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What is an SEO Consultant?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become an invaluable strategy for businesses looking to improve their visibility and attract more qualified traffic to their websites. As search engines like Google become more advanced, optimizing your site to rank higher in search results has become more complex. This complexity has led to the rise of a specialized role – the SEO consultant.

SEO consultants are experts in the constantly changing world of search engine algorithms, regulations, and best practices. 

By auditing your current SEO tactics, developing data-driven strategies tailored to your business, and implementing optimization best practices, an experienced SEO consultant can help take your organic search visibility to the next level.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SEO consultants including:

  • What an SEO consultant is and their key responsibilities
  • When you should consider hiring an SEO consultant
  • Vital skills and expertise every consultant should have
  • An overview of common SEO tools used by consultants
  • Average SEO consultant salaries and rates
  • The benefits of partnering with an SEO pro

Let’s start at the beginning – what does an SEO consultant do?

What is an SEO Consultant?

An SEO consultant is an expert who is hired to optimize websites for higher rankings in search engines like Google. The primary responsibility of an SEO consultant is to analyze a website’s current SEO health, structure, and content, develop a strategic plan aimed at boosting organic search visibility, and then implement best practices and optimizations to move the needle.

Some key responsibilities of an SEO consultant typically include:

  • Performing SEO audits: Conducting in-depth technical and content audits on websites to identify strengths, weaknesses, issues, and areas for improvement.
  • Developing data-driven SEO strategies: Analyzing site and industry data to create custom, metrics-driven strategies tailored to the client’s business goals. Strategies aim to improve organic rankings, traffic, and leads.
  • Keyword research: Identifying high-value keywords aligned with the client’s offerings, competition, search demand, and optimization opportunities. This informs content creation and optimization activities.
  • On-page optimization: Optimizing elements like URL structures, title and meta tags, content structure, and internal linking to enhance the organic search visibility of key pages.
  • Off-page optimization: Building high-quality backlinks from authoritative domains to strengthen branding signals and earn trust from search engines.
  • Training: For select clients, consultants provide SEO training to get internal teams up to speed on best practices.
  • Reporting and analysis: Using data from sources like Google Analytics and Search Console to measure SEO impact, adjust strategies as needed, and report on KPIs.

Some consultants also specialize in technical SEO, local SEO, ecommerce SEO, and more. They have more expertise than typical in-house marketers focused across a range of disciplines. Let’s explore some top reasons to hire an SEO consultant next.

When Should You Hire an SEO Consultant? SEO Consultant

Wondering if your business could benefit from an SEO consultant? Here are some of the top situations where bringing a consultant on board can accelerate your organic search success:

You Lack In-House SEO Expertise

If you don’t have skilled SEO experts on your marketing team, hiring a consultant is one of the quickest ways to implement a successful SEO strategy. Consultants live and breathe organic search, giving them sharper technical expertise and knowledge of emerging optimization approaches.

Your Website is Underperforming

Has your traffic dropped? Are competitors ranking higher? An SEO consultant can audit your site to diagnose issues and improve organic KPIs through technical fixes, content optimizations, backlinks and more. Their external perspective sees problems you may have missed.

You Want to Grow Your Business

SEO can fuel serious business growth by connecting you to more qualified organic traffic. Consultants develop growth-oriented SEO plans tailored to your goals. Whether boosting lead gen, expanding locally or globally, or growing ecommerce revenue, they have strategies to get there.

You Are Revamping Your Website

Website redesigns, migrations or launches present a major SEO opportunity. Consultants ensure your new site’s information architecture, technical foundations and content are highly optimized for organic search – leading to higher visibility when you go live.

As you can see, consultants make an impact across a range of goals for all types and sizes of websites. Established sites can get a fresh perspective on growth, while new sites can build SEO into their digital foundations.

Essential Skills and Expertise for SEO Consultants

SEO Consultants

The most effective SEO consultants have a robust set of technical SEO skills combined with strategic abilities that help them move the needle for clients. Here are some of the vital areas of expertise every consultant should master:

In-Depth SEO Knowledge

Whether staying on top of Google’s intricate ranking factors or diagnosing problems preventing organic visibility, consultants need to intimately understand technical SEO. From site migrations to page speed optimization and more, strong SEO knowledge informs sound recommendations.

Understanding of Latest Ranking Algorithms

Google’s core ranking algorithm sees several updates per year, while supporting algorithms are constantly tweaked. Keeping pace with the latest developments allows consultants to identify new optimization opportunities to capitalize on.

Analytical Abilities

SEO is highly data-driven. Strong analysis skills empower consultants to extract actionable insights from sources like Google Analytics, Search Console, and third-party tools. They can connect how ranking shifts, new technical problems or content issues impact traffic and conversions.

Project Management Skills

Juggling SEO audits, strategic plans, content optimization, and technical fixes demands sharp project management abilities – especially when handling multiple clients. Tracking progress across long-running objectives spanning months or years is key.

Communication and Presentation Skills

Consultants must present SEO concepts, recommendations, and results to varied stakeholders like executives, marketers, and developers. Strong written and verbal communication tailored to each audience is vital for positioning the value of SEO investments.

This diverse balance of technical hard skills and soft skills helps consultants deliver tremendous value tailored to every client’s unique needs and objectives.

