Becoming An SEO Consultant: Skills, Career Outlook & Tips For Success

Becoming An SEO Consultant: Skills, Career Outlook & Tips For Success

A search engine optimization marketing consultant is a specialist in SEO who works outdoors of typical contracted employment.

On occasion, they might be freelancers who work with their very own purchasers or inside a present group however not as workers.

They are likely to be accountable for a wide range of duties from pitching and shutting to contract negotiations, in addition to SEO.

And whereas there are some benefits to having a wide range of duties and the liberty to tackle solely the initiatives you need, SEO consulting additionally has its drawbacks.

This column will aid you to perceive what to anticipate earlier than selecting a profession as an SEO marketing consultant.

Our SEO Consultants Employed Or Freelance?

In the U.Okay., the reply will get barely extra sophisticated. The time period “SEO consultant” can even describe the job title of an employed SEO that doesn’t actually denote seniority or administration tasks.

Like “SEO specialist” or “SEO advisor.”

This may additionally be how freelancers with aspect hustles and full-time jobs describe themselves.

It does, nonetheless, additionally, imply an unbiased contractor like within the U.S.

Projects vs. Multiple Clients

An SEO marketing consultant would possibly select to work with their very own purchasers and the one individual engaged in their search engine optimization.

They may additionally select to take contracts that embed them inside a present group, like becoming a member of as extra help to an enterprise SEO group.

Running Your Own Business

The key distinction between a profession as an SEO marketing consultant and another sort of search engine optimization job is that you’ll be working for your individual enterprise.

As an unbiased contractor, you handle your contracts, pitching, and monetary/tax obligations.

Essential Skills

What important expertise must you be a profitable SEO marketing consultant past being an excellent search engine optimization skill?

Below is a summary of the fundamental expertise for thriving as an unbiased SEO contractor, aside from on-page, technical, and off-site search engine optimization.

Budget Management

You could also be used to manage funds in your employed function to verify purchasers’ hours have been stuffed or check revenue and loss on your division.

However, extra, unexpected prices can crop up when working as a freelancer.

That means you want to have the ability to handle funds shortly or there gained’t be sufficient cash left over at the finish of every month so that you can take house a wage.

There could also be ad-hoc prices, resembling preliminary authorized recommendations, and ongoing prices like retaining an accountant.

Any advertising collateral, the price of internet hosting, and creating an internet site, are these fancy instruments all of us love to make use of. You will totally pay for them.

Without the deep pockets of a company or model behind you, all your online business bills will come from the cash you could have managed to earn as a marketing consultant.

Time Management

Although any job requires a level of time administration, being an SEO marketing consultant means spinning many plates directly.

There can be an absence of construction, help, and assets with an employed function.

Due to this, time administration is an ever extra vital talent.

There will probably be immoveable enterprise deadlines like authorized and monetary necessities and calls with stakeholders that different group members can’t cowl in your absence.

Getting your invoices out on time could possibly be vital to your longevity as a marketing consultant.

The quantity of admin that you must make time for will improve. You might want to type by way of receipts and replace the budgeting software program.

You might want to submit monetary particulars to make your individual payroll. Then there are the emails and conferences.

No matter what a number of you had as an employed SEO, anticipate quite a bit like a marketing consultant.

To achieve success, you will want to be very adept at planning your time.

Pitching And Closing

From advertising your expertise to pitching and shutting a brand new consumer, you will want to have the ability to handle the complete cycle of profitable new work.

There ain’t be an enterprise improvement group supporting you, so you might have to brush up on your persuasive expertise.

Although you’re an SEO by commerce, I can let you know from first-hand expertise that few of your online business leads will come by way of your website even if you happen to rank first for “SEO consultant” in your space.

You will even have to grow to be knowledgeable at advertising yourself in different methods.

That means selecting potential consumer leads by way of social media, occasions, and phrase of mouth.

Not solely will you must supply potential consumer leads, however additionally, you will have to successfully convert them. That means engaged on pitch decks, negotiating charges, and securing sign-off.

Contract Negotiations

Although you’ll have a typical contract template, anticipate potential purchasers to undergo it with a fine-tooth comb.

This may additionally lengthen your pricing proposal and repair stage settlement.

Part of being an SEO contractor is the necessity to have the ability to negotiate contracts.

There could also be an expectation of a sure stage of compromise, particularly if you wish to work with smaller companies with restricted budgets.

When wanting long-term on the subsequent six to 12 months of your proposed contract, you will want to have the ability to predict how these compromises would possibly have an effect on your revenue and high quality of life.

A consumer might want you to work your proposed hours for much less cash, which brings down your common fee.

