» 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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» 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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» What’s Next in Social Media: May 2015

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. Each network has its own strategy and features, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest news. Never fear! We’ve got your monthly update, all in one place, so you can be prepared for what’s next in social media!

Here’s what you need to know about what’s next in social media from May 2015:

What’s Next in Social Media: May 2015

Image via Mashable

Twitter and Google make tweets searchable

Twitter has teamed up with Google to allow tweets to be surfaced within search results. Before this collaboration between Twitter and Google, the only way to search for a Twitter username or specific tweet or hashtag was to search internally on Twitter. Now, for example, searching “WeddingWire twitter account” on Google will pull up results that include WeddingWire’s handle, WeddingWireEDU’s handle, and WeddingWire Support’s handle. This update will go into effect the week of May 26 in the U.S. and will apply to both mobile and desktop Google searches.

Read the full article on Mashable >>

Facebook releases Instant Articles

Earlier this month, Facebook announced its release of a new product for publishers: Instant Articles. Like LinkedIn’s Pulse, Instant Articles gives publishers the opportunity to create and publish long-form articles to share directly on the social network. Instant Articles provides a great alternative for those businesses who do not have a website or blog but have content to provide for potential customers and other industry experts. The articles are interactive and mobile-friendly.

Learn more from Facebook’s Media room >>

Pinterest introduces Cinematic Pins

Pinterest is implementing the use of Cinematic Pins, which are animated ads that show up on users’ feeds. The preview ad released by Pinterest is similar to a .gif because it doesn’t contain audio, and it only moves when the user is scrolling down. In addition to the rest of the Pinterest Advertising suite (including Promoted Pins), the network also plans to add new forms of audience targeting. These new products are being rolled out with a few brand partners to start before becoming available to all brands.

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» How to Check if Google Thinks Your Website is Spammy

As busy wedding professionals, you know there are a number of search engine optimization tactics to help your website get found by engaged couples. We talk about SEO often to make sure you’re up to date on the latest strategies, but it’s also important to know what not to do to make sure your business’ website is not being punished by Google!

When a user searches Google, Google is trying to provide the best experience for those clicking on links so that users find exactly what they were searching for. If your website isn’t getting the amount of traffic you were hoping for, you may want to check to make sure that Google views your website as a safe, refutable source.

To find out how Google views your website or to see if you’re being penalized for poor SEO or black-hat tactics, use our steps below!

How to Check if Google Thinks Your Website is SpammyCheck search results

One of the easiest ways to know if your website is being penalized by Google is to simply search your business on Google. You should look to see which individual pages are (or are not) indexed by searching “site:yourwebsiteurl.com” with your website’s URL. This command will pull up results that only list pages on your own website. If you don’t think all your website’s pages are there, you’ll know that they’re not being indexed properly.

Evaluate your traffic volume and sources

Another easy way to see if your website is possibly being penalized by Google is to look back through your historical traffic volume and sources. If you see sudden drop-offs in website traffic that don’t have a rebound a few days or weeks later, your website could be considered spammy. You’ll also want to check your traffic sources to see which websites are referring the most traffic to your own website.

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» Top Google Apps for Wedding Professionals

Top Google Apps for Wedding ProfessionalsIn the wedding industry, a day of work extends beyond 9am-5pm for many wedding professionals. Between actual client events, appointments with prospects and other business errands, you often find yourself out of the “office” more than you’re actually in it! With all the back and forth, you want to have access to everything your business needs.

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you may be using outdated business tools simply because they weren’t available when you first started your wedding business. Google offers a suite of apps that help businesses get work done faster, and the functionality is only getting better by the day. Read on below for the top Google apps for wedding professionals today!

