Written by Alex Valencia –
Local businesses are often the most interesting SEO clients to work with due to the creativity and strategy it takes to appeal to a local market.
While the basics – Google Business Profile optimization, localized content, etc. – still apply, local businesses must often think outside the box when trying to rank locally.
Acquiring these types of clients also takes skill. To SEO professionals, attracting positive, ambitious, and proactive local SEO clients is ideal.
Here are some tips for getting local SEO clients you truly want to work with.
1. Start Conversations With Local Business Owners
A few years ago, I was due for a haircut and started my search for a local barber. I saw a barber with great reviews on Google, so I visited their website to learn more about their prices.
Unfortunately, I was met by a “Warning! Your connection is not private” error on their website.
As an SEO strategist, I knew this was due to the business not having their SSL certificate enabled on their website.
So, I called them to book an appointment and, in person, gave a heads up to the owner that they had website security issues.
The owner was unaware of the issue and managed the website herself, so I offered to set up their SSL for free.
Later, she paid my team to diagnose additional technical SEO issues and continued into a longer engagement.
The lesson here is that often the best way to attract local SEO clients is to simply start genuine conversations.
It doesn’t have to be as glaring as a site security issue, but if you can identify a need, chances are the business will be happy you let them know there are issues impacting their business.
In addition, they’ll be grateful that you gave them a heads up and helped them avoid missing out on new business.
For example, a local business may not know that their Google Business Profile address is not up to date. Or that they have 404 errors on their website.
Or that their contact form isn’t working.
Often, your advice may be seen as a massive favor and could turn into an ongoing engagement. Or, at the very least, open the door to referral business once you’re seen as the local SEO expert.
Whether you’re looking for a haircut, buying a latte, or picking up a gift for a friend, keep your eyes open.
If you notice an SEO issue and make the time to offer some free value, you might be surprised by how this could turn into a new client or referral connection.
2. Identify Businesses Investing In Marketing
It’s well-known within the marketing community that tight-budget clients are often the most demanding clients.
This is not to say that having a small budget necessarily makes one a bad client, but that having an attitude of getting more for less is often backward when it comes to marketing.
In short, your ideal local SEO clients are those who recognize the value of marketing and are willing to invest in it toward reaching a larger goal.
They want to put their marketing dollars to work to achieve long-term growth.
Like in the previous example: A simple oversight was leading to site security issues, but the business was otherwise on top of its GBP (Google Business Profile) optimization and social media marketing.
The owner was receptive to feedback and saw the value in improving their web presence.
When looking for local SEO clients, look for businesses that meet the following criteria:
- Do they have a responsive website? If so, does it appear that it’s being updated regularly?
- Is the business posting consistently on social media?
- Is the business running paid ads?
- Are they keeping active with their blog and content marketing?
- Does it appear that they have done some degree of SEO?
- Are they updating their website with new deals, events, offers, etc.?
- Have they optimized their local search presence?
A company that appears to have invested in its marketing is more likely to be a great client.
You want a client who understands the need for marketing and will actively participate in their business growth.
Once you have identified local businesses that appear to tick off some of these boxes, reach out to them.
A free offer – like an audit or a friendly consultation – could be your foot in the door to a longer engagement.
3. Attend Speaking Events, Webinars, And Networking Meetups
I’m a fan of having your local SEO knowledge speak for itself.
Rather than cold messaging business owners with a sales pitch, it’s best first to provide free, no-strings-attached value.
This can be in the form of a friendly email or, in this case, sharing your knowledge at in-person or online events.
One of the top sources of local SEO leads for my business is speaking events –specifically, speaking events and webinars tailored to law firms (my target market).
Often, you can attract clients by sharing your expertise through a professional talk, online interview, networking event, or conference.
And remember, business owners who are proactive about attending such events often make good clients.
Here are some tips for making events work for lead generation:
- Find events tailored to your preferred market (if applicable). For example, if you primarily work with tech businesses, consider going to DevOps Day in Seattle. On the other hand, perhaps the Annual Employment Law Conference in Coronado may work if you seek to work with law firms.
- Apply to speak. If there is an opportunity to speak at an event, take it. Assuming you are comfortable with public speaking, this can be a great way to get noticed and attract clients.
- Many conferences host parties or happy hour following the event. Others host a lunch hour. This in-person networking can be invaluable.
- If you are speaking, it should not be a non-stop pitch fest. They will be stricken by your expertise and willingness to share information.
