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Starting A Successful Career In SEO
Imagine yourself working as a full-time SEO freelancer with complete control over your time, being able to work at home with no commutes while maintaining a stable earning income.
Sounds good, right?
Every single day, companies and small businesses are looking to pay someone to help them expose their product and services beyond just their local customers.
This is where your opportunity as an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
According to the recent statistics by Upwork and Freelancers Union 34% of the US workforce are doing freelance jobs, that is roughly 53 million people who enjoy the liberty of freelancing.
Now more than ever companies are looking to utilize the internet and acquire customers from all over the globe, why should it not be you that is helping them?
In this article, you will learn how to get your first SEO job and equip yourself with the right knowledge to become a successful SEO Specialist.
Setting Your Mindset
The first step in becoming a successful freelancer is setting the correct mindset.
It is not less important than any other skill and it could be what will set you apart from your competition.
It is crucial to be mentally equipped when deciding to jump into the waters and taking the risk of being self-employed.
There is no real secret to becoming a successful freelancer but there is certainly a right approach to achieving it.
It Starts With A Decision
The first thing you have to do in deciding to become a freelancer is to try.
Test the waters first to see if you will be a good fit.
Do you have some experience with SEO? Do you know what is involved? Start small.
Being a freelancer will be time and money consuming. Let’s agree that leaving your full-time job and starting to freelance full time straight out may not be a wise decision.
You wouldn’t want to rush into a decision that will set you to failure, do it slow and steady.
Make a decision and take a calculated risk.
Freelancing will not be as easy as you thought it would be just like any other job that you have never done.
You might think it is as simple as setting up an account on a job platform and getting flooded with clients.
Not that it is not possible but it will take time.
Like all good things. Being committed to your decision and knowing exactly what your long-term goals are will surely help you stay focused and productive with your projects.
Keep in mind that no matter how hard being an SEO Specialist might be at first, being in this business will get easier as long as you commit and learn everything about the job.
Being successful in the freelance industry will not happen overnight. Nor will it happen in your first week or even first month in the business.
Once you start freelancing, you have to be patient and learn to set realistic expectations.
Always be patient with yourself because you will learn a lot in your freelance journey.
Give yourself time to learn and adjust when given a task you are not familiar with.
Sooner or later, you will enjoy the rewards of your patience and hard work.
Keep a positive mindset, learn from your mistakes and develop a good relationship with your clients.
Different Types Of SEO Jobs
Now that you have made your decision to start freelancing your SEO skills, it is time to learn the different types of SEO jobs you need to familiarize yourself with in order to become an expert in your field.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing an individual page on a website to earn better ranks in search so that it will appear at the top of the search results when people type in certain keywords.
This type of SEO includes the following:
- Keyword Research – determining which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content
- Content Creation – Writing quality content based on target keywords
- Keyword Optimization – Using the target keyword in the right places to drive qualified traffic from search engines to your website
One of the tools you can use with On-Page SEO is Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
It allows you to find new keywords for you to target and shows you all of the backlink data for the ranking pages.
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your website for the indexing phase.
You can help search engines access, crawl, interpret and index your website without any problems.
The main goal of technical SEO is to optimize the infrastructure of a website.
Here are some of the functions related to Technical SEO:
- Site speed
Off-Site SEO are the actions taken outside your own website.
Its goal is to strengthen the influence and relationship you have with other sites; to build the reputation, authority, and reliability of your website.
Off-Site SEO is mainly focused on building backlinks.
It is important because having a large number of high-quality links pointing to you from established websites will show search engines that your site is relevant and established as well.
Backlink Checker is a tool used for Off-Site SEO to create a link building plan.
You can explore by entering different URLs of competitors and generate a summary with all of the links pointing to their sites.
Use this analysis to gather ideas on how to build links to the same sites.
Building Your SEO Skills
As an aspiring SEO Specialist, you should be aiming to stand out in the freelance market within that niche. You will need to have certain skill sets that will help pave your way to succeeding.
While you will pick up many skills along your freelance career, here are six important skills managers look for in hiring an SEO professional.
1. Writing Ability
Writing a blog that will effectively appear on search results is not an easy task.
One must plan the whole article through to avoid making the keywords seem forced and out of place.
All things considered; bad writing will result in a lower rank for your website – at the end of the day you are writing for people to read.
The major task of an SEO Specialist is to draw a large number of audience to the website.
Writing good content that appeals to the target audience is the next and most important step, your main goal is to provide essential and interesting information that will keep them from looking for other sources.
