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SEO freelancers are important to businesses and their websites. They help them develop strong content to attract customers and improve their organic traffic. If you’re hoping to find a strong SEO specialist, use this guide to understand their importance and how to hire them. If you’re hoping to start an SEO freelancer career, you can also use this information to learn about gaining experience and developing a network.

Business Perspective

Businesses hire SEO freelancers to help them increase traffic on their websites. Almost any SEO freelancer could effectively optimize your site. However, before you hire one, there are some important things to determine. This can include your content marketing goals and why you think an SEO specialist can help. Understanding these two things can help you communicate with freelancers more easily. The better you can communicate your plans, the better an SEO specialist can help you.

What Is an SEO Freelancer?

An SEO freelancer is someone who improves a company’s website through search engine optimization (SEO). In search engine optimization, the engine matches a user’s search to keywords it finds on websites. If someone searches for “used bookstore,” the search engine might generate a few different results. A few results might be second-hand bookstores in the area, while other results might include articles about used bookstores and their increase in popularity.

The SEO freelancer’s job is to make sure that your website and content target the right keywords. If you target the right keywords, your business has a better chance of listing higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).

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For example, if your business sells entertainment systems, you’d want your SEO specialist to target keywords that relate to your products. Some of those could include “best entertainment systems,” “good TV brands,” or “how to set up surround sound.” An SEO specialist can tell you which keywords are best and help you create content for them.

How an SEO Freelancer Can Help Your Business

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Image via Unsplash by mjessier

SEO specialists can perform several tasks to help your business grow and succeed. Some of those tasks can include:

Keyword Research

As mentioned above, one of the most important pieces to an SEO specialist’s job is keyword research. Their research doesn’t just tell you which keywords relate to your business, they also tell you which keywords people search. SEO freelancers also do their best to find keywords that other companies might not explore, which helps identify any untapped markets.

When researching keywords, SEO freelancers often examine three different keyword types:

  • Short tail: Short tail keywords are generally one- to two-word searches. Because they’re so general, they’re often very difficult to target. That’s because many companies and businesses might relate to that keyword. An example of a short tail keyword might be “music.”
  • Medium tail: Medium tail keywords are two to three words that make the search a little more specific. Using the previous example, instead of “music,” the keyword might be “rock music” or “music production.”
  • Long tail: Long-tail keywords are very specific. They often have four to six words that help narrow the person’s search. A long-tail keyword might be “rock music concert ohio” or “music production studios savannah.”

On-Site Analysis

On-site analysis, sometimes known as on-page analysis, is when an SEO specialist improves a company’s website. They examine all parts of it, including the page titles, content, and metadata to ensure it’s hitting the right keywords. When the freelancer makes these changes, the website can generate more organic search traffic. That’s because they add more to the website that a search engine can identify.

For example, one thing search engines look at is the website’s URL. Let’s say your company has a URL that reads www.niceclothes.com/store/blouses. We know right away from the URL what we’ll find on the webpage. The page has a store, and it’s showing us blouses for sale. Now, say your company has a URL that reads www.niceclothes.com/6fhoewo/ffh20f0. It’s almost impossible to know where that URL is taking your customers. If the customer doesn’t know what your URL says, the search engine won’t either.

Link Building

Link building is when one or more websites add a link to your own website in their content or pages. Link building tells search engines that another website thinks your site is trustworthy. There’s no guarantee that other companies or people will link to your website, but there are things that SEO freelancers can do to promote link building, including:

  • Writing quality content: When writers develop high-quality content for a blog or website, it can attract other businesses. The more informative and helpful the content is, the more likely it is that businesses will want to link to it.
  • Sending email queries: Email queries are short messages sent to other blogs and companies that ask if they’d like to read your content, link to it, or post it on their website. These queries can help to develop professional relationships and hopefully continue to link build your website. SEO specialists generally have the skills to write effective email queries you can send to other companies and websites.
  • Using social media sites: Social media is great for link building. That’s because you can share links from your website on your own accounts, and other people can share them or post them as well. The more people who share your content on social media, the more attention it’ll get, which may lead to link building.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is the act of looking at other companies to see how they perform their SEO marketing. When SEO specialists examine companies’ websites, they understand where to look and what to find. This can help you in several ways, including:

  • Finding important keywords you might have missed.
  • Learning more about other companies’ marketing strategies.
  • Discovering untapped markets in your industry.
  • Figuring out which websites and blogs link to your competitors.

