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How to Stay Productive When Working as a Freelance SEO Specialist

By Yeshua Quijano | Last Updated March 12, 2024

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how to stay productive as an seo specialist

Working as a freelance SEO specialist offers plenty of flexibility and independence, but it can also lead to productivity pitfalls.

With the right strategies and tools, you can maintain a steady workflow and achieve your SEO objectives (and dream monthly revenue) successfully.

Ever wondered how to keep the ball rolling even on slow days?

Key Takeaways

  • Establishing a work-conducive environment is key for your productivity.
  • Use time management techniques and tools to maximize your output.
  • Continuous learning and adaptation are crucial for your SEO success.

Setting Up a Conducive Work Environment

conducive work environment

A well-organized work environment is a must for maintaining focus and productivity, especially for freelance SEO specialists juggling multiple projects or clients.

Let's dive into how you can optimize your workspace to maintain - or even enhance - your health and well-being during those long hours.

The Importance of a Dedicated Workspace

Creating a space just for work signals your brain that it's time for business, not leisure.

For your freelance journey, having a dedicated workspace enhances your professional mindset, aiding in the distinction between work life and personal life.

If you think you need a separate office for this - you don’t.

A corner of a room or a consistent spot at your dining table can work too!

The main point is consistency — stick to your chosen spot for all things work-related to foster strong concentration habits.

I live in a 2-bedroom apartment and I use the smaller room as my home office. I also lived in 1-bedroom condo units and during those times, I had a workstation on one corner of the unit. It works!

Ergonomic Considerations for Long Hours of Work

Your health is a priority ("health is wealth", remember?), and your workspace should reflect that.

Ergonomic furniture such as an adjustable chair and desk can prevent strain and injury from those hours spent analyzing and optimizing websites. Here's a quick checklist:

Furniture/Peripherals

Description

My Recommendation

Chair

Invest in one that supports the natural curve of your spine. (stop using a monoblock please)

Sihoo M57. Good balance between price and quality.

Desk

Ensure that it's at a height allowing your arms to rest comfortably, preventing wrist pain.

I had one custom-made, but the carpenter thought he knew my body better and made the table higher than what I told him! I’ll probably trim a few inches from the legs.

Monitor

Place it at eye level to avoid neck strain.

Any monitor works, but I use a 27-inch ultrawide curved monitor. I used dual monitors before but it strained my neck.

Keyboard & Mouse

These should be positioned to allow a relaxed, natural hand posture.

Anything goes here. I have a cheap RK100 mechanical keyboard and Logitech G304 mouse.

Eye-Health Is Important Too!

Eye health is important too! Ensure that you are in a well-lit room and avoid light sources that will cast a glare on your monitor (been there, done that).

I also recommend a monitor lightbar and a bias light.

Finally, make sure that your monitor is at an appropriate distance from your eye. Too far and you’ll have to squint to read properly, too close and your eyes will have to work harder to focus on the screen.

Minimizing Distractions and Optimizing for Focus

Distractions can turn a simple SEO task into a day-long ordeal. Reduce them with these strategies:

  • Noise: Use noise-cancelling headphones or play your favorite playlist (Lo-Fi beats to work to?) drown out background chatter and random street noises. 
  • Notifications: Turn off non-essential phone and computer alerts during work hours. My phone is permanently set to DND.
  • Routine: Establish specific work periods and breaks to sustain productivity and prevent burnout.
  • Clutter: Keep your desk free from unnecessary items. A clear space promotes a clear mind. 

Goal Setting and Planning

goal setting and planning

It’s important to understand how proper planning and goal-setting position you for success. A structured approach keeps you focused and productive.

Setting Clear, Achievable Goals

Begin with the end in mind. Set goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example:

  • Increase client website traffic by 20% in six months.
  • Acquire three new long-term clients in the next quarter.

These goals guide your strategy and give you a clear direction.

Breaking Down Goals into Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Tasks

Once you've defined clear goals, slice them into smaller tasks.