2. Excel Skills
Taking on the title of an SEO expert will require you to be knowledgeable with basic Excel formulas since one of the major tasks of an SEO Specialist is gathering data.
Vlookups, Pivot Tables, Concatenates, and IF statements will be a part of your everyday life.
Learning all the relevant skills is important and will help you become an effective SEO Specialist.
If you do not have any experience and knowledge about those functions, it will be wise to take the time to familiarise and educate yourself the rest will come with time and practice.
3. Critical Thinking
This may not be an easy skill to measure, but it is essential for an SEO Specialist to foresight potential issues they might encounter with building a quality website.
This includes doing research to figure out which of your strategies are working and which are not.
An efficient SEO Specialist should be able to understand the “3 W’s”:
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- What should you do about it?
It is quite simple, yet very effective when it comes to solving problems you might encounter.
4. Analytics Skills
The analysis is the heart of SEO, and since it is based on reports and data, you must have strong analytical skills to be able to monitor the success and failures of the website you are working on.
A successful SEO Specialist must know how to pull and segment data, be able to take the needed action and apply those analytics to the website they are building.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with that process, and you are already on the road to success.
Being an SEO specialist requires adaptability and willingness to learn.
You need to constantly measure your performance, change what is not effective, and continue with what is.
This industry changes and grows constantly. It is vital to be dynamic, admit that you are not an expert on something (yet) and be willing to make a change and switch strategies at any given time.
Learning How To Use SEO Tools
There are endless useful SEO tools out there but keeping it simple to start with will be less overwhelming and more manageable.
Every tool can certainly add value to you as an SEO freelancer and here are some examples of the different tools out there that you might want to look more into.
Google Analytics (Must know)
Google Analytics helps users obtain essential data about marketing performance.
With this tool you can effectively monitor and improve the website you are building.
Google Analytics can provide the most important information you will need as an SEO Specialist, you will be able to monitor the visitors’ behavior when visiting your site.
This information will give you an insight to the different content effectiveness which will help you develop a different approach, revise your strategies and even redesign a website for a higher visitor retention rate in the future.
Google Search Console (must know)
Google Search Console helps its users monitor and troubleshoot their website’s appearance in the search results.
This tool will give you advanced warnings and alerts about anything going wrong with your website.
Google Search Console allows you to get hold of important data such as keyword rankings that lets you know your website’s rank for a particular keyword.
You will also get to know the number of clicks per keyword.
You can use Google Search Console to optimize the right keywords and improve the ones that need attention and consequently the number of people that visit your site.
Moz Local (Optional)
Moz Local is a helpful tool when it comes to checking citations across various websites.
It is very important to monitor the consistency of your website’s information because when some of the listings are duplicated, it causes the website to rank low in the search results.
Being alerted by duplications will help the SEO Specialist to take the necessary action to resolve it.
Rank Ranger (Optional)
Rank Ranger helps its users track keyword rankings and know the rank of their website for primary keywords of business.
Rank Ranger will help you track and analyze your backlinks, and find the best keywords for SEO.
You also can view your competitors’ ranking performance in the top search engine results to have a side by side comparison of both your competitors’ and your website’s performance,
Every successful SEO Specialist knows that the way to a successful website is to have legitimate and reliable backlinks.
If you have backlinks from questionable websites, your website will rank lower in search results.
Keyword research and creating a reliable backlink is exactly what Ahrefs focuses on.
This tool helps you detect undesirable backlinks so that you can remove them from your website right away.
Taking Online Courses And Certification
As an aspiring freelancer, you must know that determination and hardwork is everything.
It is not impossible to end up with a job offer without any experience in the field you choose to work in, but having the right skill set for the job will make you stand out among your competitors.
At the end of the day clients are looking for someone they could trust will get the job done, what will make you trust someone with your project?
Skills and experience will help you shape your professional image.
You can easily get started with some of the best training courses for freelancers.
Before going to any other training courses, check out Learn from Fiverr.
They provide online video classes specifically designed for freelancers.
All classes are taught by professionals that have excelled in their respective fields.
By completing online courses in this platform, you will be able to level up as a professional and showcase your skills and new capabilities in the marketplace.
You can get started with the SEO Fundamentals course to have a deeper understanding about SEO.
Udemy is one of the well-established and open-ended training course providers in the freelance industry.
There are a lot of gurus on this site to learn from, Seth Godin and Simon Sinek, which will really help you have a grasp on the SEO knowledge and learn more about your journey.