- Participate in online interviews and webinars. There are tons of online speaking opportunities. Look out for chances to be interviewed for blogs and podcasts. Then offer to speak on online webinars or YouTube. Reshare this content.
- Don’t forget to follow up. If you make connections online or in person, get their contact information. Then, following the event, send them a message. Thank them for the opportunity to meet, and encourage them to reach out to you if they need anything. Or continue the conversation you were having in person online.
Demonstrating genuine knowledge with business owners in your niche is one of the best ways to attract engaged clients.
4. Connect With Business Owners On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a top business-to-business (B2B) platform, helping professionals forge new relationships and find clients.
However, it is a platform that’s often abused – with marketers spamming users with cold pitches and spam.
Don’t be “that guy.”
Instead, use LinkedIn to cultivate genuine connections with business owners, so they’re excited to work with you.
Here’s how to use LinkedIn to get local SEO clients:
- Optimize your profile. Add a professional photo to your personal profile. Fill out your tagline and “about” section about what you do. Ask past clients and peers for Recommendations to boost your profile.
- Post valuable content. Post videos, articles, images, and posts that share value with your audience. Talk about issues, topics, and stories relevant to their business needs.
- Send Connection requests to local business owners and agencies. Feel free to introduce yourself, but not talk about your services. Imagine you are meeting someone at a conference and shaking their hand. No pitching!
- Nurture the follow-up. Once someone has accepted your Connection request, send them a follow-up message. Ask them questions about what they are working on, what interests them, etc.
- Follow niche-specific accounts and respond to their post with comments or questions. Also, send connection requests to other users following the same accounts.
Again, inbound marketing is all about providing value first.
If you nurture genuine engagement, users will begin to see you as the local SEO expert and may reach out to you on their own accord.
If you get far enough in a conversation, offer to help the business owner solve a problem.
If they are interested, this could be in the form of a free audit, consultation, or resource.
Remember, the best clients are those who actively want to work with you versus those who are stiff-armed into a project.
5. Keep Your Business Card On Hand
Don’t underestimate the value of traditional marketing.
Many local businesses are small “mom and pop” shops that like a personal touch.
They want to connect with a real person rather than a faceless agency.
When you are out and about, keep your business card on hand. Keep your eyes and ears open to conversations where business owners are looking for marketing solutions.
While someone may not be ready to work with you immediately, at least they will have the connection to offer referrals.
Referral business is one of the other top sources of leads for my law firm SEO company.
You’ll find that people are much more receptive to working with you if you have a friendly conversation first.
Having your business card on hand will mean you’re always prepared to offer your information and continue the conversation into a business relationship.
6. Forge Partnerships With Marketing Agencies
I’ve talked through some ways to connect directly with local business owners, but there’s another smart workaround to get more local SEO clients: agency partnerships.
Chances are, there are tons of marketing agencies in your area that offer marketing services.
However, not all of them will offer SEO. Forging a partnership could be an excellent way to get referral business or white label your services.
Here’s how it works:
- Find marketing agencies. Do a Google search for marketing agencies in your area. Make a list of those that don’t appear to offer SEO services.
- Take down their contact information. For the agencies that made your list, find their contact information. A phone number or email address is preferred (over a contact form).
- Send them a message. Contact the agencies over email or phone with the following message (or similar): “Hi [agency name], My name is [your name], and I am a local SEO practitioner in [city]. I’m connecting with you because I see you also offer marketing services in the [city] area. If SEO isn’t in your wheelhouse, I was wondering if we could form a partnership in which I refer [service you don’t offer] services to you, and you send local SEO needs my way. I would love to continue this conversation if you are interested. You can reach me at [phone number] or [email address].”
Agencies that see this as a direct pitch might not contact you, but others might see the value of a two-way partnership.
For example, you can send leads their way, and they send SEO clients to you. Or, you can provide a percentage commission on new business sent your way.
This can be a great way to get new clients passively, without active marketing.
Plus, agency partners could have many more advantages, like guest posting opportunities or networking.
There’s No “Secret” To Getting Great Clients
You’ll find that the key to getting great local SEO clients comes down to genuine relationships.
So, whether it’s networking, speaking, forging partnerships, or providing free value, the best way to attract great clients is to build meaningful connections.
Skip the cold pitch, and think first about how you can provide a benefit to local businesses or agencies.
You’ll find that many people are receptive to professionals who take a chance to get to know them, solve a problem, and nurture a friendly conversation.
Want more local SEO clients you truly want to work with?
Use these methods to build connections and encourage long-term partnerships.
Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock