When looking for a web design agency, locality is still the deciding factor for many medium-sized businesses. Find out how you can use Google to win customers for your web design agency from your local area.

In a field where many of your competitors know how important high local search engine visibility is, good SEO advice is expensive. There are many ways WordPress agencies can generate business. Through performance marketing, for example, recommendations, Facebook groups or classified ad portals. And yet, search engine optimization still gets neglected by many web design agencies.

The advantages of local SEO

Classic reasons for not taking care of local SEO include: "it takes too long", "there's too much competition" and "the search volumes are too low". But this doesn't do justice to search engine optimization. Customers who are already actively searching for a WordPress or web design agency in their area are already very far along in their purchasing process. And thus pre-qualified. In the long run, this saves money on customer acquisition.

That should be reason enough to pay more attention to search engine optimization for WordPress agencies. At the end of the day, SEO is a craft you can learn. I'll show you how to dominate the search results in your city with your WordPress agency.

First of all, keep in mind you'll need to have your finger in a lot of pies. Because (organic) local ranking is divided into two parts. It consists of the Maps Pack (sometimes called the Snack Pack, which is the box at the top of Google's search results that appears for local searches) and the actual organic search results.

Local Ranking Google
Local search results on Google

You should be visible in both otherwise you let enormous potential slip through your fingers. But how can you be better found by local customers, e.g. for web design services?

Become aware of your positioning

The very first and most important thing you have to do before you start optimizing is to be clear about the following: what you actually offer, what you can help searchers with and what search queries this results in.

Offering too much isn't helpful. Let's put it this way, have you ever eaten good sushi in an Italian restaurant? Specializing in one field can help you become the number one contact for your topic. Search engines also honor this expert status. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you'll get more customers as a full-service provider because your target group is larger. Because that makes you much easier to compare. Another bonus point is that you'll rise much faster on Google because the search volume gets smaller and you have less and less competition.

If you work exclusively with WordPress, you want to be found only for that. If you implement websites only for craftsmen, you need visibility for it. In other words, if you want to rank for search terms that you can't cover in terms of services, you de facto can't satisfy the users' needs. This inevitably means that users will bounce and you'll get bad user signals. This is SEO death before you've even started.

In your initial keyword research, you should therefore only start with the search terms you can cover. Don't be blinded by the high search volumes that generic keywords have. The keywords with low search volumes are the ones that'll bring you the most orders later on – trust me!

Do you only work for a certain industry or target group such as doctors' surgeries or tradesmen? Great! Let all of this flow into the following keyword research.

Find the right keywords

Pure keyword research for your service pages isn't too hard. First, do some soul-searching and brainstorm what your customers are looking for in order to find you. Examples that are often very popular:

  • "Web design" + city
  • "Web design agency" + city
  • "Get website built" + city

I'm mentioning it again because it's so important: you should really only optimize for what you offer. Otherwise, you'll lose focus and create your own competition.

Next, ask your customers what words and search terms they would use if they were looking for your service. This will give you a good basis and seed keywords that you can use next for more in-depth keyword research.

Dominik explains really well how to do this step by step in this keyword research article. Also consider creating content for the beginning of the customer journey. For example, in a blog or magazine where you explain and inform about the topic of web design and the like.

Optimize your existing website

Once you've determined the focus keywords for your agency websites, you can start optimizing the on-page basics of your website. First of all, do an extensive SEO audit of your website. This will give you an overview of how your website is currently doing and which of the following measures you should prioritize.

Optimize meta data

The title tag at page level of your website is a heavyweight factor for search engines. It should always contain the focus keyword for the respective page, ideally right at the beginning. Make sure the title and meta description aren't too long, otherwise they'll be cut off. You can validate your metadata with the free snippet generator from SISTRIX.

SERP Snippet Generator
The SERP Snippet Generator from SISTRIX

Shorten the loading time

If you're a web design agency, I'm going to assume you care about your website's performance. It's absolutely essential you observe the basics of harmonious web design in terms of proper usability as well.

One of the biggest performance levers can be switching to a decent WordPress web host . If you lack the foundation for your site to perform properly, you're tripping yourself up before you've even started. Google already confirmed a while back that Core Web Vitals will soon be an official ranking factor. Roughly speaking, the Core Web Vitals include: 

  • the loading time and 
  • the stability of your layout. 

