Most web designers work with clients from all over the country or even all around the world. While it certainly allows the designer to expand his or her marketplace, there are sometimes competitive advantages that exist when targeting work from local clients. Because local marketing is sometimes overlooked, I wanted to put together this list of suggestions for doing more work in your own backyard.
1 – Use the city you are targeting in your page titles
Some potential clients that prefer to work with a local designer will turn to a search engine, and they’ll use a locality in their search phrase, such as “Philadelphia web designer.” While general search phrases like “web design” or “website designer” are extremely competitive and difficult to attain high rankings, local searches are far less competitive. If you are going after these local clients, why not optimize your site for local searches? Page titles are one of the most significant factors, but general SEO using local terms will affect other areas of your site as well.
2 – Use effective meta descriptions
While meta descriptions have very limited impact on search engine rankings, they can have a much more significant impact on click-through rates. Think about the mentality of a potential client that is looking for a local designer. If he or she does a search for a designer in a specific location, most likely a meta description that mentions that location will be clicked over one that doesn’t mention the location.
3 – Pay-Per-Click advertising
One of the great advantages of PPC advertising is that you can accurately and easily target certain geographic areas. Different PPC programs offer different ways of doing things, but most of the major competitors will give you a way to show your ads only to searchers within a specified region. By doing this you can make your ads much more effective. You won’t be wasting money on clicks from other parts of the world, and you can include localized keywords and phrases in your ads to draw more attention and more clicks. Aside from just narrowing down the geographic region that sees your ads, you can also target local keywords just like you’re doing with organic SEO in the first point that was covered.
4 – Join a chamber of commerce
A local chamber of commerce can be a great resource for meeting other local business owners and making valuable contacts. Almost every city, town or county has a chamber of commerce, and membership dues are usually pretty reasonable. Additionally, many chambers now will also link to the websites of their members through an online membership directory. With a chamber of commerce, you will get out of it what you put into it. If you’re actively attending events and making an effort to get to know other members, you will make some valuable business contacts. If you join the chamber and don’t really put anything into it, you won’t get much out of it.
5 – Get links from local websites
Most cities have localized websites that get a decent bit of traffic and rank well for local searches. If you can get links from these sites you could in turn get more local traffic of your own. Additionally, you can get links from other local business that could result in more local traffic.
6 – Work with a well-connected local client
Sometimes doing a website for one well-known or well-connected local client can lead to several other local jobs. Make an effort to identify some businesses or organizations that would provide a good opportunity to get some exposure from designing their website. Don’t always judge a potential project based simply on the amount of money that you’ll make on that work. If there is strong potential to lead to even more work you may want to consider taking the project for less money than you would otherwise.
7 – Be proactive
Attracting local clients isn’t all about waiting for them to come to you. As a local designer you have an advantage over designers in other parts of the country or the world. Be proactive and pursue some potential jobs on your own. How you go about this is up to you, but if local searches aren’t providing the results you want, take some action. Chances are you already know some other local business owners that could be in need of your services. Why not talk to them and see if there is an opportunity to work together?
8 – Attend local networking events
Chambers of commerces, community groups, community colleges, and other local businesses may provide you with opportunities to mix with other business owners. When I first attended networking events I was pretty uncomfortable approaching others, but I quickly realized that everyone was there to meet other people. No one goes to a networking event to stand in the corner by themselves. They’re a great place to meet others because everyone is so open to making new connections.
9 – Distribute business cards
A lot of local service providers use business cards as one of their means for finding new business. You probably see business cards of real estate agents just about everywhere you go. Having an attractive business card that you can leave may be the difference between getting work and not getting work. While it will never be your most productive form of marketing it can be a nice supplement.
10 – Local advertisements
Local clients that are looking for a designer may turn to publications such as the Yellow Pages or the newspaper. Many times designers get so focused on online promotion and marketing that they tend to forget more traditional methods.
What’s Your Experience?
What have you found to help with attracting local clients?