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Most top designers and top programmers are separate individuals. Although most professional designers know JavaScript, it’s rare to find one person who is a master of both design and programming (beyond JavaScript).

The same is true for search engine optimization (SEO). As a designer, you probably know your way around basic SEO strategies, but you probably haven’t mastered high-level SEO strategies. That’s not a bad thing. You became a designer because that’s what you’re passionate about. However, web clients don’t know the difference.

Clients often expect designers to perform tasks outside of their expertise; they don’t realize building a complete website requires work from several separate professions. Many clients perceive SEO as part of the development and design process. 

If your clients ask you to perform SEO services, here are 4 important questions to ask before saying yes.

1. Are you aware of the long-term requirements to get results?

When a client asks if you can perform SEO on the website you’re designing for them, ask if they’re aware that SEO is a long-term strategy and not a list of tasks. They may not know those entire agencies exist to handle all the components of SEO on a large scale.

To help your client understand the depth of SEO, start by explaining that link building is one of the most important components of SEO and requires a dedicated team. Make sure your client understands that as a designer, you don’t have the connections required to execute an effective backlink strategy. Without high-quality backlinks, all other SEO efforts will fall short.

Once your client understands that link building and content marketing are resource-intensive and require true expertise, the best thing you can do is refer them to a link building agency. If your client still insists that you perform SEO for them, it’s probably in your best interest to decline. While you could certainly do a little bit, your client will be expecting results you won’t be able to get.

2. Are you already working with a professional SEO agency?

Sometimes clients are already working with a professional SEO agency or have plans to work with an agency. They might be asking you to perform SEO because they don’t realize the agency will handle all of it.

If your client is already working with an agency, ask them to check in with their team before asking you to perform any SEO duties. They may end up paying twice for the same work and their SEO team may end up wiping out all the work you perform.

3. Did a professional SEO expert generate your keyword list?

Sometimes clients are insistent about having their designers perform SEO. If you’re comfortable with basic SEO, you may want to add it as a service. However, if your client comes to you with a list of keywords, ask where that list came from.

Often, clients will write down a list of all the keywords they believe they want to rank for, but those keywords may not be useful. Explain to your client that the keywords they want to rank for are determined by several factors, including the level of competition and whether or not those keywords are actually being typed into the search engines. Explain that thorough keyword research is necessary to generate the right list of keywords.

If a client brings you a list of keywords they’ve created, it’s best to avoid performing SEO for that client. Again, if you spend time trying to get a client’s website to rank for the wrong keywords, they won’t get results and you’ll be on the hook.

4. How much do you expect to spend each month on SEO services total?

Some clients will have an unrealistic idea of what professional SEO services cost. Usually, clients who ask their designers to perform SEO believe that SEO is a list of tasks that get checked off and can be rolled into the designer’s hourly rate.

Ask your client what their overall SEO budget is, and if it’s extremely low, you’ll know they don’t understand how SEO services work. Even if they offer to pay you more, you won’t be able to get them the results they need.

If you want to perform SEO for clients, find the right balance

If you must perform SEO for your clients, make sure your clients know your limitations and be willing to be responsible for results. If you’re not part of a full-service SEO team, your clients need to know they can’t expect massive results. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to design.

Author: Spyre Studios


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