Search Engine Optimization (SEO) offers an excellent opportunity to make money online. When done well, SEO can be a good source of passive or recurring income.
However, like any other business, starting an SEO business can be overwhelming, especially if you lack the right skills. Here we look at how you can develop a recurring income stream as an SEO expert.
Why SEO is a great way to make income
People looking to make money online have many options. Some popular ways to make money online include creating and growing an engaging website, building an e-commerce store, selling online courses, selling affiliate products and services, selling eBooks, etc.
However, starting any of these businesses is only the beginning—you need to attract traffic and generate leads to make money. This is where SEO comes in.
That said, you can make good revenue if you set up SEO as a service. The best thing about an SEO business is that it can be a great source of recurring revenue. After all, businesses require SEO services consistently to maintain their rankings on search engines and make sales.
Back to our question: Is SEO a great way to make income online? Yes, you can earn good revenue by setting SEO as a service. Types of SEO that can help make passive or recurring income include:
- Affiliate SEO – Affiliate SEO involves optimizing an affiliate website for SEO to increase traffic, generate leads, and make sales
- Client SEO – Client SEO involves providing SEO services to businesses and getting paid for them
- LeadGen SEO – LeadGen SEO involves improving a website’s ranking for individual web pages in search results (SERPs) to increase leads and revenue
- Rank and Rent SEO – The rank-and-rent model involves building a website, improving its rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs), and later renting it out
Steps to setting up SEO as a service
Here’s a practical guide to help set up your SEO service successfully:
Educate yourself on standard SEO practices
The first step to building a good SEO service is to learn SEO. People who skip this step end up with a half-baked venture and many unhappy clients. As such, you must take your time to learn SEO in detail before you set up your SEO business.
Some of the things to remember when learning SEO include:
- The goal of SEO
- Keyword research
- On-page and off-page optimization (know the difference)
- Identify user experience (UX) signals
- Creating SEO-friendly content
- Generating trusted, quality backlinks
The best part is that there are many online resources to help understand SEO best practices. Also, you don’t have to master everything to start offering SEO services. Once you understand the basics, you can start offering the services on your way to becoming an expert.
Create a website showcasing your service options
Learning SEO guides is only the beginning; you need hands-on experience. And what better way to gain SEO experience than try it on your own website? Ideally, creating your website allows you to apply what you’ve learned instead of using your clients’ websites as a testing ground.
Your business website need not be complicated—a simple but attractive website will do the trick. Also, create and post SEO content on your website to address common customer pain points.
Adding testimonials to your website is also an excellent way to showcase your expertise. However, it is unlikely you’ll have them if your business is new, so don’t let that stand in your way. Use tools such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics to analyze the results of your new site.
Outsource or in-house?
When creating your SEO service, you have two options: Building a team of in-house experts or working with established SEO experts outside your organization. Building an in-house team means establishing your expertise and training other staff members on matters of SEO. On the other hand, you can outsource the work to SEO experts.
SEO isn’t a one-off project. That means you need to continuously optimize your work to maintain rankings. To achieve this, you need to learn project management skills to manage tasks and your team.
Project management involves two crucial categories: Planning and fulfillment.
Planning: Planning forms the foundation of your SEO service. It involves research, evaluation, and strategy. In other words, planning helps get a clear direction of how to build your SEO campaigns.
Some of the critical things to include in your planning include competitive analysis, keyword research, content evaluation, and website audit.
Fulfillment: Fulfillment involves plan execution. More specifically, fulfillment involves implementing a well-thought strategy to get the most out of your SEO efforts. This can be delivering what you promised to clients or getting more revenue from your SEO business.
Find the right SEO tools
Now find a set of SEO tools to help in the process. Luckily, there are free tools to help streamline your workflow and get more time to do other important tasks.
These tools include:
- Google Search Console – helps understand how crawlers are navigating your site and which keywords could help drive more organic traffic
- Google Analytics – helps analyze site performance and traffic sources
- Google my Business – feeds Google with crucial information like physical location, operating hours, and phone number
Create your pricing model
There’s nothing as embarrassing as when prospects ask how much your SEO costs but can’t provide a good answer. While there’s not a single answer to this question, knowing the value of SEO will help give your prospects a more convincing answer.
To avoid confusion regarding pricing, we recommend you think about your pricing structure in the development stages. That said, here are three common pricing structures for SEO companies:
- Fixed: You may want to use this pricing structure in projects that involve various SEO work—keyword research, SEO consulting services, on-page optimization, web design services, etc.
- Hourly: This pricing structure is ideal for simple tasks such as website audits and keyword research
- Retainer: Once you’re established, you can put your clients on a retainer basis, depending on their budgets
SEO pricing goes beyond the SEO service cost; it presents your capability and the value your SEO services provide to clients. Research your competitors and prospects before quoting a price for your SEO services.
Market your SEO services
No one will trust your SEO services if you don’t have a robust digital presence. That’s why you need to improve your website SEO to show clients that you are good at what you say.
However, SEO is not the only way to market your SEO services. That said, here are ways to boost your online presence:
Inbound marketing is a great way to improve your online presence and attract SEO clients. Inbound practices involve different strategies that can help attract leads, including SEO, content marketing, social media, etc.
Automated social media: Businesses spend significant hours on social media per week. As such, you can ramp up your inbound efforts using social media. However, when using social media for your inbound services, you need to:
- Create your message according to user intent and the platform
- Join related social media groups such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Reddit groups to get ideas of what your audience is talking about
- Be human
Reviews: If you have great reviews, include them on your website for your prospects to see. Create great relationships with professionals and ask them to review your SEO company. Positive reviews will show that you’re reliable and adhere to great work ethics.
Relevant listings: Setting up your SEO service on Google My Business and other relevant listings can help improve your online presence. However, make sure that your business information is consistent across these sites, including your business name, address, and phone number.
Testing systems is one thing; make sure you document all your findings. Consider gathering positive reviews and creating case studies that will help showcase your SEO services. Always make a list of your clients’ goals anytime you sign up a new client and document their progress. Some of the crucial things to conclude in your case study include:
- The problem – what problem did the client want to be solved?
- The solution – what solution did you propose?
- The results – did the solution you offered provide the desired results?
- Testimonials – what’s the client’s experience working with you?
Scale your SEO business
Building a profitable SEO business won’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of time, effort, dedication, and testing various processes. As such, you may want to wait until when your business is generating significant income before scaling your business.
Of course, you can hire freelancers in your early stages, especially when things start gaining momentum. However, don’t hire full-time employees until when the business has enough revenue to sustain them.
That said, we recommend standardizing your offering or productizing your services if you want to scale your business. This way, it’ll become easier to deliver services to clients and hire more staff.
Like any other business, starting an SEO business can be overwhelming and confusing. However, if you are willing to learn and do the hard work, you can create a successful SEO business that will give recurring income.
While there are many ways to build a successful SEO business, the above steps will help set up a successful SEO service.