Finding out this information allows you to make more informed marketing decisions. For example, once you know which websites are backlinking your competitors, your SEO specialist can reach out to them via an email query to pitch your content for potential future links.

Where To Hire SEO Freelancers

Freelance workers, in general, are not very hard to find. From job boards to simple Google searches, it’s easy to find a slew of potential candidates. However, it’s important to make sure that the freelancer has the right skills and expertise to help you and your company. Here are some ways you can find an excellent SEO specialist for your business:

Job Boards

You can often find SEO freelancers on various job boards. Each job board allows freelancers to make a profile that describes their services, expertise, and project availability. They can also list samples of their work and reviews from past employers. Some examples of freelancer job boards include:

Each of these websites allows you to search through SEO freelancer profiles. Some of them even let you post job opportunities to attract potential freelancer candidates.

Social Media

Social media can be a great place to find SEO specialists because freelancers often promote themselves and their work on these platforms. When you look for an SEO freelancer, consider conducting targeted searches through social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition to searching job titles, you can try searching the hashtags #SEOfreelancer, #SEOspecialist, or even #SEO to find professionals who use these hashtags to self-promote.

Networking

Networking is simply finding an SEO specialist through other people. If you have some friends or professional contacts who have used an SEO specialist before, talk to them about it. They might have someone they recommend using, or they might direct you to the job board or tool they used to find that person.

Also, consider reaching out to companies you’ve worked with in the past to see if they have any freelancers they prefer. You could even post about your needs on social media. If you voice your need for an SEO specialist on a social media account, it can reach a wider audience, including potential candidates.

Content Marketing Company

Content marketing companies often work with a variety of freelancers. From content writers to SEO specialists, content marketing companies can help you find what you need to meet your marketing goals. They can also generate written content that can help you improve your overall SEO and SERP ratings.

If you want to find an SEO freelancer, consider contacting a content marketing company and see if they have any recommendations. Otherwise, check out their services and see how they can help you themselves.

How To Hire SEO Freelancers

Knowing where to find freelancers is just the beginning. Once you have a list of potential candidates, it’s important to know how to assess and hire them. Here is a list of steps on how to hire SEO freelancers for your business:

1. Determine Your SEO Needs

In an ideal world, SEO specialists would have extensive experience with every aspect of their industry and career. But, that’s not always the case. Some SEO specialists are amazing at competitor analysis. Other SEO specialists understand everything that needs to be accomplished with on-site analysis. You can hire a freelancer for more than just one area of SEO, but it’s important to match their skills and experience with what your company needs the most.

2. Find SEO Freelancers

While you look for freelancers on job boards or through your network, it’s helpful to examine the experience of any potential candidates. When you find a profile that you like, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Have they worked for companies you know?
  • How long have they worked with SEO?
  • Have they listed their references?
  • Do they have a portfolio?
  • How does their portfolio fit with your brand?

If the freelancer doesn’t have a list of references, reach out to a company where they worked. See if anyone there can give you more information on the freelancer’s abilities and their final product. It’s also important to understand how their work fits with your brand. If you have an SEO specialist who consistently writes content for pet supply companies, how will their work translate to your company that sells wine and spirits? It might work out, but it also might be more helpful to find a freelancer with experience on that topic.

As you look for freelancers, don’t just settle for one or two candidates. Try to accumulate a number of potential new hires. This can provide you with a larger pool of specialists to choose from.

3. Conduct Interviews

After you’ve assembled a list of potential candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. Reach out to each candidate, mention your company and project, and gauge their interest. This is important because some freelancers might be busy with other projects. Others might not think they’re a good fit for the role. If this happens, you can either narrow down your list or find new candidates to replace them.

Once you understand who’s interested in the project, set up a video or phone call to talk with them. If they live close by, you can also hold an in-person interview. Use this time to ask them about their skills and their thoughts on the project. Listen to their thoughts and see how their strategy might fit into your marketing plans. This can help you narrow down your list to a small handful of experienced candidates.

4. Send Them Test Pieces

After you conduct interviews, it’s helpful to send each candidate a test piece or project to complete. It’s good practice to pay candidates for this test project even if you do not hire them. This can help you gain their trust as an employer and ensure they produce quality work. Additionally, your company can still use the work they submit, even if you choose to hire a different freelancer.

