» 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.

Continue reading

» Finding Your Blog’s Voice

Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more. 

Last month, WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, and I presented a webinar called “How to Make Blogging Work for You.” During the webinar, we discussed how blogging can be a great way to share your expertise and bring more potential clients to your site and business.

We know, we know – starting (and maintaining!) a blog isn’t easy. It’s a commitment.

There are two main reasons why you may be reluctant to start blogging:

  1. There aren’t enough hours in the day
  2. You’re a wedding and events Pro, not a writer!

While I can’t really assist you with the first problem, I have two recommendations: plan your blog post topics ahead of time to make it easier to get started on each post, and also find time to schedule weekly “blogging time,” just like you schedule any important weekly meeting.

I’ll use this post to try to help you embrace your inner writer by providing insights on how to use your event industry expertise and passion and harness it into perfecting your blogging voice!

True, you may not be a professional writer. But you are an expert in the field. So don’t think of blogging as creating beautiful prose. Think of it as sharing your expertise with an interested audience. Write how you talk. Sounds easier than it actually is, I know, but here are a few tips to get you started:

Create Topics in Advance: Instead of spending your designated “writing time” trying to come up with ideas, set aside an hour or two each month to brainstorm a bunch of ideas that you can use throughout the month. If you have a staff, get your whole team onboard to help. Having the ideas set in advance will save time and make writing posts quicker and less stressful. Got writer’s blog? Check out this post for some good blog post prompts.

Read Who You Know: Sure, you may have an RSS feed full of blogs that you read on a daily basis. However, in order to translate your voice to a blog, it’s a good idea to read the blogs of other Pros you know well. Compare their written voice to their spoken voice. Think about what you do and don’t like about these blogs, and get inspired for your own.

Consider Your Audience: Is your blog geared toward engaged couples? Other wedding Pros? Both? Make sure your writing is clear and understandable for your audience. If your post is for engaged couples, be sure to put everything in layman’s terms, or explain what an insider-y word or phrase means. You want your readers to connect with you and feel at ease, instead of needing a dictionary to understand what you’re saying.

Don’t Write a Press Release: Obviously, you want your blog to showcase your business and what a fantastic wedding Pro you are. But you don’t want it to sound like you’re tooting your own horn. So instead of writing “X Wedding Venue has the best catering in Florida,” show your readers photos of your fabulous food, and explain to them what goes into creating the menu for a wedding. Sure, that requires a bit more work on your part, but the result will be a more authentic and impressive blog that readers enjoy and keep coming back to.

Find an “Editor”: No, I don’t mean actually hiring a copy editor. But, it’s a good idea to have an eagle-eyed friend or family member read your posts before you set them live. Aside from looking for spelling and grammatical errors, your “editor” can also alert you if your posts are sounding too PR-ish or just generally not in your voice.

Use Photos: It’s a fact that blogs with lots of great photos are more popular than those without. Big, beautiful photos can be a great starting off point for text and can help simplify and streamline your blog. A post doesn’t have to have a lot of text – an appealing photo with a well-written, succinct caption can be quite successful. Blogs with images get more traffic than those without!

Show Your Passion: If you don’t care about it, don’t write about it. Your love for your craft should shine through in your blog. Even if you’re not the best technical writer, passionate prose can mask any grammatical or spelling errors and help readers connect with you. Think of a blog as another way to share your expertise and talents!

Think SEO, But Don’t Let it Control You: We’ve discussed the importance of making your website and blog SEO-friendly time and again. I’m going to go against the grain a bit and advise you not to focus too much on SEO when writing. Yes, it’s important to use SEO best practices when brainstorming topics and writing, but if there’s something you want to write about that’s not the best SEO-wise – go for it! Don’t let SEO stifle your creativity, your voice, and your style.

Keep Going: Remember this: It takes time for a blog to develop a following and traction. Don’t get discouraged if your first posts aren’t widely read or well received. One of the worst things is when a wedding Pro gives up a blog after just a few posts. Keep writing and posting regularly, keep honing your voice – don’t give up!

» How to Make Blogging Work for You

This month, our monthly webinar series was all about blogging! WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, and WeddingWire Editor, Kim Forrest, presented ‘How to Make Blogging Work for You.’ Each one hour webinar for premium WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry tips, and give you the tools and education you need to Power Your Business!

Did you know there are currently 156 million public blogs in existence, and over 77% of internet users read blogs? Whether you are a blogging Pro, thinking about getting started in the blogging sphere, or looking for new ways to increase your online exposure – this blog gave insights on how to stand out in the wedding and event business and reach new audiences.

Check out some interesting take aways from this month’s webinar:

  • Blogs perform best amongst our core group of target audiences – readers aged 21-35 years old
  • The two largest blogging platforms have been Blogger and WordPress, but Tumblr is a newer platform and an easy way to create a blog with short posts on the go
  • Companies that blog get +97 percent more inbound links to their website, and 434 percent more indexed pages
  • Small businesses that blog get +126 percent more leads
  • Aim to keep blog posts between 300 and 700 words with an engaging, short headline
  • Get published on leading industry blogs – such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding and 2 Bright Lights! (Here is more info on getting published from Kim!)

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros, and stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar!

