Ready to supercharge your hair salon’s marketing though digital marketing? Ask yourself right now, “What do you do when you want your hair colored or cut?” You typically would go to Google and type in “Hair Salons in City Name“. Most people aren’t going to waste their time going to the second page of Google or deeper. If you are not listed on the first page, you might as well just not even have a website and save your money…well kind of. If you are not looking to take it serious, don’t waste your time and hit that back button.
Unfortunately hair salon marketing is important, but can be expensive depending on your goal. Most hair salons gain clients by offering a quality product or service that in return, gains a referral off a satisfied client. Well, what happens when you want to get noticed for something unique but you don’t know where to start? Here is our personal case study of how well digital marketing and SEO worked for us.
We launched our salon website in May of 2015 just to display some pricing and our services. For 6 months, the website sat around doing nothing due to me not having the time. On its own, the site was comfortably positioned on the 6th or 7th page of Google for “Hair Salons in Sioux Falls” and the same thing for “Healthy Hair Salon in Sioux Falls”. By November of 2015, I slowly began applying SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies on the website trying to get it to rank. A few months later, we made it to the bottom of the 2nd page and the top of the 3rd. Most importantly, we made it to the number 1 spot for the niche “Natural & Organic”. We received 2-3 calls a day from new clients. The more effort I have put in to it, the better the results and the more calls we get. We currently are ranking on the first page for hair salons in our area. You can too if you optimize the strategies listed below and simply be patient.
10 Steps to Better Digital Marketing
1. Determine your niche
The first objective in marketing is to figure out your niche. DO NOT waste your time or money in marketing if you are not offering something special, unique, or different. Sounds blunt, but it is true.
Your niche is what separates your business from everyone else. According to Forbes, 8 out of 10 businesses fail, where do you want to stand?
We determined that we wanted to operate our salon as a healthier hair salon. So we determined that we wanted to be in the niche of being natural and organic in the beauty/hair salon industry.
2. Identify your short-term and long-term goal?
Your short-term goal is what you can do right away to gain some quick exposure of your business. This can simply be some social media advertising or even some Google AdWords ads. I do not recommend this unless you have completed a brandable image (step 4) and website (step 5).
Your long-term goal should be where you want to see your business in 5 to 10 years. Image and Branding are key.
We have long-term plans for our business to eventually become a spa as well. With that in mind, we started off as Revive Salon, we rebranded our salon as Revive Salon and Spa. It is much easier to build a brand correctly the first time rather than investing time and money in the future.
3. Determine your budget for marketing
Your budget is very important, whether or not you can afford to market or not, it is a vital investment. Spending $100 a month in advertising may seem like a lot, but figure if you can gain actual real clients, that $100 investment is well worth it.
Google AdWords works great for us, we have the best return of investment. Initially Google AdWords offers first-time user deals of “Spend $25 get $100 in credits”. These are CPC (Cost-Per-Click) or PPC (Pay-Per-Click). This is absolutely worth it. The ads can be set to only display in a set radius of your business. This means that if someone is searching for local businesses hundreds of miles away, they wont be displayed. The CPC is determined by the quality of the ad and your competition.
Facebook Ads are a terrible ROI. They typically do not offer promos and you pay per view or impression. This form of advertising is better used for Branding or Promotions and can be expensive. I see quite often, small businesses advertise on Facebook for branding for a week to 2 weeks. It can cost a few hundred bucks (pending on your market reach) and 1 to 2 weeks is not adequate time to effectively brand a business.
Yelp Ads seemed to be a great idea in the past. They currently give you $100 in free advertising credits for first time advertising and utilize the CPC/PPC method. People who go to Yelp, seem to already be interested in finding what they are searching for and are looking for options. We had a great initial ROI. For every 3 clicks, we received 1 phone call from a new client. The price per click was about $3 a click, but with the free advertising just made sense. The issue I have with Yelp is that we have received several Yelp reviews and they do not display or they disappear. When we were paying for Yelp ads after the credits, our listings for “Hair Salons” fell from the first page to the third. Yelp Just seems to do some shady business, I think anyways. I helped another local business set up their advertising credits and they used up the entire $100 in 3 days in a small city. The analytics showed that most of the clicks were from Arizona and California which makes me wonder if Yelp hires click farms (people who get paid to click) to use up those credits. The $100 free credit is free, so you might as well give it a try.
4. Re-evaluate or evaluate your business image
How do you want to appeal to your clients? Image is how your business is branded. If it changes frequently or even looks cheap and un-appealing, get it done professionally. Do not go to a website that provides these logos for free. If you have big long-term goals, pay a professional to make a vector logo that is created in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape. A vector image is an image that can be resized and wont look blurry if it is created much larger.
We chose a feel for Revive Salon and Spa that not only fits my wife’s personality but I also wanted to address the natural and organic crowd. We went for a different approach by wanting to show people that natural and organic is not meant to be boring but rather vibrant.
5. Build/Rebuild your website
People want to see who you are as a business. They go online to search for a hair salon and are taken to a website that looks like it was built in 2000; old and outdated. The website is not appealing to you, so why would it be to other people. What drives people to websites is quality. If you are serious about growing your business, a website is a showcase of your quality and commitment. Find a website developer/designer to create your quality website. DO NOT use any website builder or free template. Many website builders/templates like those lack full customization and tend to include a link at the bottom such as: Design by “name”, Template by “name”, or Powered by “name”. They take link juice from their website. Any reputable marketing firm knows not to put that on a website.
So the goal of your website is:
- Match the colors and image you have decided on for your Brand.
- Create effective meta title tags, which is what you want to see when people search for your business. Try not to limit your characters to under 55. Rule of thumb, try not to include your city name in the title. Years ago this was important, now it just looks spammy.
