» Easy Ways to Improve Your Business Website

Is your business website working hard enough for you? After all, your website is often the first impression your potential clients see for your business and plays a huge role in determining if a client is interested in working with your business or learning more about your services.

As you prepare for the new year, consider taking some time to invest in refreshing your website to stand out to newly engaged couples and book more business in 2017. These seven tips from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provide helpful ways that you can assess your site, maximize your marketing potential, and get more leads quickly. From contact form best practices, to adding testimonials and reviews, to copy writing tips, you will want to bookmark this infographic as you prepare for your next website refresh!

7waystoimproveyourwebsitebefore2017

» 7 Ways to Improve Your Website Before 2017

november-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

Your website’s job is to provide key information about your business, showcase your best work and impress clients to drive leads. When was the last time you considered if your business website is working hard enough for you?

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips to assess your current website’s success and target areas for improvement to boost your business — all before the end of the year!

Here’s a roundup of the seven tips:

  • Update your website text: Aim to use conversational text on your site that connects with your target audience — engaged couples. Instead of making your content all about your business, make it all about your customer and bring to life your business.  
  • Do a text purge: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and come up with content that they don’t need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key take aways and make them easy to read and digest.
  • Shorten your contact form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out and to ultimately work for you. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. Focus on just the key info you need, then when you reach out ask them to provide more details like wedding date, location and style.
  • Update your old images: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time for an upgrade. Make sure you’re making a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will connect with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration and wanting to see your work in action.
  • Narrate your photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought their wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help make a personal connection to your site visitors.
  • Add testimonials and reviews: Potential clients want to hear from others like them who have used – and loved your services, so make sure your reviews are easy to find! Add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to your website, and place a soundbite from an approved client testimonial on every page so they won’t be overlooked.
  • Put calls-to-action on every page: Make it easy to connect with your business. Consider adding a contact form or clear button to learn more about your business to every page of your website. You can also use calls-to-action to get visitors to engage with content you would like to promote such as a real wedding video, content download or more.

To learn more about these easy ways to improve your website, watch the full webinar now! Plus, Premium members can view all past webinars any time in your WeddingWire account.

» Are You Competing With Yourself in Search Engines?

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

SEO is hard enough without us getting in our own way.

But when your expertise is creating a fabulous wedding experience, not implementing SEO, it’s common to overlook basic techniques that you’re simply unaware of.

We don’t know what we don’t know until we know it, right?

That’s why I want to break down one simple SEO mistake you might be making that could be causing you to compete with yourself in search engines; and how you can correct it today.

Here’s the simple SEO mistake I often see wedding pros making: Not choosing a preferred domain. I’ll explain…

Beginner’s Tip: Your website domain is the root web address visitors use to access your website, such as http://myweddingbusiness.com.

When browsing the web, have you ever noticed that some websites display their domain name as http://myweddingbusiness.com and others display it with a “www” in front, such as http://www.myweddingbusiness.com?

Establishing a preferred domain

Establishing a preferred domain

 

While both of these versions lead to the same website, search engines view them as two distinct web addresses, unless you specify otherwise.

So why is that less than ideal for SEO?

Well, search engines assess every individual website domain uniquely when determining whether that site is worthy of high rankings in its search results pages for a given search phrase.

Since there is only so much room at the top, each of these website addresses is competing against each other to secure a listing at the top. Search engines have to compare every single website domain (and page) with each other to determine which ones deserve the highest rankings.

So if you have not established a preferred domain, then search engines may be viewing your www website address and your non-www website address as two totally separate domains that are both fighting for a spot in the search results pages.

Which means, you might actually be competing with yourself!

“If you don’t specify a preferred domain, we may treat the www and non-www versions of the domain as separate references to separate pages.”  – Google 

In addition, when you are not deliberate about choosing a preferred domain, any marketing you do for your non-www domain version may not count toward your www domain version because, again, search engines perceive them as two distinct properties.

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» #BridalRebrand: Being More Inclusive While Maintaining SEO

#BridalRebrand: Being More Inclusive While Maintaining SEOWith marriage equality finally legal across the United States, the time has come to take a harder look at the language of the wedding industry. But as WeddingWire Education Expert and Publisher of GayWeddings.com points out, inclusive language is important because it’s part of a larger trend that recognizes the role that both parts of the engaged couple – gay or straight – plays in planning a wedding, not just one partner. No matter what your feelings are on marriage equality, each time you use “bride” instead of “couple,” you’re potentially shutting out key clients who may be the decision-makers. And because most couples are primarily researching online, your website, online listings, or social networks could be the first (and only) impression that prospective clients have of your business.

