The SEO industry is changing rapidly, there are new directions and services that numerous articles and studies are devoted to, etc. At the same time, when it comes to performers, they mostly talk about SEO companies and agencies, forgetting about freelancing. Why it happens?

SEOnews surveyed SEO freelancing and blogging to find out how they see the future of the industry.

Survey participants:

Evgeny Nesterov, Sochi, 8 years experience;
Sergey iSEO, Minsk, work experience 8 years;
Ivan Papus, Kiev, experience of 5 years;
Artem Isaev, Kazan, work experience 3.5 years;
Ilya Rusakov, Vladimir, 7 years experience.

1. What is the forecast for the development of SEO-freelancing in 2014 you can give?

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): Only positive. Not all owners of ecommerce projects use the services of SEO companies. Some of them rather stably prefer as a performer only a freelancer. And as usual, they are looking for a professional. 🙂
And since the Internet is becoming more and more popular, and every year the number of business owners in it grows, the number of people willing to use the services of SEO-freelancers will grow (and this is very noticeable lately). Therefore, the forecast is extremely positive, even despite changes in search engine algorithms. How many will be the site and the search engine, so there will be SEO-freelance.

Sergey iSEO (Minsk): In connection with the tightening of the Google and Yandex search engines, I think the most competent optimizers will remain on the market, who were able to analyze the algorithms and restructure the promotion for the new ranking conditions to get high results. My opinion is that the number of realistically working freelancers optimizers will decrease from year to year until the most experienced and professional remain.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): It is difficult to predict anything. My opinion is that people who have sufficient work experience, a wide portfolio, a number of recommendations from customers will have the opportunity to work in the face of constantly complicating conditions, toughening search engine filters for search spam, site requirements, etc.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): Timid conversations, which began about 2 years ago, that SEO will have to drift towards SEM, at the end of the year they took shape and were confirmed by all experts. And this already dictates a completely different amount and quality of work necessary to achieve serious results. It is precisely the competitiveness of the niche that will become the fork where the approaches to work begin to diverge. All this can seriously change the structure of the work of SEO-freelancer.

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): In my opinion, the market will be carved by “pseudo-optimizers” that promise customers a position and at the same time do nothing. Now many agencies do this, and it will be more and more difficult to travel with the client’s credulity. The client grows wiser every year; it is also necessary for freelancers to grow wiser and to offer high-quality promotion work.

CONCLUSION: As can be seen, almost all respondents believe that there is a tendency on the market to force out incompetent SEO specialists. But for literate, well-established specialists, the outlook is positive.

2. What awaits the average freelancers in a merger of companies in a full-cycle agency?

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): It depends on what the client needs in each particular case. Does he need this full cycle, or does he need one thing (SEO, Context or SMO). It often happens that you only need SEO, and the output of hundreds of targeted MF and LF in the TOP 3. Then the rest of the directions disappear, and the client is looking only for an SEO freelancer on his own selection criteria. If the client needs everything, then, naturally, it is much more convenient for him to order everything from a full-cycle company, and not to have three freelancers of different specializations. But in this case, obviously, the issue has been resolved so far only from the side of convenience. The total cost of the service and its conversion can vary greatly in different cases.

Sergey iSEO (Minsk): I can’t say for everyone, but I have 70 percent of clients who used the services of the most famous SEO companies in the market and were not satisfied as a result, as not everyone is happy with the approach to the client on the streaming method, and The quality of SEO services often leaves much to be desired. I am sure that a competent optimizer will not go to work for a company, and, therefore, not the most highly qualified specialists for the most part work in companies. There are super-pros, but they are busy, and the average client is always given to the staff optimizer, communication is directly excluded, only through the operator, and this is a “deaf phone”. In general, for myself I do not see any problems due to the merger and consolidation of companies.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): The average freelancer is probably looking for clients on his own. If this becomes complicated due to the fact that the majority will prefer large companies, it will be very difficult for many freelancers. Again, it is likely that the salvation will be the fact that there is a customer base, people will continue to apply for recommendations. However, it will be very difficult to compete with agencies offering reasonable prices and a full range of jobs that a freelancer cannot offer.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): Most likely, good projects will become less accessible, and freelancers who work according to the “a little internal and reference” scheme and cannot do anything else will have a hard time (like similar offices).

