Being a freelancer or a small business owner is enthralling, yet there is an underlying challenge which cannot be ignored.
Building a growing money stream is not just about ranking one’s website pages for relevant keywords and hoping this alone will lead to quality results.
Any business model where the goal is to become profitable long term, requires a steady incoming line of high-quality clients and a proven process to support the business.
Without great clients and continual improvements of the marketing and sales funnels, the effort being put into ranking and marketing will go to waste.
Here are 8 tips which will assist in helping to get the highest quality clients from local search marketing.
Let’s imagine you are a web designer and you’re looking for a new client-getting strategy in your local market.
Building a great looking website is a wonderful starting point, but it is not enough. You are not going to be the only web designer in town. There will be countless ready-to-go opportunities for your potential clients to consider.
Outside of having a professional website, your work begins by targeting specific keywords in your region.
An example would be “web design in X town/city” and optimizing the page for this keyword. Whenever someone searches that specific search string, your page(s) will show up on the first / top page in Google or Bing.
You need to add multiple variations of keywords into your page. Combine this with compelling copy that positions you as the leading authority, with a unique offer and a call-to-action. You will create several pages to target unique keywords.
The reason this is necessary has to do with the general approach clients will take when searching for you.
They will hop onto their desktop or mobile device and begin to sift through all of the search results to see who best suits their needs.
They won’t have any prior considerations in mind and will base their decision on whoever shows up on the 1st page of results and that “speaks” to them.
These are your perfect candidates.
Tip: Use the free Google Keyword Planner tool. Begin by entering a few of your main keywords. Make sure to select the “Targeting” (locations) to get keyword ideas, monthly searches, competitive metrics and more for your local area. Get them placed into your title tag, headers and body content.
This is a fascinating trick that can be used to gauge the market.
What is the idea behind tracking movement in search results?
Let’s assume you are running a local SEO business and want to see which clients will be best suited for your services.
Has it gone up or gone down? This can showcase which clients should be targeted with an SEO service to help bolster their results.
You could even show their poor listing when aiming to convert the prospective client.
The same applies to you in the web designer example. You’ll notice poor ranking websites that might need better web designs, development, content, or anything else associated with running a site.
The Google search algorithm changes often. User experience and engagement on web pages from a search query is becoming more and more important. Think about this when tracking potential clients in the SERPs.
Finally, it is how you shape the message being shown to these prospects that will attract and begin to move them closer to a sale.
Ranking in Google is a good first step, but what if you could work backwards to find great clients based on local search results?
You want to work backwards by researching the most authoritative communities in your niche.
Let’s assume we are once again talking about web designer prospects. Where do they generally look to have such work done?
Is it a forum? A blog? A social platform? A work-for-hire directory?
Pretend to be the prospect. Research and learn more about where they hang out when wanting to hire someone. Search in Google, but also use tools like Twitter, for example.
What will you do when you have reached this hot spot online? Look for specific things they talk about.
This is the beauty of SEO; you don’t just have to target the keywords with the largest search volume.
There are many keyword phrases that are searched less frequently, but have an absolutely fantastic conversion rate attached to them. These are found in the 3-5 word phrases (the “long-tail”).
These are the type of keywords the prospective client is more likely to use. At least the ones nearing a purchase.
Tip: Use Google suggest and relevant search results phrases. Do this: as you type your keyword into the Google search box, look for “auto-suggested” terms that show up. And, when you enter a search query, scroll to the bottom of the search results page to find other relevant search phrases you can use.
Social media channels are often ignored – because what could they possibly have to do with ranking and SEO in general?
You cannot underestimate your potential clients and the amount of research they put into who they are hiring.
They will jump onto social media platforms to see how you (and your competition) interacts, and what people are saying about you. They will assess how experienced you are and hopefully learn why you are different.
Plus, search engines will appreciate a site owner that has social media accounts attached to their business. It’s all about authority and trust.
These social media accounts are a must in an age where people are quite tech-savvy and expect a you to have these in place.
Tip: Set up the major social platforms and post regularly. Use tools from this list to synchronize across platforms. Use attractive images and unique headlines that draw your targeted audience into your content and tools.
The Google business page is a perfect connection between your local business and prospective clients.
The chances of ranking higher and getting in front of these quality clients increase by establishing a solid profile and completing all the information.
This means you should be putting in your name, address, phone number and all other relevant information required for the business page.
By building the business page, you are setting a great example for the prospective client.
Online reviews are also a great way for getting the point across about how legitimate your small business is.
You will be well regarded when there are multiple reviews present on review sites like Yelp and Yellow pages. It will show experience, knowledge, and a commitment to excellence through posts that people make.
Those reviews are not a necessarily negative unless you are rude in your response and/or just leave them unattended. You should always protect your brand.
You should be immediate with your response and professional. This shows clients you treat others with respect. Negative reviews will happen.
Prospective clients will understand this as long as you are patient with those reviewers and don’t get into a shouting match online.
Tip: Use tools like Google Alerts to watch for your brand mentions (and even your competitors) online.
The recent algorithm changes for local searches in Google have shown a commitment towards becoming mobile-friendly. In 2014, Google launched the mobile friendly label to command further compliance.
Enter specific local keywords and you will notice sites that are mobile-friendly seem to be ranking far higher in the results.
This is going to happen far more often because of how Google is looking to shape itself with the surge in mobile device usage.
Small business owners and freelancers need to also realize most clients will be using these devices as well to search for services and/or products.
You have to be aware of this and optimize the site for mobile as well to get further visibility and attention.
Tip: Use the mobile friendly checker tool and analyze your website. Make changes accordingly.
The next step is to set up a funnel to attract high-quality clients.
A simple funnel framework to begin with: A landing page with a video and an opt-in, where they can enter their name & email to get more.
Now you can send them further information from your email auto-responder that you set up once. It does the filtering for you and saves a lot of time while you focus on building more educational content.
The funnel is also a great way to entice those who are on the fence because you will be placing numerous ‘call-to-actions’ on the content that you send them.
Tip: Provide content that helps your audience. Use examples and share what other businesses have seen from working with you. Show them your best work, and focus on sales conversion from your funnel.
These are all essential concepts you can use to obtain high-quality clients and to grow your business.
Use local SEO to boost your findability. I would recommend you combine this with search advertising (Adwords, Facebook) to get full coverage for your keywords and local market.
An optimized website – for users and search engines – will always help push you ahead of the competition. It separates the average freelancers and/or businesses from the very best. You always want to be in the latter group.