It may seem daunting, but updating your language in your marketing materials and on your website to be inclusive can be done. In 2014, WeddingWire underwent a major rebrand for our annual awards program, previously known as the Bride’s Choice Awards. We updated the program name to WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®, which is representative and inclusive of all types of couples who submit the reviews that qualify each business. Our hope was to make gay couples feel more included in our brand, but also to make sure that any groom wouldn’t feel neglected or brushed aside by word choice.

From an SEO perspective, the biggest challenge lies in updating your online presence (organic and paid), which is no small feat in today’s world. If you’re an experienced wedding professional, you’ve likely spent years building up your search presence – so it’s important to keep your authority and rankings intact. For those considering a #BridalRebrand, follow these steps to adequately address all the SEO concerns that come with changing your company name, products, or website content.

Conducting keyword research

Your search rankings are likely built upon certain wedding industry keywords that you hold dear. However, most ‘bridal’ keywords have inclusive counterparts that make updating simple. Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to suggest alternative keywords for each word or phrase you want to replace. Here’s a cheat sheet with some of the terms that have the biggest impact in making all couples feel included. If you want to transition your language more slowly or offer a variety of terms, you can also add inclusive terms to your website, listings, and other materials and phase out the old keywords more slowly.  Learn more about where to start and how to update in our infographic with inclusivity do’s and don’ts from Kathryn Hamm.

Updating your content

Once you’ve decided which keywords you’d like to update within your site content, it’s time to make the updates. Some may be obvious, like your page titles and paragraph text. But don’t forget to update the keywords in your page URLs, the alt text of your images, and the meta titles and descriptions for those pages you’ve been updated. All of these are vital for search ranking, plus they’ll be consistent for any visitors to your site. You should also consider the diversity of your website images as well – if all your images are of straight couples or only brides, it can be off-putting for same-sex couples who visit your website. If you haven’t served any same-sex couples yet so you lack the imagery, consider buying stock photos or simply updating the photos to be general wedding images of your area of expertise: a close up of a bouquet, photos of guests dancing, venue photos, etc.

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» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 2

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

Welcome to the second installment of my tips for boosting your rankings and getting your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day on social media. If you’re just joining us, start with Part 1 and continue on below!

4. Link Love

If you’re new to SEO, let’s get you up to speed on a critical ranking factor: links to your website. Also known as “backlinks.”

When quality websites link to your website, it’s kind of like receiving a vote for the value or authority of your website. It sends a signal to search engines that other online resources and real people feel your website content is valuable and worth sharing.

In other words, getting backlinks helps your website rank higher.

And based on recent comments from Google and Bing, it sounds like social sharing may affect your website authority, and subsequently your ranking, in a similar way.

While Google doesn’t come right out and confirm that having your webpage links shared across social media can help your webpages rank higher, they certainly hint strongly at it:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results.”

In the same interview, Google also said that a link does carry more weight depending on the person who shares it on Twitter or Facebook.

And Bing echoed Google’s statements with this:

“We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.“

These statements suggest two things:

  1. If one of your webpages or blog posts is shared on Twitter (and likely other social platforms as well), Google and Bing can see this and possibly list it in their search results or, at the very least, recognize that your page is gaining in value because it is being shared on social media.
  2. When your website pages or posts are shared often and by influential users on Twitter, it increases the weight, or perceived importance, of your website page, giving it a ranking boost. The more these activities, or signals, add up, the more chances your page has to rank higher.

This means that if a major industry influencer on Twitter retweets your website link, it could give your domain and that specific page a little SEO boost, helping it to rank higher over time.

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» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 1

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

You can snatch up more rankings and get your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do so even if you’re not a technical SEO jedi.

Every week I hear from wedding and event professionals who are putting off their wedding SEO altogether because they think they have to ‘get it perfect’ before it will work.

Listen, even my SEO is not perfect and yet Google is my #1 source of traffic.

There are hundreds of SEO strategies we can employ in our business, but we only need to start with a few simple ones to reap the rewards.

So why not begin with an activity you’re already doing? Social media networking!

By simply leveraging the social media accounts you’re already toying around with each week, you can get your company more visibility in both search engines and within the social networks themselves.

All you need to do is view your social activity like an SEO strategy and invest 5 minutes a day.

