Lately I’ve been looking for decent opportunities on big freelancer sites, offering my services as a SEO consultant. It’s extremely funny and also sad how many people wish to hire someone for a service they have no idea of or respect for. So in this post I will try to explain the value of SEO, at least the way I see it.
First of all, the year is [year]. This means that SEO has existed as a mainstream thing for the better part of a decade, and if you just discovered it and thought “Ooh, I’ll make money with this“, take a breath.
Yes, you can make money with it, but it’s important to be realistic. In order to understand how to make money with SEO you need to understand what SEO is, how it works and how to better use it to your advantage. Which you don’t, because 99% of the people who tried to sell it to you, promised you the first place in search results and lied to you.
What is SEO
Okay, this one you may know already: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of improving your website in order to make it more search engine friendly. This means that search engines will be able to understand your content better and then judge if it’s relative or not to their users’ keywords, thus ranking you for that keyword among all other web pages with similar content.
Noticed that “among all other web pages” part? That’s the key to understanding SEO: It’s a competitive game, it’s you against the others. Which means that if you are selling books, and you want to rank first for the word “books”, that’s not going to happen. Most scammers on freelancer.com and upWork will promise that you will, but seriously, if you naive enough to believe that you will rank first against amazon, you deserve to get scammed. Of course you want to rank first for the keywords of your business, but if you just started now, this is next to impossible. Should you give up? Hell no. Keep on reading.
SEO is statistics, not magic
The moment you heard what SEO is, you instantly thought that what you want is to rank for some specific keywords and that’s it. Which luckily for you and me alike, is wrong. SEO is about eventually selling more. Think about it… You are investing money in a service in order to make more money. And how do you make more money? By selling your own product or service more. And we will do just that with science! Here’s how:
You have a website. This website gets a number of visitors per month, and provided that nothing changes, a percentage of these visitors buys your product or service.
- If your visitors are next to nothing, you need more visitors. Logical.
- If, on the other hand, you get a satisfactory amount of visitors and no sales, you need to change your content and do some content marketing.
The number of visitors is easy to determine via Google Analytics. So your first step, if you haven’t already done so, is to enable google analytics (and also webmaster tools) for your website. If you don’t know how to do this, drop me a line and I will help you.
Now that we have our numbers and we know what’s going on with our website, the next step is to determine what needs improving first. The usual order is:
- Attract more visitors.
- Convert more of those visitors to clients.
- Repeat and improve.
And here comes the good part: You don’t need to rank for the top keywords of your business! Not that you would make it in any case. Let’s use an example with fake numbers, just to make things easier to explain. Let’s assume you are selling books (I like books). We will not consider conversion rates in this example
- Your website currently has 100 visitors per month that you get from social media. Ouch.
- After we do our research we find out that the keyword “books” has 10.000 searches per month.
- You take as a fact that you will never rank well for the word books, the competition is companies making and investing billions. You sigh and decide to find another solution.
- With some more research we find out that 50 long-tail keywords (more words per keyword) sum up to that number. Keywords like “children’s books”, “classic fairytales”, “car manuals”, “top SEO books” and so on.
- You decide it’s not fun throwing away your hard earned money, and go for these keywords.
I’ve done it a hundred times, I’ve seen it even more.
The value of SEO
So we understood that chasing the top keywords is impossible (for now). We learned how to get the same results with alternative keywords. What’s left? The small matter of the price. Because optimizing for 50 keywords is 30 times as much work as it is optimizing for one. Difference is that it works.
Do you realize how much work it is to optimize for 50 keywords? I’ll answer right now, it’s a lot of work. And a lot of work for a good professional means a lot of money to spend. The good part? You will get your money back multiple times, this is guaranteed, if the person working for you knows what they’re doing. It’s called Return on Investment (ROI) and as long as your profit margins are good or your products are cheap (or good) enough, you will get your money back. But as they say, you have to spend money to make money, and I’ve never seen a more appropriate usage of the expression than for SEO.
The average US company that offers SEO (and shows results) has a monthly retainer of $2500. So if you consider the $100 you are offering on freelancer.com a good investment, know that you will only get bids from scammers. SEO cannot happen with that money, plain and simple. You can start at $500/month, but nothing less will give you results.