SEO consultants are among the most valuable experts business leaders can work with when launching a digital marketing strategy. To thrive in today’s online world, businesses must have a solid presence on search engine result pages (SERPs). This means leveraging techniques associated with “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO.
Currently, approximately 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Consumers type keywords or phrases into Google and Bing to seek solutions to their problems, products, and services.
SEO consultants work with brands to ensure their websites and pages appear at the top of the search engine results for specific keywords.
To deliver the right results, consultants support brands in everything from keyword research to website development and creating content strategies.
Read on to learn more about the role of an SEO consultant and whether it might be the right career choice for you.
What is an SEO Consultant?
An SEO consultant is an expert in search engine optimization. At a high level, these professionals are dedicated to assisting clients and companies in improving their presence online.
They work with organizations on technical, on-page, and off-page SEO strategies to enhance lead-generation opportunities and convert visitors into paying customers.
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important marketing channels any business can invest in when attempting to generate sales and opportunities online. Additionally, SEO helps to improve a brand’s credibility, visibility, and reputation.
Unfortunately, while most organizations are familiar with the benefits of SEO, creating and adhering to a strong search strategy can be complex. The algorithms used by search engines to determine how listings and pages should be presented to customers are constantly changing.
An SEO consultant helps clients navigate search engines’ complexities, using various techniques and strategies to enhance the company’s website and other online assets.
They also create guidelines, reports, and strategies for clients to leverage in their marketing campaigns.
How to become an SEO Expert – a 10-step guide on how to go from SEO novice to SEO Pro.
SEO Consultant Skills and Education
Becoming an SEO consultant won’t always require professionals to have a specific degree. However, many experts in this field hold bachelor’s degrees in relevant topics. It’s common for an SEO consultant to have an educational background in business, IT, and marketing.
However, most SEO experts develop their education through specialist courses focused on SEO and digital marketing. Qualifications and certifications are available through online SEO boot camps and course platforms.
Some leading search engines, such as Google, even offer their own courses for SEO students (see Best Google SEO Courses for more details).
Key skills required often by SEO Consultants include:
SEO knowledge: A good SEO consultant will know the ins and outs of SEO, including how to use popular SEO Tools like Semrush and ahrefs.
Research skills: To thrive in the changing search engine landscape, an SEO consultant must be able to research user personas, search engine strategies, and market trends. They should be able to collect relevant research and convey data to stakeholders.
Strong communication skills: SEO consultants often work alongside business leaders and other marketing experts to create strategies for search engine success. They need to convey information in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.
Digital marketing skills: Alongside a strong knowledge of SEO, many top consultants will also understand how to create cross-channel marketing campaigns. They’ll know how to leverage social media, PR, and other forms of marketing to improve their online presence.
Technical skills: Aside from being able to work with common SEO tools like Google Analytics, Semrush, and Ahrefs, SEO consultants often need basic coding knowledge. They should understand how to optimize websites from a technical standpoint.
A commitment to learning: Because the search engine landscape is constantly evolving with new algorithms and rules, SEO consultants need to be committed to expanding their knowledge. You should have an inquisitive mindset and be focused on growth.
Analytical skills: SEO consultants often need to create reports and evaluate the market based on the changes to the SEO landscape. They should be able to analyze the success of different SEO strategies and use what they learn to improve business results.
Strategic skills: Consultants in the SEO landscape need to be strategic. They frequently work with business leaders to create comprehensive marketing and sales strategies. This requires them to look at SEO and the marketing landscape holistically.
Organizational skills: SEO consultants are often required to manage multiple campaigns and strategies simultaneously. They should be able to conduct A/B tests promptly and respond to marketplace changes quickly to avoid issues.
Depending on your role as an SEO consultant, you may need to develop some additional skills.
What Does an SEO Consultant Do?
The responsibilities of an SEO consultant can vary depending on the role. If you choose to work alongside an SEO or digital marketing agency, you may be responsible for a lot of collaborative work involving creating compelling SEO campaigns.
If you’re working as a freelancer, you may be able to choose which areas of SEO you specialize in.
Many SEO consultants spend significant time researching and seeking information to understand how the search algorithms work. You’ll also spend a portion of your time testing campaigns and determining which efforts are most valuable for your clients.
Some of the most common responsibilities of an SEO consultant include the following:
Fixing technical SEO issues: Technical SEO revolves mainly around making changes to the structure and performance of a website to improve user experience.
You may need to conduct an SEO audit and search for potential website issues that could increase bounce rates. Many SEO consultants spend a lot of time addressing problems like broken links and slow site loading times.
Performing keyword research: Keywords are one of the most valuable tools in any SEO campaign. As an SEO consultant, you’ll need to perform keyword research and determine which terms they’re likely to search for.
On-page optimization: On-page optimization involves updating the content of website pages to make it more search friendly. You may be responsible for writing alt tags and descriptions for images, updating URLs to make them search-friendly, or adding keywords to other forms of content. You’ll also need to ensure pages are structured well to improve user experience.
Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO revolves heavily around backlinking and attracting leads from other websites.
An SEO consultant might work with a brand to find authoritative companies they can work with to drive customers back to their website. These professionals can help with PR strategies, guest blogging campaigns, and more.