  • Daily: Research new SEO trends, and optimize a set number of client pages.
  • Weekly: Analyze performance metrics, and adjust strategies as needed.
  • Monthly: Review progress towards your larger objectives, and refine goals for the next month.

This breakdown transforms ambitious goals into manageable actions.

Use A Task Management System or Tool

Incorporating a task management system centralizes your to-dos and keeps you on track. Consider these features when choosing a tool:

  • Task prioritization: Spot critical items quickly.
  • Deadline reminders: Stay ahead of your schedule.
  • Progress tracking: Visually see your advancements.

Effective software, such as Asana or Trello, can significantly improve your project management efficiency. Use these tools to balance multiple client assignments and maintain your productivity.

trello dashboard
I’ve tried Google Sheets, Notion, Nifty, and Trello. I find Trello to be the most accommodating of my work needs. It’s free and easy-to-use!

Time Management Strategies

Effective time management isn't just beneficial; it's essential for your success as a freelance SEO specialist. In this competitive field, where every minute counts, adopting smart strategies can mean the difference between staying on task and falling behind.

Prioritization Techniques

Identify Your High-Value Activities: Start by listing your SEO tasks and rate them based on their impact on your work. Use a straightforward system, such as the ABC method where A represents high-priority tasks, B for medium-priority, and C for low-priority items.

Category

Prioritization

A

Critical tasks like urgent client requests or deadline-driven projects.

B

Important but not urgent tasks, like checking SEO trends or learning new skills.

C

Tasks that are nice to do when you have extra time, like updating your own blog.

By focusing on your A tasks first, you'll ensure that you're always working on what matters most.

The Pomodoro Technique for Managing Work and Breaks

Work in Defined Bursts: The Pomodoro Technique is a way to break your workday into 25-minute chunks of focused work followed by a 5-minute break. After every fourth "pomodoro," take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes.

  1. 1
    Choose a task.
  2. 2
    Set the pomodoro timer (25 minutes).
  3. 3
    Work on the task until the timer rings.
  4. 4
    Take a short break (5 minutes).
  5. 5
    Every four "pomodoros," take a longer break.

This approach can help reduce burnout and maintain high productivity levels throughout your workday. 

Personally, I'm not this specific in my time management, but I've seen people thrive with this technique. Give it a try and see if it works for you!

Time Blocking for Dedicated Focus on Tasks

Allocate Specific Time Slots: To gain better control over your schedule, assign specific time blocks to different types of work.

Time

Task

9AM-11AM

11AM-12PM

Outreach for links

1PM-3PM

Content optimization

3PM-4PM

Analytics and Reporting

By having distinct time slots, you’ll reduce the temptation to multitask and will be able to dedicate your full attention to one important task at a time.

We have a video of a day in the life of an SEO specialist in our free course. Check it out.

daily life of an SEO

Leveraging Technology & Tools

As a freelance SEO specialist, using the right technology and tools can significantly boost your productivity.

This includes software and applications that facilitate keyword research, provide insights on competitors, and allow consistent monitoring of SEO performance.

Essential Tools for SEO Tasks

Task

Tools

Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner, LowFruits.io, Mangools

Competitor Analysis:

SEMRush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest

SEO Monitoring

Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Siteguru

Task Management and Productivity

Asana, Notion, Trello, Nifty

Automation Tools to Streamline Repetitive Tasks

Make, Zapier, Screaming Frog, ChatGPT

Staying Updated with SEO Trends and Algorithm Changes

Keeping pace with the latest SEO trends and Google updates is critical to your success as a freelance SEO specialist. After all, knowing what to do and when you need to do it will significantly increase your productivity.

Importance of Continuous Learning

Your SEO practices must evolve as algorithms change.

Google frequently updates its algorithms, and these changes can have a significant impact on website rankings. It’s annoying, to be honest, but I just consider it part of the game.

Continuous learning is not just beneficial; it's absolutely essential. You need to be alert to shifts in SEO trends and refine your methods accordingly.