When working with WordPress, this often has a lot to do with the plugins and themes you have installed. If you use themes to create a website, test all the possible templates with Google's PageSpeed Tool during the research. There you can see how they behave in terms of load time and Core Web Vitals.

Google PageSpeed test results
Google PageSpeed tool results

Choose your themes wisely. There are thousands of beautiful WordPress themes for every purpose but unfortunately, many are technically third-rate at best. If you want to rank in the long term, you have to think about your choice of themes.

Create a smart website architecture

One mistake that's often made, especially with growing websites, is the URL structure. Keep the URL structure as flat as possible and orientate yourself on people. How can it be made clear just by reading the URL where it's located? That should always be your key question.

For your local ranking, it is always a good idea to include your keyword in the URL. Staying with our initial example, a suitable URL would be https://example.com/webdesign-stuttgart.

Rely on local landing pages

This brings us to the next point you can use to increase your visibility: local landing pages. Let's say you're already discoverable in the city where you have your business. Business can either good, because you rank at the top, or poor because the city is so small that there's hardly any search queries. In theory, you can expand the catchment area.

This means you can also rank organically in cities where you don't have a business address. It's not enough to simply copy sites, however. There's no way around creating unique content for each additional local landing page. Local differences or circumstances are often particularly suitable for a different approach to the texts and page content.

Enrich your snippet

Google's search results are becoming more and more comprehensive and users sometimes don't even know where to look anymore. Paid ads, featured snippets, knowledge graphs and much more make you look puny with a standard snippet on the search results page.

That's why you need to make every effort to occupy as much space as possible on the first search results page. Especially in the service sector, a rich snippet enriched with rating stars is worth its weight in gold. This is how you get stars in your listing:

By definition, this isn't a ranking factor but it helps you enormously to increase the click-through rate. The competition never sleeps and especially in the field of web design, many agencies have star-enriched snippets.

Rich Snippets WordPress plugins
There are plenty of Rich Snippet plugins on WordPress.org

Take care of off-page SEO

We've now laid the foundation for you to have a chance to play at the top. However, the best technical on-page setup is of no use if you don't have consistent citations and a clean link profile. I'll explain how you can achieve this below.

The classic in the area of off-page optimization is link building. Think of strong links like your backbone for rankings. But building really valuable links is difficult, it's what separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to search engine optimization.

The goal for your WordPress agency is to generate both locally relevant backlinks (directories, city portals, etc.) and thematically relevant backlinks (specialist portals, guest articles, etc.). If you need support here, do contact a professional SEO agency because building backlinks is very important.

Use the local press

Do you have a contact at the local paper? Great! Local editors are often happy to get a story. Ask if they would like to do a small piece about you and your agency. Every local press now has an online publication service or website. Make sure the piece is published there and the website (which often have a high domain rating with local papers) links to yours. Every local link helps enormously.

Imitate your competition's links

This tactic assumes that you have a decent SEO tool like ahrefs or SISTRIX at your disposal. The basic principle here is to evaluate the links of your competitors in the top five results and imitate the most suitable ones. Make sure you only build links that fit the topic. All other links are largely a wasted effort.

This requires a lot of research and acquisition work and, above all, experience in evaluating backlink quality.

Avoid links in the footer

A supposed quick-win for a WordPress agency to generate a large number of backlinks speedily are the well-known links in the footer of client pages. These aren't bad or reprehensible per se. The problem is mainly that your domain-link ratio suffers greatly. The footer, and thus also the link, is typically displayed on every single sub-page of the website.

In the case of a WooCommerce shop with products, this can quickly amount to several hundred backlinks that actually only come from one domain. This in itself has no added value and suggests to search engines that it's an unnatural link profile. In the worst case scenario, the webspam team may be called into action and you could receive a manual penalty.

Build citations

A little-known but nevertheless important factor in local search engine optimization for WordPress agencies is to create and maintain so-called citations. These citations are simply mentions of a company with data such as name, address and telephone number. In contrast to classic link building, it's not about the clickable link to your site, but only about the mention of the data. These are mainly found in business directories or online portals.