- Create effective meta description tags, which is your description of your business or selling point to the customer. Try to limit these to 150-160 characters. Naturally fit in desired keywords that you would want to be identified as, such as a hair salon and include the area you provide service to. The words in the description mean nothing if they are not located on your that home page.
- Add content that is uniquely written
- Use quality images that you have taken yourself, People and Google love original photos.
- Optimize keywords
- Never use a Single Page template or site. One page sites may look good but they do not rank on Google very well at all because search engines do not know how to properly combine them.
- Only use one H1 tag per page (web designers understand this)
- Include a footer that contains your contact information
- Include a quick button so customers can call you quickly. Most of the users to our hair salon primarily use a mobile device, and typing in a phone number is the last thing you want to do when you are in a hurry.
- Optimize website for mobile use. Don’t create a mobile version, but rather use a responsive design (web designers understand this).
- Include alt tags to images to describe images on your site (web designers understand this)
- Preferably create a blog to post new information about trends etc. Google and Bing love sites with updated content. Many SEO strategist believe this is important, I necessarily don’t. Unless you are writing actual unique content that people would actually benefit from writing, do waste your time.
- Optimize schema markup. This tells search engines what your site is all about. What would you like to see when you are deciding on a new hair salon? I would select a salon that personally has review stars.
- Your home page is very important for this style of local business. Include as much information as you deem relevant. Understand that every hair salon website seems to have a the same structure: Home, About, Services, Pricing, Contact. Your money page that you can expect people to primarily come to is the home page.
- Structure site like: Home Services Products Contact Blog
- Find a good webhost. I like eHost or Bluehost, they have some good deals for domain name and hosting. Both companies offer advertising credits which is great for initial exposure.
Be sure your site is built correctly the first time. It can be very costly to have to make edits in the future.
6. Properly submit your website to the major search engines
Submit your website to Google Webmaster Tool and Bing Webmaster Tools for your website to be indexed aka listed on Google, Bing, Yahoo.
7. Do keyword research to show up on searches better than your competitors
This is important for people to see your website in relevant searches. This is done by using tools to figure out what most people type in for their search, such as: natural salons in “city” or best salon in “city”. They are called short tail and long-tail keywords.
short-tail: basic keywords such as: salon, spa, hair color
long-tail: sentences that people would search such as: Best Hair Salon
Once you have a list of keywords, be sure to add those exact words NATURALLY in any paragraph you write. Do not make them sound obvious and spammy.
Don’t think they work? Check out this real-life example in the time frame of a few hours.
8. Set up social media profiles
Create a Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Google Plus page for your business. This will improve your trust factor and can showcase up to date posts, specials, and images. Once social media profiles are set up, you can add your website link to the profiles and then add your social media profiles to your website.
9. Slowly create backlinks for your website
Backlinks are your links on other websites that have your website address on them. These links on other websites tell the search engines that a popular website has trust in yours. Google and Bing like trust. This trust is called, Link Juice. IE: Imagine you have 3 cups and you fill 1 cup all the way to the top, which represents a popular site such as CNN. Now take a new cup and poor some water from the full cup, this represents passing trust from one site to another. The fuller the cup, the more trust you have, the better you will rank in search engines. If you own a hair salon and you get a backlink on a tech website, the search engines might disregard that link due to it being off topic.
Backlinks on other sites are either no-follow or do-follow. No-follow means that it doesn’t pass trust. Do-follow means that it does pass trust. It is important to have a good ratio of each, I personally stick to an approximate 1:1 ratio.
I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT ever use a service that claims to give you 1000 backlinks to get you on Google for a cheap price. Do link building manually or higher someone with actual true claims of quality backlink building.
10. Be Patient
It takes time for your website to rank, approximately 4 to 12 months. If you just bought your website address, expect it to take longer to rank in Google or Bing compared to a website you made years ago.
My Site is optimized, why are my Competitors still on the first page when I have a better site?
This is something that personally upsets me. Our site is SEO optimized and ready to rank on the first page, but isn’t. I have more, better backlinks and still nothing. Well, your competitors business may have been listed on Google for years, so it has a trust factor and a reputation. It just takes times. The more active you are about having actual visits to your site, the better. Social Media posting is important when it comes to this.
How do I find backlink locations or websites?
I use tools like Moz Pro, SemRush, and Ahrefs. They are very thorough and are paid versions. The show your competitions backlinks and you can try to gain the same ones they have.
The issue with these tools is that they all offer a free version that doesn’t give you what you the quality you need. From our initial launch of our website, we could not beat our competition on the first 3 pages of Google. All of my effort made me mad that it wasn’t going anywhere. Then I stepped it up and purchased the paid versions, in 2 months, we not only Ranked #1 in our niche, but we are on the first page for the industry in our area.
Why do many SEO services charge so much per month?
They do because they can. Many companies charge you a tremendous amount of money and do nothing. I recently did an analysis of someone paying $500 a month for their business to be on the first page of Google by some agency. That agency did quality work and built great backlinks, but the second they stopped going through their service, they removed the links and the business fell down to the bottom of the 2nd page.
I am against services like that, that not only make claims that they can get you to the first page of Google (there is no guarantee) and essentially charge you money every month by not doing anything. For a local business that has gotten to the first page of Google or Bing, dropping the SEO service should not impact you ranking. But please keep in mind, search engines do not like stale old content. If you had people talking about your business for 6 months and then all of a sudden stopped, that sends signals that maybe this business is closed or not relevant anymore and will lose trust and rankings.
What’s the secret to being on the first page of Google?
Quality content and backlinks. There is more too it, but why give away all of the strategies that work. The search engines change are constantly changing their algorithms, so some strategies you may read about may actually hurt your rankings.
For any additional questions, feel free to contact us at any time.