Starting an SEO business requires careful planning, acquired skills, and hard work building a client base. Follow these key steps:Research the market
- Learn about your competition – their services, pricing, clients
- Identify niche areas lacking strong competitors
- Recognize SEO trends to position yourself as an expert
Acquire essential skills
- Learn technical skills like on-page optimization, link building, metrics/tracking
- Develop content marketing abilities – copywriting, blogging, graphics
- Understand user psychology – user experience, conversions
Build an SEO portfolio
- Create a website showcasing optimized samples of your work
- Write blog posts demonstrating knowledge
- Post case studies with data quantifying your SEO success
- Offer discounted or free SEO services to friends in exchange for referrals
- Volunteer services for local charities and small businesses
- Gather positive testimonials from early clients
Create SEO proposals
- Outline specific optimization tactics you will implement
- Personalize key milestone dates and objectives for clients
- Include pricing tables appropriate for each client
Establish fair pricing
- Research competitor rates in your region to align pricing
- Offer packages – basic, standard, premium tiers
- Be open to some pro bono work to secure referrals
Understand legal implications
- Create scope documents protecting yourself from guaranteeing rankings
- Use contracts requiring clients stick to ethical guidelines
- Ensure transparency following Google’s guidelines
Key Things to Know Before Starting an SEO Business
There are a few vital things to understand if you want to successfully start an SEO business:
- SEO Takes Time: Ranking high in search engines could take months. Manage client expectations by clearly outlining average timelines.
- Learn Google Guidelines: Follow Google’s strict rules about transparency and ethical practices. Read their quality rater guidelines.
- SEO Is Always Changing: Stay updated on Google algorithm changes and adjust tactics accordingly. Continually expand your SEO knowledge.
- Handle Clients Professionally: Quality communication, education about SEO, and transparency build trust and loyalty.
Essential Skills Needed to Start an SEO Business
Succeeding as an SEO entrepreneur requires a diverse mix of vital skills:
Technical SEO Skills
- On-page optimization best practices
- Keyword research and targeting
- Link building techniques
- Leveraging search engine tools
- Tracking rankings and metrics
Content Creation & Marketing
- Compelling copywriting
- Blog setup and writing
- Visual content creation
- Content promotion tactics
Client Management Skills
- Expectation setting
- Report generation
- Presentation abilities
- Account management process
How to Start Building an SEO Client Base
As a new SEO consultant, you need proven tactics to start building a reliable client base:
Offer Free Services
- Work with friends’ businesses to gain experience and referrals
- Volunteer services for charities/non-profits to boost your portfolio
- Attend local professional events to connect in-person
- Guest post on relevant niche blogs to gain visibility
Promote Yourself as an Expert
- Establish yourself as a thought leader by sharing useful insights publicly
- Publish SEO tips/tricks articles on LinkedIn and other platforms
|Publish case studies with data
|Attract Local Traffic
|Guest blog for regional blogs
|Relevant Niche Sites
|Create video SEO tutorials
Offer Free Resources
- Publish eBooks, guides, templates, checklists to capture leads
- Host free webinars and seminars to demonstrate knowledge
- Reward existing clients for referrals with discounts/bonuses
- Request testimonials and reviews to build social proof
Pricing Models for SEO Services
Common SEO business pricing structures:
- Hourly Consultation: You charge clients per hour for short-term/project-based work.
- Monthly Retainer: Clients pay a fixed monthly fee for ongoing optimization and reporting.
- Value-Based Packages: Bundle specific deliverables together, with tiers based on their value.
- Performance-Based: Fees involve bonuses/commissions for hitting key ranking or traffic metrics.
Set rates based on the local market, your experience level, and value delivered. Maintain pricing integrity – don’t devalue SEO services. Be flexible offering customers options. Bundle services attractively while making a profit.
Key Legal & Disclosure Considerations
Protect yourself legally with careful documentation and transparency:
- Set Realistic Expectations: Be honest about average SEO timelines. Don’t guarantee #1 rankings. Sign agreement about goals/metrics.
- Formal Contracts: Cover terms, pricing, processes, warrantees legally in detail. Define work scope.
- Analytics Access: Request read-only search console, analytics, and rank tracking access to document efforts.
- Google Guidelines Compliance: Review policy updates frequently. Conduct ethical, white hat SEO.
- Confidentiality: Sign NDAs protecting clients’ proprietary business data if working with sensitive information.
