My name is Andy and I've been an Industrial Software Engineer for more years than I care to remember. I took up web design eight years ago to help promote my wife's fledging beauty salon in the back of a hair dressers. My wife is now the proud owner of the Mayflower Health and Beauty Clinic in Beaconsfield, but she started her beauty career in Portsmouth before spending a year as a Beauty Therapist on a cruise liner. Hard work but also good experience.
Initially as funds were tight I created a web site which although scruffy brought in a lot of customers. Over the years the web site constantly evolved and improved and featured very highly in Google bringing in many new customers. However due to my lack of graphics design skills it always looked a bit messy - but hey, it certainly worked and cost us almost nothing to run apart from many hours of my time.
In March 2006 with money in the bank and a salon refurbishment in progress we decided to get the web site properly re-designed. The company that did it wanted to start from scratch and nearly £1200 later we have a really flash looking web site. Only problem was almost overnight we disappeared from Google and all the other major search engines, we lost all our visitors and more importantly a major source of income. Nobody could find us on the internet and our takings dropped.
There are two main reasons why you should want a web site for your business, to attract new clients and to showcase your products to your existing clients.
Most people are not really worried about the second reason, if people already know about you and like what you do then they will come back. It doesn't matter if you have a flash web site or not, they will still come back. They won't spend any more money with us if we have a web site that cost us £10,000, all they want are good treatments at the right price. Yes we do get people coming back to our site by searching for Mayflower Beauty Clinic but they already know about us and maybe just want to check our opening hours or find our phone number, these people are already clients, they will find us again even if they can't quite remember the name of our site.
The power of a really good web site is to attract new clients.
We want a web site so that when someone types in beauty salon in beaconsfield, or beauty clinic in Bucks or what ever else, that they find us and then they read what's on our site, and then come and spend money with us. That's it, simple! Now although our site was slightly scruffy it had loads of interesting content, lots for people to read, hopefully it answered most of their questions and it certainly encouraged them to call us rather than anyone else.
Now not wanting to waste any more money with so called "experts" and knowing that I got our site to the top of Google previously I decided to do it again.
Having read all there is to read about Google and other major search engines I knew that it would take some time, probably in excess of six months to get a good ranking. If someone promises to put you on page one of any search engine, then run away as fast as you can! Getting on page one for relevant keywords takes hard work and patience, and is not something that any reputable consultant will ever promise. A con often used is promising you page one results and then delivering them for irrelevant phrases that will never generate any meaningful traffic. If you read the news on Google's site you will find that even they get those emails that say "No one can find your site but we can help you!"
The only other way to get a top spot is to pay for some pay per click advertising like Adwords from Google. These are little adverts displayed on the right hand side of Google search pages and also on many other web sites and are always relevant to the pages content. Web masters can display them on their sites and earn a percentage of the cost per click, not what you would necessarily want on your salons site but I'll insert some below as a demonstration. I can't control the content only the size and shape of the adverts. Google will then scan the page, work out what it's all about and try to find some relevant adverts which on this page I expect will be for web designers, beauty clinics and search engines. If you refresh the page (press F5) then the adverts may change.
Basically you pay a certain amount every time someone clicks on one of the adverts, the price varies depending on the popularity of your search terms. "Laser Hair Removal" may cost £2.50 per click as it is likely to be very popular but "Southend Beauty Salon" may only be 5p as it likely to not be such a poplar search term. Adwords is very good and I have used it several times for certain promotions, you can limit the geographic area where the adverts are displayed, set up a max cost per click and a max cost per day. By carefully wording your adverts and selecting the correct search terms good results can be obtained.
One of the tricks I knew would help would be having lots of relevant content and links. What does this mean, well just what it says - relevant. In other words if you persuade a betting shop in downtown Dallas to swap links with you then I bet it won't do your web site much good because it's not relevant to a beauty salon in England. However if you could get a link from several other beauty salons then it would be very relevant and therefore will rate much higher in Google. What you do not want to do is to swap links with sites that are nothing more than what is known as Link Farms, these are sites that just have hundreds of links with no real content - avoid these sites at all costs as they may have a negative effect on your Google ranking.
One of the best ways of building popularity on the search engines was to have a really good web site name, so while initially www.mayflowerbeautyclinic.com seemed like good name for us I found that the search engines don't recognise the word mayflowerbeautyclinic! Worse still people don't normally search for mayflowerbeautyclinic! What people search for is "beauty clinic" or "health and beauty clinic". Doing that today returned 17,700,000 results and unless you are in the top few then you will never be found. Some web site builders will promise to get you in the top 1% of sites for any search term, well lets assume they actually managed to get you in the top 1%. That is still 170,000 web sites! You need to be on page one or two which means the top 20 sites and ideally you want to be in the top 5.
Lets analyse further the search terms people use, because in the above search we obtained over 17 million results it's likely that the town would added and indeed searching for "beauty clinic beaconsfield" gets us down to around 1000 results. Now if you can get into the top 1% you would be in the top 10.
To help achieve this I have set up two new web sites; www.health-and-beauty-clinic.co.uk and www.health-and-beauty-salon.co.uk. Not only are these easy to read but better still the search engines can actually understand all the words. Straight away we are on a winner because the first thing the search engines see's is the sites name and it will often be a close match on the search terms. But it gets better because I can prefix the site name with our local towns name to end up with www.beaconsfield.health-and-beauty-clinic.co.uk and the search engines will love it because there are all the terms we want to be found.
All of this on it's own will not get you to the top but it's a good start. We still need a good quality site, it doesn't need to be pretty because the search engine robot only reads the text, it doesn't see the layout so doesn't worry if you have yellow spots on a purple background! What matters is the quality of the content, is it relevant; the quantity, is there enough; is it unique, you won't get good rankings if it is identical content on lots of sites and lastly relevant links.
To achieve all of this I'm creating many sites linked to health-and-beauty-clinic.co.uk, I'm hoping to get 100 or so in the next couple of months, it's fairly easy as I have some templates already set up so as I sign up salon's in various towns around the country we will fill in the salon's details on the individual web sites and link them all back to health-and-beauty-clinic.co.uk. That way we will all benefit from the increased traffic and have a unique web site for our salons.
For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't wait until it's too late......there can only be one beauty clinic in your town on our site!