102 - Website Design and AI with Greg Merrilees


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Greg Merrilees of Studio1 Design was the inaugural guest on Episode 2 of the SEO Leverage Podcast and he returns as a special guest on Episode 102, marking the milestone of 100 episodes.

In this episode, Gert Mellalk engages in an enlightening conversation with Greg Merrilees about the advancements of AI and its impact on website design and other industries. They discussed the aspect that AI should be perceived as a tool rather than a threat with its huge benefits, urging listeners to adopt a growth mindset and embrace the opportunities presented by this emerging technology.

Merrilees also offered his three-step process of educating, qualifying and demonstrating when working with clients to see if they are a good fit or totally disqualify them. Included in the discussion were the utilization of Questionnaires, videos and professional proposal software so that the clients are clear on their path.

Podcast Highlights: 

00:00 Prologue

00:34 Podcast Intro

00:44 Welcoming back Greg Merrilees to the show 

02:09 How has AI been affecting the design industry so far?

03:28 Can Google actually detect if a blog post or content used AI and if so, may devalue it and rank it eventually?

05:07 In Greg Merrilees opinion, what is the best use of Chat GPT for bloggers and content creators? (...What can't be taught to Chat GPT or what can't it not understand?)

07:46 Will copyright and authorship affect or slow down the training data and the design industry as a whole?

09:09 The huge benefits of AI vs the limitation

14:46 What is the three-part process by which Studio1 Design work with clients?

16:40 How does the Education Step work when designing a website?

19:59 What needs to be done with lead magnets or how can you lead clients to their next logical step to help them with their journey? 

22:09 How do you disqualify a wrong prospect? (Why is Studio1 Design not for startups or big corporations, either?

24:26 Why do people want more traffic when it is not converting?

24:55 What is the sniff test case study by Gert with one of his clients?

27:44 The strategies that Greg and his team does to qualify clients if they are a good fit based on the three step process of educate, qualify and demonstrate. (What is their conversion rate on those calls?)

30:16 What's Gert's experience with the 40 set of questionnaire from Greg before he created SEO Leverage's website?

34:05 Why are videos and professional proposal software super helpful in proposals? 

35:39 Recap of the conversation 

36:39 Where to Connect with Greg Merrilees?

36:56 End


AI Tools - 

Midjourney AI - https://midjourney-app.com/

Playground AI - https://playgroundai.com/

Future Tools - https://www.futuretools.io/

GitHub Copilot - https://github.com/

Connect with Greg Merrilees: 

Website - https://studio1design.com/

Connect with Gert Mellak:

Website: https://seoleverage.com/

Email: [email protected]

Website Design and AI with Greg Merrilees

Are you interested in website design and the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on it? If so, Greg Merrilees is your go-to expert. An effective website design is key to ensuring the right people see what your business has to offer. 

Join Gert Mellak as he talks with Greg Merrilees about how artificial intelligence is revolutionizing website design and other industries positively. During the discussion, Merrilees shares his three-step approach to ensure everyone is on the same page and moving in the right direction.

Read on!

The Impact of AI on the Design Industry

As you may know, there’s a hot topic around artificial intelligence or AI nowadays, and whether you believe it will disrupt every industry or not depends on your mindset. However, ignoring it might not be the wisest choice, specifically if you’re in a particular industry.

At SEOLeverage™️, they’ve decided to embrace it, learn it, and encourage any business to do the same. For example, they’ve played with chat GPT, a powerful idea generator based on GPT 3’s technology. Regarding website design and content creation, AI might not be quite there yet, especially for written content such as blogs or sales pages.

However, AI continues to develop. And it’s likely to have an even greater impact on the design industry. 

Will Google Detect AI-Generated Content?

The possibility of search engines training their AI modules on AI-produced content has led to concerns about the quality of search results. Despite this, incorporating AI into content creation could offer a huge boost in efficiency, and users may come to appreciate it.

However, it remains unclear what measures search engines will take to safeguard content quality. One possibility is that they may look to train their algorithms using AI content but then roll out a core update that devalues it later on. This approach has been taken in the past with links and content of low value.

In the end, it may be advisable to proceed with caution in adopting AI-based content creation as a strategy. While it may offer significant benefits, it is unclear whether search engines will ultimately embrace it.

The Best Uses of Chat GPT for Bloggers and Content Creators

Chat GPT is a new tool with the potential to revolutionize copywriting. But it’s important to use it knowledgeably.

For example, it can be an excellent idea generator for blog posts, but you should tweak and incorporate your own thoughts to make it unique. However, for website sales or high-quality copy, Chat GPT is not ready yet. It lacks the ability to understand your audience and their pain points. Plus, it doesn’t have the emotional insight to motivate people to buy.

While there are ways to provide Chat GPT with more context, it still has limitations. But with proper information and context, Chat GPT can be a useful tool.

How Copyright Law Could Affect the Future of AI-Generated Design

Greg Merrilees mentions that Getty Images is suing due to some AI-generated images having their watermark on them. There are also concerns about copyright, authorship, and design in the industry. The use of AI-generated content could slow down development since the copyright may not be clear.

