» 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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» 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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» 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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» Search Engine Marketing: SEO vs. PPC Advertising

Search Engine Marketing: SEO vs. PPC AdvertisingWith the infinite number of websites available online today, search engines have had to work harder to filter through all the results! Search algorithms take many elements into account when evaluating your website, and it can be difficult to understand exactly how to get your business closer to the top. We often discuss search engine optimization as a good marketing strategy, but search engine marketing encompasses more than these organic efforts.

Search engine marketing is the overall term used to describe a business’ attempt to promote their brand on search engines. The two strategies commonly employed are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising. Below is a quick breakdown of both search engine marketing strategies!

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo organically rank web pages, local listings and other content based on relevancy to the search terms. The process of helping those search engines find and understand your content is called search engine optimization. SEO involves a number of factors (learn more about those factors here), but the general idea is to use keywords in your website’s content and meta information to inform search engines about the content of each page of your website, listing or blog. This strategy takes time for the search engines to re-index your website, but will help your business get found by people searching those keywords.

Pay Per Click Advertising

In addition to organic page rankings, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo also display paid results called pay per click ads. PPC is a performance-based advertising model where the advertiser pays a set fee for each click on their advertisement. These advertisements are separate from the organic rankings displayed in search results, so they are not directly tied to relevancy to search terms. Each search engine offers their own platform to help you build your ads and suggests bids based on the popularity of keywords and phrases. Once your PPC ads start running, you can start seeing results right away in the form of visits to your website.

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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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» 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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» 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