Advance Your Agency is a BrightLocal series designed to equip you with the skills, knowledge and advice necessary to take your agency operations to the next level.
Web design is a great career. It’s creative and consultative, you get to use the latest techniques to solve very modern problems, and as an industry, web design isn’t likely to be going anywhere soon.
But there are downsides, too. It can be quite repetitive work, it can be hard to price if you can’t foresee required amends, and it can be hard to attain new clients in such a saturated market.
The greatest stress put on web designers, though, is that because web design tends to be contract-based, they’re always on the lookout for the next job, and always a little concerned about whether the work might dry up.
It’s no surprise, then, that more and more web designers are looking to expand their services to offer ongoing value to their clients. Offering local SEO to your local business clients is a natural next step in expanding your revenue and potentially blossoming from overworked web designer to starting a local SEO business.
In this piece I hope to provide anyone hoping to offer SEO services to local business clients the advice and tools they need to get started. We also have a really popular white-label pitch deck for retainers which you can make a copy of and use yourself here.
It goes without saying that offering more ‘paid-for’ services naturally allows you to increase profits from your current client base. How much revenue, though, is down to the effort you’re willing to put in.
Because improving a local business’ online presence is not a ‘one and done’ job, you’ll be delivering ongoing value to clients, most likely via a retainer, and therefore keeping them longer. Again, how long you keep them will be dependent on how much you’re willing to learn and do.
Thanks to having clients paying you more and staying with you longer, you’re far less likely to be spending sleepless nights wondering where the next client is coming from.
Many web design clients will assume that because you build their websites, you’ll be doing the SEO work on them, too. Sometimes you don’t have to go looking for the opportunity, and it just presents itself!
Sure, web design is a fairly resilient industry at the moment, but as Google inserts itself more and more between customer and business in search, with the various tools it offers like Google Sites and Google My Business, the local business need for attractive websites could well start diminishing.
Unless you start working with larger clients with more advanced and developed needs, there’s a natural skills ceiling you’ll hit in web design, where you’ll be putting the same skills into practice month after month. Offering additional services gives you a chance to learn something new and feel the excitement of discovery when putting these new skills into practice.
Offering local SEO services alongside web design will naturally put you in a better position to win clients. This is crucial in such a saturated market where competition is fierce and proof of success is everything.
There are two ways you can go about offering local SEO services for your web design clients: the hard way, which delivers ongoing results and develops your business, or the easy way, which will get you a quick buck but no real retainer work or recurring revenue.
If you’re looking for the latter, hey, I’m not here to judge you. We’ve got plenty of resources on getting the fundamentals (like building citations and Google My Business) in decent condition for a new website, but do bear in mind that that work is pretty much ‘one and done’ and you stand little chance of getting ongoing retainer work.
No, I’m here to talk you through the other way: the way that requires learning, development and improvement, but that will ultimately make you a better marketer and secure your future career in digital marketing.
Still here? Great, you’re already achieving step one on your way to becoming a local SEO hero. You’ve stuck around to learn.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to really knuckle down and get to grips with the key elements of local SEO and how they can benefit your clients. Not only will this allow you to actually perform SEO work that achieves results, but it’ll make you much, much more confident when pitching the benefits in the first place.
There are various ways you could go about training for local SEO, but I’d naturally recommend BrightLocal’s wealth of resources as a great place to start.
Firstly, I’d suggest you sign up for our Local SEO FastTrack course, where you can learn the fundamentals of local SEO over email in just two weeks. The course covers everything from citations and Google My Business to rankings and reviews, and will put you in a great position to start putting these skills into practice for your clients.
If you’ve got time to spare and you’re eager to learn right away, read our Beginners’ Guide to Local Marketing, then check out the ‘Learn’ section of BrightLocal’s Bright Ideas, which is filled with dozens of educational pieces on getting local SEO right.
One thing worth noting here is that you shouldn’t just seek knowledge about the best way to do local SEO, but also the worst ways. You might remember that in the early days of the internet there were lots of spammy, ‘black hat’ tactics that SEOs could use to gain traffic to a website.
While those days are mostly no more for the wider internet (thanks to ongoing algorithm updates by Google), in local results there are sadly still lots of ways local SEOs can manipulate rankings.
It’s important to learn about these spammy techniques, too, because your clients may well be aware of them and you’ll need to explain why the quick, cheap route is never the way to long-lasting success. Not only that, but spam is so prevalent in Google My Business that fighting spam can often be a quick route to better rankings in itself!
Another benefit to learning about spam is that you might have other SEOs making guarantees when pitching for the work, which is never the sign of a sustainable approach; your job is to be the more realistic, honest, trustworthy SEO and quickly debunk myths proffered by your competition. And that starts with education.
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