Your SEO Strategy to be a Rockstar on Google in 2019

The start of a new year is always a great time to take a look at your marketing for your wedding business and decide where to invest.  If showing up higher on Google searches is on your must-do marketing list for 2019, it’s time to develop your strategy.

Search engine optimization can be a technical and overwhelming subject. If you’ve ever thought “I need to do some SEO” and then got lost in where to start, I get it.  Below is a basic SEO plan that you can follow step-by-step to improve your rankings in 2019.

Step 1: Understand Where You Rank Now

Any good strategy should start with an understanding of where you are now.  If you’re not sure what keywords your website ranks for as of today, I recommend signing up for a Moz account (it’s free) and using their Keyword Explorer tool.

In the Keyword Explorer, change the search setting to “root domain.”  Then, enter your domain name in the search box.

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What you’ll see in the results is your Site Overview, including the number of keywords ranked.  Make sure to click the link to “See all ranking keywords” to see the top 50 keywords your site is ranked for.

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Look through the keyword list to see which keywords you’d like to rank higher for and make note of them.  You can also save the results by exporting them so you can compare to your rankings a few months from now.

Step 2: Make a List of Keywords You’d Like to Rank For

To start better optimizing your site and ranking in search results, you now need to brainstorm a list of keywords that are relevant to your website and business. These are the keywords you’d like to show up for when they’re searched on Google.

Here are a few places to look for keyword inspiration:

●     The Moz keyword list you just generated

●     Run a high-ranking competitor’s website through the Moz Keyword Explorer and see what they rank for

●     Your own website—look for phrases you use and possible keywords in the descriptions of your own services and projects

●     Try searching on Google for a few of the keywords on your list.  See what Google suggests as you type, and what it lists as “related searches” at the bottom of the search results.

●     Look at what words customers use when they write reviews about your product or service

Once you have a big list of keywords, highlight or circle which ones are most important to you.

Step 3: Decide Which Page on Your Website Will Target Which Keyword

This is the step I see missed most often in articles about SEO.  They may tell you to “use your keywords,” but that might tempt you just to sprinkle the same keywords throughout your website. Instead, I highly recommend choosing one page on your website that you want to optimize really well for each keyword you chose.

Google is looking for the pages(not entire websites) on the Internet that are most relevant and helpful for a specific search.  Make it clear which page on your site is the best result by optimizing it well for your keyword.  That means you’re not just using the keyword “wedding planner” as much as possible throughout your site, but that you are optimizing one page really well for “wedding planning services.”

A few examples:

  • Optimize your “Wedding Coordination” service page for “wedding coordinator in Austin, TX”

  • Optimize your home page for “Asheville wedding venue”

  • Optimize your “Average cost of a Baltimore wedding photographer” blog post for “cost of a Baltimore wedding photographer”

Step 4: Make a Content Plan

I know that making time to do the work for SEO is the hardest part.  For your new year plan, commit a set weekly time to work on your content.  This may mean editing old content to optimize it or writing new content to target keywords. Plan out the work you want to do and give yourself due dates.

Here is the content calendar spreadsheet I use to stay organized in content creation. You might want to create one of these too! 

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As you’re writing your content, I recommend following these best practices for on-page content optimization.

Step 5: Watch Your Results

Put your head down, stop searching for yourself, and work on your website content for a few months.  Keep in mind that it takes Google time to recognize the changes you’re making to improve the content on your website.  After about 3 months, check out a few metrics to see how you’re doing.

  • Run your website through Moz Keyword Explorer again.  Are you ranking for more keywords? Are you ranking higher?

  • Review your Google Analytics.  Are you getting more website visitors? Keep an eye on Organic Search traffic over time.

Make note of any pages or posts that are performing well and see if you can create more content around similar topics.  

Not seeing the results you want?  SEO is an ongoing process of website and content improvement, so don’t give up!  Keep generating keyword ideas, adding to your content plan, creating helpful content your target clients would love to find, and monitoring your improvements and increased traffic.

Sara Dunn is a wedding SEO consultant at SaraDoesSEO.com, helping wedding planners, photographers, venues, florists, and more reach rockstar status on Google.

