What is Fractional SEO

Tyler Scionti

  | Published on  

September 29, 2023

Looking to hire SEO help for your business?

You have no shortage of options.

Maybe you want to hire a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr. Or perhaps you’d like to outsource to an agency. What about hiring a coach?

Let me help you set the record straight.

Who am I? Well, over the years I’ve worked with SaaS, e-commerce, finance, and everything in-between:

  • In 2008 I got my first taste of building personal websites and ranking them on the web.
  • In 2013 - 2017 I tried my hand at freelance work.
  • In 2018 I built an SEO coaching company to teach founders and marketers what I learned.
  • I now work as a fractional SEO for fast-growing companies.

What is the difference between all these? Which one is right for your business? And when does a fractional SEO make sense? I will answer these questions and more in this article.

What is Fractional SEO

A fractional SEO is similar to a consultant, but with one key difference: it allows you to hire an SEO expert on a flexible basis - usually part-time or project-specific.

Okay that’s a bit vague. I’ll explain further.

Fractional work is gaining popularity, but it’s not a new concept.

CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, and CFOs have all offered their services on a part-time (fractional) basis. This allows the business to benefit from years of experience without the burden of hiring and managing an extra employee (and a high-level one at that).

These fractional hires are typically more senior and will need much less direction than your average SEO freelancer or consultant. In fact, they likely led teams before or have years of experience in consulting before lending their services on a fractional basis.

What Does a Fractional SEO Do?

A fractional SEO will do much of the work that an in-house hire does, but at a fraction (get it?) of the cost.

As a fractional SEO expert, I have:

  • Audited websites for content quality and technical issues
  • Built SEO strategies for companies to chart out a plan for the next 6-12 months of growth
  • Developed and either consulted on or managed a content calendar
  • Set up and managed analytics to track conversion data to guide the strategy
  • Organized PPC (pay per click) ad campaigns and collateral
  • Guided teams on a GTM (go to market) strategy

Ultimately, a fractional SEO is a strategic hire for an ambitious company that wants to scale quickly with an experienced SEO at the helm of their growth.

How is Fractional SEO Different From a Consultant or Coach?

While both Fractional SEOs and SEO consultants offer SEO expertise, they differ in a few key areas.

Both fractional SEOs and consultants work on a part-time basis. Fractional hires tend to have deeper expertise and skillets that they lend to their clients, whereas consultants are brought in for specific projects or initiatives.

For example, as an SEO freelancer/consultant I might run an SEO audit as a one-time project, and consult for a month or two to implement the changes.

As a fractional SEO I take a deeper role with my clients than when I was a consultant. I help them build and manage an SEO strategy, advise them on new areas to optimize, brainstorm lead magnet and nurturing strategies, mentor their team on SEO, and make strategic adjustments as needed to their go-to-market strategies.

The best way to sum it up is: as an SEO consultant I owned the project, but as a fractional SEO I own the results. I like to think of it as hiring my expertise part-time, rather than hiring an SEO for a very specific and narrow project.

Why You Should Hire a Fractional SEO

There are several key benefits to hiring a fractional SEO for your company. Here are the top three benefits I’ve seen for our clients:

  • It’s cost-effective compared to a full-time hire
  • You get access to premium expertise
  • It provides a uniquely strategic approach

Cost-Effective Compared To A Full-Time Hire

A good fractional SEO will drive the same deliverables and results that a full-time SEO hire would - but at a fraction of the cost.

Typically, an SEO can make anywhere from $55,000 to $80,000 per year. Senior hires, like SEO Directors, can make up to $120,000 per year. With our offerings at Centori, though, clients can expect to pay anywhere from $7,000 to $40,000 per year for a fractional SEO hire. This provides you with access to premium SEO expertise and services at 10% - 50% of the cost!

Access To Premium Expertise

With SEO, you get what you pay for. Sure, a fractional SEO will be pricier than an SEO freelancer, but there is a massive difference in the quality of output between the two. A fractional SEO hire gives you premium expertise that sits closely to the heart of your organization.

Uniquely Strategic Approach

Unlike a freelancer or consultant, a fractional SEO is much more of a strategic hire for your business. As an SEO freelancer or consultant, I would work on a project basis with deliverables and outputs defined by my clients. As a fractional SEO though,

When to Hire a Fractional SEO

Fractional SEO is great, but it’s not for everyone. I’ve turned down projects in the past that fail to meet the following criteria:

  • You have product market fit: Having product-market fit means that there is a clear need for your product/service which makes for a quicker path to ROI. This gets a bit fuzzy though, I’ve worked with clients who don’t have clear product-market fit but they are close.
  • You have a clear ICP: This one is a firmer requirement - a clear ICP/buyer persona makes for a focused and direct SEO strategy that gives you a much better chance of success. Not having an ICP/buyer persona tends to lead to an unfocused and scattershot SEO strategy that rarely succeeds.
  • You have a established stream of revenue or funding: SEO can be a long game, which means that it can take time for a payoff from your investment. For new websites, it can take up to 8-12 months to see meaningful traffic and leads. Because of this, it’s best to ensure you have a stream of funds available to invest in SEO over the long haul.

It’s not that SEO can’t work in these scenarios, it’s just that missing these criteria means it will likely take longer to get a return on your investment, and quite honestly: I hate not delivering for clients.

That’s why I also offer SEO coaching at a much lower cost to provide clients access to SEO expertise at a much more affordable price. I run monthly calls and support clients via Slack in-between for guidance.

Hire a Fractional SEO Expert From Centori

Ready to learn more about how a fractional SEO hire can transform your business?

Let’s have a chat. I’ve worked with over 100 companies over the years to help them build growth-focused SEO strategies that build qualified traffic and fill their pipelines with leads.

Click the button below to schedule some time to discuss!

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