Updated September 9, 2022
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the process of optimizing your business’s entire online presence so you can rank higher in search engine results and be found by engaged couples and your target audience.
The good news: SEO success is absolutely possible for you. It’s no longer just about keywords and optimizing your website from a technical standpoint. In fact, anyone can start optimizing their website for search today!
At its heart, Search Engine Optimization is about convincing Google that your business is an authority online. That includes making sure your website is a helpful resource for Google to show to your target audience.
Let me repeat that, because it’s crucial. When you write an article or blog post, your job is to make it the most useful and most helpful post on that topic on the entire internet.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
If you can satisfactorily answer questions searchers have, and even give them the most useful and valuable information that they can find on the internet — perhaps information they didn’t even know they needed — you can win at the search engine optimization game.
The bad news: SEO takes time and patience on your part. Many wedding professionals get it wrong by rushing through it or ignoring it altogether. Here are the top 9 SEO mistakes that Christie and I see wedding vendors make (and how to fix them easily).
Mistake #1: Not Doing Keyword Research
Like many marketing endeavors, SEO starts with solid research. It’s estimated that Google processes over 5.6 billion searches per day. Your job is to figure out the questions your Ideal Clients are asking, that you can answer. You’re looking for the topics they are interested in and the keywords they are using to find what they need or to solve a problem. This problem is special in that you can help them with it – and rank on a search engine
There are numerous free and paid tools you can use (linked at the end of this article). Regardless of the tool, when you’re conducting keyword research, you want to keep these three things in mind:
- Volume: You want to find keywords and phrases with enough people searching for them to justify the investment
- Competition: You want to identify keywords and phrases you can actually rank for, and
- Intent: You want your content to match the intent of the user who is searching. Are they looking for a vendor to hire or an article with advice?
Start by brainstorming a huge list of keywords based on your own experience. Take the list and start plugging terms into keyword search tools to find keywords and phrases you think you can rank for.
*Want to learn my step-by-step process for this, with video instructions? I teach a simple approach to keyword research in my course, Wedding SEO Bootcamp.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to Optimize for Location
Once the couple are through the inspiration phase, it’s time for them to start researching potential vendors. This is when they are looking for you, in your specific location, which is usually the place at which they are getting married.
For example, they aren’t just searching for random “wedding planners,” like anyone, anywhere. They are specifically searching for wedding planners in your location (or wedding photographers, or florists, or cake bakers, and so on).
If you live in San Francisco, and you’re a wedding photographer, you’ll want to optimize for wedding photographers in San Francisco, along with any related terms and locations.
Mistake #3: Over-Using One Keyword Everywhere
That said, a really common mistake I see wedding vendors make is focusing on only one keyword on their site—usually their location + service, like “Atlanta wedding planner” or “North Texas wedding venue.”
Hear me out: this type of search is not the only keyword that is valuable for you! And just repeating this same keyword over and over again all over your site is not the way to rank higher.
When you work on your SEO, I want you to broaden your thinking. There are hundreds of topics couples search for online that could bring them to your website and turn them into inquiries for you!
Think beyond just your location and service when you do keyword research.
Mistake #4: Failing to optimize your images
With both filenames and alt text, I recommend using phrases that describe what’s shown in the image.
Optimizing image file sizes can speed up your site, which will help your rankings. Both Google and visitors hate slow-loading sites. If Google sees visitors “bouncing” out of your site quickly because they don’t want to wait for the page and its images to load, you may get moved down the search results.
Mistake #5: Not Having a Blog
Many SEO companies are rebranding themselves as content marketing agencies, and for good reason. Google is a voracious reader with a huge appetite for fresh, relevant content. Therefore, creating high-quality, evergreen content is actually a secret weapon for ranking.
It’s no longer enough to build a brochure-style website and walk away from it. You need to build a resource of helpful content for Google to read and index in order for you to keep its attention. The added benefit of blogging on your site is that you have a steady stream of great content to promote and repurpose on social media.
I recommend blogging about once per month and sitting down each quarter or in your slow season to plan, outline, write, and schedule your posts.
