» 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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» Optimizing Your Content for Search Intent

Optimizing Your Content for Search IntentWhen 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 like “wedding rentals Austin,” but some of them may be more specific search terms like “Chiavari wedding chairs Austin.” The latter suggests that the user is in a different stage in wedding planning.

Optimizing your website and blog content for search engines is a great way to boost your rankings, but it’s important to think about user intent. There are generally three reasons users search a given keyword or phrase:

  • Informational – User is looking for the answer to a question
  • Navigational – User is looking for a pre-determined website or destination
  • Transactional – User is looking to make a purchase or complete a given task

It’s certainly important to drive those informational searchers to your website to help aid their research, but it’s also important to drive those transactional searchers to your website as well. Below are a few steps to help you incorporate search intent in your content optimization!

  1. Think through user intent

Think about the visitors to your website. Why are they visiting your website? Why would they land on a certain page within your website? What questions are they looking to find answers to? Think about the multiple reasons a person would land on your website, and think back to the terms they would be most likely to enter in order to find your website. If they’re searching for information, come up with the terms you think they would enter. If they’re searching to make a purchase decision, come up with those specific terms you think they would enter. If you’re not sure, write down the main categories of your business and the terms associated with each category. You can also double-check the phrases you come up with by searching keyword volume in Google AdWords.
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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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» 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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» Get Lucky with the LUCK SEO Framework

Get Lucky with the LUCK SEO FrameworkSearch engine optimization (SEO) seems to be the hot topic recently! We’ve had a lot of questions come through to our email, we’ve seen a lot of discussions in the Pro Forums and we’ve even had some social comments all surrounding SEO. It’s not hard to see why – with the abundance of websites on the Internet, it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed by potential couples.

There are a number of ways to break down how search engine optimization works, whether through infographics or step-by-step guides. We tend to favor a simple framework that is easy to remember and can be broken down piece-by-piece to make for easier understanding. So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, learn how you can get lucky with your search engine strategy by using the LUCK SEO framework!

Linking Strategy

Links are an important part of an SEO strategy because they show search engines the relationships between pages. Through links, search engines can analyze a variety of factors that affect your search ranking, including the popularity of your website based on the number of pages linking to your website and the popularity of those pages. Links to your site also build your website’s authority based on the notion that trustworthy sites are usually linked to other trustworthy sites rather than spam.

Both quantity and quality are important, but beware – the best links are relevant, direct and one-way. Don’t stuff your site with links, and avoid cheap website directories. Whenever linking to another trusted source, you should also consider the anchor text for the link; linking on a phrase that describes the link using the same keywords is more strategic than linking the words “click here.” Socially shared links also factor into link signals, so share your content on your social networks and encourage others to do so, too! All these features have an effect on your website’s search value.

URL Structure

The URL structure of your links provides the overall framework for your website. URLs describe your website or page to both visitors and search engines. Search engines read URLs to understand what the page is about as well as how relevant it is to certain keywords targeted on the page or website. The basic anatomy of a URL is composed of four main parts:

Parts of a URL structure

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» How To: Create Your SEO Keyword Checklist

How To: Create Your SEO Keyword ChecklistWith recent changes to Google’s search algorithm and other search engine optimization (SEO) concerns, it can be hard to know what to do for your SEO efforts. While SEO is made up of several moving parts, including a link strategy, your URL structure and other factors, your use of keywords is one of the most pieces.

Here’s how you can create your own SEO keyword checklist to keep your business current and compliant with the latest SEO strategies!

Situation Analysis

  1. Analyze your current business website. What keywords are you using? Does your website use meta data (title tags, descriptions)? How much text do you have on your website and does that text use keywords associated with your business type? Answering these questions can help you determine how much work you need to do to be more transparent for search engines.
  2. Analyze your competitors’ websites. Go through your biggest known competitors’ websites to see the content and keywords they’re using. You can also search the keywords you feel best represent your business to see who is using them. Check out the websites for each of the first five search results to see how they incorporate these keywords.
  3. Develop your own desired keywords. What phrases would you use to describe your business? What phrases would your customers use to describe your business? This will help guide you to understanding how you’d like potential clients to search for your business and find it.

Keyword Research

  1. Use keyword research tools like Google AdWord’s Keyword Tool to shed some light on the popularity of the keywords you’re looking to use and how many times they’re searched monthly. These factors not only help you to identify keywords that others are using, but also to identify keywords that others are not using, leaving room for your use. Additionally, if you choose to do any form of search advertising in the future, you’ll know how costly those keywords would be.
  2. Now that you have a better understanding of what you’re currently doing in terms of SEO and where you can go in the future, it’s important to set your objectives before moving forward. What are you trying to measure by taking further action – website visits? Inquiries? Appointments? Bookings? Start recording these numbers before you start optimizing so you have a baseline and can see how your actions are affecting those objectives.

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» 5 On-Page SEO Rules of Thumb

1. Focus on your headline. By choosing a great headline (meaning it is attention grabbing but also contains keywords) you optimize your web page and search engines will rank it higher or more relevant for searches. By bolding and increasing the size of your headline, you help search engines know it is the most important thing on the page. Use this same tactic for sub-headers and within your text.

