SEO really does have a lot to answer for. In fact, it’s changed my life.
Since 2021, I’ve built a full-time income with blogging. I’ve also generated five-figure USD monthly commissions from my blog. None of that would’ve happened without SEO.
In this post, I’ll show you how to make money with SEO in 2023 – even if you’re a beginner.
SEO is one of those skills where you learn best as you go. And the best way to learn is by doing.
But for a lot of people, SEO sounds mysterious and complicated. In fact, it’s not at all (check out these SEO terms for beginners for some helpful definitions).
I wouldn’t describe myself as a highly technical person. But I’ve become competent at SEO after working on my own sites for around three years. In fact, SEO went from being one of my side hustles to eventually replacing my previous full-time job.
Anyone can set up a simple WordPress site using affordable web hosting and start writing content that ranks on Google. In fact, two of the most important success factors in good SEO are consistency and patience.
Let’s take a look at these 12 SEO money-making strategies in more detail.
How To Make Money With SEO (12 Effective Strategies)
#1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is probably the easiest way for a beginner to make money with SEO.
You use your blog to promote other people’s products and services, in return for commission payments.
That usually involves writing either review articles of single products, roundup reviews of several products (e.g. “best kitchen tools for making fresh juices”), or comparing two alternative products and recommending the one you think is best.
Then you direct the reader to your affiliate link and receive a commission once they purchase the product.
You can even use tools like Jasper AI, to write affiliate content faster. Note, I personally only review products that I’ve used myself and enjoy. I recommend that you do the same, as this is better for your audience and makes your content far more authentic.
Getting SEO right is essential to rank your review articles and start making money from affiliate marketing.
Typically, when starting a new blog, you’ll make a list of low competition long-tail keywords in your niche, then write review articles targeting them. As your blog grows, you can target higher competition keywords.
There are lots of different affiliate marketing programs available for many niches. They cover a huge range of products from gardening tools and kitchen items to software products and financial services.
Some bloggers start off by using the Amazon affiliates program, known as Amazon Associates. I’m not a huge fan of Amazon Associates, because the commission payments are very low these days.
On the positive side, you’ll get a cut of anything the customer buys on Amazon if they use your affiliate link to get there. Depending on what they put in their cart, this can end up surprisingly lucrative for you as the affiliate.
Some popular affiliate platforms include Awin, Commission Junction (CJ), Partnerize, and Impact Affiliates.
I recommend visiting these sites and checking out the range of affiliate options available, to see which ones might be a good fit for your niche.
#2. Referral Partnerships
The concept of a referral partnership is similar to affiliate marketing, but the approach is slightly different.
You partner with a relevant business and promote their service on your website in return for a commission.
The key difference is that a referral partnership can be established between two businesses directly, rather than going through an affiliate marketing program.
Then you use SEO to rank the specific blog posts mentioning your referral partner’s service.
This could be in the form of a review, or you could promote their service within the text of an instructional post.
So don’t worry if you can’t find a suitable affiliate marketing program for your specific niche.
You could always reach out to relevant businesses in your field and suggest setting up a referral partnership. Because your incentives are aligned, most business owners will be enthusiastic about the prospect.
After all, from their point of view, you’ll do all the work (i.e. the blogging and SEO) while they’ll reap the benefits (and don’t worry – so will you!).
I’ve always had positive results with referral partnerships. In fact, my biggest commissions by far (5-figure USD sums for one referral) have come from direct referral partnerships, rather than affiliate marketing programs.
#3. Sponsored Content
As your blog grows and attracts more traffic, you’ll find that its leverage increases alongside its growth.
Your blog will become increasingly valuable to other businesses as a vehicle to promote themselves. For example, some may be willing to pay you to publish sponsored content on your blog.
This arrangement can take various forms. Sometimes the sponsor will write a blog post featuring their product or service and pay you to host it (it’s a good idea to mark this post as ‘sponsored content’).
