Search engine optimization (SEO) is a lucrative digital marketing skill. More businesses need SEO services to drive growth. But how exactly can you monetize your SEO skills and get paid as a practitioner?
This comprehensive guide covers different options for getting paid for doing SEO work in 2023, even as a complete beginner.
Why Businesses Need SEO Experts
SEO refers to optimizing websites to rank higher in search engines like Google. Higher visibility in search results leads to more organic traffic, customers, and revenue for businesses.
As more buying activity shifts online, companies are realizing the importance of SEO for sustainable growth:
- 91% of web traffic is driven by search engines
- 75% of users never scroll past page one in search
- Higher rankings can 2-10x a business’s revenues
However, many companies don’t have skilled in-house SEO experts. The demand for SEO services outweighs the supply of qualified providers.
This creates an opportunity for those who do understand SEO to offer their services and get paid well. Businesses are hungry for SEO expertise.
You might wonder – how can I start getting paid for doing SEO work as a beginner? This guide will explore several options.
How Much Does SEO Pay on Average?
SEO practitioner is a highly lucrative career path. Here are some average SEO salary stats according to Payscale:
- Entry-level SEO salaries range from $45k – $65k per year
- SEOs with 5-10 years experience make $65k – $115k on average
- Senior SEO managers can earn over $130k annually
Experienced freelance SEO experts often charge $80-$150 per hour or higher based on demand.
SEO definitely pays well for the skills and effort required. But how much you earn depends on your role, experience, clients, and whether you work as an employee or contractor.
Now let’s explore different ways you can get paid to do SEO work even as a beginner.
Get Hired as an In-House SEO Expert
Many brands, agencies and software companies hire dedicated in-house SEO specialists for their organic search teams.
Common in-house SEO job titles include:
- SEO Manager
- SEO Analyst
- Content Strategist
- Technical SEO Engineer
- Link Building Specialist
Each role focuses on specific SEO tasks while collaborating closely with content, marketing, and dev teams.
Here are some benefits of getting hired for in-house SEO roles:
- Stable full-time income with benefits
- Structure of set work hours and expectations
- Mentorship and training opportunities
- Exposure to complete SEO planning and execution
However, landing an in-house SEO job usually requires proven experience from past roles or results from personal sites/projects. Most companies won’t take a chance on someone brand new to SEO.
You can make yourself an attractive in-house SEO candidate by:
- Getting Google certifications like the Google Analytics Certificate
- Establishing a portfolio highlighting SEO projects and successes
- Demonstrating fundamental SEO skills during interviews
- Networking through SEO conferences and online communities
In-house SEO jobs provide stability and growth potential for income over time.
Join an SEO Agency
SEO agencies offer a range of services to clients for monthly retainers and project fees. Common services include:
- Technical site audits
- Keyword research
- On-page optimization
- Local SEO
- Link building campaigns
- Content strategy and creation
- SEO performance analysis
SEO agencies need a team of specialists with varied skills to serve different clients:
- SEO account managers handle client relationships and planning.
- SEO writers create optimized content.
- Link building experts land placements and manage outreach.
- Technical SEO auditors assess site performance.
- Graphic designers produce infographics and visual assets.
- Paid search ads managers handle PPC and shopping ads.
While agency roles require some directly relevant experience, they are often more open to training motivated beginners compared to in-house teams. You can start as an associate and work your way up.
Agency work provides SEO experience across different sites and verticals. However, accounts and priorities change rapidly. The work-life balance may be lacking at some shops as well.
Offer SEO Freelancing Services
Freelance SEO experts are self-employed contractors who work with various clients. Common freelance SEO services include:
- SEO audits
- Keyword research
- On-page optimization
- Content creation
- Link building
- Monthly SEO plans and execution
The average hourly rate for experienced freelance SEOs is $80-$150/hour, but can reach $250+ per hour for in-demand experts.
Some pros of freelancing SEO services:
- Freedom and flexibility in your work schedule
- Choose your own clients and projects
- Broad experience optimizing many different websites
- High hourly income potential once established
However, the unstable income as a beginner and need to find your own clients makes getting started more difficult.
