web_designers_handbook_selling_seo[toc]As a web designer, your primary focus is on acquiring new clients and delivering a first class website. If you can do both of those things, you’re able to have a moderate amount of success.

However, most designers don’t realize that they leave a ton of money on the table. The game doesn’t stop when the new site goes live. In fact, it’s just getting started.

There are countless opportunities that web designers can and should leverage from the same client. One of these services is Search Engine Optimization, what we all call SEO.

Do you know how to design for SEO? When I talk to web designers, most of them claim to know that SEO is a necessary a skill for a web designer. Many, in fact, have a background in SEO. However, knowing about SEO does not mean you know how to do it right.

If you’re among the few designers who are aware of what it is, and better yet, can actually perform the service, then you will be of even more value to your client.  But how do you properly position SEO services alongside your web design service?

Below is a complete guide and handbook for selling SEO services along with your web designing services.

Scope of Work – Discussing Your Role

As a web designer, your role as a Search Engine Optimizer may be somewhat confusing to the client. You may need to clearly spell out where your role as a web designer ends and your role as a Search Engine Optimizer begins. Of course, this depends a great deal on how much the client already knows about SEO and how  it could add value to their company.

There are various avenues associated with performing SEO related services; some of the main ones are indicated below.

  1.    Research, Strategy, and Approach

Before you begin, it’s important to perform an initial analysis to determine what marketing and SEO strategies have already been implemented.  Will you be implementing these strategies for the first time? Will you be finishing what someone else started or simply be performing on-going monthly maintenance work?  These will tell you how much preliminary work needs to be performed before you get started; such as initial planning, research and development and implementation.

  1.    Initial SEO Consultation

One of the things that a web designer should do in the early stages of the process is to determine how much knowledge the client already has about SEO and its impact on their website.  

For example, the web designer should go over some basic and fundamental areas with the client to ensure they understand some basic functions of SEO and its relation to marketing and web design.  

These are the basic areas you should talk with your client:

a. The primary role of a website and how web designing affects online marketing:    

The client should clearly understand that the primary purpose of their website is to generate more sales.  More so than the aesthetics per se’ , such as how fast it is or how pretty the site may be.

b. The overall user experience and why users are visiting their site in the first place:   

Users land on websites from different places, such as links from other sites, from doing an online Google search or because of advertisements.  Moreover, upon arriving at your client’s site, they are expecting to obtain certain bits of information that do not only keep them interested, but also answers whatever questions they may have.  

The site should also have clickable links which can potentially convert into sales. Having adequate keyword-rich content with an opt-in function will build brand loyalty and get visitors closer to becoming customers.

c. Understanding the basic digital marketing equation, which is to convert visitors into paying customers:  

Let’s face it, one of the primary reasons for setting up a website is to increase sales. So, in addition to creating SEO keyword-rich content, you as a web designer also  need to be able to make sure the client understands the importance of tracking how much traffic they are getting, what the conversion rate is and the conversion value.  The equation for this is provided in the following example:

10,000 visitors or traffic, X 5% or 500 visitors who converted into sales leads, where they each purchased a product for $25, (which is your conversion value) – this would result to $12,500 in sales. So basically, the digital marketing equation would be structured as per the chart below:

Revenue   =     Traffic        X       Conversion Rate     X       Conversion Value

 $12,500   =    10,000        X                  5%             X                 $25

The great thing about this model is that because it consists of multiples, you could develop strategies which focus specifically on traffic generation if you want to increase traffic. If you wanted to increase the conversion rate, you could develop strategies which focus specifically on improving conversion rates. So basically, your job will not just focus on SEO keyword-rich content but on conversion-related stuff as well.

These are just some of the preliminary areas that you could cover during your initial consultation.

  1.    Performing SEO Keyword Rich Content to Increase ROI (Core SEO Service Area)

First of all, a search engine contains its own algorithm with respect to ranking web pages.  It’s important to have a good understanding of how the Search Engine algorithm can affect the position of the search results. That’s where the SEO expert comes in. Basically, the job of an SEO expert is split into two main sections:  On-site an Off-site SEO services.

a. On-Site SEO services have something to do with the activity that takes place on your actual site, such as the structure of the site, internal site linking, targeting keywords and HTML issues.

b. Off-Site SEO is about the activities that you do not have as much control of.  This includes the amount of backlinks you receive, as well as the way how people link to your site.

Your role as a Search Engine Optimizer will be dealing primarily with all of the On-Site aspects of the site. (Although you may have some indirect involvement with the Off-Site components as well – and usually with little or no effort on your end.)

There are basically three key ways to enhance website traffic. They include the  following:

a. Technical SEO – technical SEO has to deal with issues such as robots, search engines and the crawlers that are associated with them, which is a key component to significantly enhancing traffic.

Some key things to keep in mind concerning technical SEO is that it involves a lot more than just humans.

The Effects from AJAX and Single Page Applications (SPAs)

Unfortunately, there is no way that Google can guarantee that your AJAX based websites or any of your applications will be cached in the proper manner. This includes any areas within the site that are generated from using AJAX. This is true, even if most of your content is loaded via the server-side.  

The downside of all of this is that if a search engine does not understand your web pages, then they will eventually drop them from the index, along with all of its traffic.

So, the bottom line is that if your goal is to utilize AJAX / SPA (the more popular, single page application) frameworks on behalf of your client, just be certain that the Progressive Enhancement or the Pre-Rendering HTML Snapshots are being used. This should take place along with Google’s deprecated AJAX crawling rules.

b. Creating ideas that involve frequently searched keywords and phrases to develop SEO enriched content.

iii. Being known as the online authority by developing external campaigns such as digital PR campaigns or by other external means. Only the first two areas really apply to web designers and SEO developers, whereas the other area, Digital PR, would require more of an external effort with the use of a different marketing campaign altogether.

