Hiring freelancers has always been an effective way to reduce your SEO and Inbound Marketing operation cost. There are tons of talented SEOs, bloggers, link builders, virtual assistants, and internet marketing freelancers out there whom you can hire (such as yours truly), but hiring a freelancer for Inbound Marketing may not be as simple as you think. It can actually be as hard as finding a needle in a haystack.
Freelancer.com, one of the largest freelancing websites in the world hosts more than 3.6M freelancers as of this writing. Including those in other sites will give you tens of millions of freelancers worldwide. Now how would you select the freelancer that can work on your project? How can you effectively hire a freelancer for your SEO or Social Media campaign? Let me help you find out.
English is of course important, but more than that is the use of proper words: lingo, industry terms, jargons and what not. I am an advocate of accuracy when it comes to meaning. You can blame it on my writing roots but the first sign of expertise in my opinion means knowing which term to use in a professional conversation.
Search and social evolves so fast that a month-long diet from SEO and Marketing news feeds would render you malnourished and incompetent in an instant. Needless to say this industry involves the latest technology, and when we talk of technology, it involves the terms Future and Next; not Past and Last. And if you want your site to be up or First, you’re going to hire an SEO who knows the Latest.
SEO and Marketing is a very exciting industry. Part of what makes it exciting is the fact that different professionals and individuals may have different opinions and views of what works and what does not; of what’s a fact and what’s a myth. The idea is that the freelancer must be competent enough to know the most relevant and up to date information on the matter.
SEO and Inbound Marketing aren’t for the newbies. Don’t get me wrong, people need to start somewhere, but that starting point can’t include strategizing a whole campaign to rank for a competitive keyword and drive leads via different marketing channels. Some SEO legworks however can be done even by those with little experience, like simple submissions and the likes. There are tons of ways to make money as a freelancer and freelancer you are looking for should have already done something in the past.
If the freelancer has already done real work, then there should be feedbacks about his work. How is he as professional? How do his former employees find him? What observers and community members think of his ideas, his blog perhaps and his forum reputation? Has he shared SEO tips, information and strategies to the public? Has he given something back to the community? The old mantra “you can’t teach what you don’t know” can help you gauge if the freelancer you’re eyeing knows something.
Universities do not offer BS SEO course last time I checked, so you can’t really have someone literally schooled on the field. What you can have however are professionals who have education, talent and work experience that will comprise a competitive and future proof SEO: and that includes writing, marketing and SEO skills.
Creativity is one of the most powerful traits that separate genius from well, the not. SEO and Inbound Marketing isn’t an exception. What you need is not just a technical person but also a creative one; one who can see opportunities beyond numbers; who can visualize brilliance beyond norms; who can come up with something viral from otherwise boring content; and who can twist and tweak old tactics to make it completely something new, engaging and more scalable.
Conversation is another important aspect. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If he can’t explain the concept or idea it means he doesn’t understand it. If he treats you without professional respect, consider the same will be done to your business/project.
Both the freelancer and employer should have some form of assurance. Yes, the employer can lose money and the freelancer can lose both time and money. Balancing the two sides can be tricky. Of course, stories of scammers ripping off freelancers are fairly common, but that is another story. For employers, having a PAID test or trial run is a good way to test the waters. Now focus on the paid part. Remember what Joker said: If you’re good at something, never do it for free. Freelancers who are willing to do things for free aren’t good for your business – and you don’t want something like that to get a hold of your eggs.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure, so here are a few metrics that your freelancer can offer you to gauge the success of your campaigns:
Of course, any negative of what I mentioned above plus these things:
In case you’re wondering who Matt Cutts is, check his blog. Knowing that guy means you have a slight idea (at the very least) of what Google wants. The guy can sometimes give hints as to the direction and standards of Google about optimization and web in general, even before they officially announce it.
You should know the basics when you’re hiring someone, and that someone should know far more than the basics. But with SEO and marketing being not an exact science, a lot of concepts and practices are subjected to long and tedious process of non-resolvable debates. Now what does that mean to your hiring of freelancers? Your freelancer should know a lot: the standards, the globally accepted concepts, strategies and ideas – at the very least.
SEO campaigns cannot be marketed in packages. It is not a tangible product where you can pack in 1 ton of optimization, 300 kilograms of viral content and 12.4 grams of leads. Any freelancer who thinks that SEO campaigns can be boxed into packages is doing things wrongly.
SQL injection, invisible texts and links, cloaked pages – these are just some of the most common totally illegal SEO tricks that a many people unfortunately still do. Stay away from them because those SEO strategies will do more harm to your business and reputation than good. Find a freelancer who knows these things, but doesn’t do it.
In the real world, you don’t exist if you don’t have a birth certificate. In the online world, you don’t exist if you don’t have a social media profile (or professional blog/site/page). The absence of which can mean the guy you’re eying is a shady being that hides in aliases similar to how crooks operate. Remember this: you’re hiring a freelance SEO, not a ninja or an assassin, heck even some assassins have a real profile.
I have encountered contracts that ties down both parties to years. I’m not talking about a year which is my opinion is still okay. I’m talking about 2 or more years of freelancing contract. Contracts should be there to secure both parties and to lay down terms and agreement of roles and responsibilities for a more productive arrangement – not to tether down the freelancer of employer for any kind of growth.
This is the biggest irony of all. SEOs that can’t get ranked themselves well enough that they instead decided to get leads and visitors via Pay Per Clicks. SEO and PPC should go hand in hand for maximum exposure but it’s just incredibly wrong and preposterous to see freelancers or SEO agencies 100% relying on PPC for lead generation.
If your SEO works to build links instead of to earn links, then he’s doing it wrong. Danny Sullivan made a very good post about this idea, and to state it bluntly, I couldn’t agree more.
Any SEO who would tell you that in order to get ranked you only need to have good quality content is the biggest BS on the Internet. Why? Because that is synonymous to saying that e-commerce website or any website that doesn’t bank on “good quality content” as its main feature and unique selling point has no right and chance to rank at all. That is synonymous to saying that the billion dollar patented Google algorithm of ranking websites is equivalent to a high school’s criteria of what makes a good essay. And worst, that freelance SEO is telling you not to hire him but to hire a copywriter (solely) instead.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO isn’t just all about improving the rank of websites in search engines. I believe that SEO is a part of a more holistic approach to increase traffic, conversion and sales. It’s also a way to improve a product’s branding while bringing social awareness to a website. And while I believe in the division of labor for specialization; it will certainly not hurt if your SEO knows things that are gravely related to his expertise. After all, no science or any discipline of study will advance without the help of its neighboring fields.