Some companies will also pay you a monthly fee to be featured at the top of (or as the recommended ‘best product’ in) one of your roundup reviews.
As an added bonus, you’ll also benefit from their regular affiliate commission, as well as the sponsored payment.
#4. Selling Digital Products
A popular passive income route is creating digital products and selling them on your website.
Having healthy SEO is essential for getting your blog visible to people who may want to buy your digital products. You can also promote these products in other ways, such as on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter.
Popular types of digital products include e-books, online video courses, PDF checklists or cheatsheets, or templates to help people easily achieve important tasks.
It’s fairly simple to create these products yourself using tools like Google Docs and Canva. Your digital product should help your target audience solve an important problem.
If your digital products can help them make this transformation, then you’re likely to generate some healthy income.
But it all starts with getting seen online, and that’s where SEO plays a critical role. It enables you to get off the social media hamster wheel and generate recurring income in the long run.
#5. Running Display Ads
Running display ads on your blog is another great way to use SEO to make money.
Once your blog starts attracting traffic, you should consider monetizing it using ads.
I waited until my blog had at least 1,000 visitors per day before setting up ads, but many people do it earlier than this.
At the early stages, you can choose from running ads via Google AdSense, or skipping straight to a specialist ad provider such as Ezoic. I highly recommend using Ezoic, as they typically pay more than AdSense. For more info, here’s my Ezoic review.
You won’t make much money at first, but the ad revenue will grow as your site traffic grows. SEO will be a key factor in ranking your posts high on Google and growing your ad revenue.
Once your blog crosses the 50,000 sessions visits per month mark, I’d recommend using Mediavine instead of Ezoic to run your ads.
While you can definitely earn well with Ezoic, I found it too labor-intensive on my side. In contrast, the Mediavine team manages all aspects of the ads for you, so you can focus on writing and promoting content.
#6. Create YouTube Videos That Rank
Another interesting avenue for how to make money with SEO is creating YouTube videos.
Don’t forget that YouTube is its own search engine, just like Google Search. So you can use your SEO knowledge to get your own videos ranking high on YouTube.
What’s more, the barrier to entry for YouTube is higher than it is for writing blog posts. Filming and editing videos can be intimidating for many people (it was for me).
That means there may be less competition in your niche on YouTube, enabling you to quickly dominate the rankings. Once you get 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, you can monetize your YouTube videos with ads.
In the run up to reaching this point, you could also use YouTube to drive viewers to affiliate partnerships, e.g. by creating product review videos.
#7. Flip Your Blog
This is a more advanced strategy, because you’ll typically require a decent amount of traffic to make your blog valuable enough to flip for a decent sum.
You can also buy other people’s abandoned blogs, build up the traffic, then sell them on one of these market places for a good chunk of change. It’s just like flipping real estate, but with blogs instead of houses.
And of course, SEO is the key factor in creating enough traffic to flip your blog profitably.
#8. Freelance SEO Content Writing
Once you’ve proven your SEO writing skills on your own blog, you can start selling your services to other businesses.
Businesses need a lot of content to dominate the Google rankings, so the market for freelancers with SEO knowledge has never been healthier.
This normally works best if you have some sort of track record, even if it’s only on your own blog.
You could also write a couple of guest posts for other sites free of charge, then use them as examples of your SEO content writing skills.
To get started fast, consider selling your services on a freelancer marketplace such as Fiverr or Upwork. But, these platforms will take a significant percentage of your earnings. Plus, you’ll be competing with many other writers.
You could use SEO to rank your own content writing services page on Google, then attract new leads organically. LinkedIn and Twitter are also good ways to promote your freelance writing services.
#9. Selling Backlinks
Getting quality backlinks to a website is an important part of SEO, but one that’s also challenging for many business owners.
Common ways of building backlinks include writing guest posts for other sites in your niche, getting featured in the media via HARO requests, or pitching to journalists through platforms such as Twitter.