One of the most popular courses you have to take in Udemy is SEO Training Course by Moz with over 200k enrollees and an overall rating of 4.3/5 stars.
Like any other training platforms, SkillShare provides various courses and subjects you can sign up for.
Some of their courses are accessible for free, but to have access to the premium courses, you have to register for a paid class.
You can get started with SEO Today: Strategies to Earn Trust, Rank High, and Stand Out to know more about the intricacies of the course.
Taught by successful instructors from world-class universities and businesses, Coursera is a professional platform for freelancers that want to take their career more seriously and are ready to master a skill within 4-6 months.
With their SEO course they offer, you will have the opportunity to experiment with hands-on project and at the end earn a certificate to show potential clients.
Platforms And Means To Find SEO Jobs
Having an active presence on the Internet (especially as an SEO freelancer) is crucial if you want to be visible to potential clients.
Even better is being able to attract quality clients.
Besides the obvious online platforms where clients are probably only seeing a glimpse of your capabilities if not optimized, what you need is to showcase your skills and other relevant information on other platforms that will increase the rate of success in your journey.
Have Your Own Portfolio Website
What could be a better way than for your clients to find you in your territory?
Once you develop the relevant skills to become an SEO Specialist, the next best thing you would want to do is showcase your skills to attract clients.
Creating your portfolio website does not require you to have developed all the relevant skills and experience right away, your portfolio website could and in fact should grow with you.
Freelancing is a business and so it should be treated that way, the effort you put in will be the brand you build.
Think of a portfolio website as your business card in the online world, it could be the make or break of your success to your freelance business.
The very first thing you need to do is create an irresistible client-catching website.
Showcase Your Work
Think of all the successful projects you have accomplished, the websites you built, list down the relevant skills and certificates you think are best displayed.
You can add as many accomplishments you want, as long as you organize your website strategically.
Provide clear details about yourself and what services you offer.
That will be the first thing your clients will need to see.
You can provide a link where they can ask relevant questions and request for your services – have a work with me page.
Here is an example of an excellent SEO website portfolio you can use as an inspiration for yours:
Link To Your Social And Professional Accounts
In order to build relationships and connections with your audience, you can let them know a little more about you.
Providing your social and professional accounts will increase the opportunity to interact with potential clients and will be another platform to showcase your work and advertise your business.
It is not unheard of to land a job offer through platforms such as LinkedIn.
In fact, it is one of the best and economical ways.
Be where your clients are, brainstorm who they are and where they might look for you.
Pitch Yourself And Write Your Own Blog Content
You are planning on considering yourself an expert in SEO, what a better way to pitch yourself than to walk the talk.
Blogging about different aspects of your role as an SEO specialist and your freelancing experience and knowledge will present expertise, build trust and impress your audience.
Having a blog doesn’t mean you have to be a professional writer but with determination to try and consistency of trial and error it will be a great way to start building your SEO skills and traction with clients.
Bottom line your goal is to increase exposure on the internet and arouse interest from potential clients and what a better way to be more approachable than being available on all of the above?
Online Job Platforms
Using online platforms is one of the most effective ways of landing a job and starting out as an SEO Specialist.
Millions of aspiring freelancers have seen the potential of working online where they can gain more experience and skills.
Although online platforms have drawbacks, if used correctly, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Online job platforms could truly kickstart your career, build up your experience with the job and clients but most importantly your confidence.
Here are some of the best platforms you can use:
Unlike some of the ideal freelance websites, this platform may not be accessible for anyone.
You have to submit portfolios of your accomplished projects and be approved by Upwork before being able to send proposals to different clients, which will give the freelancer the advantage to showcase their best work to the potential client.
Don’t let it discourage you if you are lacking experience, there are many other platforms and ways you could find your next job.
In the meantime work on building up your skills.
Different from the traditional freelance platforms, Fiverr lets freelancers create jobs based on their skill set and expertise instead of companies posting jobs you can apply for.
This will let the freelancer attract the right client for their skills, avoiding the hassle of applying for potential clients who are looking for a different skills set.
Fiverr gives freelancers the opportunity to be creative and market themselves effectively to companies and business owners by putting their services into different categories and keywords that will show up on various searches across the platform.
PeoplePerHour is one of the platforms aimed directly at web developers and SEO specialists.
This platform provides an easier communication system and payment process between the freelancer and their clients, as well as job management and monitoring.
Freelancers can send up to 15 proposals on this platform before they need to register for a paid plan.