Gmail

For those old-school Pros who prefer Outlook (or Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc.) for their email needs, Gmail is worth a second look! Google’s email product, Gmail, provides a number of helpful features for wedding professionals in particular. Because Gmail is a web-hosted email service, you can access your account from any computer, tablet, smartphone or other device with Internet access! This means that no matter where you are or how you’re accessing the Internet, you’ll be able to communicate with prospects and clients. And with 15GB of free storage, you don’t have to worry about deleting emails to make room. The best feature, though, is that you can also get a custom email with your company’s domain name which runs through Gmail! It’s free for personal users, but for a few dollars a month you’ll get the professional look you’re going for and never lose access to your business’ needs. Check out our list of Gmail tips and tricks to help you save time!

Google Drive

Ever want to share a document with a colleague or collaborate with more than one other person? If you’re emailing Word documents or Excel spreadsheets back and forth, you may experience issues dealing with the multiple versions. Google Drive is the perfect solution for wedding professionals who need lots of data and information at their fingertips at all times! With Google Drive, your business can go wherever you go. You can organize, edit and share documents from any computer at drive.google.com, or on-the-go with the Drive mobile app. Multiple users can be in your documents at one time, and you can add comments/track changes as you would in a Word doc. The spreadsheets in Google Drive are also extremely useful to keep track of all your event information and expenses. You can also upload photos, videos and other files to keep them accessible to multiple people from multiple devices.

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» How to Build Strong SEO in 4 Ways

Building strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important for your wedding business’ online exposure. There’s so much information available about SEO it may be difficult to know what you should, and should not, be doing for your business. Regardless of all the confusion, the goal remains the same: you want your business to be found by engage couples searching for their perfect Pros.

Most wedding professionals are concerned about SEO for their website, but your website is not the only place where you have a presence online. Your business should optimize your presence across your website, blog, social networks and online listings. We break down what you need to know to build strong SEO by optimizing each, below!

How to Build Strong SEO in 4 WaysOptimizing your website for search

Your business’ website is a great place for potential clients to learn even more about your wedding business, but it’s not much use if it can’t be found! For those couples who use a combination of WeddingWire and search engines to find their Perfect Pros, you should make it as easy as possible to be found!

Search engines are looking for the following from your website:

  1. Include relevant keywords in all aspects of your website, including your domain name, title tags, meta tags and long-tail URLs. You can also use keywords within your page content, and use HTML cues like the <H1> tag and the <Alt Tag> on images. Begin by focusing on 10 keywords, and a good strategy is to include the word “wedding,” your service category and your business’ location.
  2. One of the most obvious detractors is lack of quality content. Websites that aren’t trustworthy rarely take the time to write intelligent, descriptive content, so make sure your website doesn’t fall into this trap. Create quality content that is specific to your business and keeps your customer in mind.
  3. Think about your customers’ experience on your website. Is it easy for them to navigate from page to page? Are there any outdated web pages or dead-end links that should be removed? Asking these questions will help improve your website’s functionality to make it more user-friendly, which is another factor in most search algorithms.
  4. Create relevant inbound links back to your website by guest blogging for partners who will link back to your website when they mention you on their website or blog. You should never buy inbound links in bulk from mass directories.

Optimizing your blog for search

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» Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save Time

Email was originally invented to help us communicate faster and more efficiently, and to ultimately make our lives simpler. However, in these days where an overflowing inbox is all-too-often the norm, it can feel like taking the time to read all your emails and respond is a job in itself. Below are a few helpful Gmail tips and tricks available to help make your email work for you!

Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save TimeCanned Responses

If you feel like you are consistently sending the same email over and over, take advantage of canned responses. Gmail’s canned responses are pre-scripted emails at the tip of your finger tips which you can edit before sending. Canned responses are a great time saver, and you’ll also be certain that your messaging is consistent.

Pro Tip: Consistently sending out your price sheet? Rather than copying and pasting from a word document or somewhere else in your computer, set up a canned response you can easily add into the body of any email and then edit quickly to personalize.

Undo Send

Have you ever sent an email without proofreading or just wish you could take it back right after clicking the “Send” button? Gmail’s Undo Send allows you to stop the email from leaving your outbox if you change your mind within a few seconds of sending. You’ll have to be quick with this feature, but it’s worth it for those last minute, silly mistakes!

