When Design And SEO Come Together To Increase Conversions

As a freelancer and small business owner I often get caught up in the work immediately in front of me without stepping back to think about and look at the big picture.

For me, this is most apparent when I go back and read my search engine landing pages and pages that are designed for long tail conversions.

This problem usually isn’t obvious, but whenever I have some time, I like to test content to see if one converts better. So with that, let me give you a real life example.

Search engines

Traffic is Only Part of the Equation

I have been a client that I perform link building services for. My client is a limousine company and there are about 12 other limo companies in his local market. Out of these 13 limo companies, he is one of the newest.

In SEO, being 10 years behind is a steep hill to climb. For most of my clients, they see a little traffic when they break the top 10, good traffic when they’re in the top 3, but they’re amazed when they hit the first spot in the search result.

For this client, it took us about 8 months from creating his website to getting him ranked #1. The problem was that when he got to number 1, he was only receiving about 1 new limo rental per week from the website.

When he called me and explained that he was seeing his website ranked #1, but nobody was calling, I checked his stats. Analytics were proving that people were visiting his website, in fact he was getting about 100 searchers from Google per week, that’s about a 1% conversion ratio, which is horribly low in this industry!

Website with very cluttered design

Design Problems

I had done my job well, but there was still a problem. I looked at his website, and it was embarrassing. There were 7 words misspelled, 4 grammatical errors and the page looked like it was from 1999.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I can tell you honestly that his phone number was flashing and his page was a left menu with a frame for the content!

It wasn’t as bad as the image above, but it was close.

After meeting with my client, I helped him redesign his website to a very clean and simple design. When his new design launched, he called me the very next day and told me that he had received two calls on the website phone number.

That week he received 7 calls total and over the last 3 months has averaged 5.2 calls per week. Last month he purchased two new Hummer H2 limos to keep up with the demand that has come from ranking #1.

Design is so simple. That's why it's so complicated

Design Solutions

We made numerous design changes and enhancements. While I can’t disclose the exact changes, I can give you some “information” that might help you in a similar way.

  • Make calls to action clear—Designing a website that sells is at least worth a whole post. If you’re interested in a follow up post about creating calls to action, let me know in the comments.

  • Eliminate the unnecessary.—With my clients website, he really liked the social media interactions on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

    He liked them all so much, that he had latest updates from each of his accounts and his website was very focused on this aspect.

    While this shows that you’re involved in the community and highly reachable, it can be confusing for someone who comes to your website to look for a way to contact you.

  • Make your phone number obvious—My clients number one goal was to have people interested in a limousine calling his receptionist. He didn’t care about emails or using the contact form (although we still have those).

    A successful website visit always ended in a phone call. To that end, we put the phone number in a big bold font in the header, in the footer, on the contact page, and even at the bottom of his blog posts.

Pile of money


My point in all of this is to demonstrate that being ranked #1 is only part of the equation. Have you split tested your landing pages? Have you tried a different color scheme? Is your website content selling your services? Are your competitors offering a new or different service that you should address?

I love discussing content, design and SEO so if you have any questions, post them in the comments below! If you haven’t already done it, make sure and grab the easy links like Ezilon, DMOZ, and Wikipedia (if your city-industry has an entry)!

Brandon Hopkins owns AfterHim Media, a Fresno website design company that specializes in link building and ranking #1. Contact Brandon if you want to rank #1 for your keywords!

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. Thanks for the reminder. One usually thinks conversions come from SEO alone, but without a strategic design no such thing will ever happen.

  2. Thanks, I think I’ll send this to some web design prospects in the future. We have a ton of sites in my local market that rank high but look horrible, and I think they don’t realize what’s wrong. I’d love to convince some of them that the money’s worth it to get more calls. 😉

  3. Hi Brandon. Congrats on the success of the redesign and SEO!

    I redesigned a website for my client about a year ago with a content management system to give the site a fresh look, simpler architecture, and client control of the content. Although the company receives about 1,000 unique visits per month, they are only spending about 1 minute on the website and the bounce rate is averaging about 60%. My only assumption is that people already know about their services and simply go to the website to grab the phone number from the home page?! Any ideas? Thanks!

  4. Hey Andy, that’s a good assumption. I do that when I’m looking for a business! I would suggest a split test to see if the bounce rate goes down. You could do an A/B test with a new design. Another good test would be to move the phone number to the contact page only and see if that drives people to the contact page or if the bounce rate still stays the same. It’s not a good long term solution since you’re making it harder for the business to be contacted, but it’s worth it if you can generate extra business.

  5. So many people spend to much time on SEO, but don’t worry about the actual design/layout of the site. It is easier to increase your CTR than your actual traffic by having a good layout

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