So let’s dive into Part 1…

1. Dominate Google with Your Social Profiles

A few years back a wedding photographer called me in a panic because competitors who shared her business name in the same geographical area were outranking her in the search engines.

She was losing business left and right to fresh prospects who recently heard of her, but were landing on someone else’s website!

She might not have had that problem at all if she knew how to dominate Google’s first page for her brand name.

Kind of like this…

ocial-profiles-in-search-results

Yes, your social media accounts can rank in search engines too.

When people search for your company name, personal name or even your profession on a local level, they can stumble on one of your social media profiles, not just your website.

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» Improve Your SEO Performance Today With 3 Easy Tips

3 easy ways to improve SEO performance todayLike social media, search engine optimization (SEO) is always changing. There are a lot of technical pieces involved in your search engine ranking and performance, plus a lot of time-consuming considerations like site content, keywords, linking strategy, and more. Between your weddings and events, SEO can seem like a very daunting task to take on!

Since SEO can get very overwhelming, we thought we’d share a few actionable tips you can do right now that will start having a positive impact on your SEO performance.

Update your 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. Does your website have a descriptive URL structure, or a series of letters and numbers? Make your site links more search-friendly by updating your URL structure to include the name of the page or post. This helps search engines understand more about the page than just a string of random variables generated by your content management system. For your blog, add the category of the post before the post title, as we do on this blog. When a search engine sees yoursite.com/marketing/blog-post-title, they already have a better understanding of the page and its content. Plus, your URLs will be more readable to human eyes, too!

Write better anchor text

When adding links to the text on your website or blog, the words you highlight for link are called the anchor text. Many Pros make the mistake of adding links to anchor text phrases like, “To learn more about our wedding packages, click here,” but it’s actually more valuable from a search engine perspective to make your anchor text more descriptive. The keywords you use in your anchor text enhance the relevance of the page and indicate to visitors what they can expect to see by clicking through. Instead of using the default anchor text, write something more explanatory like, “Learn more about our wedding packages to see how we can help.” With a more descriptive call to action in the anchor text, you’ll likely see an increase in the number of click-throughs as well.

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» Keyword Best Practices for Your SEO Strategy

Google searchesWhen users find your website or blog via organic search, they’re typing in certain keywords or phrases that direct them to your website. Many of them may be general search terms, but some of them may be more specific search terms. With all the potential words a prospective client could type into their search bar, how do you know what keywords to target? And where did you put them all?

Below we’ve outlined some keyword best practices that will help your wedding business continuously optimize your website and blog as part of your SEO strategy!

Conduct keyword research

What phrases would you use to describe your business? What phrases would your customers use to describe your business? This will help guide you to understanding how you’d like potential clients to search for your business and find it. Use keyword research tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to shed some light on the popularity of the keywords you’re looking to use and how many times they’re searched monthly. You can also go through your biggest known competitors’ websites to see the content and keywords they’re using, or check out the websites of the first five search results on your target keywords or phrases to see how they incorporate these keywords.

In addition to those keywords you come up with in your research, think about longer phrases and sentences a prospective client might search. It’s becoming increasingly rare for a single keyword or short keyword phrase to drive the majority of your website traffic because those using Google on mobile devices or tablets are often searching complex, long-tail search queries using natural-language rather than keyword strings. While it’s still important that your business identifies those keywords and short keyword phrases, it’s also just as important to start targeting some longer, natural-language phrases.

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» Optimizing Your Content for Search Intent

Optimizing Your Content for Search IntentWhen users find your website or blog via organic search, they’re typing in certain keywords or phrases that direct them to your website. Many of them may be general search terms like “wedding rentals Austin,” but some of them may be more specific search terms like “Chiavari wedding chairs Austin.” The latter suggests that the user is in a different stage in wedding planning.

Optimizing your website and blog content for search engines is a great way to boost your rankings, but it’s important to think about user intent. There are generally three reasons users search a given keyword or phrase:

  • Informational – User is looking for the answer to a question
  • Navigational – User is looking for a pre-determined website or destination
  • Transactional – User is looking to make a purchase or complete a given task

It’s certainly important to drive those informational searchers to your website to help aid their research, but it’s also important to drive those transactional searchers to your website as well. Below are a few steps to help you incorporate search intent in your content optimization!