They may additionally anticipate you to reply to emails outdoors of your proposed working hours.

Although it might sound tempting to agree to those altered phrases to save the income, however long-term, it won’t be useful for the expansion of your online business.

Understanding Of Financial And Legal Responsibilities

Being an SEO marketing consultant means being your individual boss, proudly owning your individual enterprise, and the thrill and freedom it brings.

However, it additionally means being solely accountable for guaranteeing you’re in full authorized compliance.

This means understanding which enterprise legal guidelines apply to you in your state or nation, but in addition, when you have purchasers elsewhere on the earth, understanding how their legal guidelines have an effect on you.

On occasion, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) in Europe governs private knowledge management.

Even if you’re not based mostly in Europe, you might be a topic to those guidelines in case your purchasers are.

How you retail details about your purchasers might want to adjust to these laws.

Being a marketing consultant means nobody is above you to tackle this accountability.

It’s all yours. You might be able to afford recommendations from attorneys or accountants that can assist you to make knowledgeable selections, however, the ramifications are all on you in the event that they advise you poorly.

Stakeholder Management

Another important talent is nice stakeholder administration.

This contains speaking deadlines, chasing for bill funds, and guaranteeing consumer expectations align.

When you’re a marketing consultant, your stakeholders aren’t simply your purchasers.

They are your accountants, attorneys, suppliers, and different consultants you’re partnering with.

In a bigger enterprise, these stakeholders have a tendency to speak with numerous group members; the finance division, the CEO, the advertising group, and the account managers.

As a freelancer, you’re the sole level of contact.

The wants of a consumer versus your accountant’s wants are very completely different, however, will each want to prioritize.

Learning to handle a wider variety of stakeholders than you’re used to will drastically enhance your success as an SEO marketing consultant.

Fitting In With Teams Quickly

You are not going to be afforded an extended onboarding interval as an SEO marketing consultant.

You should present worth to your purchasers from day one. This could be a difficult talent to develop.

There will probably be an expectation you can drive a return on funding immediately, though you will want to be taught their processes, procedures, product, and trade.

It is not only about understanding the enterprise; you must get on moderately nicely together with your new colleagues.

When working carefully with different members of your consumer’s group, what they consider your work ethic and character might nicely influence the size and recurrence of your contract.

Demonstrating ROI

When you be a part of a brand new firm as a worker, you’ll possibly have a probation interval – a couple of weeks to months the place the corporate assesses your match and competency.

If accomplished nicely, it will likely be a time when you’ll be able to work together with your supervisor to fill any gaps in your data and develop a coaching plan to ensure you are off to a terrific beginning within the firm.

As a contract SEO, you gained’t get this.

Instead, you’ll have a break clause in your contract or just the choice for a consumer to cancel their recurring month-to-month contract in the event that they don’t like your work.

A talent you will want to develop early on as an SEO marketing consultant is demonstrating the return on funding of working with you.

This means understanding precisely what you’re anticipating to ship and ensuring it’s cheap.

From there, you will want to report again on your success in opposition to these aims.


PsychologyToday defines resilience as “the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life’s adversities and come back at least as strong as before” and is a talent to domesticate.

Being a marketing consultant might be galling.

One month you might need a lot of work to do this you are surprised when sleep will probably be a choice.

Others, you’re nervously watching your emails, prepared a proposal acceptance to come back by way of.

Stability within the stream of labor you win might be sluggish to construct.

Then, in a single day, a world pandemic may cause all of it to dry up. One factor you are usually brief on as a contract SEO is a certainty.

An important talent for an SEO marketing consultant is resilience.

Getting again up when a consumer unexpectedly ends their contract or there’s a battle with a competitor, is difficult.

Even when every part goes nicely, there would be the ever-present having to chase invoices that are 60 days overdue.

It can generally really feel like an uphill battle.

Personal Branding

There is a component of an SEO marketing consultant not solely promoting their companies but in addition promoting the dream of working with them personally.

As a marketing consultant, you’ll be in an analogous place to going for a job interview every time you pitch for work. Your consumer might want to imagine that you’re the most effective candidate for the job.

This might begin nicely upfront of a pitch assembly.

The ideally suited for a lot of consultants is that they grow to be so nicely revered within the trade that phrase of mouth generates leads for them.

Rather than spending a whole lot of time and power on advertising, they’ve purchasers approaching them.

Some of probably the most profitable SEO consultants have chosen to trade and grown to be specialists.

By doing so, they’ll select who they work with and cost charges that replicate the worth they convey.

