Google often makes changes that have an impact on how your website performs compared to others. Standard search engine optimisation (SEO), nice images and a regularly updated news feed are no longer enough to keep you top of the list when it comes to rankings, meaning your website could be missed by potential clients.
It’s now all about questions. Consumer habits have evolved, and people tend to make specific searches; for example, “How do I treat acne scars?”. Consumers are not going online and looking for companies or brand names. Instead, they’re typing – or, increasingly, asking out loud thanks to voice search – full questions, a change which has resulted in the introduction of the “people may also ask” box on the first page of Google results. Google has changed how it operates so that the websites that make the effort to answer those questions and use structured data mark-up will be nearer the top of the search results.
If your potential client is looking for the right type of treatment or product, you need to talk about that specifically on your site to ensure you’re hitting the top of the search. Luckily, this is relatively easy to do and doesn’t require huge changes to your website. It does, however, mean taking a little more time to get the tone of your content right.
Your blog and/or news section can be adapted, or a new page added, in which frequently asked questions (FAQs) are listed, or you can plan regular advice articles that answer questions by plotting out the list of key products you sell or services you provide.
Try putting together a strategic programme of advice articles, sharing your expertise on the best products for various skin types, different times of year, changing trends, names of towns near you, etc. This provides interesting, sharable content that people will want to read, as well as satisfying Google’s new search requirements.
Online activity has risen significantly over the past 24 months – beauty and grooming ecommerce surged 42% in 2020, making it the second-largest channel for cosmetics and toiletries in the UK.
While word-of-mouth, traditional PR, local marketing campaigns and social media all play a vital role, your website is becoming more and more important. Here are five ways to optimise your website:
1. Make it user-friendly
Ease of use and encouraging people to book appointments is the priority. Google will show preference to sites it deems to have good user experience, labelling them as such, immediately making them more appealing to consumers.
2. Get your images right
Make sure you optimise your images by compressing them so they are the right size. This will affect page speed, allowing the user to scroll and interact with a page while an image loads, without the risk of clicking on anything unintended and leaving the site.
3. Keep it positive
Over the years, Google has introduced several assessments to rank usability of websites, conducted to understand how easy the site is to use and, therefore, how positively or negatively a person responds to a web page.
This can make browsers struggle with other tasks in the meantime.
You can tell the browser which page or part of a page is most critical – you aren’t necessarily making the page load faster, but giving the illusion that it is, further boosting the user experience.
4. Make it mobile
Over half of global traffic comes from mobiles, so you need to make sure your offering is suitable to use across all devices. Develop your site using a “mobile first” mentality.
5. Reviews matter
93% of consumers read an online review before buying or booking something, making it hugely beneficial to generate good reviews for your salon on your own and third-party sites. Don’t feel shy about asking clients to leave a review – 68% of customers will leave a review if asked.
Include the best comments on your pages, and if reviews start to get negative, it’s best to try to take the conversation offline or onto a private platform.
Once these things are set up and managed correctly, it then comes back to good-quality content. I advise creating a programme that is full of interesting articles (at least 350 words long), that answer customer questions about your treatments, location and popular styles, and your site will be more likely to have higher Google rankings, leading to more traffic – and, ultimately, more clients.