Monitoring performance: A significant portion of an SEO consultant’s role revolves around monitoring and improving performance effectively. Professionals need to be able to capture information using analytical tools to determine which campaigns are driving the most valuable leads.
They may conduct A/B tests to monitor performance and use SEO reporting tools to ensure they’re notified when a company’s SEO ranking changes.
SEO Reporting: To help stakeholders and business leaders keep track of their performance, many SEO professionals dedicate a lot of time to reporting. They may create reports highlighting the most valuable keywords for a brand or provide insights into a website’s bounce rate, click-through rate, and other essential metrics.
How to Become an SEO Consultant
There are various pathways a professional can consider when pursuing an SEO career. Some experts start by earning a degree in a relevant area like marketing and business development. Others build on their understanding of SEO using online courses.
Here are some of the key steps involved in becoming an SEO consultant.
1. Develop a Strong Understanding of SEO
More than anything else, an SEO consultant needs a thorough understanding of Search Engine Optimization and how search engines work.
To begin, you’ll need to study SEO basics and learn about keywords, backlinking, and technical SEO.
Various online courses and programs can guide you through everything you need to know about search engine algorithms. However, it’s worth noting that the rules of SEO can change rapidly. With this in mind, professionals must stay updated with the latest trends and techniques.
Many of the best SEO consultants consistently expand their knowledge by following industry-related blogs and thought leaders. They might attend SEO conferences and workshops to develop their skills, and some even consider working with a mentor in the SEO space.
2. Gain Hands-On SEO Experience
Experience is one of the core factors employers will look for when searching for an SEO consultant. The more experience you have optimizing websites, blog pages, and other pieces of content, the more likely you’ll be able to get a lucrative job.
A good way to begin developing your SEO experience is to start your own website or blog, which you can then optimize for the search engines. You can use your website to practice your inbound marketing techniques, backlinking strategies, and technical SEO.
To collect customer reviews and testimonials about your work, you can begin offering your services to friends, family members, and small businesses for a free or relatively low cost.
Consider volunteering for non-profit organizations to build your portfolio and experience. You can also look into internships and part-time positions with digital marketing agencies.
3. Establish Your Personal Brand
Professional personal branding is another important point to consider when working on your career as an SEO consultant. Today’s businesses are looking for opportunities to work with thought leaders who are well respected and established in their field.
You can build your personal brand using the above methods, creating your own website to showcase your knowledge and highlight positive client endorsements. Develop your portfolio with case studies from reputable brands, and look for ways to establish connections through social media and networking.
Networking will significantly increase your chances of finding clients and customers in the SEO landscape. It’s worth visiting networking events and conferences to interact with other digital marketing experts and enhance your skills.
4. Get SEO Certified
While you don’t necessarily need a specific degree to thrive in a role as an SEO consultant, you’ll be more likely to attract the attention of employers with the right SEO certifications. Getting SEO certified means you earn a credential from a reputable company like Reliablesoft Academy, highlighting your skills.
There are numerous certifications you can consider. Some focus on all aspects of digital marketing, while others concentrate on more niche subjects, like keyword research or technical SEO.
Not only will certifications make you more attractive to employers, but they’ll also demonstrate your commitment to keeping your skills up-to-date and relevant. During these courses, you’ll be able to build your knowledge of everything from link building to content creation. Many professionals will earn several credentials throughout their careers.
5. Build a Client Base and Offer Your Services
Many SEO consultants pursue their careers freelance, working with a range of clients from across different industries. If you plan on exploring this avenue, you’ll need to dedicate significant time and effort to finding potential clients.
Attending industry events and networking with other professionals through social media and in person will ensure you can reach more customers. As you build your client base, your focus should be on generating happy, long-term customers.
Offer customized SEO services and packages that adapt to your customers’ needs. Ask the clients you work with to endorse you on LinkedIn and provide social proof through testimonials and reviews. You may even consider creating case studies based on your results.
How Much Do SEO Consultants Make?
The amount you can make as an SEO consultant will vary depending on several factors, including where you live and the services you offer.
In most cases, SEO consultants who work as part of a marketing agency will earn a slightly lower salary than those who are self-employed or work freelance.
If you create your own brand and offer freelance services, you can set your own rates and take on as many clients as you desire. This can significantly improve your earning potential.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an SEO consultant in the US is around $55,857 annually.
However, Salary.com suggests the average income can be much higher, at around $78,864 per year. Once again, the amount you earn will depend on your career strategy.
How to Make Money with SEO – Different ways you can make money working as an SEO consultant.
Is an SEO Consultant a Good Career?
A role as an SEO consultant could be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the marketing landscape. SEO remains one of the most valuable channels a business can use to improve its chances of being found online and earning new customers.
However, many companies search for additional support as online marketing becomes more complex.
As an SEO consultant, you’ll be able to work with a wide range of companies across various industries. You can choose between working in-house for a company, joining a digital marketing agency, or branching out independently as a freelance consultant or professional.
As the digital landscape continues to grow, the number of opportunities available to SEO experts constantly expands. The best candidates for this role will:
- Be committed to constantly expanding their knowledge of SEO
- Feel comfortable using a range of digital marketing strategies
- Have a passion for analytics, research, and evaluation
- Showcase their skills by constantly building their portfolio
- Work comfortably with a range of clients with unique needs
- Be comfortable working with different marketing professionals
- Work on constantly expanding their network of potential clients