If you want to grow to be an SEO marketing consultant, it may well assist to grasp your native market, the wants of the companies who may fit with you, and what you are able to do to be most engaging to them.

This would possibly imply discovering a distinct segment and sticking to it in your market. It would possibly imply going after smaller companies that want the complete variety of SEO help.

Whatever you need to obtain as a marketing consultant, you will want to be good at presenting your data, expertise, and worth past the preliminary assembly with a prospect.

Salary Expectations

You might have a reasonably good thought of what salaries appear to be in your nation and area, however what about charges for search engine optimization contractors?

Recently, the Search Engine Journal carried out a wage survey of knowledge factors from the search engine optimization trade.

The findings for freelance professionals have been significantly fascinating.

Search Engine Journal discovered that SEO freelance consultants earned lower than $34,000 each year on common.

The survey respondents who recognized themselves as freelancers overwhelmingly had fewer than two years of expertise. This could have closely skewed their earnings.

With this in thought, take the commonly reported wage of a search engine optimization marketing consultant with a pinch of salt.

Yours could be increased relying on location, years of expertise, and specialisms.

In the U.Okay., Glassdoor reviews that a search engine optimization freelancer could make £31,540 per yr (roughly $41,000).

What you select to cost per challenge or per hour will drastically influence how a lot you are taking house annually.

You additionally want to contemplate what number of hours you need to work every week. Together this may aid you to determine how a lot you might be able to earn in a yr if your consumer load is full.

Additional Costs

It is vital to keep in mind that additionally, you will have to deduct the prices of working your online business out of your web earnings.

This might embrace gadgets from networking group membership to tax and insurance coverage.

Helpful Certifications And Experience

One of the good issues about getting right into a profession in search engine optimization is that there are very low limitations to entry.

There isn’t any college diploma you could have or governing physique you’re anticipated to be part of.

On the flip aspect, there may be little for potential purchasers to make use of to measure how good a search engine optimization you’re.

Because of this lack of regulation within the trade, there aren’t any normal certificates or {qualifications} to show your competency.

Instead, you might have to display your experience to potential purchasers in different methods.

Demonstrable Experience

Your most blatant strategy to denote that you’re knowledgeable in your area is by displaying your expertise.

Unfortunately, many purchasers might equate expertise with years within the trade. This isn’t at all times the case.

Experience With Specific Projects

A marketing consultant might have carried out 20 website migrations throughout their three years within the trade as a result of they labored at a search engine optimization company.

Another contractor might have solely carried out one throughout their 5 years within the trade as a result of they labored in-house for one model.

A consumer searching for search engine optimization help for his or her upcoming website migration would possibly look extra favorably at a marketing consultant who has labored for 5 years within the trade.

They might wrongly imagine extra years of expertise equals higher efficiency.

If you want to pitch for an internet site migration challenge, as a search engine optimization marketing consultant, you will want to have the ability to present your particular expertise with the sides of search engine optimization the challenge will depend upon.

Industry-Specific Experience

Another side of your expertise you will want to showcase is the industries you could have labored in.

For some purchasers, understanding that their marketing consultant understands their market, customers, and merchandise will probably be paramount.

If you could have labored throughout numerous industries, spotlight them in your advertising and pitching materials.

If you could have labored inside a restricted variety of verticals, you’ll be able to communicate extra in regards to the depth of expertise.

You might profit from displaying that you’ve got a wealth of information about these specific industries that may make your studying curve with a brand new consumer fast and minimal.

Enough Experience

If you could have been across the search engine optimization trade for some time, you’ll possibly have come throughout boards and threads the place inexperienced search engine optimization specialists have landed their first consumer and are actually asking veterans the way to do search engine optimization.

This shouldn’t be a state of affairs that you’ll profit from being in.

If you handle to land a consumer whose search engine optimization wants are larger than you’ll be able to meet, it’ll possibly trigger stress on each side.

As a marketing consultant, you will want to be taught to determine the scope of a possible challenge shortly and determine when you have enough data and expertise to handle it.


As talked about, no governing physique oversees search engine optimization observe, which might validate a marketing consultant’s capability to hold out search engine optimization.

However, there are a lot of award exhibits and packages that serve ultimately as a proxy for this.

The validity of awards is a hotly debated matter in search engine optimization circles.

However, profitable one does present that you’ve got been independently judged as finishing up work to an excessive and impactful normal.

Case Studies

Giving examples of earlier work within the type of case research can assist potential purchasers to really feel assured in their talents.

It can generally be difficult to get sign-off from earlier purchasers to make use of their knowledge, so you might have to obfuscate it barely.

