» How To: Create Your SEO Keyword Checklist

How To: Create Your SEO Keyword ChecklistWith recent changes to Google’s search algorithm and other search engine optimization (SEO) concerns, it can be hard to know what to do for your SEO efforts. While SEO is made up of several moving parts, including a link strategy, your URL structure and other factors, your use of keywords is one of the most pieces.

Here’s how you can create your own SEO keyword checklist to keep your business current and compliant with the latest SEO strategies!

Situation Analysis

  1. Analyze your current business website. What keywords are you using? Does your website use meta data (title tags, descriptions)? How much text do you have on your website and does that text use keywords associated with your business type? Answering these questions can help you determine how much work you need to do to be more transparent for search engines.
  2. Analyze your competitors’ websites. Go through your biggest known competitors’ websites to see the content and keywords they’re using. You can also search the keywords you feel best represent your business to see who is using them. Check out the websites for each of the first five search results to see how they incorporate these keywords.
  3. Develop your own desired keywords. 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.

Keyword Research

  1. Use keyword research tools like Google AdWord’s 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. These factors not only help you to identify keywords that others are using, but also to identify keywords that others are not using, leaving room for your use. Additionally, if you choose to do any form of search advertising in the future, you’ll know how costly those keywords would be.
  2. Now that you have a better understanding of what you’re currently doing in terms of SEO and where you can go in the future, it’s important to set your objectives before moving forward. What are you trying to measure by taking further action – website visits? Inquiries? Appointments? Bookings? Start recording these numbers before you start optimizing so you have a baseline and can see how your actions are affecting those objectives.

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» How SEO and Social Media Work Together

How SEO and Social Media Work TogetherSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex process that involves many moving parts. Our Search Engine Optimizer helps you to optimize your Storefront for search engines by researching keywords and incorporating them into your website and Storefront, but that’s just part of the battle for top placement.

In recent years, Google has also gotten better at weeding out those websites that are chocked full of popular (unrelated) keywords or those that use plug-ins and other technologies in an attempt to trick Google into giving them higher placement. As a result, more legitimate businesses are gaining back their deserved SEO traction.

How does SEO work? Google’s algorithms take many elements into account when evaluating your website. Yes, keywords are important, but what many businesses might not realize is that social engagement is a key factor in how search engines determine your search placement!

As search engines like Google become more focused on fresh, quality content, they’ve begun to acknowledge that your brand’s website is not the only place where you have a presence online. Your business likely has a presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and now search engines are placing an increasing amount of importance on how your social conversations influence your brand.

Check out our suggestions below to determine how your brand can make SEO and social media work together!

Start conversations on your business’ Facebook page.

Stimulate engagement with your Facebook fans by posting interesting content often. You can ask questions, provide information or even just post information that is relevant to your brand, like photos from your last event or service. Think of your Facebook page as a community, where you interact with your fans. This will help you to start conversations with your audience and boost your online reputation.

Boost your Twitter activity.

Search engines are looking for your Twitter account’s activity, not just your number of tweets. Your tweets should be written in a way that encourages clicks, retweets, favorites and mentions. Search engines are looking for indications that your brand deserves a high ranking; other users interacting with your tweets shows that your brand has a lot of social clout.

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» What’s Next in Social Media: 2013 Year in Review

What's Next in Social Media

2013 was a big year for social media! Even though many of the networks in the post below are several years old, they’re still finding new ways to innovate and introduce new features and functionalities that constantly influence the way businesses conduct online marketing.

What's Next in Social Media: 2013 Year in Review

If you’ve been busy the past few months or you’re just now deciding whether or not to start implementing a social media marketing strategy, make sure you catch up on the latest social media news before you start planning for 2014. Before you spend time searching the news stories to find out what’s next in social media, start here!

Below are the biggest updates to the major social networks in 2013!

Facebook

Although Facebook is the oldest social network in this post, there were still several big changes this past year. Early in the year Facebook announced Graph Search, the new functionality that allows anyone to search and find terms in posts, pages, groups, and comments from your friends or those who post publicly. This was the first update toward allowing users to dig deeper into trends and conversations. Facebook then announced it would begin using clickable hashtags to help users further follow conversations they are most interested in. Both of these updates allow Facebook users to expand their reach beyond their own friends and make new connections. Businesses can use both of these features to build their customer base and reach fans in real-time.

Twitter

In addition to Twitter going public with a late-year IPO, Twitter made a few visual changes to expand its use past 140-character tweets. Twitter completely re-designed their mobile app to enhance the visual experience for users, most notably adding a photo stream. The traditional four tabs at the bottom of the app’s screen were replaced with swiping functionality to get to the different streams. Additionally, in the home stream, Twitter made it so images automatically appear (previously, users had to click on a tweet to reveal the photo). These changes mean that businesses can give their followers a more complete picture of their business by incorporating images into their Twitter conversations.