Gert Mellak highlights that the AI could produce images similar to the training data, which could lead to legal trouble. Google has been cautious with its AI development as they don’t want to harm its brand image.

It’s unclear where AI technology is headed and the risks it poses.

The Benefits of AI vs. Limitations

AI presents a range of potential benefits, such as design, translated content, and automated coding. But it also comes with some limitations to AI-generated content, such as accuracy and copyright issues.

Some AI tools Greg mentioned in this episode are:

AI translation tools are becoming more common in communication between global companies. AI tools can also offer time savings with graphic design. But it requires a learning curve to achieve desired results.

An effective web design approach is using AI as an idea generator. Then further customize from that point with original images and content.

Studio1 Design’s Three-Part Process with Clients

When working with clients, Studio1 Design follows this three-part process.

  1. Educating the client could be done through blog posts, podcasts, or videos.
  2. Qualifying involves segmenting into a sales page.
  3. Demonstrating involves having calls with clients to unpack more information.

Building trust in the brand is the ultimate goal. This new approach is a departure from the old way of simply showcasing products and services through a brochure-style website and is much more effective.

The Education Step

Greg Merrilees provided advice on how best to utilize the education step when designing a website. He then suggested the following:

  • The homepage should direct visitors towards content pages which act as an educative tool
  • Include images, videos, infographics, and social proof such as testimonials to make content pages more interesting
  • Consider clarity in navigation between services and paid offers
  • Qualify people and segment them into different audiences with varying pain points and motivations for purchase

How to Create Lead Magnets That Convert

Lead magnets are critical for conversion, but many people fail to optimize them properly.

Here are ways to do this properly:

  • Instead of offering a generic eBook or resource, focus on the specific pain points of the target audience.
  • Start by analyzing your website's top 5 to 10 most popular pages and creating custom lead magnets that align with the reader’s intent.
  • Categorize your posts, so you can easily find and customize lead magnets to match each category.
  • Attracting the right audience requires optimizing lead magnets and repelling the wrong ones.
  • Focus on making sure that the wrong prospects are repelled rather than attracting the right ones.

How to Identify and Disqualify the Wrong Prospects

Gert likes to highlight certain points on their sales page that explain who it can and cannot help. They focus on a specific demographic of entrepreneurs and business owners at a similar company size to ours.

They also make it clear that they’re unsuitable for startups. But prefer working with owners who already have a converting offer.

Before scheduling a call, they often have pre-qualifying questions to ensure a good fit. This saves time for both parties and allows for a more educated, efficient call. They also qualify through our SEO content to ensure we attract the right audience.

They both believe that staying focused on your niche is key to success.

Why More Traffic Doesn’t Always Mean More Conversions

Improving website visibility is often driven by ego. Everyone wants to see a hockey stick graph showing increased traffic, often tripled within three months. But more traffic doesn’t necessarily mean better visibility.

In fact, Google may have difficulty connecting the dots due to numerous and confusing signals. This can also lead to many prospects landing on the website who aren’t the target audience. This ultimately sends the wrong signals to Google.

To address this, consider applying the sniff test to ensure your website is making a positive impression on potential customers.

So, what is a Sniff test?

During this podcast discussion, Gert Mellak shared an intriguing client case study. The client’s website traffic drastically decreased after getting rid of a significant amount of traffic.

Two months later, the client reached out to report that they no longer needed to run Google Ads as everything was working perfectly. And Google understood their website’s purpose.

Greg warns against blindly following SOPs and suggests putting personality and opinions into content, even if it goes against other experts’ views. This approach can attract the right people and repel the wrong ones.

How to Educate, Qualify, and Demonstrate to Find the Right Clients

Greg and his team use the following strategies to qualify clients:

  • Offering a next step in the buyer journey, like a free strategy call or appointment, through a pre-qualifying questionnaire.
  • Having face-to-camera videos on the thank you page and including social proof in emails.
  • Leveraging existing templates and delegating email tasks to an assistant on the team for scale.

His approach involves giving clients control of their own process by providing estimated solutions and action plans before they book calls. Working with a team of SEO specialists in such as SEOLeverage™️ can help add experience to projects that have been done before.

The Power of Video in Proposals

Videos are definitely super helpful when it comes to proposals. But it’s important to make sure you’re going through every step of your process with potential clients.

One way Greg’s team does this is by using proposal software like Better Proposals. Although, of course, there are plenty of other great options out there as well.

With the software, they embedded a video into the proposal and even included a 3D screenshot of the client’s current website as a desktop image. From there, they outline exactly what the client will be getting with their action plan.


It’s easy to see why Greg Merrilees is a go-to person when it comes to website design and AI. With his insights on using AI for web design, he can help you and/or your business make the most of their website’s potential.

If you’re also looking to get ahead of the curve by integrating SEO in AI, Gert can provide you with the expertise necessary to make it happen efficiently. Book a call today and see the potential of AI with Gert!

about gert

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