» How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive Edge

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

When first developing a website and choosing a domain name, the vast majority of wedding professionals pick one that matches the name of their business. And, that’s pretty much the last thought on the matter.

Except, that domain should not be everything when it comes to building a fully functional, impressive, and effective online presence. You want to secure additional domains to give your business a distinct competitive advantage. 

It can be as simple as pointing the domain name to your current site like you would using a toll free number. The secondary domain will simply link to your main domain, but be available via search so you can reach a larger audience searching for those terms.

How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive EdgeHow it Works

Domains are a solid long-term investment. Their value increases over time, especially if you generate traffic with them. With the right additional domain name in place, you can strategically enhance your business success.

Moreover, it is virtually guaranteed that using these types of domains in marketing will benefit your business. Not only will your site get more frequent clicks, you’ll experience an increased response both online and/or in print.

Additional Domains = SEO Success

It’s become common knowledge that a wedding business cannot maximize the online visibility of their website without some real focus on SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization.

Additional domains, however, allow you to make the most of SEO, and incorporate into the actual name of your website. If done right, a secondary domain name will correspond with commonly searched terms. That means more people will find your business, even if they only did a keyword and/or location based search.

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» Get Lucky with the LUCK SEO Framework

Get Lucky with the LUCK SEO FrameworkSearch engine optimization (SEO) seems to be the hot topic recently! We’ve had a lot of questions come through to our email, we’ve seen a lot of discussions in the Pro Forums and we’ve even had some social comments all surrounding SEO. It’s not hard to see why – with the abundance of websites on the Internet, it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed by potential couples.

There are a number of ways to break down how search engine optimization works, whether through infographics or step-by-step guides. We tend to favor a simple framework that is easy to remember and can be broken down piece-by-piece to make for easier understanding. So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, learn how you can get lucky with your search engine strategy by using the LUCK SEO framework!

Linking Strategy

Links are an important part of an SEO strategy because they show search engines the relationships between pages. Through links, search engines can analyze a variety of factors that affect your search ranking, including the popularity of your website based on the number of pages linking to your website and the popularity of those pages. Links to your site also build your website’s authority based on the notion that trustworthy sites are usually linked to other trustworthy sites rather than spam.

Both quantity and quality are important, but beware – the best links are relevant, direct and one-way. Don’t stuff your site with links, and avoid cheap website directories. Whenever linking to another trusted source, you should also consider the anchor text for the link; linking on a phrase that describes the link using the same keywords is more strategic than linking the words “click here.” Socially shared links also factor into link signals, so share your content on your social networks and encourage others to do so, too! All these features have an effect on your website’s search value.

URL Structure

The URL structure of your links provides the overall framework for your website. URLs describe your website or page to both visitors and search engines. Search engines read URLs to understand what the page is about as well as how relevant it is to certain keywords targeted on the page or website. The basic anatomy of a URL is composed of four main parts:

Parts of a URL structure

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» It’s Official: Facebook Graph Search

Earlier this year, we let you know about the introductory announcement of Facebook Graph Search – a new way to navigate your connections and interests on the world’s largest social network.

On Monday, Facebook announced it has started rolling out the new Graph Search tool to U.S. users. Facebook’s new search engine lets you search your Facebook social graph for people, places, photos and interests. The ultimate goal is to establish Facebook as a powerful search tool and a resource to get useful information and connect with others.

Many experts think that Graph Search will have a huge impact on the future of personalized searchfueled by users sharing information about themselves and their interests, checking into locations, liking pages and more.

The tool is an exciting search launch for the social site where many people and businesses share their interests, business needs, feedback and more. However, it is still a work in progress from its original beta launch this January. For example, the tool is not yet live on mobile, and does not incorporate information from third-party apps, such as Instagram or Yelp, though they are owned by Facebook. Also, it is currently only live for U.S. users*. However, stay tuned for what is sure to be many more exciting updates to come with added exposure this year!

Ready to check it out? Learn more about this new feature, and opt-in to ‘Try Graph Search’ directly from Facebook, and check out this article about the new tool from The New York Times.

*Note that Facebook indicated all U.S. users should have it within the next few weeks if not yet available in your account.

» Tech Update: Facebook Launches Hashtags!

Over the past few days, you may have noticed some updates to your Facebook account. While changes to your account and navigation on the leading social site are nothing new, one exciting update, which could have an impact on your business exposure has been unveiled: clickable Facebook hashtags!

Hashtags are increasingly popular throughout social media – and have been fully integrated on most popular sites, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, but noticeably absent from Facebook… until now.

