Email, PPC/paid search, and social media marketing are all effective pillars of digital marketing. However, in terms of importance, none of those areas come close to search engine optimization. For that reason, the job of an SEO consultant is recession-proof.
Since millions of people turn towards search engines to look for answers, every business owner wants their website to show up on the first page for relevant search queries. However, wrapping our brains around complex Google algorithms and figuring out ways to play by the rules is difficult.
Even if we do, there’s no guarantee that things will play out in your favour.
That’s where an SEO consultant comes in. Whether you’re an SEO who aims to become an independent consultant or a business owner interested in hiring one, keep reading. In this article, I’ll describe the SEO consultant position, highlight what they can do for a business, and break down their job description.
Let’s get started.
Who is an SEO Consultant?
An SEO consultant is an SEO expert who devises, implements, and executes a comprehensive SEO strategy – covering both on-page and off-page facets – to improve and maintain the rankings of their clients in Google, Bing, and/or Yahoo organic search engine results.
These professionals offer their SEO consulting services on freelance or contractual basis (just like a marketing consultant). An employer may choose to call their full-time in-house SEO expert a “consultant” on paper, but usually that’s not the case.
Startups and large Fortune 500 enterprises alike seek the services of SEO consultants. Furthermore, SEO consultants can serve a wide variety of niches, ranging from healthcare to real-estate.
Most consultants offer their services as a freelancer through different online platforms, independently as a registered SEO company/SEO agency, or both.
How an SEO Consultant Can Impact the Business Bottom Line
Hiring an SEO consultant, although not always cheap, is worth every cent.
If you’re a business owner, here’s how bringing an SEO consultant onboard can help your business:
- They can help improve your search engine rankings on Google search for competitive keywords.
- They can help increase organic traffic to your website.
- An SEO consultant can improve the credibility of your business by strengthening your online presence.
- They can help you deliver a positive user-experience and build customer loyalty.
Of course, all of the above, will ultimately lead to improved brand awareness, increased customer engagement, and better conversion rates.
A well-designed SEO campaign that integrates perfectly with the broader marketing strategy can do wonders for a business. But that’s only possible if it’s devised and executed by an experience professional.
The Roles and Responsibilities of an SEO Consultant
On the surface, every SEO consultant has one core responsibility – to ensure high rankings of their client’s website in organic search results.
Of course, that itself entails a lot.
Here is a comprehensive description of what an SEO consultant does:
1. Understand Business Niche and Requirements
Before anything else, a good SEO consultant would take a step back to understand the business, its niche, and its strategic objectives.
For that reason, they work closely with the main stakeholders – usually the CEO, CMO, president, etc. – to understand everything.
This core responsibility enables them to devise a solid SEO strategy that only uses white hat tactics to yield promising results.
It is during this phase that the SEO consultant describes their goals (that align with the strategic objectives) and sketch out a roadmap.
2. Conduct Extensive Keyword Research
A crucial aspect of an SEOs job is to conduct keyword research.
This means discovering different terms/queries that people within the target audience of your business typically search for on Google or any other search engine. Using an SEO tool, like Ahrefs or SEMrush, the consultant shortlists the most relevant and profitable keywords, and then work towards ranking for them.
To shortlist promising keywords, the consultant looks at a bunch of different metrics, including:
- Search Volume – the total number of people searching for a specific keyword. If only a handful of people type in that keyword, there’s no point in going after it.
- Keyword Difficulty – scored from 0 to 100, KD shows how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword based on its search volume, the quality and depth of existing content, and the reputation of websites currently ranking for it.
- Domain Authority/Rating – although not an official metric, it shows the potential of a website to rank for difficult keywords.
After shortlisting profitable keywords, the SEO consultant maps them out to the landing pages on the website.
3. Assist with the Content Strategy
With the list of keywords at hand, the SEO consultant – in collaboration with a content marketing strategist – to create a detailed content strategy.
- Coming up with new content ideas for the website’s blog
- Creating a comprehensive calendar to ensure consistent creation of content
- Allocating resources for guest posting (more on that later).
The consultant ensures that the content created is not only optimized for the keywords, but is crafted according to the search intent.
4. Perform On-Page SEO
This is where the technical expertise of the SEO consultant comes into play.
On-page SEO refers to optimizing your website for a smooth user-experience. This involves technical SEO, including, but not limited to:
- Fixing problems that might be affecting the site speed and page speeds of individual landing pages
- Ensuring all pages are mapped out to appropriate keywords
- Ensuring that the website doesn’t have any indexing issues
- Paying attention to security issues and implementing SSL certificate
In addition, the consultant also sets up Google Analytics and Search Console to keep track of performance.
That’s still the tip of the iceberg. Any other SEO task performed on the website comes under the definition of on-page SEO.
5. Develop and Execute a Link Building Strategy
Link building refers to creating high-quality backlinks (i.e., links from other websites pointing to yours).
If you’re not spending enough resources on creating quality backlinks, nothing else matters – especially if you belong to a competitive niche. That’s because Google and other search engines consider quality links as the most important ranking factors.
The consultant employs different link building tactics, including:
- Guest posting
- Broken link building
- Content outreach (such as sharing infographics)
- Unlinked brand mentions
- Content syndication and repurposing
The consultant picks the tactic(s) based on the company’s resource and niche.
6. Collaborate with Different Team Members
As with every other pillar of internet marketing, SEO entails a lot of things.
Having one person do everything, from creating the strategy, executing everything, and then reporting is just unrealistic.
The SEO consultant has to collaborate with different team members, including content marketers, PR professionals, designers, web developers, and stakeholders to ensure smooth execution of work.
7. Analyze Performance and Report to Stakeholders
Last but not least, the consultant is responsible for gauging the performance of their SEO efforts and presenting those numbers to the relevant supervisors.
A client business may be interested in knowing about the following metrics:
- Organic search traffic
- Keyword rankings
- Organic conversion rate
- Click-through rate
- Bounce rate
- Do-follow links
A smart SEO consultant creates case studies on their most successful projects and use them to capture more clients.
How to Become an SEO Consultant
Becoming an SEO consultant requires a certain level of experience, technical know-how, and a diverse skillset.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Gain Relevant Credentials – you don’t necessarily need to have a bachelor’s degree to be an SEO consultant, but formal education will give you a significant edge. Furthermore, having certifications that validate your skills is highly recommended (even more so than going to college).
- Gather Ample Experience – at minimum, an SEO consultant needs to have between 3 to 5 years of experience of experience. This experience can be built in an agency or independently as a freelancer.
- Build a Strong Skillset – a consultant should be proficient in different SEO tools and platforms, like Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Analytics, etc. Some level of coding skills will also be a huge plus. Furthermore, soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking are a huge plus.
Even if you don’t tick all of the aforementioned boxes, there’s no one stopping you from calling yourself an SEO consultant and starting your own agency. However, in order to stand out from the competition, the more prepared you are, the better.
How Much Do SEO Consultants Make? (What to Demand or Pay)
Online marketing professionals, including SEO consultants, are well-compensated for the expertise they bring to the table.
According to Ahrefs, most SEO consultants/companies charge their clients a monthly retainer fee. This fee varies greatly from country to country, but rarely exceeds $5,000 per month. Furthermore, the most popular pricing range is between $501 to $1,000 per month.
For SEOs – the more experience, better portfolio, and impressive credentials you have, the higher you can charge.
As for business owners, while there’s no concept of a 100% guarantee in SEO, if you want better results, you should be prepared to spend some extra $$$.