Different test projects you could give to an SEO specialist include:

  • Conducting keyword research.
  • Conducting competitor analysis.
  • Listing areas of your website that could be modified.
  • Writing content on a certain keyword.

If you have the freelancer write content for your website or blog, it’s helpful to give them a style guide they can use. A style guide lists how the freelancer should write the content so it fits with your company and brand. Download CopyPress’ free eBook on creating a quality style guide to learn more about this key resource.

After the freelancers finish their test projects, see which candidates have the best understanding of what you want to accomplish. If it’s difficult to choose between two or three final candidates, give them another test piece to complete. If you find that there are two or more candidates who have strengths in different areas, consider hiring multiple people. If your budget can allow it, multiple SEO specialists might help you develop and improve your website more quickly.

Freelancer Perspective

Understanding the business perspective on hiring SEO freelancers can help you as you’re getting started in your career, but it’s also beneficial to know more about establishing yourself and finding work. Becoming an SEO freelancer often requires a lot of work upfront: You need to build experience, a portfolio, and a reputation among businesses. While that may sound daunting, the following steps can clarify this process.

How To Become an SEO Freelancer

There are multiple paths you can take to become an SEO freelancer, but some common steps include the following steps:

1. Build Your Skills

Whether you’re just starting in the SEO field or you’ve had some experience, it’s important to build up your skills. When you know how to conduct strong keyword research and competitor analysis, it can help you perform your job duties more effectively. There are several ways to build your skills, including:

  • Learning from experts: If you’re hoping to develop your skills, start with people who know a lot. Many marketing companies and leaders offer free newsletters and articles that teach people important SEO and marketing knowledge.
  • Taking online courses: There are many online courses to help you develop your SEO skills. These classes often cost money, but they can help you learn a lot of information very quickly. Some courses even offer certifications that you can add to your resume.
  • Checking out other websites: You can learn a lot when you examine other company websites. When you look through how they set up their pages, the content they create, and how they target keywords, you can learn how to perform effective SEO. But don’t just look at really successful companies with good examples — look at bad examples, too. Bad examples can teach you what poor SEO looks like so you can avoid it during projects of your own.
  • Writing your own guides: When you write down what you’ve learned, it can help you commit the information to memory. For example, if you write a short SEO guide to teach others, it can help you figure out if there are details or information that you’re missing in your everyday practice. You can then research those details and have a more well-rounded understanding of SEO.

2. Create Your Own Website

It’s helpful for freelancers to create their own websites so that employers can find them more easily and gain a quick understanding of their abilities. A website can list your resume, portfolio, and contact information. It’s also helpful to use the website to host a blog. When you write blog posts on SEO and marketing topics, you can generate organic traffic to your site. You can also demonstrate your SEO knowledge to companies and businesses. There are several free online tools you can use to create a website to start attracting clients.

3. Know Your Pricing

It’s helpful to understand what SEO freelancers charge so you know what rates to propose to different companies. It’s possible that when you first start out as an SEO freelancer, you might need to take lower rates until you gain enough experience and a significant reputation. However, once you have a robust client list, you can start charging a higher rate for your services. About 50% of freelance SEO specialists who work hourly charge $75 to $200 per hour.

But hourly isn’t the only way freelancers can charge. Depending on what projects or assignments they’re working on, they can charge per month or per milestone. That means they can develop a contract that says they get paid after completing different sections of a project.

4. Develop a Network

Networking entails building relationships with companies and individuals that may turn into business opportunities down the road. One of the best ways to develop a network is through query letters. Query letters are emails that inform a company about your skills and how you can help. These letters allow you to market your skills and services while developing professional relationships. When writing a query letter, it’s helpful to be specific about how your abilities can directly improve the company. Even if a company isn’t interested in your services right away, they might still keep you in mind for the future.

But query letters aren’t the only way to develop a powerful network. If you’re just starting as an SEO specialist, it can be helpful to join job boards like Upwork or Freelancer. These websites allow you to develop a portfolio and apply to different projects. If you find a company or client you enjoy working with, you can keep them as a contact and pitch your services to them in the future. You could even use them as a reference for other freelance opportunities.

Whether you’re looking for an SEO freelancer for your business or starting your career as a specialist, it’s important to understand how SEO can help improve websites and companies. With this knowledge, you can more easily vet and hire SEO freelancers or begin a journey as an SEO freelancer yourself.

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