Hi, I would agree with vkhare. Although the comment was made in 2013, it is still true today. I outsource a part of linkbuilding to freelancers on odesk. They do very well in creating web2.0s, article directories, social bookmarking, RSS submissions and Directories submissions. Can't say for the rest of offpage SEO, as I've had difficulty finding a good one, for example - broken link building management. Good SEO consultants usually don't work from odesk, and their hourly rates will be way higher (from tens or hundreds per hour)
Here are the summary pointers I've learnt from hiring SEO freelancers in the last 1 year.
1. Quality of freelancers available on Odesk.com
a) They usually claim they are SEO experts, but the methods that they used are usually pre-Panda and pre-Penguin, even when they claim they are Panda and Penguin safe
How to go about this?
Do not outsource you entire SEO plan to a freelancer on Odesk. Rather, you need to create your own SEO plan and strategy (you can learn this) or hire a reputable firm like Moz.com (it's gonna cost but it'll work). If you already know SEO, and using web 2.0s is part of your SEO linkbuilding plan, then you can definitely outsource this portion of it on Odesk. That said, you'll need to guide them at every step from the sites they are going to build backlinks from, to the anchor texts that are being used. Never allow free play.
The majority of freelancers on Odesk.com that will bid on an SEO job are largely from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I've actually spoke about this in a Skype call with Odesk, since my team is the top 10% client on their site, and they wanted to know what problems we are facing when hiring on odesk.com. It seems they also couldn't figure out why the demographics is skewed towards this part of the world for SEO. IMO, I think it has to do with the level of work, no one else wants to be manually creating backlinks. It's hard work frankly, so I respect them.
c) The self-assessed English level is always marked 5 out of 5. But since English is not the native language for Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis, you need to do your due diligence communicating with them through interviews to assess their English level. They must be able to understand your instructions later on.
How to go about this?
What I've found is that most of the cover letters are written in near perfect English. Some of the freelancers' application responses will also read well. However, as you interview them on Skype or via email, asking for more specific questions such as "tell me more about what you think are the ranking factors in 2014" or "tell me more about what you do outside of SEO, if you don't mind", you can see the disparity in the language proficiency. I usually use this as a test to see who's the ones that could speak better English. This may not be as important for one-time simple jobs or simple tasks like Internet/web research. However, it is critical that the freelancers you employ for SEO speak good English so that they actually understand what you needed them to do for link building. If they misunderstood or did not understand your instructions, they'll still carry on with the job anyway. It'll create a mess and more effort to remove the backlinks that you did not ask for. (For example, creating backlinks from a low authority or spammy site etc). Hence, it is always good to create a test job and ask them to build backlinks to a test site. Once you know they are doing it correctly, then ask them to build links to the actual sites. Also, I found that the ones demanding $4 - $5/hour usually speak better English. However, I would still do the due diligence to communicate with them via email and see their responses and gauge their English.
Each week, they need to submit to you a report on the links they've created. And you need to check to make sure it's done correctly. For backlinks from directories, there's a lead time for approval by moderators, so I would ask the freelancer to take a screenshot of the "link successfully submitted" page.
Finding the right freelancer is very important. Right now, I have about 6 backlinkers working with me on Odesk. Haven't had a problem with them and we've built a good rapport with each other that I trust them to do the job well. I still check their work of course.