Business Team 01442 275789 or e-mail newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com.