Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Search-engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and a great skill to learn if you want to make money online.
Can SEO make you a millionaire? That depends entirely on your skills and ability to scale. The simple answer is that SEO can be a great way to make a decent living, and provided you have the skills to scale an SEO practice, the sky’s the limit.
Nowadays, there are a lot of ways to make money online: from building an ecommerce website to creating a blog to promote products and services. But none of that will actually work unless you’re able to drive traffic to your site. This is where SEO proves to be particularly helpful.
Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup
Here are five ways to make money with SEO in 2022. Before we begin, however, let’s address the elephant in the room.
How much can SEO earn?
So, how much can you make doing SEO? As of September 2021, most SEO experts can earn between $113,518 and $131,590.
Salaries depend on many factors including education, certifications, work experience and additional skills. While the handsome figure you’ve seen above is certainly worth the effort, it does take a fair amount of experience to reach that level.
That said, let’s dive into the ways you can make money doing SEO.
1. Work in an SEO agency
By working in an SEO agency, you’ll not only learn technical skills such as website analytics, but will also be exposed to the management side of things by creating presentations and pitching to new clients.
Additionally, you get an opportunity to grow in the company, the chance to learn new skills from peers, job stability and a steady source of income, the opportunity to work with multiple clients and other growth opportunities within the organization.
But there are also some cons, including the inability to choose clients and brands to work with and the need to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. without much flexibility.
2. Create an ecommerce website and sell products
If you have deep knowledge of ecommerce SEO, you can use search-engine optimization to sell physical products through an ecommerce website.
Start by picking your niche and finalizing the product you’ll be selling. You can do that by doing keyword and audience research to understand which keywords your potential customers are using to find this particular product.
For instance, if you find a keyword such as “stainless steel pasta maker” that gets a lot of traction but there aren’t enough companies selling this product, you can figure out the demand for a particular product and then plan to sell these products on your ecommerce website.
Before you decide, make sure you also perform an in-depth SEO competitor analysis; that’s the only way to figure out how much it will take to rank in the first positions for your target keywords.
Ecommerce sites allow full control over branding and messaging. Moreover, the ecommerce market is booming, and it’s a lucrative choice to invest in it. Of course, it also provides a good source of income.
But there’s also an element of unpredictability, as you may have difficulty finding customers for your product, and scaling may prove to be a challenge.
3. Dropshipping other products on your website
Let’s say you’ve set up an ecommerce website and it’s doing splendidly, but now your customers are seeking new products or maybe you are having a hard time managing inventory.
Dropshipping is the answer!
With dropshipping, you can sell a product through your website without worrying about shipping and fulfillment. It’s a great way to sell products without worrying about manufacturing, inventory or even risking buying products that may not sell.
This model works because it allows anyone to set up an ecommerce business and focus on marketing and scaling instead of worrying about pre-ordering products and shipping.
Here’s how it works: An individual places an order from your website. You then share the order information with your drop shipper. Once the order information is received, the drop shipper sends you an invoice for the product sold. The drop shipper mails the package to the customer, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of keeping inventory or worry about shipping.
It’s important to use appropriate SEO-friendly content, depending on the products you’re planning to sell through your website. For instance, if your niche is “vintage furniture” make sure that you include all the appropriate keywords (three to four search terms) so that your target audience can find your website easily.
Create original and unique product descriptions (instead of copying the same text from the manufacturer’s website) to make the content stand out and make sure you have the right keywords and a personalized tone and voice that your customers are familiar with.
With drop shipping, you can start selling unique products without worrying about shipping and handling, have the freedom to choose products that align with your values and ideals (for instance, if you’re vegan, you can create a niche by selling vegan beauty and skincare products) and diversify your brand by giving your customers something new and unique every other month.
But there are also some things to watch out for: not enough control as shipping and production are handled by a third-party vendor, a lot of competition, not much control over supply-chain, and you may have to deal with legal liability issues.
Related: 10 Fundamentals to Understanding SEO
4. Offer SEO consulting services
With SEO consulting services, you can help clients meet their business goals by increasing traffic to their website and boosting sales.
An SEO consultant provides valuable search insight to their clients to help improve their SEO ranking and increase organic traffic. They help clients with keyword research, website auditing, technical SEO and developing effective SEO strategies that can be implemented on various platforms, among other things.
SEO consultants also perform competitor SEO analysis and share detailed plans on how to leverage this data, whether that applies to the content strategy, backlink strategy or particular keywords that they are using. An SEO consultant is also good at changing plans by taking into account new SEO trends and Google algorithm updates.
While this sounds intimidating, it can be a very lucrative and enjoyable career, especially for someone with a fair chunk of experience in an SEO agency.
The pros of SEO consulting include an opportunity to work with new clients, flexibility to work with clients and brands of your choice and an opportunity to expand and grow your consulting business.
The cons of SEO consulting include the stress of managing clients, difficulty in getting new leads and clients, and it requires extensive experience.
5. Start a blog and monetize through ads and affiliates
So, how long does it take to make money from SEO? If you have a well-established blog with a good amount of traffic, then you can make money with SEO fairly soon by creating sponsored content and posting banner ads on your blog.
Paid ads allow you to get paid via the number of clicks and traffic on your blog while sponsored content means that you’ll talk about a particular brand or service on your blog.
Starting a blog gives you the freedom to choose your niche, whether it’s technology, beauty, fashion or travel, and you get to infuse the content with your brand while building an online community of like-minded individuals. It also provides flexibility, as you can choose your hours to work, and gives you a lot of creative freedom and space to experiment with new forms of content.
But starting a blog also requires a lot of time to write good content, and it may be difficult to create interesting, topical and evergreen content regularly. You may also have to deal with technical issues and need help resolving those issues.
SEO is a valuable skill to learn and master. The options to put it to good — and lucrative — use are endless.
Related: 7 Reasons You Should Stop Managing Your SEO and Hire a Pro