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SEO Should be FOM for Freelancers and Design Agencies – Part 1

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Woman thinking about how to improve her agency's SEO capabilities.

In the WordPress and agency space, there is a certain topic that is increasingly on everyone’s mind: SEO (search engine optimization). While my friends in the web community are stellar visual designers and web developers, many don’t know much when it comes to SEO. A service that clients want, SEO is something relatively simple for freelancers and agencies to integrate into their services.

I’d like to share my SEO knowledge as I’ve noticed more people within the design and development community becoming more interested in exploring this digital service.

SEO Is a Surging Topic of Interest in the WordPress Space

Part of the new interest in SEO is web designers and developers wanting to improve their own sites, and help their clients improve the performance of the site they built. Part of why we need to share information in the WordPress community is because SEO is less opaque than web development – where things work or they don’t. Some say SEO is an art, with each site needing its own fine tuning to really get it right.

SEO is a younger discipline than design, or even programming. Most business owners recognize that SEO is important if you expect your website to produce lead generation successfully. More traditional web design and development agencies are more commonly offering SEO as a service to their clients as a way to develop recurring revenue, though what these packages and services look like change as the agencies evolve.

Recurring Revenue as a Viable Cash Flow Solution

I’m writing this in December, when many agencies slow down and full-scale web projects are usually on hold until the new year. Most of the freelancers and agencies that I know make most of their revenue from designing and building new websites, leaving the holiday’s a bit slower for some. Also most companies only redesign their website every 3 to 5 years. Sales cycles can be long, and few and far between. These market conditions leave younger agencies and freelancers constantly working to fill pipelines for potential projects.

Cue monthly recurring revenue (MRR). If you account for a fixed amount of revenue coming in each month, you’re not starting from zero every thirty days, and you have a foundation of income to sustain you regardless of your lead pipeline suffering from seasonal depression.

One way I’ve seen many of my agency friends create MRR is to sell WordPress maintenance retainers. Either they are hosting client sites and rolling in site maintenance, or they sell WordPress maintenance (updates and backups) as a standalone service.

Clients don’t always see the value in WordPress Maintenance, WordPress Maintenance, but, there is still opportunity for recurring revenue, and for delivering value they can appreciate.

In this Article I’d like to lay out a solution that addresses both SEO and recurring revenue for WordPress agencies and freelancers. By keeping SEO front of mind (FOM), you’ll be able to create a mutually beneficial arrangement for both you and your clients.

Search Traffic is What Clients Are After

In most cases, the purpose of a website redesign or launch is to get organic search traffic.
SEO is what your clients want, so they can get more clients, more leads, more phone calls and more sales.

What happens in many cases though, is we get busy planning, designing, and building the next client website, and instead of checking on the efficacy of our design, we’re busy getting a new website build on the schedule.

“Most of us are digital hunters, looking for the next new client. What if we became digital farmers instead? Let’s focus on making existing clients more successful.” Click To Tweet

By offering SEO services as a monthly retainer service, we can have a direct effect on the long-term success of our website projects, helping our clients reach greater heights.

What if you already offer WordPress maintenance as a retainer service?

No worries. There are many ways to add SEO to your current offerings.

Introduce another service package that combines web development with SEO. Offer standalone SEO engagements. Create custom packages for your clients. The choice is yours.

Every web design shop is different, so what you offer and how you price SEO will depend on many factors – your degree of skill, confidence, and experience with SEO, or the size and roster of your agency. Find something that works for both you and your clients.

Now that you’ve got the basics, in my next article, I’ll let you know the tricks of the trade — everything from the right tools to what services you should offer.

John Locke

After a nearly two decade career in commercial and retail bakeries, John founded Lockedown Design & SEO, a web development and marketing agency focused on the industrial sector. His consultancy works closely with companies to accelerate growth through organic search and white-hat SEO.

When he’s not working directly with clients, John is empowering people to make the best use of their website by sharing knowledge through his blog, YouTube channel, and as a recurring panelist on the WP-Tonic podcast.