Google is today what Yellow Pages was 20 – 40 years ago. It is the default go-to-place to find answers about anything and everything. There are more than 3.5 BILLION searches on Google every single day. You want to know the age of Brad Pitt? Google. You want to know if it’s safe to put a fork in the microwave? Google. You want to find an Italian restaurant to go to when you visit Los Angeles? Google. And of course, you want to find the best hair salon in Vancouver? You guessed it…Google.
So how you do make sure that you show up on page 1 of a search?
Firstly, here are some important reasons why you NEED to:
A study of over 5 million search results showed that the first suggestion from Google gets 32% of clicks. The second listing gets 18% of clicks. That’s already over 50%! By the time you get to the 7 th Google suggestion, it is only getting 3% of clicks, and any results outside of the 1 st page only get 0.78% of clicks.
So the simple question is: how does Google decide which website to rank in what spot?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very complicated at its core. Google doesn’t reveal exactly how it decides. All anyone knows is that it is a complex algorithm that takes into consideration over 200 factors. Yes – 200!!
Essentially the process is:
1. Google’s spiders crawl the web by visiting web pages.
2. Then, they add optimized pages to their index and catalogue them.
3. When people search, Google tries to show the best result that matches the search terms.
So the first step is that you need to have a website in order to have good visibility in search results. We often hear salons say, I just made a website, how come I am not showing up on the 1 st page of Google searches? It takes time. And just having a website isn’t the only factor. But we can tell you that NOT having a website will almost certainly lead to you not being anywhere close to page 1. If you don’t yet have a website for your salon or spa, our partners at Salon S.O.S. have simple and affordable website solutions here! You can even use your Redken C5A points to get reimbursed!
Large companies spend $1,000 – $2,000 per month on SEO because it’s an ongoing process. You can’t just optimize your SEO once and expect that you will show up 1st in all searches from now until the end of time. We understand these budgets aren’t possible for small businesses like hair salons and spas, so we’re going to do our best to highlight the most important things you can do to help boost your Google Ranking.
HOW DO I GET MY SALON OR SPA ON PAGE #1 OF GOOGLE SEARCHES?
Basically there are 3 main categories that are analyzed within the Google search engine algorithm: technical considerations, elements that are within your website, and elements that are on the internet but outside of your website. Let’s take a closer look at these:
1. GOOGLE TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Site and Page Speed: How fast your website loads is important because consumers today want speed and convenience. You can check your website’s speed by using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights.
Mobile Optimized: Since more than 50% of internet searches happen from a mobile phone, Google checks the quality and speed of your mobile website to ensure a good consumer experience on your website.
Secure Website (HTTPS): This security feature of your domain name helps provide credibility to your website. You can check if you have HTTPS before the www.salonname.com in your website address to see if your website is secured. If not, you should check with your website and domain name provider.
Domain Age: Because credibility and trustworthiness are important to Google, it’s no surprise that 60% of sites in top 10 search rankings have existed for 3 years or more. It’s important that your website can continue to attract visitors over time. Be patient! SEO is a long-term game.
2. GOOGLE ON-PAGE CONSIDERATIONS (THINGS THAT ARE WITHIN YOUR WEBSITE):
Keywords: Keywords are essentially the words that potential clients are typing into Google when they do a search. Are they typing ‘Best hair salon Vancouver’? ‘Blonde Balayage in Kelowna’? You want to figure out the keywords that you want to be associated with, and then include then consistently throughout your website. It’s important to choose keywords that people are ACTUALLY searching for. Our friends at Salon S.O.S. can help you research the best keywords for your business.
The best place to include keywords on your website is in blogs because you have space for lots of content and it also helps people spend more time on your website. Keywords have to appear organically and sound natural on your site, otherwise Google will recognize that you are not being authentic. Here are some of the places where you should include keywords: Blogs; your ABOUT section; description of services; in reviews; as the names of images + videos on website; in the captions of your social media posts; in the website title tags and meta descriptions.
Title Tags: These are important as they represent the title of how each page of your website will appear in the Google search results.
Meta Descriptions: These are the descriptions that appear under the Title Tag in Google search results. You can include up to 160 characters and should include your keywords as well as information to entice viewers. Think of it as the elevator pitch as to why someone should click on the link!
Image Tags: Within your website, you can include a short title or description for each image or video to tell Google what it is. This is a great place to also include key words. Just make sure the words are related to what’s in the image. For a picture of a hair colour result, you could put “Best blond balayage Langley’ as the Image tag.
User Experience: If a consumer clicks on your link and then leaves the website right away, that’s a sign to Google that the content doesn’t match the search. Google will be less likely to recommend that page in the future for a similar search. If a consumer clicks and stays on the site for a while, it has the opposite effect. This is why you always want to make sure that your keywords are relevant to your content.
3. GOOGLE OFF-PAGE CONSIDERATIONS (THINGS THAT ARE OUTSIDE YOUR WEBSITE):
Backlinks: Backlinks help to measure the popularity of your website. Essentially it is a measure of the quantity and quality of OTHER websites that have links to your website. If another website feels confident enough to send its visitors over to YOUR site, that is a really good sign for Google. And obviously it will have an even bigger impact on Google if the website that is referring you is a big website with lots of traffic (think Glamour Magazine website), rather than a small, local website that has no traffic (think Sally’s Nail Shop). Trying to collaborate with other businesses and convincing them to include a link on their website to yours can go a long way to improving your search rankings.
Reviews: We have always known that online reviews are important because people read them before making purchase decisions, however did you realize that they are also important as a signal to Google for your search ranking? Again here, Google will look at both the quantity and quality of reviews, across multiple sites. The 3 most important review sites for hair salons are Google, Facebook, and Yelp. So make sure you are driving people to all 3 of these locations to write reviews. If you can get clients to include your keywords in their reviews, that would be a huge bonus! (example: “I have been coming to Classic Cuts for over 10 years. For me, they are the best hair salon in Vancouver. I always leave the salon looking and feeling great. They are a warm, friendly team.”
Directory Listings: There are many websites on the internet that essentially provide contact information for different companies. Yellow Pages is a great example. As a company owner, you might have heard of the Better Business Bureau. The more of these directly listings that you appear in, the better because it again tells Google that you are a real, credible company. What is even MORE important than the quantity of listings though is that your contact information is IDENTICAL across all these listings. Any differences will cause confusion for Google and that inconsistency will negatively impact your search ranking. Here are some examples of directly listings that you should definitely get listed in (all are free, although they will try to convince you to upgrade to premium package which you can ignore). You should also check for local business directories in your city or state/province.
- Google Business Profile
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Map Quest
- Better Business Bureau
- Yellow Pages
As you can see, there is a lot of information here and these are only some of the more than 200 factors that Google takes into consideration. It might seem daunting, but a little bit of time and energy on SEO can have a massive impact on your ability to get new clients and grow your business. It’s important to remember that climbing the rankings takes time. It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Our friends at Salon S.O.S. have created a simple, affordable SEO tool to help you improve your website traffic and Google search ranking. They’ll research the best keywords for your business, perform a monthly scan, send you a performance report that compares you to up to 4 competitors, and send you an easy to follow action plan. If you have your website managed by them, they’ll do all the implementation work for you! You can discover full details about this great tool here: www.salonsos.ca/seo