Hashtags most simply serve as a way to see a larger view on what is happening, what is being discussed, popular topics, and is a way to connect people and businesses with similar interests. Hashtags are very powerful marketing tools, and are easy ways to connect with your interested audience, gain attention quickly and easily share content discovery.

Now,  just as you may tag a recent couple, or your other wedding or event Pros in a Facebook post sharing a recent wedding’s blog post with your network, you can now add a few select, engaging hashtags to describe your post or the event.

For example, a post can read: “ABC Photography had an amazing time capturing the breath-taking, special day of @Joe and @Jane on the Cape! Check out some of our favorite photos and wedding day memories {link to blog post} #Nantucket #BeachWeddings  #ABCPhotography”

Linking to your couple (with their permission), along with any other Pros of note gives added exposure for your post, as it will tag their profiles or business pages. Tag people and businesses with the “@” key, which will link and post to their pages. Using relevant, simple hashtags that describe your post shares your content with the site and allows others looking for similar content to find your post – ultimately sharing your business, content and exposure on a much larger level. Hashtag by typing the “#” key directly before your hashtag (should always be one word with no space – so the simpler the better!). Then, when posted and clicked, these hashtags will show everyone who is publically posting using the same tag, so you can discover others with similar interests.

For some hashtags in action, check out WeddingWireEDU’s recent posts!

Here are some basic Facebook Hashtag functionality details as you get started:

  • The ability to search for specific hashtags via the Facebook search bar at the top of your page
  • The ability to click on hashtags that originate from other services, like Instagram – connecting multiple social sites
  • The ability to create new posts from within the hashtag feed and search results
  • The ability to add hashtags to Facebook ads you’re running

Ready to learn more? Check out this post from Facebook! #HappyHashtagging!

» 5 Tips for Improving Your Business Website

A business website is an important tool to reach your potential clients where they are searching – online! When was the last time you updated your website? Find below some key elements that should be included on your website to effectively connect with your potential clients, and top tips to make your business stand out!

5 factors to consider when improving your business website:

  • Design: Your website must be visually appealing. Clean designs, easy to read copy, and fonts and colors consistent with you logo are important. Avoid bright or dark backgrounds, colorful fonts for large amounts of copy, and overcrowding the pages with content. When in doubt, remember “simplicity is key” to engaging clients on your website.
  • Images: Be sure to include images of your work examples so potential clients can see you in action and get a sense of your work and capabilities. When deciding which images to include on the website, consider five aspects: purpose, tone, relevance, timeliness and uniqueness. The images you select to include on your website should pass the test of all five aspects in order to represent your brand. Remember to give credit when necessary as well, and obey by copyright laws.
  • Brand Exposure: Make your branding apparent on all pages of your website. Be sure to include a business logo, create complimentary web designs, and include links to your social media accounts, blog, photo galleries and anything else you may want to share! These elements all work together to create your overall brand impression.
  • Services and Experience: Make sure to provide information about your business, contact information, and of course what services you offer! List the services you provide, and be sure to note anything that makes you unique. Also, be sure to show off any industry rewards, memberships in industry Associations or experience that separates you from the competition. Consider giving a sneak peek into your team so website visitors get a sense of the personality of your business, and the passionate people who make it great!
  • Reviews: Reviews are key to establishing a strong online reputation! Potential clients search for feedback from past clients as they are determining their wedding or event team, and reviews are a great way to show off and stand out. Get the My Reviews Widget to share select WeddingWire reviews right on your website. Simply copy-and-paste the HTML code into your website and your recent reviews are there for visitors to see!

Additionally, it is important to not let updates your website fall by the wayside. Take time to evaluate your website every so often, and do your best to view your website as a potential client who is not familiar with your business. Seeing your website from an outside perspective will help to determine areas of improvement that may ultimately lead to positive updates that bring more inquiries and bookings! Need another perspective? Consider asking a trusted friend or team member to take a look and send any suggestions to evaluate! More perspectives lead to more ideas, more points of view, and potentially more future business. Additionally, frequent updates improve how often your website is crawled by top search engines – ultimately improving your SEO!

Ready for more website tips? Review the webinar “Stand Out with a Winning Website” in the Education Center!

» The Social Media Revolution

How much time during your day would you say you spend on social media? Five minutes on your metro ride to work? 15 minutes during your lunch break? Or do you seem to be on some type of social media network all day? Working at a techonology company, I know I usually have my Facebook account open all day (and connect with clients online) and seem to search YouTube at least once a day.  According to a recent article on Slashgear.com, Americans spend over 2 billion hours on social media per month!

