» 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

» 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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» SEO Tips for Speaking to Same-Sex Couples

Having strong SEO for your business is critical to building a powerful online reputation, and considering your keywords thoughtfully is important when marketing to same-sex couples. What you might not realize is that, at times, the best practices when referring to LGBTQ clients can also be out-of-sync with optimal SEO keywords. What’s a pro to do? Start here!

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

When we first founded our company in 1999 as TwoBrides.com and TwoGrooms.com — ‘mother-approved shopping sites for same-sex couples,’ we loved the domains because our URLs were catchy and descriptive. In 2005, however, we had the opportunity to acquire the domain www.gayweddings.com and expand our offerings.

Though our “new” company name, GayWeddings.com, is a bit less “catchy” than our first brand names, the advantage of our owning this keyword-rich domain is obvious. It’s the fastest shorthand to describe what we do, and the name speaks for itself in conversation and SEO optimization.

Or does it?

The answer to that is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ And, in my ambiguous answer lives a story of how a market, a marginalized community, and our larger society has changed in fifteen years’ time.

As Far As Acronyms Go

Over twenty years ago, our community largely referred to itself as ‘the gay community.’ But, within the community, there was a push to be more inclusive. Thus we began to refer to ourselves as the ‘lesbian and gay’ community and ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual’ (LGB or GLB) community.

And, over the years, our transgender brothers and sisters lobbied and pushed (rightfully so) to expand the community’s definition to LGBT. And, finally, of late, others, including myself, have begun to add the Q for ‘Queer’ into our mainstream use as a means by which to be most inclusive. (While we’re at it, in case you are wondering, there have also been other acronyms including ‘I’ for Intersex, ‘Q’ for Questioning, ‘A’ for Allies in the mix.)

The bottom line for our purposes as wedding professionals, however, is that we are talking about same-sex couples. Two persons of the same gender who wish to marry and who, for the most part, identify with being part of the broader LGBTQ community. Continue reading

» Let’s Get Analytical!

Top Business Tracking TipsWebinar Recap!

In late March, we held our monthly webinar for premium members, all about tracking your business analytics online! WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly hosted the webinar and shared his insights into the importance of analytics, and the best resources for business tracking online.

Analytics plays an important role in measuring your business’ success and online impact – but don’t let the numbers scare you! Check out the six key sources you should be measuring, below!

  • Traffic: The best way to track your business website traffic is through Google Analytics. Review your site’s basic metrics and overall page traffic as well as your key driving sources in one place with this tool.
  • SEO: A key to standing out in search is to use the best keywords for your business. Do a bit of research to determine interest in search terms using Google Trends to get started.

» 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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» Improve Your Brand Reach with Social Media, Video and SEO

Is your business looking for an easy yet effective way to engage with new potential clients? Grow your brand reach and make a big impression with social media, video and SEO improvement!

Our all-in-one business marketing solution (available in all premium member accounts) makes it easy to stay ahead with the latest marketing tools and technology.

Social Media:

Engaged couples are planning their weddings online and are actively searching, planning, and posting on their favorite social networks – including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.

Two keys to standing out and reaching these potential clients are to develop a strong social media marketing strategy with planned content, and to stay fresh and creative with your brand with a professional account brand presence.

  • Manage your social media accounts and schedule posts across Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn with a social media platform like Hootsuite. Easily monitor your performance to maximize your content’s impact and perfect your posting strategy.
  • Design a Facebook business page that stands out! Add a custom designed cover photo to catch your audience’s attention each time they visit.

Video:Improve Your Brand Reach with Video

Video is more popular than ever before. Online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016. Don’t miss this opportunity to show off your talents to couples searching for their perfect Pros.

Turn your wedding and event photos into high-quality videos with the Video Builder! Simply choose your favorite photos, select a song, add your business details and create unlimited videos to showcase your work.

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» What We Learned at Digital East 2013

What We Learned at Digital East 2013This week, members of the WeddingWire team attended Digital East 2013, DC’s premier gathering of marketers, entrepreneurs, web strategists and other professionals in the digital realm. Speakers included representatives from industry leaders such as Twitter, Buzzfeed and Facebook. WeddingWire’s own Senior Email Marketing Manager Matt Byrd also spoke on email trends, tools and tactics.

We had a great time learning about content strategy, mobile marketing, customer engagement, social media, email marketing, search marketing and more, so we can share some of the best education with you and work to apply it here at WeddingWire!

Check out our highlights of upcoming digital trends from the conference:

  1. Only 20% of what you post on social media should have a conversion goal (get a new lead). The other 80% should be split between providing information, entertaining your followers and prompting interaction. Prompt interaction whenever possible – remember, interaction is the “social” in “social media.”
  2. Visual content is on the rise. In fact, on average, articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images. Try out visual networks like Pinterest and Instagram. Make sure your blog posts have images to break up your text and link posts on Facebook and Twitter with images for increased engagement.
  3. The growth of mobile is driving new strategies for content creation, content consumption and advertising. Businesses need to be smarter about how they are interacting with consumers on mobile devices. The first step? Make your site mobile-friendly!
  4. Marketing is becoming more and more data-driven. The ability to track the success of marketing tactics is becoming more important in determining the true return on investment (ROI) for marketing dollars. This trend can be seen across all industries, from business to politics.
  5. Interacting with customers on a variety channels is becoming the norm. New technologies will not kill older forms of media – just as TV didn’t actually kill off radio – but they will change the way we consume certain types of media. It’s important to keep all these channels in mind, such as social networks, websites and blogs, when coming up with strategies.
  6. Changes in search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and regulation are making it more important than ever to not only understand the keywords your customers are using, but also what those keywords say about the customer’s behavior. The better you know your customers, the better you can anticipate and predict their needs to be their top business choice!

We enjoyed meeting the best of the best in the digital world, and we’re so excited to use what we’ve learned to help power our Pros! What do you think about these trends?

» 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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