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What I'm Most Thankful For

It’s that time of year! Time for post-turkey naps, family reunions, and reflecting on what we’re thankful for as another crazy year comes to a close. The holidays can put a lot in perspective, and sometimes that’s exactly what we need to serve as a reminder of how lucky we are to work in such an amazing industry.

For example, we’re super thankful for another year in business (and all of the foster cats we’ve been lucky enough to have on rotation in our office!). When it comes to the industry itself, we’re thankful for: 

·      That innovation and ingenuity continues to abound and inspire in a time where so many companies are having a tough time evolving in the industry.

·      Despite being lovely and grand unto itself, that the second royal wedding of 2018 was far more low-key, giving us permission to sleep in on the Big Day, and simply catch the highlights.

·      That more and more industry events are embracing magnetic name tags, thus saving us from having to put holes in our clothing. 

We also asked around to see what other industry pros were thankful for this year, and some answers were surprising, but most were relatable.

Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map is grateful for creative partners that tag each other for credit on social media posts, even if they may have forgotten the first go-round.

Kristy Rice of Momental Designs gives thanks for “the death of the short-lived pop-up micro wedding”, and Paula Ramirez of Historic Mankin Mansion agrees. “I’m thankful a huge wedding is always in fashion,” she adds.

Tifany Wunschl, owner & lead designer of Gourmet Invitations, is grateful for something we can all agree on. “The number of grooms who are starting to get involved in the invitation process. Men typically make decisions fast, and I love that!” She continues, “Not to mention all of the couples who are looking outside of the ‘Pinterest’ box and are making their weddings unique and personal. Bring on the color and fun themes!”

“We’re thankful for the resurrection of Style Me Pretty!” Rice also notes of the wedding publication.

And as for the WeddingIQ editor Kevin Dennis, he’s thankful for #southwestfirstclass (as always!), as well as WIPA’s continued growth throughout the US, and now, internationally.

All in all, this was an incredible year for the wedding industry- we all have much to be thankful for.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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How a Company Can Authentically Give Back to the LGBTQ+ Community

‘Tis the season of giving — as a company, giving back to the community is an empowering act that provides care for those in need and also sends you some positive vibes for the year ahead. When it comes to being a genuinely inclusive company, giving back is such an important aspect. The LGBTQ+ community still has so far to go regarding equal rights, and it takes an abundance of resources to get there. From volunteers to donors to sponsors, there is always room for more help in the fight for equality.

So, how can you invest your time and/or resources into giving back to the LGBTQ+ community?

I always encourage businesses to donate a portion of their sales to a charity or nonprofit — it’s easy and doesn’t take up much extra time, but it makes such a difference. There are so many nonprofits in the LGBTQ+ rights sector — my favorites are Freedom for All Americans and Freedom to Marry International, two incredible grassroots organizations that I’ve worked with closely. I offer a 10% discount to all vendor guide members when they sign up, with the option to either save it or donate it to Freedom for All Americans. Many choose to give! Others that support our cause are The Trevor Project, HRC, ACLU, Lambda Legal, The Transgender Law Center, and the Ali Forney Center (among many others).

Another great way to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights is to sponsor one of the many charity events these organizations host throughout the year. Donate your product or service, whether it’s photography, calligraphy, planning, catering, or the like — every bit of help is appreciated. When nonprofit organizations can rely on volunteer event professionals as opposed to in-house employees, it allows them to produce bigger and better events (and therefore, raise more money for the cause!).

Spend some time researching to ensure that your chosen charity is authentic. Become well-versed in the organization so that, in addition to giving back, you can also be a strong advocate for their fight and share its mission with your community.

Giving back to the LGBTQ+ community does not have to mean donating a ton of money — your time and your voice as an advocate are invaluable to the cause as well. Speak up, get involved, and help the fight in the ways that you can.

Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., one of the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She serves on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Wedding & Events.

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Customer Service Tips & Tricks to Keep Your Clients Loyal to You

No matter how the world we live in changes, there are some pillars of business that are comfortingly constant. One of those is the idea that every business has customers, and the key to any successful business is keeping those customers happy and loyal.

