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What is SEO Consulting? (+should you hire one?)

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What is SEO consulting? 

Here, you’ll learn what…

  • SEO consulting is 
  • How to find the best consultants
  • How much consultants cost and how to work with them

…And much more.

Want to learn more? Read on!

Quick overview: 

  • Expect to pay $5,000-$10,000+ per month for a strong ROI 
  • Be prepared to wait 3-12 months for results (depending on your business and budget) 
  • Hire an SEO consultant when you have at least a few clients or when you’re ready to scale

What are SEO consultants?

First, let’s define what SEO consulting is.

An SEO consultant is a digital marketing specialist who uses search engine optimization to improve search rankings and increase organic traffic from search engines. 

And having an SEO strategy in place is important. The average internet user makes three to four searches per day on search engines. At the same time, over 50% of consumers say they find new brands using search engines and around half say they research purchases before buying online. 

Ultimately, improving your SEO will lead to…

  • Lower marketing costs (you don’t have to invest in paid advertising)
  • More leads
  • More sales
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Higher business valuation 

But how do SEOs achieve all of this? 

That’s what we’ll look at next. 

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What does an SEO consultant do?

The most common techniques SEOs use to improve search traffic include: 

  • SEO audits: Auditing is the first step to understanding exactly what needs to be done to grow your search traffic. SEO consultants use a variety of on-page, off-page, technical SEO, and link audits to determine your site’s health and create a plan for your SEO going forward. Typically, the consultant will use a range of tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and paid tools like SEMRush to get accurate data. 
  • Competitor analysis: Competitor analysis is not the same as copying your competitor’s SEO strategy. Instead, analyzing your competitors is about figuring out what’s working for them and what content gaps there are so that you can use those insights in your business.
  • Keyword research: Keywords are search terms that your audience uses to find businesses like yours. They could be commercial keywords like “running shoes” or educational keywords like “how to run a marathon.” An SEO consultant identifies keywords that are relevant to your business and builds them into your content strategy.
  • SEO content strategy: An SEO creates a content strategy, from ideation to execution. They also analyze existing content to see if it needs to be updated to improve rankings. 
  • On-page optimization: SEO consultants work on optimizing your website so that it gets found by search engines. This includes copywriting, keyword optimization, and more. 
  • Site performance optimization: Another task is to improve the usability of your website, including the UX, speed performance, and technical issues. These metrics improve your traffic, but can also improve conversions as your website becomes easier and faster to use. 
  • SEO reporting: SEO consultants monitor and report on your SEO performance over time. This is an important step to identifying what’s working and troubleshooting what’s not working.
  • Troubleshooting: Traffic plateaus happen and SEOs will work through them to help you grow your traffic.  

SEO work typically follows this roadmap:  

  • Audit 
  • Strategy and suggestions
  • Implementation
  • Monitoring results
  • Readjusting strategy 

But what type of SEO consultant should you work with? 

That’s what we’ll look at next. 

What are the different types of SEO consulting services?

So now you know what is SEO consulting, let’s dive deeper into the different types of SEO consulting services.

First, you can work with SEO experts in different capacities. 

These are: 

  • Freelancer: An SEO freelancer helps you typically on an hourly or package basis. 
  • Consultant: An SEO consultant offers advice; often on a one-off basis. 
  • Agency: Because they have their own teams, SEO agencies tend to offer done-for-you packages that include a lot more than what a single freelancer or consultant can take on. 

The option that’s right for you depends on things like your budget and needs. For example, if you have a sizable in-house SEO team, a consultant might be the right fit for you. 

Or, if your budget is limited and you’re not looking to scale, freelancers can be the best option. 

Agencies tend to work with businesses that have or don’t have an in-house team. They work with different clients and often have scalable solutions. So if you want faster results, agencies can be a better option than individual freelancers or consultants. 

Ongoing SEO services

Most commonly, clients work with SEO specialists on a monthly basis. 

If you’re looking to incorporate SEO into your broader marketing strategy and don’t have a dedicated SEO team, this is the best option for scaling. 

Potential long-term SEO services include: 

  • Day-to-day SEO management
  • Regular SEO reporting and monitoring
  • Regular website audits
  • Consistent keyword research and optimization
  • Troubleshooting 
  • Conversion optimization 
  • Creation and implementation of a backlink or PR strategy 

Fixed-term SEO consulting projects 

Fixed-term SEO consulting is campaign or goal-based. 

You set time parameters (3-6 months of ongoing SEO management) or a specific goal (raising the traffic by 25% with no set time limit). However, few SEOs work in this way.

Specialized SEO consulting services

Finally, you might also choose to work with an SEO specialist who offers specialized SEO consulting services for your business model. 

