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Case Study: How We Grew FreeUp to $12 Million/Year with SEO

TrioSEO - Connor Gillivan

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From zero to millions in yearly sales…with SEO!

Ready to learn how we grew FreeUp, a freelance marketplace, into a $12 million yearly sales company with SEO?

My name is Connor Gillivan. I was a Founder of FreeUp and am an Owner of TrioSEO.

After 4 years of scaling FreeUp, we exited to The HOTH in 2019.

This case study shares the story of how we went from Point A to Point Z with our SEO.

Hope you enjoy!

Where did we start?

From zero. Zilch. A 0 domain rating and a brand new website.

In 2015, Nathan Hirsch and I had the idea to start a freelance marketplace catered to the eCommerce industry.

We had hired 100s of freelancers and virtual assistants from sites like Upwork and Fiverr, but we didn’t LOVE the experience.

Post a job, get 50+ applicants, and vet through to find the best ones.

FreeUp was our answer to a better way.

A freelance marketplace that would pre-vet 1,000s of freelancers and virtual assistants and present you with the top 1% of applicants.

We knew we needed to tap into the power of SEO for both sides of the marketplace:

  1. Attracting business owners interested in hiring virtual talent
  2. Bringing in new freelancer and virtual assistant applicants

So we set out with a simple strategy to get started and it all evolved from there.

What was the SEO strategy?

The first version of our SEO strategy was the following:

Nothing too fancy.

We just wanted to get the ball rolling to see if we could drive traffic with SEO.

Keyword Research

The first major step was researching 1,000s of keywords that we could potentially target with our content.

Keywords like:

  • How to hire a virtual assistant
  • Hire workers online
  • Hire a customer service virtual assistant
  • Hire a graphic design freelancer
  • Best freelance marketplaces
  • E-commerce virtual assistant
  • Amazon virtual assistant
  • Shopify virtual assistant
  • Find freelance work online
  • Get a freelance job online
  • Freelance jobs online

You get the point. We were targeting high-intent keywords for both business owners and freelancers/virtual assistants.

On-Page SEO

Once we had the keywords to target, we started creating pages on the site to attract business owners (clients).

Here’s some initial pages that we made:

  • Hire a Virtual Assistant
  • Hire a Graphic Designer
  • Hire a Logo Designer
  • Hire an Amazon Virtual Assistant
  • Hire a Shopify Virtual Assistant
  • Hire a Shopify Developer
  • Hire a Facebook Ad Specialist
  • Hire a Blog Writer
  • Hire a Video Editor
  • Etc.

We built pages that spoke to the high-intent keywords we had found while researching keywords.

We optimized all of them for SEO based on an SEO checklist we had created.

This process continued for 4 years while we grew the business.

By the time we sold the company in 2019, we had amassed 100s of keyword-focused pages that were ranking and bringing in traffic.

Interested in doing this for your business? Learn more about our on-page SEO services.


Next, we created a Content System to tackle the blog-related keywords.

The Content System was as follows:

  1. Choose the keyword
  2. Build an article outline and brief
  3. Assign to a Writer on the team
  4. Let them write the content
  5. Edit and optimize for SEO
  6. Publish and promote

We hired a team of 5+ Writers over the 4 years that we ran the business and, at our peak, we were publishing 30+ articles to the blog every month.

Off Page SEO

Finally, we ensured we were building high authority and relevant backlinks to the website, our pages, and our blog content.

How did we do it?

  • Partnerships
  • Affiliates
  • Content collaborations
  • HARO inquiries
  • PR placements
  • Podcast interviews
  • Guest articles

Getting backlinks wasn’t the main focus of our SEO strategy, but they came naturally as we networked within the industry and built strong relationships with other companies.

How long did it take?

We started our SEO work in 2016 as we got the business off the ground.

We increased our SEO investment in 2017 once it started to work. We ran it for 2018 and 2019, leading up to the sale of the business when SEO was a major part of our monthly traffic and acquisition.

We started seeing results (business owner leads and freelancer applications) as quickly as 3-6 months after starting our SEO efforts.

What were the results?

By 2019, SEO had become a MAJOR traffic driver for FreeUp:

  • 10,000+ unique users per month from organic traffic.
  • A domain rating of 60+
  • 100s of keyword focused pages
  • 100s of keyword focused blog articles
  • 1,000s of backlinks
  • Ranking for 1,000s of keywords

Here’s a snapshot of where FreeUp’s SEO is today:


FreeUp is an SEO case study of going from zero to an SEO success.

We started with a brand new website ranking for no keywords with zero authority in the space.

In 4 years, we built its SEO into one of the top competing websites in the freelance and virtual assistant space.

The story of FreeUp’s SEO shows that it’s possible to grow to 8 figures with SEO if you’re committed to it from early on.

Never underestimate the power of SEO. We know we won’t!

About TrioSEO

TrioSEO is a monthly SEO strategy and content creation service. We drive traffic with SEO by taking keyword research, content planning, blog writing, and optimization off your plate so you can focus on other areas of your business. Get qualified traffic and leads from SEO every month.

TrioSEO was founded in 2023 and stems from our experiences scaling multiple companies to 6, 7, and 8 figures with SEO and organic marketing. For more real-life examples, visit our Case Studies page.

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TrioSEO - Connor Gillivan

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Connor Gillivan is the Founder & CMO of TrioSEO. He makes SEO simpler for millions online. He also owns Outsource School, EcomBalance, AccountsBalance, & Follow him on LinkedIn for daily SEO tips & processes.

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