Check In Regularly

I started my wedding career over 17 years ago in the tuxedo business when many people didn’t yet have an email or a cell phone. Most communication happened by landline and snail mail. We reminded customers that they were on our minds by dialing them up and having a short conversation, or by sending a postcard or hand-written note to say, “We’re thinking about you.”

Today, most clients prefer to receive texts or emails, and we have adapted to accommodate. While the mode of communication has changed, however, the etiquette has not. Customers need to know that they matter and that you are thinking of them, especially in the weeks approaching their weddings and immediately after. Quick, no-pressure check-ins via text or email give them needed reassurance while respecting their time.  

Invite Honest Conversation

While sometimes it can be difficult to open yourself up to criticism or feedback, establishing the kind of relationship with your clients that encourages them to talk to you can be invaluable to your business. When you communicate, ask short, open-ended questions to allow honest and full responses.

Listen Before You Speak

Likewise, pay close attention to the questions your prospects and current clients are asking before giving them stock answers. Every couple thinks their wedding day is unique, and they should. They want to trust that you are going to be able to personalize their experience and cater to their needs. Listen to their concerns carefully so you can address them and help make their day as perfect as possible.

Follow Up on All Feedback

We send a survey immediately after a wedding, and again after our clients receive their final products. The survey is offered via text and email to get the most responses possible. We follow up on all feedback whether positive or negative. Often, the simple action of following up can mitigate a bad impression and restore customer loyalty.

Keep in Touch

We hear from clients all the time that they feel a sort of letdown after an event. During planning, they may have been in touch with their vendors regularly, then suddenly, after the big event, they feel abandoned.  Develop a long-term email or text campaign to help keep in touch with past clients. Follow up right after the event to ask for feedback, and send quick messages regularly thereafter. Wish your former clients happiness on their birthdays, drop a note on their anniversaries and just generally prove that they will always matter to you. If they ever have an opportunity to send a referral your way, you will be top-of-mind. The fortune is in the follow up.

Customer loyalty is earned. Demonstrate that you deserve yours by listening to your clients, connecting with them before and after their events, and always letting them know, in every practical and possible way, that you care.  

Keith Phillips is the Director of Business Development for Classic Photographers, a company that provides high quality wedding photography and videography services for the budget minded couple.

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Giving Back to Causes You're Passionate About

These days, it feels like there are an endless amount of causes to which you can donate both time and money. As a business owner, you hold a special position in your community and philanthropy is a honorable way to connect, engage, and aid those in need. I’ve truly realized how much my community has done to support me, so I always view charity as my turn to pass that support on. I’m a firm believer in the “pay it forward” movement, so it’s only right to return the support that I receive from my local community. Plus, it really does feel great to give back whenever possible. 

Take a step back and think about what causes speak to you. Are you an advocate for animals? Do you want to support survivors of trauma? Are you drawn to helping those who have suffered from a natural disaster? Or are you passionate about protecting the environment? The opportunities are countless — be sure to pick a cause that really resonates with you. Better yet, connect with your team and learn more about what hits them at the core. Find a way to incorporate these causes into your workflow, whether it’s through regular donations, event sponsorships, or participating in an annual 5k as a team.

For me, giving back to children is my biggest cause. In that, my company has done a lot of fundraising and sponsorship for local youth sports teams like the Livermore Little League baseball team and the Rhonewood Swim Club. For others with a similar inclination for helping kids, it doesn’t need to be sports-related — consider supporting local booster programs, big brother/big sister organization, food kitchens, and other public welfare resources that provide aid to children. We also ‘adopt’ families during the holidays to ensure that the festive spirit is spread to those who most need it.

It’s worth noting that there are a number of ways to help other event professionals in dire situations, especially during the event of a natural disaster that can displace people for extended periods of time. There are often crowdfunding campaigns and fundraising events put together to help event professionals. The SEARCH Foundation is also a great way to help industry peers in need — it provides assistance to event professionals who are suffering from a life threatening illness or other catastrophic life event.

Charity and philanthropy does not have to be a publicized matter; therefore, it doesn’t matter what cause you choose to donate your resources to so long as it’s something that is meaningful to you. Simply give from the heart and you can’t go wrong.  

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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