This adaptability is not just to maintain your existing ranking but also to gain an edge over competitors.


Recommended Sources for SEO News and Updates

To stay informed, you should regularly consult a variety of authoritative sources:

  • SEO Blogs and Websites: Websites like Search Engine Journal, Moz Blog, and Google's Webmaster Blog, and our very own blog provide high-quality insights.
  • Social Media and Forums: Twitter accounts of SEO experts and Google's search advocates are invaluable for real-time updates. I will not recommend forums like r/SEO because they tend to be conspiratorial in their theories.
  • Studies and Research Papers: Keep an eye out for studies from digital marketing firms, which often analyze algorithm updates and their effects on SEO.
  • Webinars and Online Courses: Participate in webinars, or consider courses to deepen your understanding, like STPH's Zero To SEO Hero.

Integrating New Knowledge into Your SEO Strategy Efficiently

Once you've got the latest industry updates, integrating this knowledge into your SEO strategy is key.

  • Audit Existing SEO Tactics: Align them with the newest guidelines.
  • Prioritize Changes: Some updates might affect your clients more critically than others. Prioritize these.
  • Test and Track Your Changes: Keep a close eye on how updates affect site performance.

By methodically applying new insights, you can maintain and enhance the SEO value of the sites you're managing.

Client Communication and Management

Effective client communication and management are the cornerstones of a successful freelance SEO specialist's workflow. Let's explore how to set expectations, manage multiple clients, and use the right software to stay on top of your game.

Set Expectations and Clear Communication Lines

Key Point: Establish mutual clarity from the start to avoid confusion and foster trust.

  • Set Clear Expectations: At the beginning of your partnership, provide a detailed outline of what your client can anticipate. Be transparent about what you can deliver and by when. For instance, rather than "improve SEO rankings," specify "aim to increase organic traffic by 15% within the first three months."
  • Maintain Open Communication: Designate communication channels, such as email or a messaging platform, and define how often you will provide updates. Encourage clients to voice their thoughts and concerns, creating a two-way street for feedback.

Manage Multiple Clients and Projects Effectively

Key Point: Organize and prioritize to keep your commitments in check and clients' content.

  • Prioritize Tasks and Deadlines: Use tools like calendars or project management software to visualize deadlines across projects. Triage tasks based on urgency and importance, ensuring no deadline is missed.
  • Streamline Client Interactions: Schedule regular check-ins with clients to discuss progress and pivots. At times, align similar tasks across different projects to save time and maintain a consistent work rhythm.

Use Client Management Software to Keep Track of Communications, Deadlines, and Deliverables

Key Point: Leverage technology to centralize client data and project details for peak efficiency.

  • Centralize Information: Adopt software that collates all client communications, project briefs, deadlines, and deliverables. This helps to see the big picture at a glance and supports prompt decision-making.
  • Monitor Progress: Utilize features like dashboards and reporting tools to keep clients apprised of progress without spending hours on manual updates. Share access to these tools when possible to foster transparency and empower clients to track advancements firsthand.

Health, Well-Being, and Avoiding Burnout

avoiding burnout

Your productivity as a freelance SEO specialist hinges on a harmony between work and health. Recognizing the significance of breaks, physical activity, and mental well-being is essential to maintaining your effectiveness.

Take Regular Breaks and Downtime

Taking regular breaks is critical for maintaining concentration and preventing fatigue.

Split your work into manageable segments, such as the Pomodoro Technique I mentioned earlier, where you work for 25 minutes and then pause for a five-minute break. This strategy can boost productivity by refreshing your mind and reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Downtime after work is equally important; it assists your brain in recovering and prepares you for the next workday.

Engage In Physical Activity

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to enhance your overall well-being and cognitive function.

Regular exercise, even short walks or stretching sessions, can elevate mood and increase alertness.

Mental Health Considerations To Avoid Burnout

Freelancers often face the blurred lines between personal life and work, which can strain mental health. 

To protect against burnout, set clear boundaries for work hours and stick to them.

