Should a Website Designer Sell Digital Marketing or SEO Service?

Hi everyone, I'm starting a design graphic + web business with a partner. We've been working for about one year. Me in particular have been working as a freelancer for 5y.
A lot of clients have been asking for digital marketing services. Most of the times some type of social media management. Yet, it's been quite frequent to asks us about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Which is something I find quite interesting. (Been watching this group for a couple month and I've been getting tons of value. Thank you!)
Based on your experience what would your advice be. Where should we start? I see a lot of garbage talk, and software and tips/ tricks and stuff like that. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking for real life advice and how to add real value to our clients.
I know my question is a little vague.
I'm considering SEO because I spotted some cashflow opportunities with some clients.
Another thing is what type of deliverables do you usually work with? I'm wondering about deliverables/ expectations = monthly payments
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. ✅
4 👍🏽 4
[filtered from 7 Answers]


Mike Friedman 🎓
My honest advice would be to gain experience ranking your own webpages for a year or two before you think about taking money from business owners to rank theirs.
You can do some pretty serious harm to a company's web presence if you don't know what you are doing.

João ✍️ » Mike Friedman
Makes sense. Thank you! Would your advice be, building a blog inside our page and producing content? In the beginning how would you track progress, harm and next steps?
We see a lot of competitors/ bigger studios and agencies build content around "how" and "wikis", which is something we don't really enjoy. We are not ready to teach others, for now our goal is to learn and improve client results. In some cases we see people building detailed case studies to show case skills and authority, but may be to slow since depends on new client workflow. Thanks for your answer!
For clients we have been doing some little stuff making sure all pages have titles, descriptions, open graph, alt text etc and putting their business on Google My Business (GMB) and other listings, while making sure the info is properly updated.
You cannot improve the clients' websites, if you don't know how to and if you don't show that you know that. Today SEO users are everywhere to be found, some lowballing with few tens of bucks/month retainers. Unless you get business referred to you from others, you need to build a truckload of content, show your expertise, case studies etc. The moment you start ranking well, good conversion rates, content etc. you can use your own success story to show potential clients that you are worth your retainer 😉
João ✍️ » Ramona
Makes perfect sense. We have that experience from our design work, more than 70% clients are from referrals. Thank you!

Higdon 🎓
Know how to read analytics, 301 redirects, monthly charge for 1-2 year contract. Know your keyword research and title tags with H1/H2. And good copy.

João ✍️ » Higdon
Great tip. Thank you. Actually the clients that have been asking to do a hand on their SEO/ digital presence came from the copy we do to them! I only notice that now!! Since that's part of our branding process. Thanks a lot very practical advice!

Build a website and apply your knowledge what you learnt from this group to the website to see what works and what doesn't work.
I wouldn't even take clients on at first if i was you. Way too many variables to consider, you'll make mistakes at the start. Better to make mistakes on a dummy site than ruin your reputation on clients websites.
Better routes:
You could outsource the work to an established SEO on the basis they teach u things
Or maybe intern somewhere?

João ✍️ » Jamie
Sounds like that's the general advice. Looks like a solid plan! Thank you!
Sudrajat » João
I agree with Jamie. I am a User Experience (UX) designer and marketer, I will outsource for the scope of work which are not my specialty. This is a matter of reputation and trust with customers. Moreover, the way you want to add value to customers is to know how many % of sales (ROI) you can deliver per month. All businesses are similar "Sales/ROI".
João ✍️ » Sudrajat
Thank you!
Ashraf » Jamie
Applying group knowledge is not enough …first try to learn basic concepts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on page ,offpage technical SEO backlink management etc Ahref Academy is great source to learn
Jamie » Ashraf
I think you're missing my point. I don't think it's enough knowledge, that's why I'm telling him to get experience, most advice on Facebook forums are just noise. I don't think you have enough knowledge even you take 10 'SEO experts' courses including Ahrefs and all the other 3rd party tutorials.

Yup, agree with the rest. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and start applying it in your own website first. If you are able to rank your pages on Google, then start offering. Do your keyword research diligently and do keyword mapping. If your website is relatively new or hasn't ranked yet, better to go after non competitive keywords first.

João ✍️ » Vira
Thank you for the actionable steps!

It sounds like you have a client who trusts you. Don't gamble that away, yet I'd leverage it to build your SEO skills. You could hire a new employee for your team or hire a freelancer to do the work and teach you at the same time.
But, be honest with your client. Let them know you are learning with the guidance of an SEO expert who is doing their work, and ask if they will be your first case study. Give them a big discount for the first 6 months in return for the part you must learn. Since you're doing content, you can charge regular price for that.
Good luck! I'm sure you'll do fine. Just don't do it on your own. It's not worth your reputation.

João ✍️ » Michele
That's probably it. Thanks for your reply, very helpful.
Sauipe » João
Oi Joao! Michele's advice was probably the best re: working for the client at a discount as you learn for a few months. We are a brand (client), not an agency. I hired agencies before (high and low price points) and finally decided to take care of it on my own. It's not rocket science, but it's not just dropping words everywhere. It does require a lot of research and monitoring and learning as you go. It also takes patience. It took us 3 months to start seeing results but since then all the numbers are going up faster than in the beginning.
There are some basic things that you can do on your own. I took an online class with a real expert ($130 +-) and signed up for SEMrush for a couple of months, took some tutorials there, and hired a freelancer for a few hours to show me the ropes.
I am getting pretty good results – with quality traffic and sales from it. And I watch the numbers every other day. Maybe I would get out-of-this-world results if I hired a very expensive agency. But Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not the only thing I have to pay for, so elbow grease was my solution.
Michele » Sauipe
Nice work! Bravo. I'm an agency, and even after doing this for many years, I'm learning new things every day. Since things change so often, one needs to stay on top of it. So, bravo to you.


Read another article: A Web Design Agency Wants Me to Do SEO Without Charging Them Anything and Promised Me to Outsource All Their Incoming SEO Work for Me

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