Tips for beginning SEO freelancing:
- Build a portfolio of client results and testimonials
- Offer discounted intro packages to first clients
- Focus on excellent client service and transparency
- Join freelance networks like FlexJobs or SolidGigs
- Leverage your network and SEO communities to find clients
Freelancing gives the freedom of working for yourself, but also requires sales, marketing and client relations skills.
Sell SEO as a Service Product
Some SEO experts package their services into a product offering sold to businesses on a monthly subscription basis.
For example, you could sell packages like:
- Local SEO service for targeting geographic keywords.
- Ecommerce SEO service with product/category optimization.
- Link building service focused just on securing backlinks.
Benefits of selling SEO services as a product include:
- More passive income once the process is systemized
- Ongoing retainer fees vs one-time projects
- Ability to scale revenue with more customers
- Clear packages that are easy to understand
Challenges to address:
- Initial work required to create the SEO service system
- Needs polished marketing and sales materials
- Managing customers and service delivery
- Competition against established providers
This model allows you to sell your offering while outsourcing some execution. But it takes effort to establish credibility and optimize your marketing.
Create Informational SEO Content
Publishing SEO advice content helps build your authority and visibility. Options include:
- Writing SEO tips on a blog
- Creating SEO courses to sell
- Launching SEO guides as ebooks
- Starting an SEO-focused YouTube channel, podcast, or newsletter
The goal is to share your knowledge while promoting your services. SEO content marketing establishes you as an expert.
Some tips for effective informational SEO content:
- Target keywords people search for advice on like “beginner SEO tips”
- Answer common SEO questions clearly
- Use a blog or videos to demonstrate your process and results
- Promote your content through SEO communities and outreach
- Use your content to funnel visitors to service offerings
The challenge is dedicating time consistently to create content worth sharing. But the brand visibility pays off.
Start Your Own SEO Affiliate Website
Some SEOs operate affiliate websites focused on reviewing tools and resources for an SEO audience.
For example, your website could review:
- SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, or SurferSEO
- Web hosting companies and website builders
- SEO books, courses, and education
- Keyword and competitive research resources
- Backlink analysis and link building tools
You then earn commissions through affiliate programs when visitors click from your reviews to sign up or purchase.
Pros of the affiliate model:
- Earn passive income from high-converting SEO offers once content is created
- Build a recognizable brand and audience in the SEO space
- Demonstrate your expertise with reviews and comparisons
- More scalable than 1-to-1 services models
Cons to note:
- Can take 6+ months to start seeing affiliate revenue
- Reliant on keeping content updated and promoting new articles
- Need significant traffic to earn high income (usually 10k+ visitors/month)
An SEO affiliate site takes diligence but pays off through passive revenue.
Provide SEO Consulting and Audits
Freelance consultants offer analysis and strategic advice as another route to make money with SEO skills, such as:
- SEO website audits with performance review/recommendations
- Competitive analysis comparing a site against top rivals
- Strategic planning consulting for SEO goal-setting
- Coaching and mentoring programs for business owners
Experienced SEOs can charge anywhere from $500 to $5,000+ for comprehensive audits and high-level strategy guidance.
SEO consulting services sell your strategic insights vs doing all the implementation work yourself. Benefits include:
- More flexible and less labor-intensive services to provide
- High per-project fees compared to hourly work
- Builds credibility through strategic expertise over tactics
- More passive income potential once established
This model fits those who enjoy big-picture strategy more than tactical execution and optimization.
Demand for skilled SEO services continues increasing as search becomes more important. This gives you an opportunity to get paid well for your expertise, even as beginner.
Options range from getting hired for in-house SEO roles to providing freelance services or selling your own SEO offerings as a productized service.
No matter which path you choose, focus first on deeply understanding SEO fundamentals. Establish a portfolio of successful projects and results for clients.
Promote your services through outreach, content marketing, and communities. Deliver tremendous value with transparency and care.
Then building an income from SEO work is just a matter of consistently providing results to satisfied clients and expanding your reach over time.
The search optimization space needs more qualified practitioners. Take steps today to start monetizing your SEO skills and get paid well to boost businesses’ organic growth.