Prioritize tasks to manage workload and consider mindfulness practices to maintain mental clarity.

Remember, safeguarding your mental health isn't a luxury, done only when you "have the time"—it's a necessity for sustaining your performance.

Networking and Professional Development

Your growth hinges on staying connected and well-informed. Let's dig into ways you can enhance your professional network and keep your SEO skills sharp.

Joining SEO Communities and Forums for Support and Knowledge Sharing

Join SEO communities to share experiences, ask questions, and gain insights.

Platforms like Moz's Q&A Forum or Search Engine Journal's community offer spaces where you can engage with peers.

Continuous Skill Development Through Online Courses and Certifications

Boost your expertise with online courses from platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and of course our very own training course.

Pursuing certifications, such as Google's Analytics Certification, can validate your expertise. 

Try to aim for:

  • Courses that cover both fundamentals and advanced tactics.
  • Certifications recognized by the SEO community
STPH is trusted by companies like Firefly Electric multiple offshore outsourcing agencies.

Evaluating and Adjusting Strategies

Regularly evaluating and adjusting your strategies is key. Let's break down this process.

Regular Review of Productivity Strategies and Tools

Consistently assessing the tools and methods you use is essential. For example, are your current productivity strategies and tools still effective?

Use a simple table to compare the benefits of each tool against your goals:

Tools/Strategy

Meets Goals?

Notes

Backlink Analysis Software

Partial

Check if more affordable alternative exists.

Keyword Research Tools

Yes

Aligns with project goals.

Time Management App

No

Check what's not working and look for better alternatives

Another consideration is cost. Over time, our tech stack’s cost…stacks up as well. 

At the moment I’m spending about $550 per month on software subscriptions alone! And I’ve already reduced this from $800/month!

Regularly checking this table ensures you stay aligned with your objectives and make the necessary changes.

Adjusting Plans Based on Performance Analytics and Feedback

Feedback and performance analytics are vital. They give you an honest reflection of how well your strategies are performing.

For example, the data might show a traffic dip on a client's site—a prompt to reassess your keyword strategy.

Here's a checklist to guide your strategy adjustment:

  1. 1
    Identify the area needing improvement.
  2. 2
    Analyze the relevant performance metrics.
  3. 3
    Solicit feedback from clients or peers.
  4. 4
    Implement changes incrementally and monitor results.
  5. 5
    Repeat the process, refining your approach.

The Importance of Flexibility and Adaptability in Freelancing

Living the freelance lifestyle means you must be both flexible and adaptable.

The ability to pivot when a strategy isn't working is what sets successful freelancers apart.

Ask yourself:

  • How quickly can I adapt to search engine updates?
  • Am I prepared to overhaul my content strategy if required?

Conclusion

Staying productive as a freelance SEO specialist involves organizing your tasks, maintaining focus, and continuing to learn.

With the right tools and tactics, you can maintain a steady workflow and keep your SEO strategies effective.

Remember to:

  • Prioritize tasks: Use to-do lists or project management tools to keep track of your tasks. Sort them by deadline or importance.
  • Set boundaries: Clearly define your work hours to clients and stick to them to prevent burnout.
  • Find time for continuous learning: SEO is always changing; always be on the lookout for new trends and algorithm updates.
  • Communicate clearly: Keep your clients in the loop with regular updates and be transparent about your work process.

Your success hinges on your discipline and ability to adapt. By following the guidelines above, you can deliver impressive results for your clients and build a prosperous freelance career.

And if you need more SEO training? Our Zero To SEO Hero Course welcomes you.


SEO Training Philippines uses credible sources, our own internal testing results, as well as our experience as SEO Specialists to validate the information in our articles. Read our editorial process to understand how we ensure the accuracy, dependability, and integrity of our content.

Yeshua Quijano

Yesh is the founder and co-owner of SEO Training Philippines. He is an award-winning Digital Marketing Consultant with almost a decade of experience in building, growing, and selling digital businesses.