Gaining top rankings for broad, competitive keywords can be a real struggle, with time, money, and research required. Most local terms, though, are within reach for the average business. Apart from the most competitive industries in big cities, gaining a first page ranking can occur quickly. Reaching one of the top few spots can sometimes be tougher, but not on the same level as a non-geographical term.
For a web developer with some SEO knowledge, targeting local businesses is one of the best ways to build a sustainable enterprise. A common problem, though, is convincing business owners to trust you with their SEO. Many people are not comfortable pitching for business, whether in person or over the phone, while unsolicited emails usually go unanswered. There are, however, a number of proven ways to find clients without directly pitching for work, allowing you to focus on the task of ranking sites.
Develop Your Own Website
Developing your own website is the obvious first step in attracting local clients. People naturally want to see examples of your success and understand what you offer. Business owners searching for local SEO terms are also highly targeted prospects, so ranking at the top for the main terms will give you an edge.
Build Niche Sites
There are probably certain niches in your area that are highly competitive. These niches could be specific to your locality, but they often include lawyers, real estate agents, dentists, and other popular industries. Creating niche sites in these industries will give you a prominent advertisement when potential clients start searching for their own website.
Rent or Sell Sites
While the traditional model includes building a branded website or ranking an existing one, there is an alternative. If you build a niche site, as mentioned in the previous method, you can consider selling or renting it to a client. Renting an ad on the main page of the site could bring in consistent income, with the possibility that the client will also want you to work on their own site.
Encourage Existing Clients to Find Leads
Your existing clients will almost certainly have relationships with other local business owners. If you can encourage them to recommend you, there will be far less selling involved in closing the deal. Offering a discount or deal, possibly a free month or additional social media promotion, should be enough to start promoting you to their network.
Buy Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads appear across a variety of sites after a visitor has left your website. Most people don’t make a purchase on the first visit, but this is particularly true when discussing business decisions that impact your online plans. Retargeting ensures your brand is seen on multiple occasions, increasing the chances the business owner will keep you in their mind. Using retargeting is a subtle way of branding and promoting yourself, often with fairly low ad costs.
Join a Local Business Group
Local business groups are a great way to meet potential clients, but don’t require too much self-promotion. SEO is something that many business owners understand they need, though they may not completely understand. As part of a business group, simply explaining what you do can often lead to a number of new leads.
The process of finding clients is one of the biggest stresses for many people, so these options can reduce the need to pitch yourself directly to clients. Of course, there will still be some salesmanship required, with competitors also looking to gain business, but your promotional efforts will be dramatically reduced. Ultimately, if you can develop a solid base of satisfied customers, you should see an increase in clients as your reputation starts to grow.