For small and local businesses, particularly service-based business, learning to do local marketing can dramatically increase your business. Here are three key guidelines to make sure your online efforts to market locally will meet with success.

Include Contact Information on Your Website

Whether customers are searching for your company or for the services you offer, 97% of shoppers look online first when looking for a local service provider, according to a study from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat. Maybe even more surprising is that 46% of those shoppers are using their mobile devices to search for local businesses online, as noted by SearchEngineWatch. Including your contact info and phone number prominently in the upper right corner of your website will help current and potential clients find you faster. Because people are looking online first, even for small and local businesses, all businesses--including small mom-and-pop shops--should ensure they have a solid online presence. Search engines reward local optimization heavily. The first and primary criteria search engines look for is that the business location, address, and phone number are listed clearly on the website.

Fill Out Your Google My Business Profile

Besides providing basic contact information on your site, filling out a Google My Business profile fully will do wonders towards ranking your website higher on search result pages and help clients find you quickly. Consumers want to know as much about a business before calling, such as hours, products offered, contact info and what type of payments you accept.

Interact with Your Customers

Now that you have all the info a potential client will need to find and contact you, they will be looking for your current clients experience with your company. Online review sites and social media are where your customers are most likely to share their feedback with you. Give them these avenues to share and then respond quickly and professionally to all of the feedback you receive, whether it's rave reviews or negative voices. If you have a positive voice online, customers will associate your positive tone with your brand. By keeping up with the online queries, you'll keep your reputation positive. Interacting with your customers shows potential customers that you care and are actively working to keep their business. These potential customers will turn into loyal customers. According to Nielson ratings, 77% of people trust online recommendations above any other source, including their own friends and family. In general, consumers regard customer recommendations more highly than expensive billboards or money mailers sent to their homes.

Real-World Success

My own company recently dealt with a venture run by a woman named Cindy who wanted more clients for her local alteration business located in a small Dallas suburb. Her business, a dress alterations company, wasn't being found online at all, which meant that she barely had any clients. We built a campaign for her around local marketing online, using a strategy centered on the steps listed above. Since she started working with us at the beginning of 2014, she had acquired so many customers that she had to start turning down jobs. Her business is consistently ranking as the top search result for 100% of her localized keywords. Imagine what online marketing with a localized focus could accomplish for your business. Using the Internet for local marketing is all about being found and creating relationships. Putting a focus on these three tips can be an immediate game-changer for your organization.