Make certain you could have permission to share any particulars, particularly whether it is from work you probably did earlier than you grew to become a marketing consultant!

Recommendations And References

Just such as you would possibly want to supply for a newly employed function, having referees obtainable to potential purchasers can assist them to grasp what it will likely be like working with you.

Having a few present or earlier purchasers completely satisfied to supply references can profit a marketing consultant.

Platforms like LinkedIn additionally permit you to request and obtain suggestions that may go an extended strategy to instilling belief in your work.

Additionally, though not as neutral, written suggestions by your website might assist convert potential purchasers.


Although there isn’t a generally accepted search engine optimization qualification, a number of instruments, companies, and organizations provide certification in search.

Choosing to undertake their coaching and examination to obtain a certification might sound redundant when you have been within the trade for a few years, however, it may well assist show that your data is present and your understanding reaches a typical.

Additionally, certifications in adjoining areas like analytics, knowledge science, and programming can all assist to display your specific talent set.

Consider certifications in particular search engine optimization and analytics-focused instruments.

These can present purchasers you should use their tool stack without extra coaching.

Who Hires search engine optimization Consultants And Why?

There are many kinds of organizations that may contract SEO consultants. It could also be their sole search engine optimization useful resource or to enhance a present group or roster of freelancers.

Small Businesses

Small companies that may’s afford their very own inner useful resource will usually attain out to search engine optimization consultants.

search engine optimization consultants usually have decreased overheads than companies and could also be cheaper to work with. This might be an interesting variation for cash-strapped organizations.

Rounding Out A-Team

Brands with a present SEO group might use contractors to bolster their assets or fill a selected talent hole.

For occasion, a model seeking to seem in Google Discovery for the primary time might want outdoors recommendation on how finest to do this if their inner group has no expertise with it.

Filling A Temporary Gap

There could also be a necessity to extend assets throughout busier seasons or to cowl a prolonged go away of present workers.

If a worker leaves the group, a marketing consultant would possibly fill the hole whereas hiring a substitute.


Some companies might not have search engine optimization provisions however need to accomplice with a marketing consultant to supply that service to present purchasers.

They may need to take a look at the water of how including SEO in their companies will work earlier than hiring a worker to cowl it.

Consultants can provide help without the price of hiring, coaching, and worker advantages.

Assisting Agencies

Similar to manufacturers that require momentary assistance in busier seasons, companies would possibly require an extra individual of their group to bridge worker go away, expertise gaps, or to seek the advice on particular trade initiatives.

Agencies can usually provide repeat work for consultants because of this.

Support With Hiring

A real area of interest challenge you would possibly end up obtainable to do as a search engine optimization marketing consultant is that of hiring help.

So moderately than filling an expertise hole yourself, you might be a marketing consultant on the hiring of employed search engine optimization professionals.

For organizations with no, or very junior, SEO groups, it may be troublesome for the hiring supervisor to know sufficient about search engine optimization to make a clever determination.

Consultants can deliver their experience to the recruitment course.

They may additionally advocate a job description, evaluate CVs, and even conduct interviews.

Setting Up A Department

Along with serving with recruitment, SEO contractors may additionally assist create a division from scratch.

This might be the case when a group is required, however hiring expertise at a senior stage is proving troublesome or too sluggish.

The search engine optimization contractor would possibly assist create the division and probably lead it to an everlasting senior rent.

Considerations For Becoming An SEO Consultant

Ultimately, there’s a lot to contemplate when transferring from employed to contract work. It might be a thrilling and liberating transfer, but it is surely additionally dangerous.

No Boss

When you grow to be an SEO marketing consultant, you’ll commence the construction of a company world for the liberty of being unbiased.

That contains not having a supervisor.


  • You are the boss! You get to make selections that beforehand can be gatekept by your employer or extra senior group members. Now, you’re free to make these selections yourself.
  • There is nobody to disagree together with your selections or to say “no” to them. If you suppose one thing is price attempting, you don’t want to get sign-off from a superior.


  • You now have a number of bosses. It’s been stated that transferring to freelance means going from one boss to each consumer and stakeholder, basically being your boss. They can nonetheless say no to you. You have extra freedom to stroll away from the challenge, however, in the end, you will want to concede generally if you wish to earn cash.

Legal And Financial Implications

You might want to observe legal guidelines, taxes to pay, and extra prices to be a marketing consultant that you’ll want to concentrate on.

All of this will likely have an effect on your funds.


  • Any cash you make is so that you can determine what to do with it. The tougher and smarter you’re employed, the extra you might be rewarded financially. No paying on your boss’s Tesla!
  • You have the liberty to be beneficial together with your cash. Your enterprise can provide reductions for charities and free coaching for colleges.


