» How-To: Make Your Website LGBTQ-friendly

How-To: Make Your Website LGBTQ-friendlySince the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, an entire new segment of the population has entered the wedding industry as newly-engaged couples. Your wedding business could be catering to those couples, but website content and images could be holding you back!

According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral. However, at the same time, many couples are turned away from a site if they cannot relate to the content or visuals they see.

Are all different types of couples reflected in your marketing materials? If your answer is no, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate more LGBTQ-friendly language and images in your website, WeddingWire Storefront, and other online listings:

  • Display an assorted representation of couples you’ve worked with through visual content such as your main image, photo albums, and video content
  • Select all of the types of weddings you service within your FAQ to make it clear to same-sex couples whether or not you are open to LGBTQ clients
  • Consider your social presence and the couples you’re using to feature in your blogs, social media, and website

Don’t forget: Language is huge factor in making underrepresented couples feel welcome! Be sure to use inclusive language within your About Us section, such as writing “couples” in place of “brides,” since same-sex couples as well as straight grooms will not be able to identify with what you’re trying to say.

Small changes can go a long way towards helping all types of couples feel comfortable reaching out and working with your business. Get started today!

» 5 Things to Remember When Creating a Website

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

Online brand representation can make or break a company. I’ve been consulting with brands for the past 10 years, and I have seen just how effective a well-done company website can be. Your website can be visually appealing, but if it doesn’t have a few fundamental basics, then your website could have a negative impact on your business.

5 Things to Remember When Creating a WebsiteBelow I share five things to remember when creating a website for your wedding business. Some of these tips may seem like no-brainers, but 60-80% of sites I review are still missing the mark on what makes a website client-friendly!

Tell Your Potential Clients Who You Are

Many sites refer to the overall company name when describing what they do, but there is no mention of who is behind the brand. Potential clients are looking to learn everything there is to know about your company when accessing your website, especially who you are! Including an “About Me” page will allow your clients to easily access the information they want, including your name, photo, and a short bio. Use this page to your advantage and list your impressive credentials and past experience.

Include Social Media Links

If you make it difficult for potential clients to find your social media sites, they aren’t going to spend the time looking for them. Including links to your company’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other relevant social media accounts will allow clients to not only access the sites quickly, but will give your company credibility and relevance with the new generation of customers. Make the links clear and visible on the home page and include it on all other pages as well.

Show off!

A company website is not the place to be humble. Create a press page where you showcase any features, mentions, or positive reviews. Clients will be more inclined to work with a company who has had previous success. Include links to these features and don’t be afraid to show off your work!

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» 4 Easy Ways to Fix Your Website

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

As we head into the busy wedding season, your wedding business’ website may not be your top priority. However, every day that someone visits your current site and doesn’t take the action you want, it costs you money! Whether you’re making a new website or looking to improve the one you have, now is always the best time to make improvements.

4 Easy Ways to Fix Your WebsiteHere are four easy ways to fix your website now (the low hanging fruit):

  1. Put text calls to action in multiple places on every page. This is the simplest fix for most of the websites I review. Graphical elements may take some time, however almost all of you can make text changes yourselves or have them made easily by your webmaster. Go to every page on your site and look for the places where you tell them something about what you’re going to do for them. Follow every instance with text that tells them how to get that result. Then include a link to your email and/or your contact page and phone number. Be sure to explain why they should be contacting you to make each call to action compelling.
  1. Link the photos on your homepage to relevant pages on your site. Visitors to your website are attracted to colorful and moving objects, so use those objects to lead them to the content they want to see. Don’t just add links to the photos; make it clear where they’re linking to by putting text on the image if you can, or by editing the image to put the text right on it if you have access to photo-editing software.

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» Key Website Dos and Don’ts

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

I wanted to share with you tips from my latest website presentation at WeddingWire World in Washington, DC this week.  It was a rapid-fire session with lots of great nuggets on how you can improve your website. When it comes to website dos and don’ts, there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’ll go through four things you should do on your website, as well as four things you shouldn’t do on your website.