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» Google Hummingbird: What You Need to Know

Google Hummingbird: What You Need to KnowGoogle’s latest revamp of its search algorithm, Hummingbird, has been released. The new algorithm, which affects 90% of worldwide search results, makes search more relevant and useful, and easier to use on a mobile device.

With our increasing reliance on mobile devices, the way users search has changed. Those using Google on-the-go are often searching complex, long-tail search queries through voice search (think Apple’s Siri) instead of typing the full search. Voice-based queries are more complex because they use natural-language rather than keyword strings, and with this update Google is adjusting accordingly to better serve users.

With Hummingbird, Google will be doing more than finding relevant web pages – it will begin compiling information from several sources and displaying these results within Google. This helps searchers find answers faster, with fewer steps between query and answer. This change is significant because it implies that Google is now attempting to understand what you’re searching for and return the most relevant results for your specific query.

This new update is yet another indicator of the coming shift from desktop to mobile. With Microsoft predicting that mobile web will be bigger than desktop web by 2014, the time to go mobile is now!

We’ve talked about your options for going mobile in the past, but now it’s more important than ever that your business adapt to the evolving ways your audience finds you.

Here are some simple ways you can jump of the mobile bandwagon today:

  • Use our Mobile Website Creator to easily optimize your website for mobile devices (available to all premium members). You can even customize the look of your mobile site to match your branding! Read our Quick Start Guide for a step-by-step tutorial.
  • Keep the content on your website concise and actionable so visitors accessing it from a mobile device can easily scroll and take action.
  • Similarly, keep any website forms short and simple with easy-to-fill fields.
  • Feel free to use eye-catching images and/or video, but test out how they appear on smartphones and tablets to make sure they scale properly.

Follow these tips and Google Hummingbird will be able to find you and put you in front of the people who need you!

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» Google+ Tips to Effectively Use Circles

Google+ now has 135 million active users (and over 400 million registered users), and is a continuously growing social media site. However, many people and businesses do not know how to effectively post and share on Google+.

Previously, we covered the key features on Google+ for your business, but wanted to explore in more depth Google+’s tips to effectively be active on this network through Circles. Circles are the people and businesses that you connect with. From friends, to co-workers, to clients and business contacts, you can customize your circles for the different elements of your world, and share different information with each group.

As you are building your Google+ account and circles, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU!

Google+ Circle Tips:

Find Friends: Connect an email account to find everyone in your address book who are already using Google+ and if you’re looking for someone in particular, you can search for them by name.

Create Circles: Create Circles that apply to different aspects of your life and job, based on the content you would share with these groups. For example, create simple “Family,” “Co-workers,” “Clients,” and “Industry Experts” circles where you can follow different people and businesses that apply to each, and post and share with specific groups. When posting, you can make your posts public and share with all your contacts, or you can opt to select certain circles, and your post will only be visible to those in the circles you select.

Tagging: You can tag friends or businesses in a Google+ post by simply adding the “@” or “+” before their username. So, if you wanted to mention WeddingWireEDU in a status or share a blog post from our blog, you would type either “@WeddingWireEDU” or “+WeddingWireEDU” and it would be linked through a tag.

Comment: Join in on a conversation on Google+ by commenting on a status post. Simply select the “Add a comment” box at the bottom of the post, and share your thoughts! Your comment will be visible to all those who can already see the post. This is a great way to reach new contacts and grow your followers and circles. You are able to edit or delete any comments made, if you so choose.

To learn more about Google+ Circles including how to videos, check out this overview from Google. Don’t have a Google+ account? Sign up today!

» Be an SEO Superstar

Yesterday, WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, presented ‘Be an SEO Superstar’ as part of our monthly webinar series for premium WeddingWire members.

Each one hour webinar is designed to inform Wedding Pros about the latest industry trends and technology insights to effectively and strategically grow your business.  This month’s webinar, dedicated to Search Engine Optimization, focused on:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics, and the impact of search on your business
  • Google’s latest search algorithms, Panda and Penguin
  • Key steps to build a stronger search engine ranking over time
  • What is social sharing, and how it impacts if engaged couples find your business
  • 7 items that could flag your website as spam, and how to avoid them
  • All about the WeddingWire Search Engine Optimizer

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros. Don’t miss December’s webinar, ‘What’s Next in Tech.’ Register today!

» Google+ for Your Business

Google decided to join the social network arena, and launched its own social platform, Google+ in June 2011. The network saw immediate success with 10 billion users sharing over 1 billion pieces of content each day within its first three weeks, but since the launch, Google+ has not seen as strong growth as other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Currently, there are 400 million registered users on Google+, and about 100 million are active on a monthly basis. While Google+ may not have the daily sharing level of some of the other major social networking sites, it has a lot of potential with its connection to personalized search and some unique features that could be beneficial to your business. If you have not already done so, consider signing up, and review Google+ basics below!