  • All authorized and monetary obligations fall to you. The price of non-compliance might be excessive financially and in your time.
  • Getting a precise recommendation might be expensive. You may have to make use of the companies of accountants, tax advisors, and attorneys.

Pick And Choose Projects

SEO consultants have a lot larger freedom to determine who they need to work with and on what initiatives.


  • As an SEO marketing consultant, there may be extra freedom to decide on who you need to work with and what initiatives you need to work on. If you don’t get pleasure from a selected consumer set-up or disagree with the trade they’re in, you’ll be able to flip down the provide to pitch. This isn’t often the case if you find yourself working agency-side, as an example, the place you is likely to be anticipated to work with whichever consumer you’re assigned.


  • Being inflexible in selecting who you’re employed with and what you’re employed on is likely to be more difficult if you happen to battle to seek out purchasers. When employed in-house, you’ll be able to select the trade and the corporate set-up that fits you. In some companies, you might be allowed to show down work in sure industries you disagree with. Picking and selecting your initiatives as a marketing consultant might imply not bringing insufficient income to events.

Pitch For Work

You should develop your individual enterprise pipeline, together with producing leads and in the end changing them. This will possibly imply pitching and contract negotiation.


  • You gained’t be within the state of affairs once more the place somebody has bought “the moon on a stick” and expects you to ship it. You will probably be absolutely conscious of your time, assets, and talent limitations and may pitch for work that matches that.
  • There must be larger freedom to showcase your talents and display how one can assist a potential consumer.


  • Not everybody enjoys the pitching course. It might be nerve-wracking and distracts from SEO execution’s day job. It’s not for everybody.
  • It can take time to place collectively profitable proposals. They are essential to maintain work coming in however should stability with the time necessities for really finishing consumer work.

Set Your Own Fee

Although dictated primarily by the kind of consumer you need to work with and the market you’re working in, you’ll get to determine how a lot you cost.


  • There could also be larger autonomy to determine how a lot you need to cost on your work. You can basically set your individual wage so long as you’ll be able to win the work to help it.
  • You can select precisely what a number of hours and what work you’re prepared to do for that charge.


  • It’s arduous to get the pricing proper. You could also be tempted to cost what your final company did on your time, however, in actuality, SEO consultants might battle to cost excessive charges after they first set out except they’ve good case research and examples to again up the standard of their work.
  • Figuring out what to cost and what sort of consumer you will want to maintain could be a little bit of trial and error. Some leads might imagine you’re over-priced; others might have been prepared to pay extra if requested for it.


Depending on the place you’re working, the distinction in employment rights for the employed and what you’re entitled to as an unbiased contractor is likely to be vastly completely different.

Beyond the authorized rights you might be granted as an employed SEO, there are additionally possible extra advantages supplied by your employer.


  • You have larger freedom to decide on the advantages that finest suit your way of life. You can select a medical insurance coverage plan that works for your well-being wants. You can determine if the positives of getting an organization automotive outweigh the tax implications of 1.


  • You are not going to be robotically entitled to statutory vacation, sick go away, or different advantages afforded by your authorities to employed staff.
  • Maintaining the usual residing that you simply had as an employed SEO is likely to be troublesome when you go freelance. If you relied on your firm’s nice dental plan or beloved the coaching funds, changing into a marketing consultant would possibly take some adjustment.

You Only Get Paid If You Issue Invoices

There aren’t any “pros” for this one.

It’s basically probably the most difficult facet of being an SEO marketing consultant.

If you’ll be able to work for some motive, resembling sickness or vacation, you will be unable to invoice for work. If you don’t invoice for work, then you definitely gained’t receive a commission.

Unlike employment which can nonetheless pay you if you happen to can’t work, that won’t be one thing you get as a contract SEO marketing consultant.

If you’ll be able to ship out invoices, or worse, you do, however, they don’t receive a commission, you might battle to make your individual payroll.


SEO consultants’ day-to-day working lives might look similar to those employed by search engine optimization specialists when it comes to working.

However, there are sometimes extra complexities past SEO exercises that may make it a scary prospect for some.

Taking the plunge into the freelance SEO world might be liberating, nonetheless. There is larger freedom in selecting what you need to do and when.

Some select to dip their toe in consultancy work on the aspect of their common job (if allowed by their employer).

This can assist with the training curve of working in an enterprise whereas within the security of employment.

You might don’t have any intention of leaving employment, however, it’s at all times good to regulate the market. You might not need to be an SEO marketing consultant yourself, however, want to rent one.

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