It’s 2015, and if your spa or salon doesn’t yet have a web presence, you’re missing out on a lot of business. For whatever reason, salon owners and hairstylists are some of the last holdouts when it comes to creating a website for their businesses. Perhaps the concept of connecting online feels a bit foreign to those used to getting up close and personal with their customers. Like it or not, however, the Internet is here to stay, and online is where your would-be clients are searching for you. To operate without a website is like not having a sign in front of your establishment.
Like a business card, your website is often the first impression your customers will have of your business, and first impressions are lasting ones. It’s also where your clients can turn for information, such as your name, address and phone number. A website goes much, much further, however, in that it can provide information about your products and services, hours of operation, staff, prices, specials and specialties, and can even be used to make appointments.
Can I Build My Own Website?
Yes you can! Building a website for your local business doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. There are many DIY sites that feature easy to use, intuitive software that requires little to no tech-savvy on your part. If you start with a hosting service such as Bluehost or GoDaddy, the basic package includes a choice of several different software programs at no extra charge, or alternatively, you can start with a software program, such as Weebly, Wix, Google Sites, DoodleKit, WordPress or MoonFruit, and choose your hosting partner through them. Most include a free version that includes up to five pages, which can always be upgraded later.
WordPress offers a wide variety of themes, including some that are specifically designed for spas and salons, and there are even more (many, many more) WordPress themes available for free and for purchase from different sites all over the Internet. Browsing through some of them on a site like ATheme is a great way to find inspiration.
Considerations for a Well Designed Website
Your website should reflect your business. Think of it as your lobby, where visitors can wander in off the street and see what you’re all about. You want it to be warm and welcoming, and aesthetically pleasing. Just as you wouldn’t clutter your countertops and your waiting area with superfluous products and equipment, nor should you clutter your website with irrelevant information. Your name, logo, address and phone number should be prominently featured so your customers can easily find it. Use a balanced combination of graphics, images and text, and resist the temptation to include flashy animations that will make the site take longer to load.
Keep it Consistent
Consistency is key when building an Internet presence. Your name, address and phone number (NAP) should be written exactly the same way each and every time it’s posted, on each page of your site, in every directory where you list your business, on your blog, your social media pages, your newsletter. Keep your spellings, abbreviations, suite numbers, etc. consistent from site to site and Google’s web-bots will have a much easier time indexing and linking your sites.
Develop a theme for your business with consistent colors, fonts and images, so that your brand will be easily recognized. Get a professional photo taken of your storefront to use on your website as well as your Yelp page, Google Plus, Yahoo Local and other listings. This will help your customers to recognize your business when they arrive for their first appointment.
Use Pleasing Images
Many website themes and templates come with pre-placed images relating to spas and hair and nail salons, and there is also quite a lot of clip-art available from various sites on the Internet, many of which are free to use or may be purchased for a small fee. Your website, however, should reflect your business, so unique and attractive photos taken in your own establishment will help to make your customers feel at home while portraying your salon in a pleasing light. You may want to hire a professional if you’re not terribly proficient with a camera. Choose a time of day (or night) when the lighting is soft, and clear away any background clutter. And be sure to include lots of smiling faces in your photos, even if they’re only of your staff.
Consider posting some before and after makeovers of clientele on one of your pages, along with customer testimonials and reviews. Use photos to illustrate specialties, such as bobs, perms, highlights and hair straightening treatments. When it comes to salon marketing, photographs are a powerful tool.
Include a Blog Page
Too many local business owners build a website and then forget about it. Remember, search engines favor websites that are dynamic and frequently updated. The easiest way to keep your website fresh is to include a blog and post regularly. Use it to promote the latest specials, introduce new products and services and provide helpful home care and styling tips for your customers in order to build trust and goodwill. Link your blog to your social media pages by posting an update to Facebook and Twitter each time you create a new blog post.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Many (if not most) of your customers are finding you on smart phones and tablets these days, so make sure your site is optimized for those devices. Most of the DIY website software will do so automatically but it’s worth verifying before signing up. A website that’s not optimized for mobile will be difficult to read on a small screen like a smart phone and could even get penalized in mobile searches. To make sure your efforts have not been in vain, Google rolled out a new web tool that allows you to determine whether or not your website is “mobile friendly.”
With all of the directories, mapping programs and review sites on the Internet these days, it may be tempting to forego the effort and expense of building a dedicated website for your salon or spa, but don’t. Having a well-designed, professional-looking website not only validates your salon as a modern, professional operation, but it’s an important part of the overall picture. Your website provides the anchor for all of your directory listings, reviews and various citations throughout the World Wide Web that together establishes your Internet presence so that your customers can find you in 2015.