Surface plasmon resonance is widely studied and used for chemical and biological sensing. Current technology is based on angle resolved resonance detection at specific optical wavelengths. That is, changes in the reflectivity at the resonant angles are correlated to the chemical or biological substance at the surface of the sensor. In this work, we discuss the modeling and numerical techniques used to analyze a method to characterize plasmon resonances through surface acoustic wave (SAW) coupling of the incident light. The design strategies used to optimize the sensing performance of layered structures is described for several materials that are typically used as substrates and thin films.