Unfortunately, because building backlinks is so valuable yet so challenging, many low-cost service providers have sprung up. Perhaps some of them have already sent you spammy emails offering to sell links.
Those backlinks may be cheap, but they’re typically worthless. That’s because they come from link farms (websites set up specifically to sell links).
Although, as Hugo points out, it’s not tolerated under Google’s official guidelines.
Hugo added: “The fundamental aspect is to differentiate a trustworthy and legitimate site from a non-legitimate one. Getting backlinks from these non-legitimate websites can damage your website’s backlink profile, which can affect your rankings in return.”
“By using an SEO tool (such as Semrush), you can get an overview of how reliable a website is. Take a look at its ratio of referring domains to backlinks, overall traffic growth, traffic source, and the number of keywords it ranks for.
It’s also important to manually check the website by looking at its contact information, the user experience, and the quality of blog posts. Those are usually reliable signals.”
You can build a highly profitable SEO business by offering a top quality, non-spammy and reliable backlink building service, using well-written guest posts, writing HARO responses, or pitching to the media in other ways.
#10. Selling Technical SEO Services
Getting the technical parts right is another important factor in doing good SEO.
Technical SEO involves optimizing your website to make sure Google finds it. Your pages need to be crawlable and indexable before they can rank.
Many bloggers and business owners are non-technical and can benefit greatly from a reliable SEO consultant with strong technical knowledge as well as expertise in content and linkbuilding.
So if you have a technical background or enjoy technical fields, this could be one of the best ways for you to make money from SEO.
#11. Selling SEO Consulting
With some experience under your belt, you can start selling SEO consulting services.
Local businesses are the best target audience for this. They typically lack SEO knowledge and will benefit a lot from your help.
Consulting services could include the following:
- Keyword research
- Competitor research
- Creating an overall SEO strategy for the business
- Improving their local SEO
- Writing content
- Building backlinks
#12. Getting Hired as a Full-Time SEO Specialist
The final item on our list is getting a job as a full-time SEO specialist.
This job fits well with a remote work or digital nomad lifestyle, but with the added security of a full-time salary and benefits.
Larger companies in all industries will have marketing departments where you could work as an in-house SEO specialist. You could also get hired by an SEO agency.
Every company will have different requirements for their SEO specialist. But having ranked your own website (and those of clients, if you’ve done SEO consulting) is excellent proof of your SEO skills.
FAQs: How to Make Money With SEO
Is SEO a good way to make money?
Yes, SEO is a good way to make money. Once your website gets to the top of Google, lots of monetization opportunities will open up. With healthy traffic, you can earn with display ads, affiliates, referral partnerships, or by selling digital or physical products. You can also make good money selling SEO services as a consultant or coach, or even working in house as part of a marketing team.
Is SEO difficult to learn?
SEO is not difficult to learn, if you take the right approach. But with lots of moving pieces involved, it’s important to start with the right learning materials. The ultimate way to learn SEO is by building and ranking your own website. You’ll need to understand how to make a website technically sound for Google, how to write good quality content that’s user friendly, plus how to build quality backlinks.
Can you learn SEO in 3 months?
Yes, it’s possible to learn basic SEO in 3 months. You could do this either by taking an online course, or by building your own website. But to get more advanced at SEO, you’ll need to grow your own website over an extended period, such as one or two years.
Can you learn SEO without coding?
Yes, you can easily learn SEO without coding. Writing good content and acquiring back links doesn’t need coding skills. Some HTML or CSS could be useful, but it’s definitely not essential. You can easily hire a developer from a site like Upwork.
In this article we’ve covered 12 strategies for how to make money with SEO.
Some are well suited to those just starting out with a new blog, while others require some level of traffic to be successful.
SEO is one of the most sought-after online skills in 2023 and beyond. The great news is – it’s easy to get started with learning SEO.
For an extra dose of inspiration, take a look at these exciting SEO case studies.
All you need to do is start your own blog and start writing content. You’ll quickly learn as you go along – trust me on that!