There are some SEO techniques and tools that allow professionals to develop a highly targeted site. The key in this instance is to develop website content based on the demand of the user.

c. When you begin working on your client’s website, consider which of the various categories is applicable to them which also addresses their specific user’s needs such as the following:

  •    They sell products
  •    They provide services
  •    They sell products in a particular city or on a worldwide basis
  •    They provide services  in a particular city
  •    They provide a product or a service within a specific demographic segment or industry.

So basically, when you meet with your client, you can ask a series of questions that will assist you in building the proper content, based on the areas indicated above. This can be followed by determining the best SEO friendly keywords to use.

Also, explain to your client that each page will be clearly labeled and the navigation structure will be organized to result in the best user experience possible.

You should also plan to recommend the types of websites, web design and content based on similar sites within your client’s particular industry, service offering and client base.  Such as B2B, B2C, B2G, eCommerce and Services.

And of course, the preliminary information indicated above is just the initial ground work – the framework that can be customized based on your client’s specific requirements.

  1.    Performing an Initial Local SEO Audit (Local Optimization)

Performing an initial Local SEO audit allows you to be certain that the client can be found locally, on Google Maps as well as on mobile devices. This process is slightly different than performing traditional SEO services.

  1.    Optimizing Videos

Since most online businesses also have YouTube and other videos, there is another opportunity to implement SEO strategies. You can also be certain that (using basic SEO techniques,) you can implement strategies to make sure your client’s video appears high in the rankings as well.

  1.    Improving SEO By Using Links

Linking is an additional way that you can use SEO strategies to increase your client’s value. Linking can be done internally by creating links from the pages within your own site, or externally, where  other sites link back to your site.

a. Internal Linking:  In an effort to get more visitors to your client’s site, web designers, and developers have made note of internal linking, where there is a link to and from each and every page on the site. In fact, this process has become a trend that takes place through the use of a super nav.

Another great thing about internal links is that as you place links on pages from your client’s website, you position your client as the expert, the authority in his or her field. Internal links send a message, which suggests that each page on your client’s website is just as important as the other.

b. External Linking:  External linking is when you can have other bloggers or website owners place links on their site which help lead their visitors to your client’s website. This is exceptionally important as it allows visitors to land on your client’s site from a variety of different places other than solely performing a google search.

In general, it’s best to avoid aimlessly linking pages from one site to another. Carefully determine what kind of value each link will really add to the person reading the web page. They will not only be disappointed if they click on a link only to have it lead them somewhere that is completely unrelated to what they’re currently reading, but  they will start losing faith in your client for wasting their precious time and view them as invaluable.

You will be able to present this strategy to your client and ensure them that their link building strategy will be left in good hands.

  1.    Evaluation and Analytic Tools

The use of data and analytical tools will assist you better explain all of the ramifications regarding what’s actually taking place as a result of you implementing your SEO services.  Such as Google Analytics which allows you to track your client’s website traffic, measure click-through performance and conversions as well as assist with determining your client’s ROI. As indicated in the sample below:        


Data tools will assist your client to make more informed decisions through your recommendations.

Google is capable of providing users with the total number of people who searched for keywords. They also make a record of each search. They also make data available to various webmasters through their Keyword Planner tool.

Keyword Planner allows users to take a peek into the market that’s being targeted based on the number of searches as indicated in the sample chart below.   

Top Keywords
keyword ranking table
Once the data is gathered, it lets users know how much of the market is searching for that particular idea.

Although keywords are somewhat tricky, the idea associated with specific pages is more concrete.  Consequently, ideas work differently than keywords, which is actually a more advanced strategy than what’s normally used in the competition.

General Web Designing and Layout

When it comes time to putting everything together, you will have to skillfully combine both the web designing and the SEO content.

a. Allocating Enough Space for Keyword Rich Content

First of all,  the web designer is responsible for the layout design for the website. You should determine how much space to use for graphics and how much for content. Create a design which can capture everything based on that graphics to content ratio and any other elements which will be used.

As a web developer, I would certainly stress to the client that SEO is actually more of a marketing technique which falls under a completely different discipline than a web designer.  So,  whenever the client finds a web designer who can also accurately provide SEO services, they are really getting great value for their money.

Justifying Costs and how they are Associated with Rewards

If you explain all of your potential services to the client and then present them with the cost but they feel it’s outrageous, or way above their budget, you can take the time to explain to them the benefits of each of the SEO services and any other areas that you’ll be providing, which should justify your costs.

Be sure to explain to the client that you will continue working with them for a designated period of time (after your initial services have been performed) to ensure that the client sees the results they paid for and are expecting.

Even though you have to spend hours of preliminary work to do research, develop SEO marketing strategies, traffic building strategies, and conversion strategies, the effects of these services may not be realized for several months (or longer).

Overall, as a web designer, you want to ensure that the client’s money is well spent. Your goal is also to ensure that the client can clearly see the profit or the ROI from their investment that they’ve made with you.  You can do this by altering the traffic metrics and SEO techniques. These two areas alone add a tremendous amount of value to your services, further justifying your costs and leaving the client with an opinion of you that you performed a job well done.


Not all clients understand all of the mechanics of SEO and traffic building, but if you take the time to explain how all of this works and how it will benefit your client, they will feel a lot more informed and grateful for the additional value that your services has added to their company.
To conclude, inform the client that your goal was not only to offer additional SEO services. Let them know that you want to deliver excellent web design and also provide them with a better understanding of how SEO can benefit them as well.