Key Website Dos and Don'tsHere are four things you should definitely do on your websites:

1.  Allow your voice and personality to come through. That’s what they’ll experience when they speak with or meet you – it’s one of the only things you’ll ever have a monopoly on… being you. Every person and every business has a unique voice. If they want you, specifically, to do their wedding or event, they can’t find you anywhere else, at any price.

2.  Use your reviews and testimonials on every page. Don’t bury all of that great text on a separate page. You can have a testimonials page and link to it from each testimonial on your site (I put “read more reviews” next to each one on my site to link to the page where I have the rest of them).

3.  Use aspirational imagery.  Every photo should be relevant to what you do, and what you’re talking about on that page. Ask yourself if a couple would put that photo in their album. If so, then it’s probably a good choice. They’re not putting pictures of empty ballrooms, DJ setups, cameras… or you. Show packed dance floors, ceremonies with people, lighting shots of the rooms filled with guests, buffets with people getting food… Make it so they look at the photo and would want to be at that wedding or event. Don’t forget to use great aspirational imagery on your Social Platforms as well.

4.  Have relevant calls to action on every page. Tell them what to do and make it easy to do it. So many of the pages on your sites just end with statements like “we look forward to working with you”, but that’s not a call to action. Instead say: “We look forward to making your wedding everything you’ve imagined, and more. Call or contact us today 202.555.1212” (and make the word “Contact” a link to your contact page or an email). Whether it’s in the text, or as any number of visual calls to action, there are so many ways to tell them what to do, and make it easy, and still have it fit with your design theme.

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» How to Improve Your Website Conversion Rate

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Be sure to check out Alan’s full, original post on AlanBerg.com!

The holidays are always a busy time for engagements, followed by the January rush of visits to websites. Is your wedding business’ website ready to convert that traffic into inquiries, appointments and then sales? After all, you only get one chance to make that first impression. Make sure it counts!

How to Improve Your Website Conversion RateHere are a few easy things you can do right now to improve your website conversion rate. These will only cost you time, not money, but they’re well worth the effort:

  • Read over the text on your website. I mean really read it, not just skim. When’s the last time you actually read what you wrote? You’ll likely find things that are out of date or incorrect; you may even find typos. When I consult with someone about their site I read the text out loud to hear the “voice” and see if it sounds the way you intended.
  • While you’re reading the text, pay attention to whether you’re only talking about you. Do you use the words “we,” “I” and “me” a lot more than you use “you” and “your” on your website? You’ll engage your prospects a lot better if you speak to them about them, instead of about the bride, groom or other third parties. Try writing as if you’re speaking to one person – the person who’s reading it. That will make it more conversational and engaging.

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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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» 4 Tips for a Better Website

4 Tips for a Better WebsiteWhen was the last time your wedding business revamped your website?

As technology continues to improve, so should your website! New techniques and trends may be available that you’re missing by not re-evaluating your website. As a wedding professional, it’s imperative that your website be up to date! Consider these 4 tips for a better website to increase traffic and retention so you can boost the amount of leads and revenue your website drives.

Add video content

Video content is not only a strong component of search engine optimization, but it is statistically proven to increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing your product. Because video content is more eye-catching, it also increases the likelihood of a customer returning to your site. Consider an engaging video of your work space, or of your unique product!

Check your loading time

Does your site load quickly? Keep in mind if your site takes too long to load, you could lose customers before they even see your product. In today’s fast-paced environment it is crucial to have a speedy site, in fact, 57% of consumers abandon a site if it does not load within 3 seconds. Try testing out your page speed from time to time to make sure everything is functioning properly.

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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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» Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So Far

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Now that we have two of the five WeddingWire World Tour stops for 2014 under our belt, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what I’ve seen and heard, not from the stage, rather from offstage. I’ve met so many great wedding and event Pros, exchanged business cards, heard your stories and listened and answered your questions. I’ve often said that the best part of many conferences for me is what happens in the hallways, at the meals and at the bar, and these WeddingWire World events were no exception.

Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So FarSo, here are five things that stood out for me as some of the lessons I’d like to share with you (and if you haven’t made it to a stop on the WeddingWire World Tour yet, there are still three more coming up later this year!):

1) Free and cheap are worth exactly that.

Don’t be lured in by free/cheap websites and business cards. One of my presentations was specifically about your printed marketing materials (business cards, brochures, postcards, etc.). Printed marketing is a multi-sensory experience. When someone hands you their business card you unconsciously take notice of the feel of the card, the weight of the paper and the texture. Then you look at the quality of the design and printing. You’re making judgments about the quality of the business based upon the quality of the card. Don’t believe me? Has someone ever handed you a thin business card? What did you think of it? You probably didn’t think they were the highest quality business, did you?

2) What does your email say about you?

Almost half the business cards I collected had email addresses that were not matched to that company’s website URL. Instead they had Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or their internet provider (Verizon, Comcast, RoadRunner, etc.). When I survey audiences they always say that using a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. email address makes you look like a new or part-time business, no matter how long you’ve been in business or how high your quality.

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» What Google Wants from Your Business Website

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

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

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

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

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

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» How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive Edge

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

When first developing a website and choosing a domain name, the vast majority of wedding professionals pick one that matches the name of their business. And, that’s pretty much the last thought on the matter.

Except, that domain should not be everything when it comes to building a fully functional, impressive, and effective online presence. You want to secure additional domains to give your business a distinct competitive advantage. 

It can be as simple as pointing the domain name to your current site like you would using a toll free number. The secondary domain will simply link to your main domain, but be available via search so you can reach a larger audience searching for those terms.

How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive EdgeHow it Works

Domains are a solid long-term investment. Their value increases over time, especially if you generate traffic with them. With the right additional domain name in place, you can strategically enhance your business success.

Moreover, it is virtually guaranteed that using these types of domains in marketing will benefit your business. Not only will your site get more frequent clicks, you’ll experience an increased response both online and/or in print.

Additional Domains = SEO Success

It’s become common knowledge that a wedding business cannot maximize the online visibility of their website without some real focus on SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization.

Additional domains, however, allow you to make the most of SEO, and incorporate into the actual name of your website. If done right, a secondary domain name will correspond with commonly searched terms. That means more people will find your business, even if they only did a keyword and/or location based search.

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» Update your Website with WeddingWire Widgets!

Update Your Website with WeddingWire Widgets!It’s always important to make sure your website represents your business, but it’s especially important at this time of year! With spring and summer quickly approaching, your business is likely to be extremely busy with all sorts of weddings and events. While you’re spending all that time making sure your couples are happy, you may lose sight of your business’ WeddingWire Storefront and website. Even though it may not be your highest priority, your business’ website should be updated often to make sure it’s both aesthetically-pleasing and user-friendly.

We’ve created a gallery of Website Widgets to easily display important and relevant information on your Storefront or website. Below are three ways your business can incorporate WeddingWire Widgets into your website!

Use the Reviews Widget on your testimonial page

Do you currently have a testimonial page on your website? You can make it easier to display your client reviews by using our Reviews Widget! It will automatically display your three most recent WeddingWire reviews on your website, meaning that you don’t have to spend time copying and pasting reviews to move them over to your website. To view the rest of your reviews, users can click to view the rest of your reviews on your Storefront. You can use the Reviews Widget as the sole content for your testimonial page, or in addition to any other content or testimonials you’d like to display. It’s a great way to keep your website fresh and up-to-date without spending a lot of time each week or month.

Streamline your inquiries by using the Contact Us Widget

Do you feel like there are multiple outlets that prospective clients use to submit a lead Even if you’re already using inquiry questionnaires and automated email templates to make managing inquiries easier, it’s not hard to get these multiple outlets confused, or worse – to forget about one! By using the Contact Us Widget on your website, all inbound inquiries will automatically be added into the Inquiries tab of your account. You’ll be able to see all inquiries from both your website and Storefront in one place, making it even easier to keep track of all your clients.

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