SEO Essentials for Freelance Web Designers

By / Aug 25, 2011 / Tips

The life of a freelance web designer brings you freedom in your work and allows you to escape the confines of a boring 9-5 office life and develop your creativity within the comfort of your own home. However, as a freelancer, you’ll have none of the support structure that a professional web designer can rely upon in a large agency; you cannot rely on the marketing department to create contacts with clients on your behalf. Therefore, the only way for you to survive is to showcase your unique web design skills, present your passion and flair for design and make sure to avoid the common SEO mistakes in web design that can ruin the chances of your site ranking high and block your path to success.

Making a SEO-friendly Freelance web design website

Talent, creativity and an appreciation of the latest trends and colours may win you converts to your work but even the simplest of SEO friendly modifications such as these will raise the profile of your work and help find you more clients by increasing traffic to your site;

URL Structure: Make the URL structure of your website organized and keyword optimized. If the content of the page deals with multimedia then the URL should reflect this. By categorizing the content of your site within the URL structure of a sub-page, not only are you helping the visitor to your site by giving them an idea of what content will appear on the page, you are also clearly explaining the layout of your site to the Google search robots which will improve the crawling of your page.

Effective internal linking strategy: Make sure to create “silos” of webpages within your site. This means for example that all pages regarding graphic-design services must link to each other. This enables to search robots to crawl similar content pages with ease and also allows for any link juice created by backlinks to be shared out amongst all of these similar content pages.

Optimize anchor text for your internal, external and backlinks. Use specific keywords that you wish to rank highly for within these anchor texts. This will make your website rank higher for these keywords as the search robots can identify the topic/content of your site through the anchor text used in external, internal and backlinks.

How to balance your freelance design aspirations and SEO

Whilst following the technical rules of SEO will improve your ranking position you will still need to bring a little heart and soul to your site. The design of your site will form the first impression of your services to many potential clients therefore getting the right tone and style is important.

Nevertheless, before you integrate high-quality graphics take a note of the effect some of these designs will have on your SEO performance;

Do not use Flash graphics all over your site! Fancy multimedia presentations may impress visitors, but the Flash program cannot be read effectively by the Google search robots. It is far better to stick to using HTML and CSS. Also avoid using images as links and instead make sure your links are written in text, which is far more easily processed by search robots.

Optimize your images with Alt Tags: Including images as part of your portfolio is necessary to convince clients of your skills, however no images that are featured on your site should be without keyword optimized Alt Tags.

Splash pages: Having a splash page (where visitors are greeted by a fancy graphic and a notice saying “Enter website” or “learn more”) is a fantastic opportunity for you to create an impressive and stylistic webpage. However, the Google search robots will end up indexing this splash page as your homepage rather than the actual homepage. Plus most of these splash pages are created with Flash and other multimedia platforms which as previously mentioned, cannot be scrawled by the search robots. If the robots have difficulty crawling your splash page this will hinder their crawling of your entire site. If you want to create SEO-friendly dynamic content, look into the latest developments concerning HTML5.


As a web designer you will have to balance the design aspirations of your site with these SEO basics which if ignored, can kill your chances of a high ranking position within search results. Having a high ranking position will do more for your business than spending day after day tweaking the graphical design of your site.

About the Author

My name is David from twago, Europe's largest online mediation platform that aims to bring together clients with projects in the fields of PHP Development, web design, SEO, translation and copywriting with the freelancers and professionals who can make their dreams a reality.

  • Outlook Studios

    Good article, I like how you hit all the key points necessary for good SEO.

  • deFharo

    Tips very successful. Thank you.

  • Evan Skuthorpe

    Good SE rankings are important for any freelancer. It’s a great way of generating enquiries, whether they work out or not, it still helps having that presence.

  • Sean

    Great article. In fact, this is a real problem that web designers “forget” to optimize their own websites. We’ve tried to analyze it in our recent post “Beyond PSD to HTML Conversion – Simple SEO for Web Designers” ( ), but this article provides some points which are not considered in our post.

    • Kian Ann

      Yes! Actually SEO is 80% a discipline in putting the proper keywords in the right places :)

  • Chilliwack Web Design

    Agree with Evan must have Presence for sure. No SE Presence no enquirers.

  • Karl

    Great article!!

  • nate

    Getting good organic search results for a web design portfolio page is pretty much a lost cause in my opinion (there are literally millions out there).

    However, this is a good refresher article and one can never read too many of them. I think several points were neglected in the article, but then again if you’re freelancing web design presently, you should already know most of this stuff.

  • Rancid

    Nowadays most clients will ask for SEO based websites, everywhere you see there is talk about SEO and how important it is. So if you want to have success as a web designer you MUST know a thing or two about SEO.

  • Dzinepress

    love to sharing your useful article. thanks for sharing

  • Buzz

    Useful article covering most of the essentials, thanks for posting.

  • Jeff Weiss

    You’re spot on about being a freelancer – no support network. You have to understand everything from design, HTML, servers, and yes, SEO. It makes you well-rounded and valuable but it can take a long time to learn everything and keep learning. The freedom is nice but working all the time can be a drag. Years ago I had a portfolio site that was optimized for SEO showcasing clients but then some complained because my site was ranking higher than their sites. If you always have a steady stream of work it’s not as important to optimize your own site. It’s when you’re constantly searching for work that you need to optimize. It’s a bit of a balancing act.

  • sadesigns

    agree with Rancid, learning SEO approach when designing a site is really a must-have skill/services these days. thanks for sharing these infos, very helpful.

  • Yordan

    SEO is one of the most important things after web design.A good web designer should understand SEO. Nice article.


    Thanks for this article..really good. Some points are perfect for create a great work. SEO is important in every site..even if some client don’t like so much these rules. But is a baggage by my work, in any case no? Thanks for sharing.

  • Hugh Caraway

    There has to be some attention into optimizing for the geographical location in which your target market resides. Targeting a geographical location is a big key to getting the phone to ring.

  • Shalini

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Great tips for both Designer as well as SEO. The ranking of the website is depend upon the ranking of the website and quality of the internal links, keywords and Content.So SEO friendly Designs specially play a vital role.

    Really Very Nice article :)

  • Boris Köster

    I think that SEO is a never ending story and a lot of work. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Boris Köster
    X-ITEC IT-Consulting

  • Bali Wellness Retreat & Bali Yoga Travel

    How does one provide or prove to their client how many hours they have done work for them?