» 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 2014

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at https://alanberg.com/.

As we approach the end of another year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what you can do to make next year your best year ever. In my recent educational webinar, “4 C’s of an Engaging Website,” I touched on the factors of an engaging website and went through some real website examples with my suggestions. I’ve since received a lot of questions from Pros eager to learn more on the topic of websites.

Below I’ve outlined 7 things you can do to improve your website for a fantastic year. Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t mean your site is doing them well, or at all. Most will take little time and very little, if any, money.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 20141. Read the text on your site to make sure it’s up to date.

Many of us haven’t read the text on our websites since they launched. How long has it been? Read the pages out loud to make sure it sounds like you. Every person and every business has a “voice.” Make sure your website uses that same voice, as they’ll likely get to “hear” your site before they get to hear you. Do this one page at a time – you don’t have to tackle your whole site all at once. Check your tracking report (Google Analytics or whatever you use) and see which are the most visited pages. Start with those, as they’ll have the biggest impact.

2. Speak to them, about them, not about you.

While you’re reading the text on your site, make sure you’re using the words “you” and “your” more than you do words like “I,” “we,” “our,” etc. It’s not what you do that matters. It’s why what you do makes you the best solution for them.

3. Optimize the text for the people who visit first, then for the search engines.

In the latest search algorithms (geek-speak for the formula that a search engine uses to figure out which are the best results), search engines are looking for keywords and phrases with context. The days are gone where you could fool the search engines by stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. You’ll actually get penalized for doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that way. Simply write to your visitor in a conversational way. Then, go back and fill in keywords to sentences where you implied them, but didn’t say them. For example, if your DJ site says “Well make all of the announcements, introductions and coordinate the cake cutting,” you could instead say, As your wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies, well make all of the announcements, introduce you and your bridal party, and help coordinate the special wedding moments, such as your cake cutting.”

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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?

» Build Your Online Reputation: Step 1

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.

Reputation matters!  We care about the reputation of our businesses and work hard each day to strengthen it.   Word of mouth and referrals have traditionally been a significant source of business for wedding professionals. People trust recommendations from other consumers, especially from their friends and family, and this is very apparent in the wedding industry.  Engaged couples and newlyweds are talking about wedding businesses all the time, sharing both positive and negative feelings.  A solid reputation amongst customers can help drive success for years to come.

What happens when these conversations happen online? All of a sudden people are tweeting, posting, blogging, commenting, reviewing, and discussing your business online.  The rapid rise of social media has made it easier for customers to quickly share their opinions, while it has made it more difficult for business owners to have control of what their customers are saying.  However, technology provides easy ways to monitor and manage what people are saying about your business. You can build your online reputation in 4 easy steps which will be posted here over the next week.

Step 1: Know What People are Saying

The first step to building a positive online reputation starts with knowing what people are saying about you and your business.  Technology had made it easy for us to quickly and easily monitor what is being said in the online world.  The best places to know what people are saying are on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

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» Best of the Web: August

There are millions of sites on the web, and hundreds of new ones popping up each day.  Which sites should you care about?  Which can help you grow your business?  Each month we will highlight some of our favorite sites on the web and show how they can help you run your business more efficiently.  This month we feature Mashable, iStock Photo and Wufoo.

mashable1 istock_logo_new_liquid-blue1 wufoo_logo

  • Mashable: Wondering how Twitter appeared out of nowhere?  Or maybe what new online sites can help you grow your business? Are you looking to keep up with the latest trends on the internet?  Mashable is one of the largest blogs dedicated to social media and it is one of our favorite sites to stay on top of today’s online trends.  You’ll find the latest news about Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, the iPhone and much more.  Mashable allows you to easily become a tech guru!
  • iStock Photo: Are you looking to find high quality wedding photos?  Want to make sure you own the rights to the photos? iStock Photo is the largest royalty-free stock photo destination on the internet.  The site boasts over 4 million different images, and each file can be purchased for as little as $1 and then used as often as you’d like.  If you’re looking to update marketing materials or any of your bridal images, take a look at the variety of images iStock Photo has to offer.
  • WuFoo: Don’t let the funny name fool you, Wufoo is one of the easiest ways to collect information over the internet.  The site allows you to easily create contact forms, online surveys and invitations so that you can collect data, registrations and even online payments.  What’s best, is that you don’t need to be a web developer to create the forms!   So whether you have an upcoming event or want to do some market research, Wufoo allows you to create forms easily and the first 3 are free.