» Handling SEO for Your Wedding Business

The wedding industry can be challenging, as wedding professionals need not only to be great at their chosen service category (officiating, wedding planning, etc.) but Pros also need to understand how to succeed in the world of business – and there’s a lot to consider!

When you commit to having an online presence for your wedding business, you’re accepting responsibility for a lot of additional considerations. Along with your WeddingWire Storefront, you need a business website with descriptive, fresh content as well as good search engine optimization (SEO). Strong, relevant SEO is what makes it easy for search engines to crawl your content, and your potential clients to find your business online! It’s a lot to take on, and it begs the question: should you hire an SEO expert or attempt to optimize your website yourself?

Handling SEO for Your Wedding BusinessIf you have some experience in SEO, take time to do the research to find out what keywords, meta tags and more would be relevant and help your business reach grow online. Google has some great tools and resources to help, such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

As search engine marketing is a specialized area, it can be tempting to hire an outside SEO company to help you understand what you need and where to spend time and money making improvements. Unfortunately, there are questionable SEO firms out there looking to use black-hat tactics to boost your business’ SEO for a short period of time (until Google catches you). If you decide to hire an outside company, be sure to do the research and make sure they’re a reputable company who can truly help your business achieve success.

Regardless of your SEO experience, there is something you can easily do to help boost your SEO with your WeddingWire account!

The WeddingWire Search Engine Optimizer for Premium Pros helps you optimize your search engine results for your business so more couples can find you. Whether they’re searching the WeddingWire directory or just searching on Google and other top sites, this tool will help your business get relevant exposure to more potential clients.

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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 DIY and SEO Can Live Happily Ever After

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.

Creating your SEO strategy can feel utterly overwhelming. Sure, hiring an expert could make things a lot easier, but then you would want someone who knows the industry, understands exactly what will work for your website, and whose services fit within your budget. How DIY and SEO Can Live Happily Ever AfterWhy can’t SEO be DIY? Does it really need to be so difficult? As it turns out, SEO could be DIY once you understand a few key elements. Here are the oh-so-easy-to-do secrets of a happy DIY SEO relationship which, if you implement, will leave you feeling empowered and knowledgeable!

Beauty sleep, aka NAPtime Make sure your business contact information is consistent anywhere it’s visible. At a minimum, your contact information should include your business name, address, and phone number – or NAP, abbreviated. That means that the NAP information on your website, Storefront and Facebook business page should all be exactly alike.

Be yourself, but don’t be full of yourself Be unique when it comes to your SEO DIY blending. On your website’s homepage, include information that explains exactly what your business does, in three hundred words or more. Do share where you are, what specifically you do, and some relevant keywords. However, do not overload your website with so many keywords that you sound like a wedding industry dictionary. Known as keyword stuffing, this method is a huge turnoff to search engines that are savvy to this kind of jargon. Continue reading

» 7 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Presence

8 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Presence

This time of year is very busy for wedding professionals, so social media might be the last thing on your mind. Consider, though, the importance of social media for search engine optimization as well as the opportunity to reach even more couples. 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.

Whether you’d like your business to improve its search engine rankings or want to build more connections on your existing social networks, our eight ways to improve your social media presence will help you reach more couples and potentially book more weddings!

1.  Do your research

Don’t feel like you have to have a presence on all social networks. Some networks might not be a good fit for your business based on your service category and the audience available on each. Do your research to find out which network or network is the most valuable for your business! This article from CNN Money is a great resource for learning who is on each network and which strategies will help your business reach that audience.

2.  Complete all your profiles

This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you start a new social property for your business, make sure to complete your profile or page! Just like you wouldn’t create a website and leave it blank or lacking important details about your business, you shouldn’t create a social network without checking off the basics. Upload a profile photo or cover photo where applicable, and fill out the “About” section with (at the very least) your business’ website, email address and/or phone number, and a bit of information about your business so new followers know who you are. Continue reading

» 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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» 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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» Website Do’s and Don’ts

Many wedding and event professionals create and manage their own business websites to help establish themselves in the wedding industry and build brand awareness. If you’re a small business just starting out, it can be hard to determine what should be on your website, how it should look and how it should function!

Whether your website is new or just needs an update, our infographic with these top 10 website do’s and don’ts will help you put your best foot forward and book more weddings in 2014!

Website Dos and Don'ts

» How to Write Content for Better SEO

How to Write Content for Better SEO | WeddingWireEDU BlogWe’ve written a lot in the past about how important creating fresh content can be in helping you build brand awareness and improve your online exposure, and this trend is continuing to bring success to businesses. A blog is a great way to create a lot of content, but you should also consider what the content you’ve written on your website and Storefront says to your audience.

The right content can:

  • Build trust with your readers
  • Educate and inform your readers
  • Assist with conversions
  • Help manage customers and build loyalty

But did you also know that the right content can help you be found online? Search engines index and “read” thousands of web pages every day – if you’re not writing content that can easily be seen and categorized by a search engine, your business could get lost in the chaos.

The following considerations will help you make your website and blog content search engine-friendly!

1.  Define your target audience. While this post is about writing content that is good for search engines, it’s also more important to write content that serves a purpose for your audience. Who is your audience? What do they want to know? What do they need to make a decision? Answering these questions will help you write the most important things in the most effective way for your target audience.

2.  Conduct keyword research. You likely already have an idea of what keywords or phrases your potential customers type into search engines. Tools like Google’s Keyword Tool or HubSpot’s Keyword tool can recommend keyword suggestions based on the word or phrase you type in. These suggestions will either confirm your ideas or help you identify new words to target.

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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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» Social Search: Bing and Facebook Collide

Earlier this year, Facebook announced their new feature, Graph Search. Following this announcement, Bing revealed that its search results will now include 5 times more content from users’ Facebook friends. The concept of search results being customized and personalized by user based on their social networks is referred to as Social Search and is a huge technology trend for the future.

What type of content is shared with Social Search? Search results on Bing will include status updates, links, and comments. Now, Bing will show your organic search results on the left side of the results page, paid per click advertisements in the center, and social media – primarily Facebook – results on the right hand side.

So, what does this mean for your business? This announcement by Bing, one of the top three largest search engines, is yet another reason why it is so important for your business to be on Facebook and developing a consistent presence on top social media sites by sharing valuable content with your audiences. To develop a strong presence, you should post on a regular basis, but also be sure to engage with your fans and get them sharing and liking your posts and comments by providing them with relevant education, fun topics and asking for their feedback.

What do you think about the future of Social Search and Bing’s recent announcement?