Clearly, social media has a definite impact on our daily lives — from catching up with friends and sharing recent updates and photos, to forming new relationships, promoting certain brands and companies, and sharing updates from our own businesses!

For some amazing statistics and insights into how we use social media and the internet, check out this installment from a social media video series, the Social Media Revolution: Social Media in 2013.

Here are just a few social media and tech highlights:

  • Social media has become the #1 activity on the web
  • There are over 1 billion Facebook users (making it the third largest country in the world!)
  • Each day 20% of Google searches have never been searched before
  • 1 in 5 couples meet online
  • Every second, two new members join LinkedIn
  • Every minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube

Check out the full video, below! What are your favorite stats or what do you find most surprising?

» Get Blogging!

Starting a blog is one of the best ways to improve your online exposure, as well as share your business insights, latest inspirations and best work with potential clients and other members of the industry.

Blogging is an easy and fun way for your clients and potential clients to learn more about your business personality, see your work first hand, and keep updated about your business even after their big day. Additionally, blogging is a great way to consistently create fresh content for your business, which will be crawled by top search engines and improve your business Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Whether you are considering a blog for the first time, are fairly new to blogging, or are interested in re-visiting your current blogging strategy, find some of our top tips for getting starting and building a successful blog below.

Create an account: First things first! Pick your blog name, and get started using a blogging platform. Your name should express your business personality, and the content you will share should be consistent with your brand. We use the popular blogging platform WordPress, which is easy to use with lots of great features. Sign up for a WordPress blog here!

Consider Your Content: Planning the content of your blog is very important. What will be your niche? Who is your target audience? Who will be the contributors? How often do you plan to post? How will you share your posts and gain followers?

We know this can be a bit overwhelming. But considering these important questions early on will give your blog a purpose. It will help you structure the content of your blog, which will lead to its long-term success and growth. While there is no right answer, we do recommend as a general rule to try to post consistently to keep the blog active and engaging. Once a week is a great goal as you are getting started, and maybe in the future you can aim for a post per day as it becomes part of your daily routine and you build more contributors.

Get Started: Invest time into getting familiar with your blogging platform and setting up your account. Take time to read the instructions on getting started, and set your blog design, theme and the “About” section where you can give a description about your blog. Once your blog goes live, be sure to link to your business website and social media accounts for additional exposure, and so any interested parties who read your blog can learn more about your business. It is always a great idea to start with an introduction post to share your excitement about the blog and provide some insights into your personality, your business and your passion for your work.

Gain Exposure: Once you have a few posts and are ready to “go public” – showcase your blog to your communities! Send a link to your friends, family and clients to let them know you are excited about your new blog and would love it they followed it. Share links to your latest posts on your social networks, and add a button to your blog on your website so visitors can easily navigate to your blog! Also, be sure to appropriately categorize and tag your blog posts based on the main topics covered, which will help with SEO. Select 2-3 general categories that are covered in the post, and then add 2-3 more specific tags that relate to the post. For example, a category for this post is “Business Ideas” and a tag is “Blogging Tips.”

Keep It Interesting: Regularly updating content encourages readers to return to your blog. Also, encourage comments to keep the discussion going when relevant, or ask what theme readers would like to see you feature next – and follow through with their suggestions when you can. Assess the needs and interest of your readers and work to feature content they will find relevant and engaging! Mix heavy content or educational posts with more fun and short posts to keep it interesting and fresh. You may even consider coming up with mini series or themed days as you get established (for example, our “Inside WeddingWire” series on the WeddingWireEDU blog to show what our team has been up to recently!)

Using the top 5 tips above, you are ready to take on the blogging challenge! Seasoned bloggers, do you have any other top tips and advice? We would love to hear from you!

» Verify Your Website on Pinterest

We recommend that your business create a presence on Pinterest to showcase some of your best work, inspiration and your personality.

One of the latest features that Pinterest has rolled out is website verification for profile pages. This feature was designed to let other users learn more about your business and the people they are following on Pinterest.

Overall, this feature will allow you to highlight your business website URL on your profile. To verify your website, follow the steps outlined below. This feature is being rolled out over the next week, so if you do not have the option listed next, then you should over the next few days—just be sure to check back!

Verify Your Website on Pinterest:

  • Step 1: Login to your Pinterest account and select ‘Settings
  • Step 2: List your full website URL in the ‘Website’ field, and select the ‘Verify Website’ button.
    • Note: In order to appear more often in search, also fill out your business location city and make sure that ‘Search Privacy’ is off so you are able to be found
  • Step 3: Click the bold ‘Download the HTML verification file’ and you will be directed to a confirmation screen
  • Step 4: Upload the file that you just downloaded to your main web server (not a subfolder)
  • Step 5: Click the bolded ‘Click Here’ you see on the verification screen so Pinterest can check your website for the HTML file to verify it, and will show a success message when the process is done!