This will be the best platform for SEO Specialists like yourself because the vast majority of employers that use this platform are mainly focused on web projects.
Approaching Local Businesses
Becoming a full-time freelancer and finding the right client in this modern age may be as easy as clicking on your computer and searching for it.
But as true as that could be, you cannot disregard the fact that the best clients you could ever work with are those people around you.
Local businesses in your neighborhood have a bigger potential of becoming a long-term business partner than those clients a million miles away.
There is the advantage of face-to-face meetings, easier payment transactions, and better understanding of what is expected from each other.
Now that you know the potential of a local business partner for your freelance business, the next best thing you have to do is devise a plan on how to approach them and offer your expertise.
Any Experience Is Experience
Experience is a crucial factor in applying for an SEO job.
If you are hoping to land your first ever job as an SEO Specialist without experience, you may want to consider and utilize several experiences you have done in the past.
Everyone needs to start somewhere
Any experience is experience.
May be less obvious but your personal experiences are as important as any other experience when it comes to building and establishing a portfolio.
If you have done it in the past, even if you did it as a hobby, it is as worth-mentioning as a professional experience.
Minor Assistance To A Friend
A lot of SEO Specialists have made their decision to join the freelancing industry through the advice and experience they gained with helping a friend.
If you have a similar experience, even though it is just a minor assistance in web development, it will surely be helpful to add it in your portfolio.
Free Services In The Past
Similar to providing assistance to a friend, you can also use free services you may have provided before becoming a freelancer.
You may think that your past experiences are not important in pitching yourself in this industry, but you have to realize that all kinds of experiences are just as important as the ones you are going to get as a professional.
A good idea to keep in mind when first starting out are courses that provide the ability to have hands-on a project and provide certificates.
Tips For Maintaining Workload
Being a freelancer means you will not just have a single task or workload per day.
You are most likely going to have a lot of clients and deadlines (isn’t this what you wanted?).
Learning how to effectively manage your workload will prevent you from being fatigued and eventually help you grasp the different aspects of your job as a freelancer.
Communicate With Your Client
Being offered a job is surely exciting! Until your client floods you with a number of projects you have no idea how to begin with.
Before accepting a job offer, make sure that you are on the same page with your client to avoid bigger conflicts in the future.
It should be your number one priority to communicate with your clients about the job and their expectations from you.
When starting your freelance business, you must learn how to create and maintain a structure of your time.
You must know the deadline of all your projects and which ones you need to prioritize.
Here are some tips that might help you with time management:
- Establish a routine – being an SEO might give you the freedom to manage your own time and schedule, but you have to set one for yourself to keep mind getting used to a certain routine and be more comfortable working on a timetable.
- To-Do Lists – make it a habit of creating a to-do list at the end of each day, so that you will have a clear sight of your daily goals and be able to track all of your progress.
- Plan – at the start of each day, condition your mind about what you want to accomplish. Pick a couple of easier tasks from your to-do list, and start your day by accomplishing those tasks first. Early accomplishments will set your mind into being productive for the rest of the day.
When you have more than one client, you will most certainly mix and confuse your deadlines.
You need to be ahead of yourself and always keep track of all your projects, deadlines, and meetings.
Being a successful SEO Specialist, you have to be ahead of all that is required of you, and having a record of professionalism and dependability will make you stand out in the market.
You can use project management tools to help keep track of all your deadlines.
This will allow you to monitor all the tasks you have and organize them according to importance and urgency, which will help you meet all the clients’ expectations.
Landing your first job as an SEO Specialist might not be an easy task but is there any job that is easy to land when you first start out?
Be assured that once you get your first client it will be rewarding.
As with most things in life, learning will come with time.
If you want to enjoy all the benefits of a full-time freelancer, invest your time in exploring and understand all the tools, systems, processes, aspects and requirements of the role of an SEO freelancer.
Make sure that you are ready to take the risks and responsibility of being a freelancer and working with a client that will potentially be hundreds of miles away.
Always strive to learn how to gain and enhance your skills, there are many great online education platforms.
Stay motivated, remember why you started your freelance journey, maybe you want the opportunity to live your life to the fullest or gain financial freedom.
Now that you have all the tips and valuable information to become a successful SEO Specialist, you are on your way to a lot of amazing opportunities.
Keep in mind that you are capable of making this happen.
Becoming a high-ranking SEO Specialist in the market is achievable if you learn along your freelance journey.
Are you ready to start the best and most exciting journey in your life?