2. Stay simple with your URL. The format of the URL is important in indexing your pages. If you can customize your URL (usually it is free to do) make sure it is to the point and also includes keywords relevant to the page topic.

3. Use ALT tags on images. By including more information about the content on your page, your website becomes more appealing to search engines.  Make sure you are using keywords here too!

4. Have we said keywords yet? Include keywords in your title tags and meta description as well. The max characters for your page is 75 characters so make sure to choose keywords the fit best with the content of your page.

5. Take advantage of internal linking. Reference some of your other pages to help boost your SEO and encourage your readers to view other pages of your site.

Follow these simple steps and you will start seeing result for your on-page SEO ranking. Click here to read more!

» 10 Ways to Make the Search Engines Angry: Part I

This post written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

Remember that the two most important things to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are: Consistency and Patience. In order to be successful, you must keep your SEO consistent across each page of your site and blog. Furthermore, attaining high rankings does not happen overnight. You should create a strategy and expect to wait 6-12 months to see the rewards. Search engines are strict when it comes to their SEO guidelines. If you follow them correctly, you will find that your business will move towards the top.

However, if you make the search engine angry, you will likely lose significant ranking, or even worse, be removed completely from search results. For a moment, let’s focus on the things that you should avoid in your SEO strategy. Here are the first 5 ways from our list of the top 10 ways to make search engines angry:

1. Too Many Keywords
Adding keywords to your document title, meta description, meta tags and throughout the content on your site is extremely critical to seeing positive results. They help search engines understand what is on each page. That being said, there is a fine balance. Don’t go overboard in the number of keywords you use. If you stuff the same keywords over and over onto the same page you will get penalized. We suggest focusing on 5 main keywords per page of your site, with the primary focus being on the 1-2 most important keywords. Furthermore, many businesses use a long paragraph that simply lists all of their keywords, but makes no sense to their consumer. Try to write for people first and search engines second. You want the copy on your site to make sense, while also having a focus on a couple of your most important keywords.

2. Duplicate Content
Avoid duplicating content anywhere on your site, whether that is content from your site or from external sources. Instead, quote the relevant parts of the content and provide a link to the original source.  Search engines hate seeing duplicate content across the web and it is one of the easiest ways to lose rankings.

3. Too Many Links
Having links to key areas on your site is the best way to move your visitors around, but don’t post too many links on a single page. Google suggests less than 100 links per page, but we would suggest keeping it below 25.  The SEO strength of your site will pass through to those links to other areas of your site.  The fewer links you have to internal and external pages means the more power you can pass to the links that are listed.  Also, make sure you know all the places where you link to externally and that the content on these sites is relevant to your business.  So as a wedding business, try to avoid links to sites that have nothing to do with weddings or your category. Continue reading

» What Are AdWords & How Can They Work for You?

Per a recent discussion on the WeddingWire Pro Forum, we thought we would provide some background information and resources to get you started if you aren’t familiar with Google’s AdWords. Let us know about your experience and feel free to discuss or get advice from fellow Wedding Pros in the forum!

Simply put, Google AdWords are customizable advertisements you can purchase based on keywords related to your business. You have the flexibility of choosing your keywords, advertisement messaging, and budget. Unlike some tools where you may have a hard time tracking if it’s really working for your business, you can easily view and track your success (or lack thereof). As Google celebrates 10 years of this service, many companies have seen success with AdWords however your results will obviously vary based on the keywords and advertising campaign you choose.

You can’t expect to see leads to start flying in as soon as you turn these on though, you will need to play with what works and what doesn’t and devote some time and effort to be successful. Google tries to facilitate this with an AdWords Small Business Center which features discussion forums, a blog, and help center.

Nijiama from Le Fabuleux Events posted to the forum:

“I have been using adwords for about a year and it has become a main source of our inquiries. I think it is all about how much you are willing to spend each month (the more you spend the more your ads will show) and the key words that you use. I also pay close attention to the analytics to see what is working and what it is not working.”

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» 7 items for effective page titles

web page titles, search engine optimization

Page titles are essential to your web pages for a several reasons, which include SEO and usability.  Page titles are one of the first items that search engine spiders crawl when indexing your site, so page titles need to be relevant to the content on that page.  Additionally, that page title appears in search engine results so if you want click throughs, it needs to be relevant.  Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal details 7 criteria for effective page titles that are good to keep in mind when building or updating your website:

  1. page title should be short and concise (unless you want it’s broken at the end);
  2. each page title should be unique and the unique part should go first (if a visitor keeps several tabs from the same open, he should clearly see what each tab is about);
  3. it should be catchy (to communicate an effective message);
  4. page title should conform to the page purpose (e.g. calling to action or informational);
  5. page title should be based on your keywords (for Googlebot to understand what the page is about);
  6. page title should be focused (don’t try to include all your keywords in the title the home page);
  7. page title should be semantically correct (Google is likely to apply some kind of semantic analysis to titles to make sure they are not spammy).