This is a detailed SEO Business Guide for new SEO consultants who don’t yet have the business experience of SEO. A lot of freelancers and businesses involve themselves in the business of SEO as solo-entrepreneurs. SEO consultants can come from a variety of backgrounds – web programmers, designers, writers or just plain entrepreneurs who understand the industry.
This SEO business guide should help you get started, irrespective of how much experience you have had in the past. There might be some parts that might seem as if you know everything, but pardon me because I want this guide to be pretty comprehensive, irrespective of what your background is.
Why Become an SEO Consultant?
Why should you consider becoming an SEO consultant in the first place? Plenty of reasons –
- Interest: Many people become SEO consultants purely for the joy of SEO. They like to see their actions produce results, and SEO consultants are constantly in the game for results. Your theory doesn’t matter, but the results do. If you are able to provide a value to your client with quality SEO, they should benefit for the rest of the life of their business. This is thrilling and challenging at multiple levels, and that is what attracts a lot of talented SEO consultants to the industry.
- Freedom: An SEO consultancy gives you a lot of freedom, in terms of money and also creativity. Typically, your clients will trust you to know and understand the nuances of SEO. You have a lot of freedom in terms of how you want to go about it. For instance, I do SEO almost completely through content marketing. This gives me freedom to try out different techniques from guest posts to trying viral marketing.
- Money: Let’s be honest here – the money is good as an SEO consultant and that attracts a lot of people. Unfortunately, this also brings around a lot of unqualified people in the industry. However, if you are serious about being in the SEO industry for a while and don’t want to wind down after 6 months, the money is good and there are plenty of opportunities to pursue.
Broadly, those are the motivations of most people who become SEO consultants. If you have a strong motivation in any of the above categories, you can consider becoming one. Don’t work with money as your primary motivation though – it is hard to last through turbulent times in such a case.
What Should I know about SEO?
A lot! I don’t want to go into what SEO is and entails, but here is a great beginners guide that might help for those new in the industry. Remember that search engines are dynamic, so your tactics might change. However, you should have a long-lasting strategy that doesn’t change with every Google update. If it does, you are doing something terribly wrong.
What Motivates Search Engines?
Search engines were designed for a simple reason – to give people what they are looking for. It is a simple aim with mind-boggling complexity to get there. However, you should never forget this basic fact. Search engines aren’t designed to point to pages with most links or pages with the highest keyword density.
If you find yourself conflicted at any point of time, ask yourself what you would like to see when you search for a term. For example, if you are searching for ‘handyman service New York’, are you looking for how to obtain a Handyman degree? Probably not. Your target site should address the need in the keyword. Sometimes, keywords are more generic. That’s where your creativity comes in. If someone is searching just for the word ‘handyman’, they could be looking at a number of different things.
To keep the Google Gods happy, always answer how you can solve the problem addressed in your search query. Never forget this. Google is designed for the people who search everyday, and not for SEO consultants and such. The user should be your end target as well.
Educating Clients on SEO
This is something I believe every SEO consultant should actively be involved in, if only at the beginning of the project. A lot of people tend to think that keeping their customer in the dark means they can show ‘magical’ results. That’s not true at all, and in the long run, it is always good if your customer and you are on the same page. They are hiring you for your specialized knowledge. If they know something you know, it only strengthens your relationship instead of weakening it.
Many clients are surprisingly ignorant of SEO. At the very least, you should educate your clients about the following –
- SEO takes time. You cannot expect results the day after your start the assignment. Or a week later.
- No one (except a snake oil salesman) can guarantee you the first position in Google for a keyword. You don’t control the search algorithms and your competition can always be better than you in lots of unexpected ways.
- Rankings fluctuate. You cannot expect to remain stable on a ranking every day. Lots of clients get paranoid when a ranking temporarily drops.
- SEO is usually an ongoing process.
- What your clients thinks about SEO is probably wrong or outdated.
Once you educate your clients about SEO and they are ready to hire you and give you a go-ahead, here is how you can get started.
Contracts, Agreements, Paperwork, etc.
I cannot stress how important this aspect of SEO is, because it is so volatile and there are definitely times, in spite of how well you educate your clients (see above) about SEO, when your client expectations are not met. When there is a clash, what do you do? Simple – refer to the agreement.
If you are an independent SEO consultant, I highly recommend you do this step right. Trust me, it is well worth the initial effort and your life will be so much better in the future. I personally use the SEO contracts from John Romaine and really like their content. He also gives a good SEO eBook that talks about how to set up your business and other details that might be helpful on the business side.
Again, use any method you want, but don’t go wrong here.
Two Broad SEO Categories
The SEO work that you will do for any client can be broadly divided into two categories –
- On-page SEO: All the changes done on your client’s website come under on-page SEO. You have direct control over things because you own the site. Everything from site navigation to keyword optimization will fall under this category.
- Off-page SEO: Everything outside the realm of the given site will fall under this. Most of the times, off-page SEO deals with backlinks, but another important aspect of off-page SEO is anchor text.
Steps to Follow for SEO
I’ll cover these in the next parts to follow. Each step needs a detailed post in itself. If I missed something or if there’s something you want to read about specifically, do mention in the comments.
Step-1: Analyze the Current SEO Efforts
Step-2: Analyze the Competition and Learn
Step-3: Keyword Research (Google adwords and also autocomplete)
Step-4: Content (keywords, infographics, press releases, social media content, viral content)