Google+ Key Information:

Profile – Includes key info about yourself such as a description, profile photo, and other details. You can edit your Google privacy settings to determine what information shows on this page, and who in your circles can see certain information and updates.

Circles – Allows you to control who sees your content. You can drag and drop people into different groups such as “Family” or “Business.” You can create as many circles as you like for different elements of your world, and simply share information like a Google Map, YouTube video or document in your circles.

Photos – Upload as many photos as you would like and easily share with others, as you see fit with customization and private albums.

Events– Create events and share with guests you would like to invite easily. Choose from a selection of invitations, and store everyone’s photos in one past, post-event for review.

Hangouts – Similar to the traditional video chat, Hangouts allows multiple users to chat live and face-to-face. The view automatically switches to the person currently speaking into their microphone. This is a great place to host a virtual meeting with clients, and share google docs.

Mobile – Google+ is accessible on-the-go! Share photos, chat through video and post to your circles from your smartphone.

Local- Browse places and read and share reviews from people you know!

For information on adding buttons for Google+ to your sites, review this post from our Social Media Guide!

» Google Celebrates Diversity with the ‘Legalise Love’ Campaign

Just a little over a month ago, WeddingWire launched our Wed We Can campaign, celebrating DC’s Capital Pride Parade and our partnership with GayWeddings.com.

So, imagine our delight as we were perusing some headlines, and read via Mashable that as of Saturday, July 7th, Google has launched a campaign called ‘Legalise Loveto mark their support in eliminating gay discrimination worldwide. Google wrote in a statement, “‘Legalise Love’ is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books.”

Google is not the only tech-focused company committed to supporting same-sex couples. Since 2007, WeddingWire has made same-sex avatars available to couples who use our site, and recently, Facebook also updated its icons to include options for same-sex couples when they post a ‘married’ relationship status to their profiles.

While it may seem like a simple change to some, to the couples in the LGBT community who now feel included and represented by such influential companies, it’s a strong show of support.

» Social Media Guide #5: Google+

The final installment in our blog post series breaking down Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide for Creating Social Media Buttons is Google+.  Google+ aims to make sharing on the web more personal, and more like real life. As Google’s New Search Results indicate, Google+ will likely play a large role in web search results as search becomes more personalized. Be sure to sign up for an account if you do not already have one, and add these social media buttons to your website and blog!

Google+ Page/Profile Button

What It’s For: This is Google+’s version of other social networks’ follow buttons. The only caveat is that it’s not a slick, one-click follow button. Rather, users have to click to your Google+ business page and then manually add your page to one of their Circles in order to follow you. However, displaying this button on your website is a great way to promote your business’ presence on Google+ and generate more followers for your page, increasing the reach of the content you promote there.

How to Implement It: To create a Google+ Page Button, visit http://www.google.com/webmasters/profilebutton/, enter your Google+ Page’s URL, choose an image size, and copy/paste the HTML code onto your website where you’d like the button to appear.

+1 Button

What It’s For: The +1 Button is Google’s version of Facebook’s Like Button. Adding this button to your website and content provides an easy way for visitors to +1 (or vote for/endorse) your content, recommend it in search results, and share it with their connections on Google+, expanding the reach of your content and increasing traffic back to your business’ website. Hubspot’s research shows that websites that use Google’s +1 button generate 3.5x more website visits from Google+ than websites that don’t use the +1 button.

How to Implement It: Visit http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/ to customize your +1 button and generate its embed code.

Google+ Share Link

What It’s For: Like Facebook’s share links, you can easily generate a link that visitors can click to share content to their Google+ page. The only difference between this link and the +1 button is that it appears as a link rather than a button, similar to the way a ‘Tweet This’ link works for Twitter. The benefit of using this is to enable visitors to share a specific piece of content within a larger piece of content, as exemplified in this blog post.

How to Implement It: To create a Google+ share link, replace the red highlighted URL with the URL you want people to share. Then hyperlink your desired anchor text using the full link.

https://plusone.google.com/_/+1/confirm?hl=en&url=http%3A%2F%2F%20http://bit.ly/vOKpgC

When a visitor clicks the link, they will have automatically +1’ed the content. In addition, like the +1 button, they will have the opportunity to click “Add a comment” to customize a message and share the content with their Google+ connections.

 

Read all entries in the Social Media Button Guide series and check out previous posts: follow vs. share buttons, twitter, facebook and LinkedIn.

» Google’s New Search Results #3: Google+

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

Google+

If you haven’t already created a Google+ profile, now is the time to do it! Released in June 2011, Google+ is the driving force behind these new search results. While the growth of Google+ has been slow up to this point, their new social network will continue to play a role in the future of the world’s largest search engine.