» Get Blogging!

Starting a blog is one of the best ways to improve your online exposure, as well as share your business insights, latest inspirations and best work with potential clients and other members of the industry.

Blogging is an easy and fun way for your clients and potential clients to learn more about your business personality, see your work first hand, and keep updated about your business even after their big day. Additionally, blogging is a great way to consistently create fresh content for your business, which will be crawled by top search engines and improve your business Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Whether you are considering a blog for the first time, are fairly new to blogging, or are interested in re-visiting your current blogging strategy, find some of our top tips for getting starting and building a successful blog below.

Create an account: First things first! Pick your blog name, and get started using a blogging platform. Your name should express your business personality, and the content you will share should be consistent with your brand. We use the popular blogging platform WordPress, which is easy to use with lots of great features. Sign up for a WordPress blog here!

Consider Your Content: Planning the content of your blog is very important. What will be your niche? Who is your target audience? Who will be the contributors? How often do you plan to post? How will you share your posts and gain followers?

We know this can be a bit overwhelming. But considering these important questions early on will give your blog a purpose. It will help you structure the content of your blog, which will lead to its long-term success and growth. While there is no right answer, we do recommend as a general rule to try to post consistently to keep the blog active and engaging. Once a week is a great goal as you are getting started, and maybe in the future you can aim for a post per day as it becomes part of your daily routine and you build more contributors.

Get Started: Invest time into getting familiar with your blogging platform and setting up your account. Take time to read the instructions on getting started, and set your blog design, theme and the “About” section where you can give a description about your blog. Once your blog goes live, be sure to link to your business website and social media accounts for additional exposure, and so any interested parties who read your blog can learn more about your business. It is always a great idea to start with an introduction post to share your excitement about the blog and provide some insights into your personality, your business and your passion for your work.

Gain Exposure: Once you have a few posts and are ready to “go public” – showcase your blog to your communities! Send a link to your friends, family and clients to let them know you are excited about your new blog and would love it they followed it. Share links to your latest posts on your social networks, and add a button to your blog on your website so visitors can easily navigate to your blog! Also, be sure to appropriately categorize and tag your blog posts based on the main topics covered, which will help with SEO. Select 2-3 general categories that are covered in the post, and then add 2-3 more specific tags that relate to the post. For example, a category for this post is “Business Ideas” and a tag is “Blogging Tips.”

Keep It Interesting: Regularly updating content encourages readers to return to your blog. Also, encourage comments to keep the discussion going when relevant, or ask what theme readers would like to see you feature next – and follow through with their suggestions when you can. Assess the needs and interest of your readers and work to feature content they will find relevant and engaging! Mix heavy content or educational posts with more fun and short posts to keep it interesting and fresh. You may even consider coming up with mini series or themed days as you get established (for example, our “Inside WeddingWire” series on the WeddingWireEDU blog to show what our team has been up to recently!)

Using the top 5 tips above, you are ready to take on the blogging challenge! Seasoned bloggers, do you have any other top tips and advice? We would love to hear from you!

» 3 Steps to More Subscribers

So you created a blog for your business, now how do you make sure you drive traffic and keep them coming back for more? Beyond creating fresh and interesting content, take a look at the 3 simple steps below to retain your visitors.

1. Get out there and spread the word. Guest blogging allows you to reach a greater audience who may not have heard of your business otherwise. Ask any and all of your contacts or your favorite blogs if you can write for them. Then be sure to feature some of your best content, linking back to your own blog.

2. Roll out the welcome mat. Create a page or section of your blog explaining who you are and what you do. Include any general information or special tidbits you want to be sure new visitors see. You could even create a personal YouTube video posted on the sidebar of your blog to welcome new readers. “Meeting” you face-to-face will help them establish a personal connection and they will be more likely to return.

3. Make it easy to come back. A new visitor might stumble onto your blog and love it, but how will you ensure they come back? Making it easy for them to bookmark your page, or even helping them subscribe to your RSS or email will do just that. Here is a great plugin to help you do just that.

For more information and ideas, check out this article. Try them out and be sure to monitor your traffic to see your numbers go up! Let us know what strategies work best for you.

» 8 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts Online

If you’re like me, you want your blog posts to reach as many people as possible. Feeds and social networks have made it easier, but this morning Chris Brogan highlighted a few easy ways to promote blog posts that reaffirmed most of what I do after each post I write. So I wanted to share to see what you’re doing to get word out that you’ve got a great post to read.

  1. Bookmark your best posts on Delicious
  2. Use StumbleUpon to bookmark posts as well
  3. Use the status message on LinkedIN to link to your blog post
  4. An interesting idea is when leaving a comment on an industry related blog, put the blog post link in the URL field instead of your normal blog URL.  However, by no means mention your post.  Simply leave an insightful comment adding to the discussion
  5. Share your post on Facebook using BlogCast (could the status message here as well)
  6. Make sure your posts get shared FriendFeed automatically
  7. Let Zemanta insert related article links at the bottom of your story.  You can get the plug-in for WordPress, Movable Type, Firefox and others here.
  8. Tweet about your post on Twitter.

So what ideas work for you?  Or better yet, didn’t work for you?  I’d love to hear.