Launching an SEO business allows you to help companies increase visibility and grow revenue while building your own career. Follow the blueprint covering market research, essential skills acquisition, portfolio creation, references gathering, proposals development, pricing models establishment, and legal preparations outlined here. Keep learning, network diligently, leverage social media, and remain committed even through early slow periods while building trust and authority. Adapt SEO strategies to stay ahead of Google Updates. Success can be tremendously rewarding over time by sticking to white hat, ethical processes and delivering incredible value to your clients at each step.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much can you make with an SEO business?
A: Many independent SEO consultants charge $100-$200 per hour, with seasoned freelancers earning $250+ hourly. Monthly SEO retainers average $750-$5,000 based on inclusion of content writing, reporting, and the local market. Successful consultants can make 6 figures annually.
Q: Does SEO still work in 2023?
A: Yes, SEO remains extremely effective. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and SEO boosts visibility in results pages. But you must follow Google’s evolving quality and security guidelines.
Q: Do I need coding skills for SEO?
A: Extensive coding skills are not mandatory. But having basic HTML, CSS knowledge helps optimize on-page elements, site speed, structured data, etc. Some SEO tools use APIs requiring light coding too.
Q: What is the easiest way to learn SEO?
A: Start by reading Google’s beginner SEO guide and taking free courses from platforms like Moz, SEMrush, Coursera, or Udemy focused on fundamentals. Practice optimizing sites and writing content, analyzing reports to cement knowledge.
Q: How long does it take to see SEO results?
A: It can take 2-6 months to begin seeing positive SEO results. Ranking highly is gradual as search engines closely monitor new sites before driving significant traffic. Answer queries accurately and prominently display keywords demonstrating relevance over time.
Q: Can I be a freelance SEO consultant?
A: Absolutely. Many successful SEO pros operate their services freelance or remotely. Develop expertise, document successful cases, build a visible personal brand, network to find clients. Offer packages making rates profitable.
Q: What skills are required for SEO consultant?
A: Technical SEO tactics like metadata optimization, link building prowess, keyword placement ability, site speed knowledge, and tracking metrics mastery. Plus content skills – compelling writing, designing visuals, conversions psychology know-how.
Q: How much should I charge for SEO services?
A: When starting, offer discounted rates or free services to get testimonials. Hourly packages from $50-100+, monthly retainers from $500-2,500+ based on included services and local rates. Increase prices as you gain proof of ROI.
Q: Should my SEO business be a LLC or S Corp?
A: Talk to a business lawyer or tax professional. Generally S Corps have simpler taxes with revenue passing through to personal returns. LLCs give more long-term flexibility distributing profits across owners or selling ownership stakes.
Q: Can I rank my website on Google for free?
A: Yes, technically there are many free tactics like optimizing pages and content for keywords, generating backlinks yourself, leveraging schema markup to help get found for relevant queries. But paying an SEO remains the fastest way to accelerate.
Q: Do I need a lot of money to start an SEO business?
A: You can launch an SEO consultancy cheaply initially before investing in software/tools – using free trials, free Google services, open-source CMS platforms. Minimize risk by starting small from home before scaling up.
Q: Should my SEO business have an office?
A: A physical office space isn’t necessary initially if running a lean operation. Working remotely keeps overheads lower while getting started. But as your agency scales, an office builds credibility meeting clients face-to-face.
Q: Can I learn SEO on my own?
A: Self-teaching SEO fundamentals through blogs, online resources, courses is completely doable. But having an mentor, accountability partner, or mastermind group will accelerate applying knowledge to optimize sites most efficiently.
Q: How much does SEO cost per month?
A: SEO costs vary based on location, consultant experience, inclusion of content writing, reporting complexity, chosen metrics to track. Smaller sites can spend just $500 monthly seeing solid results while major brands pay $5k+ monthly for premium optimization.
Q: How do I promote my SEO business?
A: Content marketing showcasing expertise, local networking events, leveraging referrals with rewards programs, sponsoring relevant community initiatives, guest posting on popular niche blogs, running SEO conferences/webinars, and PR outreach to reporters.
Q: Should I focus on SEO or paid advertising first?
A: Generally focus on SEO first to rank highly organically in search engines without ongoing advertising costs. SEO brings targeted traffic 24/7. Once mastering SEO to build authority, layer in paid ads for faster results scaling campaigns.