Pro Tip: Undo Send saves you from appearing unprofessional if you accidentally mistype your client’s name or notice a typo right after sending. This support article will walk you through adding this feature to your Gmail settings.

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» An Advanced Guide to Using Google+

An Advanced Guide to Using Google+If you use Google+ personally or professionally, you know that there are many benefits to setting up a profile for your business. One of the most common reasons for using Google+ is to reap the SEO benefits of your links being indexed and listed faster, but that’s just one facet of the social network. There are a number of advanced strategies for using Google+ which you can employ to better your page!

In addition to the basics of using Google+ we wrote about a few weeks ago, there are also a number of bonus features and elements you can take advantage of for your Google+ page, including:

Authorship: If you personally write a lot of content for or about your wedding business, consider setting up a personal Google+ account (if you haven’t already) and linking that account with the website or blog where you publish your content. This method, known as Google Authorship, allows you to optimize your personal branding so that all the content you write can be aggregated on your Google+ profile. Your name will show up beneath the title of the article automatically, which is great exposure. Just make sure your personal Google+ account lists your business as a place of work, and you and your business will benefit. Learn more about Google Authorship and how to link accounts here.

Google Analytics: If you use Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, you can connect it with your Google+ page to better understand your Google+ page followers and how they relate to your website visitors. This connection adds another layer to your business’ online and social activity and allows you to deepen your knowledge about how clients and potential clients interact with your business. Find step-by-step instructions for optimizing this integration from Google Developers.

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» What Google Wants from Your Business Website

Being found easily in Google search results is important for all small businesses, not just wedding and event professionals. With everyone vying for top placement based on a finite number of keywords, it can be hard for your business to be found by engaged couples searching for their Wedding Pros.

What Google Wants from Your Business WebsiteYou’ve already made the right first steps by creating your WeddingWire Storefront, which not only helps your business get found by couples searching on WeddingWire but also helps your business achieve better search rankings on search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing. How? Your WeddingWire business listing is indexed across these top search engines, and Premium members receive direct links for across the WeddingWire Network.

In addition to our Search Engine Optimizer for Premium members, there are additional steps you can take to help optimize your business’ website! Below are five qualities Google wants from your business website. Use these qualities as a guide to keeping your business’ website in the running for better placement:

1. Quality content: One of the most obvious detractors is lack of quality content. Websites that aren’t trustworthy rarely take the time to write intelligent, descriptive content, so make sure your website doesn’t fall into this trap. Create content that is specific to your business and keeps your customer in mind.

2. Consistent content: Remember that for search engines “content” means more than just text – content on your website can be images, videos, reviews or comments in addition to text on your web pages and/or blog posts. Update your website often so that you’re consistently creating new, fresh content.

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» 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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» March “Fourth” and Meet Your Mobile Goals

March “Fourth” and Meet Your Mobile GoalsIt’s the calm before the storm for many wedding and event professionals; engagement season is over, and the big rush for many couples to book their Wedding Pros has died down a bit. With about 33% of weddings happening in the spring, you’re about to get really busy really soon!

Take advantage of this lull in your schedule to get in the spirit of March fourth – the only day of the year which is also a command. Use today as motivation to get organized for the busy season by checking some items off your business’ list. What’s one important step? Mobile!

Mobile marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy, but depending on your business, your goals may be different. Since your mobile strategy depends on your mobile goals, be sure to decide what you want before you begin.

March forth to meet these mobile goals for small businesses:

Meeting Customer Expectations

If you want to meet the barest of customer expectations you need to be able to be found and used on mobile. Today’s couples are always on their phones, and many people may do some wedding planning research when they have a few spare moments. They’ll be able to find you easily with WeddingWire’s new WedTeam app, but if they want more information they’ll continue on to your website. Make sure you have a mobile website so they can easily scroll through it on their smartphones, and make it easy for them to contact you with big buttons and concise copy. Our Mobile Website Creator will help your business get started and lets you have control over your mobile site’s design elements.

For more mobile website tips, check out this post!

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