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): Freelancers also need to offer a range of services. In modern realities, it is becoming more and more difficult to bring potential customers only from the search – you need traffic from other sources. And you should not stop at a certain volume of visits, you need to achieve high conversions and sales for the client (that is, you need detailed analytics and work on the site itself). In this case, the freelancer will always be in demand.

CONCLUSION: Opinions on this issue are divided. Some of the respondents believe that hard times will come for specialists of the “middle arm” and that in order to attract clients, they will have to put more effort than before. Others look at things more optimistically and argue that experience, competence and a good portfolio will allow even the “non-top” freelancer to stay afloat.

3. What changes will occur in the work of well-known, well-proven SEO-specialists?

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): In the light of the constant increase in demand for SEO, good specialists and their profits will only grow and flourish.

Sergey iSEO (Minsk): I can’t say for other specialists, I chose one topic for myself – I don’t provide any services to promote websites in Russia and abroad, but I try to do what I’m doing excellently. As a result, many customers bring their friends to promote.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): I think that well-known and experienced specialists will always have their clients. It all depends on the freelancer – he will make the choice to get a large company for a certain position, or he will continue to work independently. For example, I have repeatedly received offers from various SEO companies and marketing agencies, but they cannot offer a salary that at least 70–80% corresponded to real profits that I get as a freelancer, working for myself and managing my time. Usually, this is a salary of about 30–40% of current income + strict work schedule, ongoing monitoring and strict requirements, which, for example, does not suit me, although many will be willing to work under such conditions, and then everyone makes a choice for himself, because work the company probably provides guarantees of permanent employment, which cannot be said about the “free” activity of a freelancer.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): Well-known experts always have a lot of work, and, most likely, the changes that take place will not affect them.

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): If they continue to grow with the market, then none. Good experts have long worked in the complex on the sites and know how and thanks to which sources you can achieve a positive result.

CONCLUSION: Respondents were unanimous in this matter. All respondents believe that well-known freelancers will be able to withstand competition with the growing market for SEO companies.

4. Will the specialization of freelancers in a particular area remain or will they increase competence and begin to carry out comprehensive promotion work? Or maybe the future belongs to freelancers’ artels

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): Depends on the specific specialization of the freelancer and his earnings requirements. In the case of SEO (especially in the light of the latest statements by Yandex about the cancellation of the link), if the link is completely turned off, then the SEO freelancers, like the SEO companies, are freed up a large amount of time / people involved in fine link ranking processes. It would be foolish to simply not use this time or dismiss these people without trying to retrain them in a specialization that is not yet offered by a company or freelancer. And first of all, it is about social factors. After all, after Yandex stops taking external links into account, it is quite obvious that even more attention will be paid to social factors, and new relevant metrics will appear (or have already appeared) in the search engine algorithm to recognize their artificial cheat.

Sergey i-SEO (Minsk): I don’t think it makes sense to spray on an integrated approach, there are companies for that, who need it – they will always find the whole complex. For a freelancer, quality is important, and doing everything at the highest level is impossible, it remains to do one thing, but so that the level is higher than in any company. Mostly customers who come to freelancers are looking for lower prices or higher quality than companies. And the fact that this is a narrow specialization, advancement and nothing more has not stopped anyone yet.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): I can say about myself that throughout the entire period of activity as a freelancer, I have to master all new areas and try myself as an analyst, marketer, copywriter, content manager, manager, translator, in addition to the main direction of SEO-specialist . But now it’s impossible to work alone, you have to work in a team with other specialists.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): There has always been specialization in the freelancing market, and it will remain. This is certainly an option, but less serious and long-term projects cannot afford to be scattered on constant searches, negotiations, clarification of TK, etc., for a large number of performers, it is simply unprofitable and unrealistic. The idea of ​​knitting together some “artels” for a project, distributing roles and specialization inside among narrow specialists, while I see it difficult to implement, because there may be difficulties and contradictions in the design itself. Of course, some fragmented things have existed for a long time. In part, I already have to use them, outsourcing copywriting, SMO, SMM and routine layout. But to put such a scheme on a serious basis and flow – in fact, turn into an SEO firm, competing only at the expense of lower costs.

