Getting Paid to Edit Search Results

In the past I have mentioned that I am not a fan of doing lots of traditional SEO consulting for a number of reasons (mostly economic), but I still work on a few large projects from time to time. One of the great parts about working with large corporate clients is when you uncover holes in their strategy, finding areas and opportunities that they can own just by deciding to. To some degree it feels like editing the search results, just like a search engineer, seeing you will pushed upon them.

Unlike playing with Wikia Search (which only has a couple millions lifetime searches and nearly a million edits!!!) some of the changes you suggest for enterprise level sites can bring millions of high value visitors to their business free of charge.

When taking on new consulting projects you have to price with the confidence that you will be able to find something that really helps them build their business (and if you are not there is no point taking the project). At first sometimes it can seem like you set the bar too high, but when you do strong research and have a strong partner to bounce ideas off back and forth good things just happen.

Those easy big wins are rare finds, but seem to happen on every project, just in different areas - site structure, duplicate content issues, keyword coverage, internal linking strategy, etc. Digging into a large site with fresh eyes allows you to see things that people who have been close to a project for a long time can not see. Why is that link there? Can this page rank for a couple more related queries? You end up stumbling into something that catches your eye and keep digging in until you have a good solution that earns far in excess of the consulting investment.

With affiliate and AdSense oriented sites the wins are typically much slower, smaller, and harder - sometimes requiring 6 months of effort just to get to break even, and requiring you to fight for every additional link and every additional rank. But the slow and steady path is a stronger business model for SEOs than giving clients millions of dollars of advice for a small fraction of the price. If only I knew how to talk Fortune 500 companies into giving a % of the upside, as that would make consulting so much more profitable than the slow and steady model. :)

Google hires remote quality raters part time for $15 an hour. SEOs working in client based business models usually top out somewhere in the mid 6 figure range. CEOs and some leading web publishers make deep into 7 or 8 figures a year. And some of the early Google engineers might have 9 figures worth of stock. And every one of them is getting paid in part to edit the search results. Does your business model match your ambitions?

Published: July 31, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


July 31, 2008 - 10:55am

Indeed this Sounds Great but payout amount would be so little.

yet another ben
July 31, 2008 - 12:25pm

The SEO / AdSense business model can be a lonely one though...

I've been working both in-house and out-house (nope that doesn't sound right), 'freelancing' for a couple of years now but am yet to be enticed to go it alone. I mostly enjoy teaching my clients about making sites search engine friendly, working as part of an online team (marketing director, designer, web developer, data-inputter, etc) and can't quite imagine working alone...Even when I work from home for short spells it drives me mad!

...just a thought.

July 31, 2008 - 2:15pm

@yet another ben

To each his own, I guess. I have no problem working remotely or from home. I enjoy socializing with peers and colleagues as much as the next guy, but working alone is not an issue at all for me (especially if I can earn more by doing so).

I think that if your ambition is high, you best bet is to team up with like-minded individuals who have parrallel proficiencies (designers, program, data-base managers, sales folk) and come up with ideas for self-contained web portals. Then either fund them yourself using the bootstrap business model or angle for some VC seed money.

That or just flip websites:

yet another ben
July 31, 2008 - 3:15pm

What a come-back: great link. I was actually looking for your name somewhere in that article :)

You've also just introduced me to dnforum - thanks for that! Maybe I'll have a look into this as another project on the side...but can't see it going full-time alone...who many dots...

Thanks Hugo

July 31, 2008 - 3:47pm

Glad I could help in some way.

Just remember that Aaron's the man on this stuff. I'm just visitin'

He's got a burgeoning media empire in the marketing vertical. All I've got is a nice job title at an NYC agency and small fish in the giant pond of NFL/college football media coverage ; )

yet another ben
July 31, 2008 - 4:33pm

...hence the stumbles... ;)

July 31, 2008 - 6:46pm


I'm really new at this SEO thing.. i am trying to learn everything I can about link building and SEO.. I started reading blogs and articles.. but there are a lot of things out there I really don't get. is there another way to understand things easier?

BTW, Im a nursing graduate so online marketing isn't really in my field.. what does "wins" refer to in this blog.. so sorry for my out of topic kinda..

i do appreciate help and response..

July 31, 2008 - 7:12pm

I used the word "wins" to generically reference large valuable noticable improvements.

July 31, 2008 - 8:15pm

thanks a lot.. so sorry again..

July 31, 2008 - 8:20pm

No need to be sorry for asking a question. :)

August 1, 2008 - 11:54pm

Awesome article and perfect timing for me. I am in the process of selling my website that built and am looking for other avenues besides contacting other gourmet coffee companies that may not appreciate the value of a top ranking website.

Thank you!

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