To create a Google+ profile, first sign up for a Google Mail (Gmail) or a Google account and sync your social networks with Google search for a more personalized search experience and recommendations. As Google continues the rollout of these changes to users, we will continue to see growth and personalization of search results. Don’t be surprised if you see Facebook launch their own search results in the future to compete more directly with Google.

As a wedding professional, if a client reviewed your services or liked your website, when their friends or acquaintances search your business may be pulled to the top of their personalized search! Even if your business website may not be listed in traditional search results until page 3 or 4, you could bump up to the top based on these personal connections.  That makes “Search Plus Your World” potentially very powerful, but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Google is constantly working to review your site, optimize its search, and discover new avenues to connect its users with the best content on the web. By understanding how Google Search works, maintaining fresh content on your website and recognizing the importance of social activity, your business will be well prepared for the future of search!

Read more about Google’s recent Panda update focused on new ways to determine search rankings based on the quality of content, and the future of personalized search!

» Google’s New Search Results #2: Search Gets Personal

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

Search Gets Personal

Google recently unveiled its newest endeavor called “Search Plus Your World” this January.  This new adjustment focuses on personalizing search results to include a mixture of personal results along with standard search results. “Search Plus Your World” represents quite possibly the largest change ever made to how Google’s search results are displayed.  It is a strong indicator of the future of search engines, with the big idea being that People Matter. 

The update is focused around four primary features:

  • Includes photos from you and your friends in search results
  • Content from your connections on Google+, Google’s social network
  • People’s profiles in search results, which is similar to Facebook people search
  • Related people and pages as you search, which bears some resemblance to twitter

“Search Plus Your World” provides users with a toggle to see results that are based on Google’s algorithm as before or a new button to shift to personalized results. Based on your previous interests and friends’ interests, Google will provide personalized results for whatever you may search for. For example, if you were to type in “best restaurants in Miami” your typical search results will pull back popular restaurants with their ratings and reviews.  With the new changes, you will have the ability to get personalized results for the “best restaurants in Miami,” which would include any reviews from your friends or pictures from when they dined at a restaurant.

In the future, when you ask a search engine to tell you the “best movie playing”, it won’t give you an answer based on popularity or box office results.  Rather, you will get recommendations that are more based on your social graph and what movies your friends, family and like-minded people enjoyed.  “Search Plus Your World” combines Google’s algorithm with the social world, and it has taken some of those cues from Facebook and twitter.  In the next two years, expect search results to become more tied to social networks and activity.  Why? Because people and their connections matter!

Read more about Google’s recent Panda update focused on new ways to determine search rankings based on the quality of content, and check back soon to for insight on the impact and future of Google+!

» Google’s New Search Results #1: The Giant Panda

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

It’s no surprise that Google is the largest search engine in the world, with approximately 65% of the US Search Engine Market Share.  It leads the other “big three” search engines by a large majority, with Bing and Yahoo! having roughly 15% market share each. Getting top ranking on Google search has to be a priority for your business.

What you may not know is that Google is constantly updating its search algorithm to screen for the best search results for its users. So even if you have strong SEO rankings, your results may vary over time based on these updates.  Over the past year Google has made significant changes to its search algorithm that changes how results are displayed.  In order to improve your SEO rankings in the future, you need to be aware of two recent updates called “Panda” and “Search Plus Your World.”

 

 

The Giant Panda

Google released a large update called “Panda” in 2011, which focused largely on new ways to determine search rankings based on the quality of content. Many sites with dated content saw their results decline sharply soon after the updates, while sites with high quality content saw strong improvement.  The Panda update emphasized 3 key elements:

  1. Freshness of content
  2. Content depth and corresponding traffic
  3. Quantity of advertisements on websites

As wedding professionals, it is important to understand how Google rates your websites and how you can improve rankings over time.  Remember: Content Matters!

Freshness of Content

The more frequently your content is updated, the more interesting Google finds your site! Updating the content on your website or blog reminds Google’s robots to crawl your site often and subsequently boost your search results listing. When content is stagnant, Google returns less frequently, and your site may lose relevance.  In essence, the search engine robots are a bit lazy!  It takes frequent content updates to remind them to come back and visit your site.

Content updates do not have to be a large undertaking.  You don’t have to re-design your site or adjust the basic web copy. What we want to do is create an area on your site where content is more dynamic vs. static.  In fact, creating fresh content can be easy! Here are some of the ways we create content:

  • Creating a blog and posting at least a couple times per week, preferably once per day.  We suggest using WordPress to build your blog.
  • Adding your blog as a navigation item on your main website.  This will give your main website a big boost in freshness!
  • Adding social media buttons and enabling sharing of content from your site.
  • Adding photos and videos to your site from your recent weddings.
  • Creating press releases to highlight new accomplishments.
  • Getting new ratings and reviews from past clients.

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