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): Definitely, that narrow specialists will remain, for example, in contextual advertising or SMM. If you take contextual advertising and, in particular, Ya.Direkt, many topics in it are already overheated, and even the pro will often be difficult to achieve self-sustainability of this channel. Ideally, you need to find less competitive sources and work in the complex. It is easier for freelancers and more efficient for customers. As for the “artels”, I’m not sure, but rather from the realm of fantasy. First of all, it will be difficult for real specialists to unite, somebody will provide “not quite” quality services. Secondly, there must be a person in charge of the organization, otherwise chaos and confusion may appear. And in the case of the organizing link, this is more like an agency with remote employees.

CONCLUSION: Very controversial opinions were expressed on this issue. On the one hand, the freelancer now needs a wide range of services that he cannot provide alone, and therefore has to cooperate with someone. At the same time, such cooperation cannot be called group work or association, because often this does not work on a permanent basis. On the other hand, narrow specialists always exist in any industry, and their services remain in demand no matter what.

5. What is the average salary level of a freelancer.

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): Everything here directly depends on the level of knowledge and experience of the freelancer himself, as well as on his popularity. The numbers can be very different. 50–100–150–200 thousand rubles per month or more.

Sergey iSEO (Minsk): Different specializations, different and pay, someone $ 100, someone $ 20,000, there is no average payment here. This is how to measure the average temperature in a hospital.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): I can not speak for everyone, I think there are statistics and polls for this, I can say for myself – on average, it is from 5 to 9 thousand dollars a month when working 15–16 hours a day. It all depends on the download.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): The average level depends on the load that a person takes, and, unlike the flow in offices of 20-30 projects and more on one specialist, a freelancer simultaneously serves a smaller number, but most often he leads the entire cycle of work ( because their typical employer is a small business, and it does not have the resources to fulfill the recommendations of an SEO freelancer, delegating them to someone else). In Kazan, the average check is 10-15 thousand rubles for a small site, and if a person is a competent specialist, he can earn from 25 to 50 thousand rubles.

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): What I don’t know, I don’t know. Even as a freelancer, I never focused on the prices of others, but worked on my price tag.

CONCLUSION: As can be seen from the answers of the respondents, the average income level of a freelancer depends on the region in which he works and the level of congestion, therefore, it is difficult to name any particular amount.

6. Who are your main clients – business representatives or SEO agencies? Has it always been or has it been lately?

Yevgeny Nesterov (Sochi): The vast majority (90%) are directly business representatives themselves. The remaining 10% are SEO companies that are forced to look for an executor remotely, because they do not physically pull a new client due to the full staff load, but they do not want to refuse him. Each company is negotiated individually on the basis of each specific site.

Sergey iSEO (Minsk): Clients are different, I work both on outsourcing with foreign companies to develop websites that transfer their clients for promotion, and directly with firms and, sometimes, with private individuals, this has been the case throughout my freelance work since 2006.

Ivan Papus (Kiev): Clients are completely different, mostly – site owners, i.e. business representatives, also use SEO companies to work on their projects, we work with some companies on an ongoing basis. It has always been this way until some changes are observed.

Artem Isaev (Kazan): Typical small business: services (+ hotels, travel agencies, cleaning, salons, etc.), regional small online stores. If the client has already been burned, then with a competent specialist who shows the result, he has been working for years. The benefit is mutual – the freelancer has a stable income and involvement in the topic, the customer is calm and confident in the result, there are no losses and failures with frequent leapfrog and change of performers. Minus: the freelancer “goes dead” in one resource-topic, does not develop and there may be problems with updating the PS algorithms of the promoted site.

Ilya Rusakov, SEOinSoul (Vladimir): Our main customers are business representatives. Recently changes are not observed.

CONCLUSION: The survey participants almost unanimously named business representatives as their main customers. It is also important to note that at the time of the survey no new trends emerged.

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