  1. Think through user intent

Think about the visitors to your website. Why are they visiting your website? Why would they land on a certain page within your website? What questions are they looking to find answers to? Think about the multiple reasons a person would land on your website, and think back to the terms they would be most likely to enter in order to find your website. If they’re searching for information, come up with the terms you think they would enter. If they’re searching to make a purchase decision, come up with those specific terms you think they would enter. If you’re not sure, write down the main categories of your business and the terms associated with each category. You can also double-check the phrases you come up with by searching keyword volume in Google AdWords.
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» Safe Link Building Strategies to Help Boost Your SEO

How to Build Strong SEO in 4 WaysThough they may not seem like a big factor in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, links are important 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.

The best link building strategies build links that are relevant, direct and one-way. Quantity and quality are both vitally important, so you shouldn’t start submitting your links to low-quality directories that don’t provide meaningful value. Below are a few legitimate ways you can build a link building strategy for your business without negatively impacting your SEO.

Guest blogging

OK, so the point of guest blogging is not to build backlinks, but it’s definitely a perk! We’ve mentioned blogging as a successful strategy for businesses to accomplish a number of marketing goals like search engine ranking and social media engagement, but blogging can also help you accumulate high-quality, relevant links back to your website. You can also invite guests to blog on your own website, which helps your business establish links with other websites with good search engine authority. The more great websites your business’ website is linked to, the better you look to search engines. However, the more lower-quality websites your business’ website is linked to, the more likely it is that Google views you as a less trustworthy source.

Create infographics and more visual content

The best content you create is the most shareable content. Infographics or other designed graphics are a great way to break up your content into smaller, more digestible chunks that are easy and fun to share on other blogs and social media. Visual content is easy to reference and include in other posts, so try to start working more infographics into your blogging or content schedule. Pin it on your own Pinterest board for extra sharing juice! Free websites like Canva allow you to create infographics and other designed visual content, even if you’re not a graphic designer.

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» Old SEO vs. New SEO for Wedding Pros

Old SEO vs. New SEO for Wedding ProsOne of the most common questions we hear from wedding and event professionals regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, “How long does it take to start working?” Our answer is usually, well, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors, including the age of your website, how long you’ve been optimizing it, the amount of content on your website, the age of your content, and more.

SEO has been around for a while now, and some of the rules have changed as technology across the Internet changes. There are some significant differences in the way we view SEO now from the way we used to view it, and they affect the way your business should approach its strategy. Below we’ve listed the two main areas affected in the world of new SEO for Wedding Pros!

Old vs. New Keywords

Old SEO dictates that your business should select a short list of big keywords to focus on within your website, blog, social networks and more. While this strategy is still huge in SEO, new SEO is taking the concept in a new direction. With changes made to the Google algorithm from Google Hummingbird in 2013, Google is now doing more than finding relevant web pages – it is compiling information from several sources and displaying the results within Google itself. This helps searchers find answers faster, with fewer steps between query and answer. In other words, Google is now attempting to understand what a person is searching for and return the most relevant results for that specific query.

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» 5 Steps to Executing a Content Plan

5 Steps to Executing a Content PlanFor those paying attention to marketing trends, content marketing is the shiny “new” strategy. Only, it’s not new. The idea that writing high-quality, educational content can help you book more business has been around a long time, and it’s not going away any time soon! Your wedding business should come up with a content plan to help you walk people through your sales process.

Easier said than done, right? Below are five steps to help you start a content plan and maintain it this year and beyond!

1.  Conceptualize

Writing requires a good deal of forethought; there are a lot of things to think about before you open up a blank Word document. Before you dive in, take the time to think through the topic and its relationship with your audience. Is your idea something they want? Something they need? Something that will help them learn more about your business or the wedding industry? Answering these questions will help you decide if your topic will be popular with your audience. You should also consider the format of your content. A blog post can be short, sweet and informative, while a denser topic may require a longer format such as a guide or a white paper. Don’t limit yourself to one or two types of content – decide on the format on a case-by-case basis. If you need help coming up with topics and committing yourself to writing, see our post on jump starting your blogging efforts (applicable to other types of content as well!).

2.  Write

OK, now that you’re ready to write, write! If you’re prone to writer’s block, try skipping the introduction and coming back to it later when you have a better idea of how your piece will end up. Give yourself time to write and try not to self-edit as you go. You’ll have time to edit after you get all your ideas out! It’s also smart to have a coworker or employee look over your content to proofread for errors and give general thoughts on the way you expressed the topic. At the end of your post or article, be sure to include a call-to-action which instructs the reader what to do next. For more guidelines to help you write, check out this PR Daily content marketing checklist.

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