Your website and online listings are living, breathing digital tools that market your business to potential new guests daily. To maximize your online presence and continuously drive traffic to your salon, understanding how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works is important.
We know SEO can be an overwhelming topic, so we’ve talked with Imaginal Marketing, who has built SEO-friendly sites for hundreds of salons that rank on Page One of Google. Here, Lauren Bakos, IM’s creative strategy director, shares proven best practices for creating and maintaining a successfully optimized site and localized SEO presence.
3 Ways to Page One
“First, it’s good to understand there are 3 kinds of search results,” says Bakos. “There is Paid SEO (the ads), Local SEO (the map, or Google 3-Pack) and Organic SEO (the listings below the ads). Ads are obviously pay-to-play, and often discredited by consumers. So let’s focus on local and organic. Organic is all about your website. Local is all about your online presence elsewhere.”
Getting and staying on Page One of Google search results takes consistency and dedication, Bakos says. It will take time to improve the quality and quantity of your site’s content, but it’s necessary.
91.5 percent of Google searchers don't scroll past page one.
Not sure how your salon is doing? Google “hair salon near me” or “best salon near me” to find out.
(Make sure to use the Google Preview Tool for unbiased search results.)
Once you’ve determined where you stand, it’s time to focus on improvements. Bakos breaks it down into three places of focus: The way your site looks across the web (on sites like Google Business Profiles, Yelp, Facebook, etc), the way your site is built, and your site’s content.
1. GET ON THE MAP
Focus on local search first. Google reports that 46% of searches have local intent (people searching in a city or “near me”), so showing up for them is crucial to getting new guests in your chairs.
“The single most important piece of the puzzle for landing on the map is ensuring your business is properly represented on Google. Google Business Profiles are responsible for 25% of the algorithm for getting on the Google Map,” says Bakos.
Other sites matter to the 3-Pack, too. Claim your business everywhere—on Yelp, Google Biz, Facebook, etc. With a click of a button, most sites will walk you through the process of claiming your business.
While you’re claiming, make sure your name, address and phone number match EXACTLY anywhere your business is listed. Are you at 1244 Highway One? Then you should never be listed as 1244 Hwy 1. Consistency is key and helps you build credibility on Google.
You also have opportunity when it comes to other businesses.
“Anytime someone else links back to your site, it gives you credibility,” Bakos says. “Start with the big fish—look for major sites to point back to your site. That will help build up your rankings.”
For example, if you’re a member of a shopping center, make sure your salon is listed and linked back to your website. Member of the Chamber of Commerce? Get a link on their site, too. And if you receive any press, ask to have your site linked to your mention.
If you’re partnering with another local business to fundraise, ask them to add a link, and do the same for them. Cross-promotion also works with your product and tool manufacturers. Find out if they have a salon locator and ask to be listed.
2. BUILD A BETTER SITE
"Pre-Covid, 70% of salon traffic was new visitors. Post-Covid, 95% of traffic to salon and spa sites are new visitors."
The way your site is built is the first step in improving your organic Google rankings. Do you have a modern design and technology? Is your site responsive to all devices?
“Coding and technology change rapidly,” Bakos says. “You should be looking at getting a new site or updating every three years. Make a point to do an audit, talk to developers and ensure your site is responding to whatever Google is currently doing.”
And if you’re not mobile-friendly, you’re not in the game. 65-70% of site traffic is on mobile devices—Google will penalize you if your site isn’t working on phones and tablets.
You should also test your site’s speed (test it here for free). Bakos says, “You’ll get penalized for being slow—the faster your site, the better. Compress images and videos to be web-friendly before posting.”
3. KEEP YOUR CONTENT FRESH
Fresh, new content on a regular basis keeps your site ranking high. “If Google sees that nothing on your site is changing, it will think your site’s not relevant,” Bakos says.
But once you’ve established your service menu, “about” page, stylist bios, booking, etc, not much changes on a weekly or monthly basis.
“You must blog consistently—at least once a month, but more is better,” Bakos says. “Use keywords in headlines, re-name images and use strategic topics.”
For blog topics, tap into your areas of expertise like balayage, men’s cuts, curly hair, bridal, etc. Don’t forget to include keywords like “Chicago Aveda salon,” or “best salon in Chicago.”
Keywords can also be problem solvers like “gray coverage” or “frizzy hair.”
Bakos suggests having your team write down the questions clients ask most, then address these questions in blogs.
“And every file you upload should be named with relevant keywords, including photos and videos and downloads, like a PDF of your service menu,” she adds. “Google can’t read an image—just the name of the image, so it’s important to re-name those files with keywords.”
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?
Posting on social media platforms and linking back to your site is good for your SEO.
Bakos says more is better on Instagram—post once a day or more if you can. On Facebook, she recommends three to five times per week. “But you’ll need to boost every Facebook post,” she says. “The more people who see it, the more credibility the post has.”
And don’t let your 20-something stylists convince you Facebook is a thing of the past. It is very much alive and well with women ages 35 and up, who are prime salon clientele.
“There are things Facebook can do with advertising and boosted posts that Instagram can’t,” Bakos says. “Facebook is still relevant.”
"A lot of salons don't have the time, energy or expertise to spend on SEO. In some markets, it's easy to get to Page One really fast because nobody else is trying."
Use these tips and tools to launch your site to the top, and remember: never stop blogging!
Feeling overwhelmed? These tools will help you get started.
- Analytics: Visit analytics.google.com to make sure analytics are installed on your site. Then see what your audience is doing and set benchmarks for growth.
- Mobile Friendly: Check and see how mobile-friendly your site is here.
- Ad Preview: Click here to preview a Google search results page to see if your ads appear. Bonus: You’ll be able to see the top players in your market when you use the ad preview tool.
- Need more help? Contact Imaginal Marketing.
This article originally appeared on AvedaMeansBusiness.com. Turn to the site for additional useful information on salon business management.
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