Our salon has had a website for several years. We occassionally look at the statistics from our ISP to see how many hits we're getting (I don't do this nearly as often as I should). We've noticed that over the past couple of years we've gotten a lot more traffic. We're also showing up higher in the search results. If you google our city name and "men's salon" we are right at the top. That's a far cry from three years ago when we were buried pages and pages back.
A little over a year ago I was signed up with City Search to be a sponsored link. It got us at the top of their listings and we paid $1 per click on our link. I set our upper limit at $150 a month and had an online offer to track use. We were always billed the full $150. After several months we had only seen one or two of the offer coupons coming in (it was 20% off first visit) so I terminated the city search contract. They tried to scare me into staying with them by saying that we would drop in the search results, but fortunately that hasn't happend. We are way down the list within city search, but on a google search we're up there.
Back when we purchased the salon my husband, who has an IT background, was in charge of improving our search engine rankings. He did a great job, but of course, now when I ask him what he did, he can't remember! I do remember that he signed us up with Google and Yahoo - I think there's some way you register your business. I remember that he was entering our hours of business, etc. There are even some ratings out there on us.
I also try to get us linked to as many other websites as possible. If we advertise on the radio or TV, I always try to get a link on their page. The more sites you're linked to the higher your ranking will be.
There are services out there that offer to "optimize" your site and improve your rankings. If anyone reading this has used a service like that I'd like to learn about it.
We find that a lot of our new guests found us on the internet so I think it's definately worth the effort to improve and monitor search rankings.