Search engines use this data, also called "NAP" (Name, Address, Phone), to check whether it's a genuine business and how credible and up-to-date the data is. This makes sense because very few local businesses take care to update the data on the various portals themselves when their phone number or email address changes.

It's crucial here that all the information is stringent. The data needs to be worded exactly the same on all portals and directories where you can be found:

  • Always use the same company name (with/without legal suffixes like Ltd.)
  • Adjust the address if necessary ("Avenue" or "Av." etc.)
  • Write your telephone number in the same way

It's worth defining the NAP data from the outset and tracking which portals your company is represented on. If you change the data later on, it will be much easier for you as don't have to start the tedious detail work all over again.

Alternatively, you can also invest a little budget and use a tool like uberall or brightlocal to save you time. If you want to rank locally with your website, you should implement this point in any case.

Optimize your Google MyBusiness profile

Not only can you increase your visibility on your own website, there's also a lot of optimization potential in your Google MyBusiness profile. Google MyBusiness refers to your company entry on Google Maps.

Once you've confirmed ownership of your listing, follow this step-by-step procedure:

  1. Insert company name (under menu item "Info").
  2. Adjust address/phone number (see NAP above, all this data must be the same everywhere).
  3. You can leave out the catchment area because you potentially offer your web design service everywhere.
  4. Add opening hours: this is a very important point. Even if your office isn't open to the public, you should provide valid information here and at least enter the times when you can be reached by phone. Also make sure that you maintain the special opening hours (at Easter, Christmas, etc.).
  5. Add the main and secondary categories for your business. In your case, this would of course be web design.
  6. Enter all the services you offer. You can enter the corresponding services for each of the categories you created under point 5. Feel free to use the keywords you've already researched.
  7. Create a short name (in the "Info" section). This allows you to generate a nice link to your profile.

Build ratings

The reviews on your Google MyBusiness listing are the crowning glory of all your efforts to rank well locally with your WordPress agency. Building and maintaining reviews isn't only important for building trust, it's also a factor for the local relevance of your agency.

First of all, everyone is able to recognize fake reviews by now. So refrain from quickly hiring a few friends to rate your agency because it's counterproductive at best. Instead, invest time in an honest strategy. Here's how you should proceed:

Make it easy, simple, stupid

Very few people feel like writing a review of their own accord. Unless, of course, the evaluation is negative. To work as efficiently as possible at this point, you can fall back on a few tricks.

Create an evaluation link. The most important thing is that you take the reviewer by the hand for as long as possible without influencing the decision. This means: Provide a link that takes them directly to the rating screen. You can copy this from your Google MyBusiness profile. To do this, navigate to the "Get more reviews" tile in the "Home" menu and share the form.

Google MyBusiness: Get more reviews
The link to the reviews on Google MyBusiness

Use QR codes

Alternatively, you can use a free online tool that allows you to create a QR code in the second step. To generate the QR code, you only need the link you just created from your Google MyBusiness profile. Copy this link into a free online tool (there are plenty of QR code generators on Google) and export the code.

So you don't have to send emails to your project partners repeatedly, you can also print the QR code on printed material and refer to it during a meeting. Before you send the data to the printer, you should test the code with your own smartphone.

Actively ask for feedback

Now you have the "hardware" to generate reviews, you can get down to the actual construction. If you already have clients, the first step is to ask them for a sincere review of their previous projects. Write a nice, personalized email asking for an honest review. Use the assets you just created, the link and the QR code.

Conclusion on Local SEO

There is never one secret recipe or perfect roadmap for search engine optimization. Every project and every starting position is different. You have to approach your project with this basic attitude. Especially in a competitive niche like web design, achieving good ranking is never going to be easy.

If you follow the advice above, you'll be in a great position to dominate the search results in your area with your WordPress agency.

Your questions about local SEO for agencies

What questions do you have for Maurice about local SEO? We look forward to your comments. Are you interested in WordPress and online marketing? Follow RAIDBOXES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter.

Maurice is the founder of the web agency webstube from Swabia, Germany. He's passionate about search engine optimization and user experience. For him, visibility means independence. Because any industry that doesn't proactively take care of its own visibility will sooner or later be swallowed up by platform models. From small craftsmen to industrial companies, he's already helped businesses of all sizes become more independent.

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