Here are some examples:

  • Ecommerce SEO consulting: Ecommerce websites have slightly different on-page and off-page SEO needs. For example, optimizing product descriptions for SEO is a specific task. 
  • Enterprise SEO consulting: Enterprise-level businesses don’t typically need a lot of traffic, but the right traffic. 
  • Local SEO consulting: If you have a physical store or you deliver your services in one area, local SEO consulting will help you target customers in your area. 
  • Sales-funnel SEO consulting: This service is specifically designed to generate leads for your sales funnel. 

Now you know what SEO services look like. 

But is now the right time to invest in SEO? Let’s find out.

How much does an SEO consultant cost? 

What do SEO consultants cost? Prices range from: 

$500-$1,500 per month: A low-priced consultant charges anywhere between a few hundred to low four figures. Don’t expect too much for this price – mainly monitoring and a bit of content. 

$2,000-$5,000 per month: This price point can help you get started with SEO. However, you won’t get scalable results. You’ll get monitoring, some content, link building, and technical support at this price point. 

$5,000-$9,000 per month: This price range is enough for you to start seeing better results. You’ll likely be able to add on six to multiple six figures in sales. 

$10,000+ per month: When you invest five figures or higher, you can expect significant results. This price point will help SEOs scale your content production and link building. 

So, now you know what an SEO costs. But when should you think about hiring one? Let’s take a look. 

When should you hire an SEO consultant? 

When is the right time to hire an SEO consultant? The top reasons are: 

1. You want to get started with SEO 

If you haven’t done any SEO work but want to get started, hiring an SEO consultant can help you get it right from the start. 

Ultimately, SEO can help you diversify your traffic sources and create a more sustainable business. After all, SEO isn’t like social media where your results depend on how much content you churn out every day or ads that require that you pay for your traffic. 

SEO is also a more profitable marketing strategy than many other strategies. And it can help you sell your business at some point as SEO tends to improve business valuations. 

2. You want to scale your business

Another reason to hire an SEO is to scale your business. Ultimately, SEO is one of the most scalable and profitable traffic sources. 

However, to truly scale, you’re looking at a five-figure monthly investment. A four-figure monthly investment can help you get started, but to scale, your SEO consultant needs to publish a good amount of content every month (at least 10 articles a month). 

3. Your website traffic has stalled 

The next reason for hiring an SEO? 

If you’ve been doing SEO but your traffic has stalled and you don’t know or don’t have time to fix it. 

You see, SEO consultants can help you get results much faster than if you do it on your own, especially if they work with different clients and are constantly learning new strategies. 

4. You’re redesigning or significantly changing your website 

Redesigns, migrations, and changing your domain can impact your SEO. If you don’t have the right support now, getting an SEO consultant to help you through your website update can save you traffic and ensure growth afterwards.

Of course, if you’re a relatively new business owner, you don’t necessarily have the budget to do either of these. In that case, start doing your own SEO. 

I talk more about it in this short video: 

How do you choose an SEO consultant? 

Now, let’s take a look at how you can find the right SEO consultant. You see, there are a few things to look for when hiring an SEO. These are: 

Strategy 

What type of strategy does your SEO consultant promote? 

Have they used that strategy before to get results? 

The strategy should also be tailored to where your business is and your goals.

If you’re just getting started, SEO work starts with building your authority – in other words, publishing a bit of content and starting to build your brand. 

But if you want to scale, you most likely need a scalable content and PR strategy. 

Another question is: 

Do they implement the strategy, too? 

If they just offer consulting, you need people on your team with expertise to implement their strategy. 

Finally, the one thing to look out for are “black hat” strategies. These are spammy strategies that are prohibited in most search engine user guidelines. For example, buying links or using spammy keyword tactics. 

These strategies can sometimes help you get fast results – but your website might get banned and lose all its traffic. Overall, “white hat” strategies (strategies that are allowed by search engines) are a much better option for long-term growth. 

You can read more about Google’s spam policies here

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Expectations and goals 

What types of metrics do SEO consultants focus on? 

Traffic and rankings are important – but they can become “vanity metrics” if SEOs focus too much on them. 

Ultimately, you probably want to increase sales so a solid SEO strategy focuses on leads and sales. (Or whatever your end goal is.) 

And to get more sales, SEOs need to build targeted traffic that brings in clients. 

Also, you want to ensure you’re aligned with your expectations. What expectations and goals do they set? 

No SEO consultant can promise a specific number of website visitors within a set time period, but you’ll want high-level metrics based on their experience. 

Which brings us to…

Experience 

Does the SEO specialist have experience with your type of business? If not and they haven’t worked with businesses that are of a similar size or with the same type of business model, they are going to have a learning curve. 

You can check their experience by asking for testimonials and results.  

Reporting 

How does the SEO consultant track results every month? And what types of metrics do they track? 

How closely will they work with you to solve issues, like growth plateaus or sales slowdowns? 

Budget 

What is your budget? 

Most freelancers and consultants charge at least $1,000-$5,000 per month. 

And most agencies typically charge at least $5,000 per month. And if you want to scale, then the minimum investment tends to be closer to $10,000. 

