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SEO (the technique to make your website appear on Google, etc) must simultaneously be the most talked about and misunderstood facet of web design. It is not my intention here to talk about the misconceptions of the techniques themselves, rather whether or not a potential client should automatically expect their site to be SEO’d.

So, is SEO automatically included in a website quote? Speaking for most companies—myself included—the answer is no. But why?

First of all, SEO is not compulsory. Not all companies want or need SEO. This could be for several reasons such as they are in an industry already saturated by SEO’d websites and therefore need to rely on other marketing channels.

Secondly, SEO is not something trivial you think of as an afterthought; it can take a lot of time and money. Therefore it is an additional service you would expect to pay for. It is not essential to the running of the site like for example the design or the domain name. So if you’ve paid to have a website built you are not being conned if the site is not SEO’d. In fact, the opposite would be the case: SEO often costs a great deal more than the design and build of the site itself so to automatically include it could mean charging a company a lot of money for something they don’t need.

SEO is not a switch you flick or a magical bolt you screw on. You need to ask for it, specifying your keywords and phrases—and these then need to be heavily researched and scrutinised.

A common dialogue between client and designer is:

Client: Why isn’t my site showing up when I type in ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’?

Designer: Because you didn’t ask for it.

It’s courteous to be asked before you obtain a quote though. Unless a budget is small, I ask about SEO as part of my pre-website questions. I also build sites to be search engine friendly as a matter of good practice and will usually include one SEO key phrase gratis when clients spend over a certain amount.

As usual contact me on 07843 483 078 or get a quote online if you need to use me in a web project, SEO or otherwise.

Tim Bennett is a web designer and developer. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.