Focus on producing high-quality content that your ideal clients, trusted colleagues and online influencers are likely to share. This type of “evergreen content” will serve as your website’s foundational content, addressing the myriad needs of your ideal clients. It also had the added benefit of attracting more links and engagement over time, which in turn affects what’s called your off-page SEO.
Mistake #6: Forgetting about Off-Page SEO
Creating amazing content is only half the battle. Google is looking for signals of your popularity and value to others. Since its inception in the early 2000s, Google has gauged website authority by looking at backlinks coming in from other authority sites. This is still the core signal that drives ranking.
Think of it as a popularity contest online. While there have been significant changes in the algorithm that prevents “black-hat” practices which try to game the system, Google still values content that is so valuable and of such high quality that people want to share it far and wide.
Start your off-page SEO strategy with a distribution plan. The idea is that if you can get your content in front of a large group of people from your market, a portion of that group will link to you. (This is not the same thing as targeting all of your Facebook groups and everyone you’ve ever known and start spamming them with every piece of your content.)
Instead, use your personal networks, social media, email marketing and other content marketing channels to get your message and exceptional content to the exact people who will love it the most.
Be purposeful, thoughtful, and above all, helpful.
You can also get inbound links through guest blogging, press submissions, and engaging in PR strategies. Again, this isn’t about ‘spraying and praying’ with your content. Your strategy should be thoughtful and get the right content in front of the right people so it’s shared.
Mistake #7: Not Having a Mobile-Responsive Website
On April 27 2015, Google made a huge change to its algorithm. Now, if you have a mobile-responsive website, it will be “positively impacted” in mobile search. If you do not have a mobile-responsive website, then Google may downgrade your mobile search rankings.
Basically, if a potential client can’t find you online when they are searching on a smartphone, then you do not exist. Make sure your website delivers a great experience on mobile and don’t just review it on your computer.
Mistake #8: Writing for Google Rather Than Your Reader
Ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs) is only the first step.
Google’s success lies in its ability to deliver the best search results to a user’s query. Google cares about more than just your website and the way you optimize keywords. Google also cares deeply about the experience the user has on your website. Google wants to see that web visitors are satisfied with your website— that you have answered their search question and offered value.
To this end, Google is monitoring what people do on your website once it sends you all that search traffic. To figure out if you are providing useful and engaging content, Google notes if visitors click into your site and then soon click back and try other results.
If it seems like web visitors don’t like what they find once they click to your site from Google, Google may downgrade your rankings.
So, it’s important to write content that your website visitors will adore and find useful. Are you seeing the pattern here?
Mistake #9: Giving Up Too Soon
Do not expect instant results. SEO is a long-game endeavor. It will take a while before you see results. You should plan on at least 8 to 18 months, depending on your competition.
However, if you do the work to build your website as a great resource, Google could reward you with thousands of (free!) visitors to your website every year. A little goes a long way over time.
Bonus: 4 free tools to get you started with Keyword Research!
- Keyword Planner is a free tool that will give you information on search volume and make suggestions for further keywords. It also groups related keywords into ad groups, which you can use to create fresh content around related keywords and phrases. The keyword planner is great because the data is actually coming from Google. Be careful about paying too much attention to the competition tool. That data only includes Adwords advertisers. Instead pay attention to search volume and related keywords.
- Uber Suggest: I use this with Grepwords Chrome extension for a huge list of related keywords and phrases and their search volume.
- Keyword Eye: This is a new tool that allows you to type in your keyword and it will show you all the other related phrases it finds associated with that term. This helps you find all of the ways people are talking about your topic, so pages that contain that term are more likely to be related to that topic.
- Keyword.io: This is similar to Keyword Eye but it will also let you look at all of the pages that are ranking for your keyword and find words and phrases that are associated with it. It will also give you all sorts of other information like trends.
P.S. If you need SEO help and are looking for an expert who specializes in the wedding industry then, head over to Sara Does SEO. We offer done-for-you SEO services, trainings, and courses to help you learn SEO for your business. See all SEO services here.