If your budget is closer to $1,000 per month, you won’t get a lot of results, and you’re better off doing SEO on your own. 

For example, my self-study course Clients Come to Me teaches business owners how to do SEO on their own – including how to hire the right people to do the work for them. Learn more about it here

How do you hire SEO consultants for your business? 

To hire the best SEO consultant for your business, you need to:

  • Clarify goals and expectations
  • Decide on a budget 
  • Start your search
  • Connect with the consultant
  • Request a proposal 

Let’s dive into each step in detail.

Clarify goals and expectations

Before you start looking for the right SEO consultant for your business, you need to understand your own goals. 

Think about:

  • What is the primary outcome you expect from investing in SEO?
  • What do you want to achieve? 
  • What role does SEO play in your broader marketing strategy?
  • For how long are you willing to invest in SEO consulting? 

A good SEO consultant will help refine your goals. For example, if you want to increase your traffic by 20%, they can help identify a realistic timeframe for achieving that goal.

Decide on a budget 

After figuring out your goals, you need to set a realistic budget. 

SEO consulting services can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000+ per month depending on the size of your business and the services you require. 

For example, if you just want regular SEO auditing but you’ll handle content creation in-house, this will probably cost less than a full SEO content strategy and implementation service.

To start, figure out:

  • What’s your budget? 
  • How much time are you willing to invest? 

As a ballpark, choose a $5,000 service for new businesses and $10,000 if you’re looking to scale. However, note that most SEO investments take at least six months before you see an ROI on your investment. 

Start your search

Where should you look for SEO consultants? 

There are a few strategies you can use: 

  • Online search: Find consultants using search – good SEO consultants know how to make their websites findable in search results. 
  • Your network: Ask around in your network to see if someone’s worked with an SEO they can recommend. 
  • LinkedIn and other social media: Look for people on your social media feeds. 
  • Podcasts: Listen to podcasts and see if you can find the right person that way. 
  • Upwork and Indeed: Search for consultants on platforms like Upwork or post a job ad on Indeed. 

Connect with consultants

Next, contact potential partners and figure out how they work with their clients. 

Most importantly, communicate your expectations and ask them what goals they can realistically set for you and what strategies they’ll use. 

If you want to scale, look for a consultant who can implement high-volume content production and PR. But if you just want to get started, then look for someone who can build your authority fast with a few blog posts per month and a bit of PR. 

Request a proposal 

After discussing your goals, timeframes, budget, and expectations, request a proposal from your shortlisted SEO consultants. And once you’ve selected the consultant you’ll work with, you’re good to go. 

Is SEO consulting worth it? 

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of businesses make is to have upfront expectations that don’t match with how SEO works. 

SEO takes time to build up – this is not a strategy similar to paid advertising that you can turn on and off. Instead, building up SEO can take months depending on your strategy, budget, and how new your website is. 

For example, the marketing agency I co-own, Zalstrom, has helped clients get a 4-5X ROI in a few months thanks to having a robust website in place. At the same time, other businesses wait six months or more to get an ROI because their website is brand new. 

If you just want to dip your toes and don’t have strict expectations on ROI, then a budget of $1,000-$1,500 per month can work. In that case, you’d work with a newer freelancer who does a lot of the work themselves. 

But if you want more robust results, you’re looking at an investment of at least $4,000 per month. 

And if you’re looking to scale, expect to invest $10,000 and more per month. 

The best SEO consulting services 

Finally, what are the best SEO consulting services? Here are three of the best options: 

Zalstrom

Full disclosure: I co-own Zalstrom. However, I invested in the agency after I myself had been looking for an SEO consultant. And after just two years, SEO was already bringing in multiple six figures to my business. Our results continue to stack up: 

Screenshot of website traffic growth

We work with service-based businesses like coaches and consultants, as well as course creators and software businesses. Our goal is to help you get to 4x ROI and then grow from there. 

Our plans start from $4,000 per month. 

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WebFX 

(Disclosure: I haven’t worked with this agency and my recommendations are based on online reviews and information.) 

WebFX offers ecommerce SEO, as well as other digital marketing services. WebFX’s services start from $2,500 per month. 

NP Digital 

(Disclosure: I haven’t worked with this agency and my recommendations are based on online reviews and information.) 

NP Digital was founded by Neil Patel, who has been in the SEO industry for years. This agency works mainly with bigger enterprise clients. Pricing on request. 

Next steps 

There you have it! 

Now you know what SEO consulting services are – and how to find the right consultant.

SEO can be an incredibly profitable and scalable strategy…but to get the best results, you need the best support.

If you want to hire an agency, we can help – take a look at Zalstrom’s services here. 

And if you want to do SEO on your own, learn more about how to attract clients to you…every day. 

Read more:

Top Reasons Why You Should Invest in SEO

How to Increase Organic Traffic

What is Organic Traffic? (And How to Grow It)

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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