To learn more, read the article How to Verify Your Website on Pinterest from Hubspot!

» 5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation: Part 1

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire. You can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

 

In today’s digital world, it is critical to develop and manage your online reputation. A businesses reputation can be found across many online platforms, including search results, wedding and event sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube…the list goes on and on! We all know that people love to talk and post online, especially when it comes to their big day. You want to know what people are saying about you and your business.  Most importantly, you want to get credit for a job well done!

One of the most effective and easy ways to build a powerful reputation for your business is through gathering great reviews! Client ratings and feedback offer a unique window into your business practices, while providing insight into your track record and quality of work. We know reviews can sometimes seem scary, but all reviews—even the less positive ones—can generate buzz about your business and create new client interest. That is why at WeddingWire, one of our top recommendations for closing more sales is to build a strong set of reviews! Engaged couples want to make informed decisions and often turn to previous client feedback. Therefore, strong online reviews make it simple to convert a potential client from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘booking.’

While it can seem overwhelming to take control of your reputation in the online world, we have compiled five key steps will help you build a great online reputation. Review the first two steps below, and check back soon for the final steps!

Know What They’re Saying – It is extremely important for you to know what is being said online about your business and even your competitors. Staying on top of the conversation gives you insight, feedback and knowledge to grow and improve your business.

Pro Tips:

  • Be active on social media sites and monitor your mentions with tools like HootSuite
  • View public posts about your business on Facebook by using the search filters
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, business name, competitors and industry terms so the latest articles or mentions will come right to your email inbox

Make it a Business Process – Be sure to make feedback an important part of your business process from the start of any new client relationship by mentioning the value of feedback for your business. Clients will know that you care about their event’s success from the beginning, and will be more likely to leave a review after their wedding.  The same way you have a specific time when you send a contract or request a deposit, make sure to have a set time to ask each client for a review post-event. It never hurts to ask!

Pro Tips:

  • Include reviews in your marketing materials and email signature
  • Make it easy to share a review by providing your clients with a simple link
  • Make sure to drop hints early, but be sensitive to when you ask for the review (i.e. don’t ask during the honeymoon!)

» Joining the Cloud

This week the WeddingWire team will be attending Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference. Many industry leaders will come together for this 4 day conference to move forward in the world of cloud computing. With keynote speakers including Executive Chairman of Google, CIO of Facebook, President of Verizon Business, and many more, we plan to share with you the most up-to-date industry news and information we learn!

Salesforce is going to be live streaming all of the keynote speakers as well as some exclusive shows, panel discussions and interviews. Just click here!

» Be Where Your Customers Will Find You

Local search marketing is an important part of your business. Make sure when a bride or groom is searching for their wedding vendors that your business gets in front of them by implementing the tips below.

Know what people are searching for and put that content on your site. Most engaged couples will search by the location and type of Wedding Pro they are looking for, i.e. Dallas Wedding Planners. Make sure that on your website somewhere it says that information so that search engines will effectively match you up. Focusing on keywords is an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well. Some sites to take a look at to monitor what your potential customers are looking for:

Google Wonder Wheel – Simplifies and arranges search results for you. This will allow you to see other relevant search terms for what you are looking for.

Google Adwords – Advertise on Google with the flexibility of cost, reach, and messaging.

Flowtown – “Helping social marketers deliver real ROI.”

Google Alerts – Set up automatic email notifications for specific search terms.

Claim your local profiles. Make sure that when someone does find your business, they are able to get there. Set up your profile Bing, Google, Yahoo, Mapquest, etc.

Engage them once they find you. You should have multiple forms of communication open for your potential customers to reach out to you. Actively manage and update your email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts.

» Google Adwords and Anayltics

Interested in learning how Google Analytics and Google AdWords works? Here are three useful Google slideshows I found in a Mashable blog post this morning that you might find useful as you prepare your marketing plans for the New Year:

  • An Introduction to Google Analytics – A quick explanation of what Google Analytics is and how it works.


  • Google Analytics: Measuring Interactions – Demonstrates how Google Analytics measures website interactions (beyond pageviews).
Google Analytics

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: barcamppune bcp5)


  • Google AdWords- A demonstration of how Google AdWords works. It provides tips and suggestions too!