AT THE PREMIERE ORLANDO International Beauty Event, Dean Horowitz, vice president of e-media for Vance Publishing (SALON TODAY’s parent company), coached salon owners and managers on how to put their best online foot forward. Back at home, SALON TODAY caught up with Horowitz to recap some of his favorite strategies for boosting a salon’s position with search engines:
What’s in Your Name?
“Back in the Yellow Pages heyday, people used to name their businesses names that started with a letter close to ‘A’ in the alphabet, so their name would come up early in a listing,” Horowitz says. “Now, you need to call your salon a name that a search engine can find.”
The name of your business should include what you are—a salon or spa. So instead of simply listing ‘O’Hara’s,’ it should be ‘O’Hara’s Salon and Spa.’ “It also helps to include a tagline that reinforces your salon’s unique client offerings, such as ‘extraordinary color, facial and massage experiences,’ that will be picked up by search engines,” he says.
Location, Location, Location
“I recently tried to find my wife’s salon online by searching under the name of our town and the word ‘salon.’ Even though the salon is only a few miles from our house, it didn’t pop up, because it’s technically in another town,” says Horowitz. “Make sure your website includes the names of all the suburbs and towns that surround you, and from which you draw clients.”
Audit Your Presence
“You may think you don’t have an online presence, but chances are you do,” says Horowitz. “You just may not have control of it. Type in your salon name and city, and see what pops up.”
Business location and review sites, such as the WhitePages, Citysearch, and Yelp!, may list contact information and reviews about your salon. “You need to audit these regularly. If information, such as your address or phone number are wrong, contact the site and correct it,” he says.
If someone posts a negative comment about your business, you can even post a positive comment, issuing an apology or inviting the reviewer back in for a complimentary service to address the issue. “Just be careful not to get defensive,” states Horowitz.
|“Remember that kid in fifth grade
that everyone wanted to sit with
in the lunchroom? You want to be
the cool kid—you want to have as
many connections as possible, and
have as many websites as you can
link to yours.” |
Choose Your Words
“Clever, colorful language may work on your service menu, but when designing your website, you need to use language that is more direct,” states Horowitz. “For example, your website might list your spa package as ‘A Day of Pampering,’ but if someone is searching under the words ‘facial,’ or ‘massage,’ and you don’t use those terms in your description, your salon name won’t come up.”
Horowitz recommends identifying the top five to 10 words that describe what you do well, then make sure those words flow liberally throughout your site. Those are the same words and terms people will use to search for your business, and the more often they appear on your site, the stronger your ranking in a search engine result.
Be the Cool Kid
“Remember that kid in fifth grade that everyone wanted to sit with in the lunchroom? You want to be the cool kid—you want to have as many connections as possible, and have as many websites as you can link to yours,” says Horowitz. “The more websites that link to yours, the stronger your ranking.”
He recommends looking closely at all the organizations you interact with, such as your Chamber of Commerce, the charities you support, the shopping center where you reside or other local businesses or neighborhood associations. Ask them to post a link on their sites that connects to yours. “It works as an endorsement, it speaks to your credibility,” he says.
“When you look at how people are searching, many are searching images,” says Horowitz. “Your site should feature a good amount of visual content.” Consider posting some of the team’s finished styles, before and after makeover images, images of services and products.
The ‘Third Place’ Strategy
“Like Starbucks, a salon is that third place (a community gathering place separate from home or work) and I think there’s a real opportunity to capture that through your website,” says Horowitz. “The salon experience goes beyond your physical space, it’s about relationships—and you should continue to grow that relationship through your website.”
Think about how your site could introduce someone who’s never been to your salon about the ‘experience’ of being in your salon. Give them a video tour of the salon, include some dialogue about frequently asked style questions, host a running update on fashion trends or a list of recommendations of hot spots in your town, post videos from events or parties hosted at the salon, or an update from a stylist who’s traveled for some advanced education.
Now, Go Beyond
“Think about other ways your website could be useful,” suggests Horowitz. “Let clients book appointments, consider adding a gift card registry for brides to list services they want or need, or think about offering a service that helps match a stylist to a client’s specific needs, like Match.com does for dating.”