SEO Tools Consultants Use SEO Consultants

SEO consultants utilize a robust toolbox of software platforms and services to analyze websites, track keywords, research competitors, automate optimizations, and measure impact. Here are some of the most popular SEO tools in a consultant’s arsenal:


A leading SEO toolset, Ahrefs provides consultants with rich competitive data revealing the keywords, backlinks and traffic levels driving site visibility for target sites. This informs keyword research and link building strategies.


SEMrush builds detailed keyword, competitor and rank tracking profiles for sites. Consultants can benchmark clients against top industry sites and monitor the impact of ongoing optimization efforts through customisable reports and analytics.

Surfer SEO

Surfer helps streamline consultants’ workflows through its SEO audit, content planning, and writing assistance capabilities. The tool also centralizes competitive research data, backlink analysis, rank tracking and reporting.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

This desktop crawler creates detailed technical/on-page audits of entire sites, revealing issues blocking search engine accessibility that consultants can quickly fix. Ideal for site migrations.

Google Analytics

No consultant is complete without the rich behavior, acquisition and conversion data of Google Analytics. This critical source connects SEO efforts to site traffic gains and return on investment through goal tracking.

Leveraging tools like these improve the depth of analysis for developing high performance SEO plans while maximizing efficiency managing multiple client accounts. Next let’s explore average SEO consultant salaries and rates.

How Much Do SEO Consultants Charge?

SEO Consultants Charge

SEO consultants in the United States earn an average base pay of around $63,249 per year, with total compensation, including commissions and bonuses, averaging approximately $74,935 annually. Hourly rates vary between $80 and $200+, depending on expertise and the nature of services provided

However, here are some average earnings according to the latest market research:

Average SEO Consultant Salaries

According to Glassdoor data, the average base pay for SEO consultants in the United States is approximately $63,249 per year. With additional cash compensation averaging $11,686 yearly from commissions, profit-sharing or bonuses, total pay averages around $74,935 annually.

However, consultants working in technical/IT services command higher base salaries averaging $83,063 per year. Those at media/marketing agencies see average base pays of $69,136.

Hourly Rates

Many consultants work on retainer contracts spanning months or charge by the hour. Hourly rates typically range from $80 to $200+ based on expertise, past results and types of services offered. Site audits, link building and optimization tasks may fall at the lower end, while extensive growth strategies or proposal development can command higher rates.

Cost Saving Tips

Full-scale long-term engagements with consultants can become costly. Here are tips for controlling costs:

  • Hire for specific projects rather than open-ended contracts
  • Train in-house staff to handle simpler optimizations
  • Meet quarterly/biannually to review strategies rather than weekly
  • Ask about discounts for upfront 3, 6 or 12 month payments
  • Compare multiple proposal costs estimates before selecting

Getting the most SEO impact for your budget is key – and an experienced consultant will offer pricing and packages tailored to your needs.

Now that we’ve covered SEO consultant basics, let’s wrap up with some of the great benefits they offer businesses like yours.

Key Benefits of Hiring an SEO Consultant SEO Consultant

Here are some of the major perks experienced SEO consultants offer businesses looking to improve organic search visibility, website traffic, leads, and revenue:

Objective Audit of Current Efforts

A qualified consultant provides an unbiased, data-driven audit identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your current SEO approach. This gives you an accurate starting point for future strategies rather than guesswork.

Custom Strategic Plan for Growth

Generic SEO advice lacks relevance to your niche, competitors, business model and goals. An expert consultant can develop a customized blueprint to match your unique situation and objectives.

Increased Organic Traffic

More organic search traffic equals more brand exposure and revenue opportunities. The proven strategies of an SEO pro can elevate you above competitors to capture traffic they currently own.

Improved Conversions

Beyond boosting traffic, consultants optimize landing pages for higher conversion rates. This means more Form fills, ecommerce purchases, content downloads and other desired actions per visitor.

Stronger Brand Authority

High search rankings and keyword visibility reinforce your brand as an industry leader in the minds of searchers. Established authority perception fuels exponential growth.

While hiring an SEO consultant does require a financial investment, the ROI can quickly eclipse costs through increased profits – especially for higher-value products and services.


Optimizing a website for maximum search engine exposure and traffic requires in-depth technical expertise, strategic planning, and unwavering commitment to stay ahead of Google’s ever-evolving algorithm. While some businesses succeed with in-house SEO teams, others find the most efficient path forward is partnering with an experienced SEO consultant.

As we’ve covered in this guide, knowledgeable consultants offer a targeted audit of current efforts, development of a customized strategy aligned to your goals, efficient implementation leveraging best-in-class tools, and unbiased tracking of SEO results. These expanding services can provide tremendous value for organizations lacking specialized in-house resources.

Additionally, the continuous innovations happening in organic search demand flexibility to pivot efforts quickly and capitalize on new opportunities – which consultants make more seamless. Their perspectives may uncover blindspots impeding performance.

For small and large businesses alike pursuing growth, employing the expertise of a proven SEO consultant can accelerate positive outcomes from your investment in online visibility. Their mastery of technical and strategic optimization gives your website the best chance of outranking competitors now and into the future.

Does your business need help improving search engine rankings, traffic and revenue? Now that you understand the value SEO consultants provide through their technical abilities, analytical skills and custom strategies, you can better evaluate experts to potentially work with to hit your growth goals.

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