SEO is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Everything from the words on the pages of your site to your images have to be optimized for the biggest impact. Think about it: your spa is beautiful. It’s full of luxurious amenities. And your marketing is an extension of the brand you’ve established in person. In order for you to capitalize on one of the biggest marketing machines, your website’s SEO has to be spot on.
Think of SEO as online dating. Your profile on a matchmaking website would put your best foot forward. You’d look polished and sophisticated in your photo. You’d take time to craft your bio and make sure it’s representative of you.
You wouldn’t put a photo of yourself online in your old college sweatpants with your hair in a messy bun on your dating profile and expect to get a hot date for Friday night. (If that works for you, go you, but your website still has to have the dating-profile-version of you showing!)
Your website is the dating profile for prospective guests. You have to show up as your best version. That means polishing your website with excellent SEO.
First, let’s get clear on what SEO means
In Spa Website Mistakes You’re Making…And How to Fix Them Part 2, we touched on what SEO really means.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Google (and other search providers) indexes all information on websites by crawling through them and making note of the words used. If a person searches for “2018 Mother’s Day spa specials,” Google serves up all websites containing that phrase.
That article is a great starting point (in our humble opinion!) on understanding how websites rank for SEO and how to use it effectively for your spa’s website. You can read it and then come back. We’ll wait…
Getting found: the importance of SEO
There are a ton of articles and ebooks out there that cover this very topic, but in a nutshell, when you have a brick and mortar business (i.e.: a spa) it is super important to have a solid strategy in place for SEO, and more specifically, local SEO.
Local SEO is the tactic that lets you reach customers in a specific location. Although it doesn’t always take place on your website, your website is the first place you should start. Local SEO helps your spa business attract visitors through search, qualify visitors quickly, and engage with guests and businesses in your local community.
If your spa is located in just one specific area, you need local SEO. Then, more people searching for spa services in that area can find you online. If your spa has multiple locations or serves multiple areas, you need local SEO. That way, each location can be found separately and compete against businesses in those areas.
In addition, it’ll help potential guests be crystal clear on where each location is, how they may differ from one another in terms of amenities and services, and any other specifics on each location—is the one on the east side of town hard to find, for example.
Nothing is worse than scheduling an appointment at a hard-to-book spa, only to find that you probably should have booked a service at the location across town.
Common mistakes that spa websites make when it comes to local SEO
Spas make a few mistakes when it comes to local SEO. You may be making them in your marketing, too.
Missing Contact Info
First, contact information that is missing or embedded in an image can’t be indexed. Whether it’s incomplete, not on the contact page, or simply not on the site overall, this is an area you don’t want to miss. How can people find you if they literally can’t find you?
Further, if Google can’t figure out where you are, then neither will spa-goers. Google looks through your site to find contact information to display in a Google Business Profile. This is a quick, easy-to-read format for users that gives all information at the top of the search page. It includes your spa’s hours, website, phone number, and directions via Google Maps pointing people right to 60 minutes of blissful relaxation.
Second, if a site has low-quality, thin content or uses “keyword stuffing” in their content (which is bad, very bad), there are definitely content issues preventing you from being found with SEO.
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Your website plays an important role in how high your Google Business profile will rank in the search results. If your website is full of low quality, thin website content (generally less than 500 words per page), then you’re going to struggle to rank in Google. Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.
What’s even worse, a real human wouldn’t naturally write like that, so a real human is going to have a hard time reading it. This results in your brand looking…not great. Remember how we said that your website is a continuation of your in-spa experience? This kind of practice will not build trust with your customer. And as we know, trust is paramount to client retention in the spa industry.
The third problem is not mobile-optimizing your site. We touched on this above, but this also impacts your local SEO. In 2015, Google updated their algorithm to include mobile-friendliness signals in their ranking algorithm. And more recently, Google announced that they’re moving to mobile-first indexing, which means that your mobile website will be the primary website Google analyzes for ranking purposes.
What to do instead for best local SEO practices
As we mentioned above, you will want to look at your contact information, content, and mobile-optimization to boost your local SEO.
First, for the love of all that is holy, make sure that both your location and your service areas are crystal clear on your website. This absolutely includes your “contact us” page. It should be on the footer of every page, too.
Additionally, it helps to use area-specific keywords such as the zip code, town name, or major landmarks. If you have multiple locations, each location should have its own geo-targeted landing page with content that is centered around local information plus your spa’s unique value proposition and information. This is essentially your keywords plus location.
Second, you need to make sure your on-page SEO is on point. This is one of the basics you can’t ignore as Google will look at that even when returning local results. The main on-page SEO factors that affect your search engine rankings are content of the page, the title tag, the URL of the page and image alt text.
Every page of your website should have a clear goal in regards to its purpose and what you’re trying to rank for. Also, optimize every element on your site with the keywords necessary to meet these goals. For example: you’re trying to promote the fact that you have state-of-the-art infrared saunas and are the only one in your area that has them. Then, say that on your facilities page and anywhere else you talk about your facilities. Your blog or the “about us” page would make sense.
Finally, write for a human. Keyword stuffing is unnatural and doesn’t reflect how a real human would write or speak to another human. Make sure your content flows naturally and is easy to understand. Google is smart enough to index keywords that appear naturally in sentences!
We are doing more than ever with our phones. Your website must be mobile optimized. This means that it responds to fit the screen size it’s displayed on. This also means that the content on your site isn’t embedded in an image. Lay out your content in an easy-to-read manner.
Like we wrote in Spa Website Mistakes You’re Making…And How to Fix Them Part 2, do not share your services in a PDF, print menu-like format on your site. That kind of content is extremely difficult to read so few will try to read it. Your website analytics will probably show you that many have tried and gave up. What your analytics won’t show you is how frustrated those users are—and they are trying to find relaxing services!
Local SEO is incredibly important in helping to bring spa-goers to your door. There’s a lot more to best local SEO practices (I’ll cover this topic more in an upcoming post), but your website is a good starting point. It’s the lowest hanging fruit, so to speak.
Optimizing your website’s local SEO is crucial. It’s a direct extension of your spa and your brand. It has to feel luxurious, like your spa does in person. It will convey you are a trustworthy spa and clients are going to be safe, relaxed, and enjoy your spa.
If this is all a little too much and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t do this yourself! Download the SEO Audit Worksheet! You’ll have a hand helping you with local SEO to address all the right points on your website.