There are many ways to fully grasp SEO, but there are some especially vital must-dos. First things first before you run off to see where you stand in Google's eyes. Google does "see" where you surf the web. Your ranking will unfortunately look different on every computer/web browser you use, and it will be ranked differently with different clients based on their web habits. Don't be saddened if you rank lower on another computer. SEO is ever-changing. Do what you can now for your SEO! It's not a one-time fix.
Like a garden, you have a lot of work to prep the soil and seeds before you see your harvest. And even after that harvest, you still have much to do to keep it from wilting back into the soil.
Second things second, if you don't blog for your business, stop right now and go open up a Blogger or Wordpress account. I'll wait. :)
Blog ready? Okay. Let's do this.
1. Build a strong social presence. Google, Bing, and other search engines are now looking to your social circles for brand validity. Those social signals being given out from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are huge. Your social traction means "quality."
2. BLOG IT UP! Create authentic, quality, and engaging content that is geared towards humans (e.g., your target audience) and not search engines. Search phrases are no longer top king as search engines are becoming more advanced in detecting valuable, shareable content worthy of non-robot eyes. Keyword after keyword (including those in your blog post tags/labels) is now seen as spammy.
Find your written voice. I know it's easier for some people, but just find a way to get words out! It may sound silly, but if it is difficult for you, create your "ideal captive audience" (the one that you could talk on and on to) and "talk" to that audience using whatever vocabulary and syntax you generally use. Pretend you are writing and talking to them with each blog post; it will help to get your blog voice style down.
Blogging is so important as it creates new and fresh content and helps elevate your social media presence as well as SEO ranking!
3. Get inbound links. While it's no longer #1 when it comes to SEO, it's still an important piece. This is where networking with other vendors helps! Do a link exchange, write guest posts for each other, but ultimately, get others to have YOUR website on their website. You can use Alexa.com to check to see who is linking you.
4. List your address/location on your website and blog. For some odd reason, some wedding vendors still don't include the city and state in which they are located! This is a huge, huge thing as Google still gives preference to local (yeah for local wedding blogs!). Put your city and surrounding/service areas and any other markets you consistently work in. Even if you service beyond your actual location, having a go-to point is a must.
5. Make sure your website is responsive (aka mobile and tablet friendly). We all know the high stats when it comes to who's visiting via their iPhone or Android, but this also directly impacts your SEO as it signals engaging content.
6. Comment on vendor and professional wedding blogs. The hardcore reality is that these comments have no impact on your SEO ranking, but they do have an impact on your relationships and gaining traffic straight to your website. That's where the strength of these comments lie.
7. Optimize your website and blog for a user-friendly experience. If brides and grooms are having a hard time navigating your website, they're going to peace out. This is called a bounce rate. A high bounce rate signals to search engines that your content is not interesting, not quality, or not engaging. Clearly all bad things when it comes to business!
8. Embrace diversity in content. Whether they're videos, photos, infographics, or clever little plug-ins, an active website experience means engaged visitors. Google loves this.
9. Don't forget your HTML meta tags! They're not as important as they once were, but you should still include them as search engines still use them to crawl through the web to get immediate insight on what a website is all about. Want more details on what meta tags are in the eyes of Google? Head over to their Webmaster Tools page for more info.
10. Adapt and evolve your SEO marketing into a more genuine and organic approach. We know when we're being sold to. So does Google and Bing. Leave old marketing practices in the past (Book now!) and embrace the more relationship-based practices (How can I make it the best day possible for you?) that involve interacting with potential clients through blog posts, website copy, and brand authenticity. In other words, you have an average of less than 60 seconds to capture someone's attention on your website. Give them a good reason to stay.
- Chelsea :)
All photos by Bit of Ivory Photography.