For small businesses and entrepreneurs on a tight budget, outsourcing SEO to a freelancer (or freelance team) may seem like an affordable solution for improving search engine rankings without breaking the bank.
But the lure of “affordable” SEO can backfire.
How can you be sure that you’re hiring a reputable SEO expert and not a fly-by-night group that cares more about cashing a few quick checks than being a long-term SEO partner? While there are many genuinely knowledgeable and fantastic SEO freelancer experts, the wrong one could not only hurt your business’s reputation but also sink your website’s search engine ranking. Read on to learn how to identify the three biggest red flags for when outsourcing SEO and how to find a qualified freelance team to get the job done right the first time.
Watch Out for Cheap SEO: 3 Reasons Why Outsourcing SEO Can Cost You Big Time
Low-quality link building triggers a Google penalty.
Genuine, high-quality link building has never been more important. In order for our business to thrive online (and to simultaneously raise your reputation as an industry expert), your SEO freelancer will need to understand how to implement high-quality link building campaigns. Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from websites other than your own.
In short, as you gain more, high-quality links referring traffic back to your website, then these links are also sending Google a signal that your website is an authority on a specific subject. In short, the more high-quality sites link back to yours, the higher your site will rank. But building high-quality links takes time, and for $100/month, it’s highly unlikely your budget SEO solution is doing anything more than spamming the Internet with low-quality links. These links can trigger a Google penalty and ultimately set back your SEO efforts.
Keyword content is written for machines, not readers.
Keyword research can be complicated and time-consuming, and finding someone else to deal with this mess can be a huge relief. However, be careful when outsourcing keyword research and content production. Just about anyone can use Google Keyword Planner to research top-performing keyword phrases.
If your freelancer doesn’t have a good grasp of your industry, however, he or she will lack the context to understand which phrases will truly be most relevant for your target audience. Worse, your freelancer won’t understand how to naturally integrate these phrases into your content. The result: awkwardly written content that fails to resonate with your target audience, or worse, it’s stuffed with keywords and manipulative links.
You know more about SEO trends than your freelancer.
A gap in freelancer knowledge can lead to serious problems. For example, with Google’s continued move towards semantic search, “structured data markup” for content promotion became the buzzword du jour for SEO specialists last year. Basic structured data can enhance your website’s placement in search results with Rich Snippets, Breadcrumbs, and a SiteLinks search box, while also making it easier for content from your site to be part of Google’s Knowledge Graph.
That said, Google has also been very clear that structured data does not actually affect search rankings, so too much emphasis on structure data (at the exclusion of other SEO strategies that do make a difference) could backfire. The same goes for local SEO efforts. Organic search results are no longer displayed above local pack results, a change that’s led to a major shift in local SEO strategy. The world of SEO is constantly changing; hire a freelance strategist who’s not up to date on these changes and you could end up with an SEO strategy that’s stuck in 2012.
How to Find Freelance SEO Experts
When it comes to SEO, you get what you pay for. Go cheap now, and you could end up paying just as much with link audits and cleanup efforts to undo the damage done by low-quality SEO. That said, there are thousands of knowledgeable freelancers who are passionate about building a mutually beneficial relationship with your business for long-term SEO success.
There are more than 53 million freelancers in the United States and with half of these freelancers earning between $20 to $59 per hour, it’s certainly possible to find a freelance SEO expert that’s still affordable for your business. Freelancer job boards and sites like UpWork can connect you with hundreds of SEO experts. Take the time to browse their profiles and read customer/client reviews to be sure they have the proven skill set you need.
Great SEO takes time; you can’t ascend to the top of Google’s search results page overnight– and you should run far away from any freelancer who promises overnight results. Don’t be afraid to test out a few different freelancers before settling on the right one for your business.
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