If your salon has a website, you could be in for a big shock. Google is changing the rules (again) on how it ranks websites in its search results. If your site doesn’t fit the new regime, you could find your site dropping out of view, unless you take urgent action.
Because as of this week, Google will begin demoting websites that aren’t “mobile responsive.”
The company announced its impending changes back in February, giving webmasters nearly two months and plenty of information to make the changes necessary to keep their sites from disappearing from mobile search results. But the update is still expected to cause a major ranking shake-up. It has even been nicknamed “Mobile-geddon” because of how “apocalyptic” it could be for millions of websites, according to Director of Online at Worldwide Salon Marketing, George Slater.
“Come April 21, a lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” he says.
Businesses that depend on people finding them through localised search — like, if someone typed “hair salon Hawthorn,” into Google on their phone — could see a decrease in foot traffic as a result of this update, says Mr Slater.
“Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king,” he says. “But that’s changing. Yes, they’re saying content is still important, but user experience is just as important. It’s not enough to have good content — if people come to your site and the content is there but it’s not readable, that’s not good.”
“I’m worried about it, a lot,” says one salon owner whose website is featured prominently at the top of Google searches. Thanks to her website’s position on the first page Google – which has 80% of the world’s search business – customers were finding her more and more easily. And she should be worried. A quick check of her website on a mobile phone and the problem was obvious. Because Google is about to change the way it ‘rates’ websites in search results, her high-ranking site risked being downgraded – ‘sandboxed’, in geek terms – relegated to back pages where nobody will find it.
The problem: Her site was built back when smart-phones had nowhere near the market penetration they now enjoy. Recent studies indicate that people are now using their smart phones – iPhones and Android devices – for fully 60% of all online searches.
And on a smart phone, her website was just about unreadable; the full-sized, detailed, multi-page site, crammed into a tiny phone screen made it almost impossible for searchers to find relevant information…like her phone number. Why is that important? Because other studies show that of all people searching for a local business like a hair or beauty salon on a smart phone, more than 60% are doing so because they want to buy something or book an appointment…now.
According to George Slater, “The people at Google aren’t stupid. They know that smart phones are taking over the world. They also know that if a Google search on a smart phone doesn’t take the searcher to a website that’s easy to read, Google’s own relevance in a mobile world will diminish.
George Slater, Director of Online at Worldwide Salon Marketing
“So the folks at Google are checking websites that appear in the top three pages of its search rankings. If those sites aren’t ‘mobile responsive’, the sites will be downgraded. And the salon will lose valuable business before the problem can be fixed, and more valuable time before the site can climb back up the search listings.”
In other words, your website could disappear from search rankings completely. And for many salon owners, like Lesley, that could be disastrous for business.
How to check your site
It’s easy to check if your site is mobile responsive. Just grab your smart phone and in its web browser, type in the address of your site. If all you get is the whole website, with all its lovely graphics and photos, and you have to scroll around that little screen just to find your phone number…you’re in trouble. Imagine it from your prospective customer’s point of view; all she wants to do is find a salon in her area that she can call and book an appointment for a cut and colour, or a facial, or some waxing, and you’re making it difficult for her. So she hits the back button, and finds another salon that makes it easy for her to do business there and then.
What to do
Call your web designer NOW. If he or she can’t (or won’t) help you – or can’t be located/doesn’t respond, which is often the case for salons who had their websites built in some cases years ago – call us at Worldwide Salon Marketing on 08 9443 9327.
WSM builds, hosts and maintains websites for hundreds of salons, spas, medispas and wellness clinics all over the world – and every single one of them is ‘mobile ready’.
Check out our website plans here – and solve your website problems with a single phone call.
Download a FREE sample of articles from the Salon & Spa Beauty Bank here!
Faced with the task of writing an article for a salon newsletter, a blog post or a social media status update, you can’t blame most hair stylists, beauty therapists or salon owners for throwing their hands in the air and groaning “I don’t know how to write an article!”
Let’s face it – you’re not trained as a writer; you’re trained to cut hair, do skin treatments, massages or nails. So it seems almost perverse that with the explosion in new media in the past few years, the need for the written word to promote a salon business is bigger than it’s ever been.
Websites require regular, frequent updates (blog posts) to keep them fresh and ranking highly in the search engines. Social media – like Facebook fan pages – need daily status updates to keep fans interested and responsive. Emails need interesting content, newsletters need articles containing news, not just product or service pitches.
It’s a LOT of work. More than most busy hair & beauty professionals can commit to, even if they had the skills to turn out an article that’s both interesting, compelling, and conveys the right message – over and over again.
The Salon & Spa Beauty Bank – at last, an online resource of done-for-you articles for hair & beauty salons to use in their own newsletters, emails, blog posts and status updates.
Thankfully, at last, there’s a solution.
Former spa owner (and long-time Worldwide Salon Marketing member) Susan Vincent of Staunton, Virginia realized the need for salons & spas to have ready access to a wide variety of done-for-you articles covering every imaginable hair or beauty-related issue, treatments, services, news and images. So Susan created the world’s first (and only) library of hundreds of articles, written precisely for the purpose of saving salon owners the agony and anxiety of having to create their own material for their websites, newsletters, emails and status updates.
For the very reasonable access fee of $97 a month – no contracts, you can leave whenever you like – Susan’s articles remove the pain of spending hours, days even, staring at a blank computer screen to research, gather material and put one laborious word after another. (Just think for a moment; what’s your time worth? Writing just one newsletter article or blog post a week might take you an hour of research and another hour of writing. Two hours a time, four times a month – 8 hours!)
In this interview, I asked Susan how she got the inspiration to start the Salon & Spa Beauty Bank.
Download a FREE sample of articles from the Salon & Spa Beauty Bank here!
If you’re anything like me, the tiny details behind how technology works probably send you into a coma too. BUT…I have to face facts, and the facts are that local businesses – like salons and spas – which fail to embrace what their customers and prospects are now doing with technology are doomed to fail.
The world has changed dramatically just in the past couple of years. Your customers and prospects are now doing something – every single day – that would have been considered unthinkable just a few years ago.
They’re using their smartphones to search for products and services.
Right now, as you’re reading this, somebody is Googling on their cell phone, or using an App, to look for a hair or beauty service near you.
Pull your head out of the sand and take a look at the graphic on this page. If that’s not enough to change the way you think about how you reach your customers, nothing will.
Which is precisely why more and more salons are coming to us to build them websites and mobile phone apps that get their business in front of the eyeballs of clients and prospects – on their mobile devices.
Here’s an example of a mobile app we’ve just built for one of our salons (it happens to be in Robina, Queensland.)