I get asked a lot of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) questions by my fellow wedding suppliers. I won’t blow my own trumpet here – I’m not an SEO expert by any means. Any of the SEO tricks that I have learnt have been picked up from reading various SEO articles and from casually talking to the occasional SEO expert over the past number of years.
I’ve put together this basic list of 11 SEO techniques that can help your wedding website rank better in Google. There is nothing complicated here, they are simple techniques that together should have a positive effect on how well your wedding business website ranks in Google.
What’s the point of this article? Well, I assume you want to be found by prospective brides? There is no point in having a sexy website if nobody can find it! This article will hopefully help with that endeavor.
I’ve assumed here that you know basic HTML and how to construct a simple webpage. If you happen to use a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, it may be possible to tweak a lot of the features mentioned below directly via the software. Wherever possible, refer to the documentation of your particular CMS.
Let me jump right in: here is my list of 11 pointers that can improve the ranking of your wedding website in Google:
1. Research Your Keywords – you may have an amazing looking website, but without the right marketing copy on your homepage and respective pages, you are probably wasting your time. Think about what words and phrases you actually want to rank for and write some nice marketing copy that includes those keywords and possible variations. You need to get into the mindset of what brides and grooms are searching for. Writing good marketing copy is not easy – you’ll need to avoid jargon and yet still come across professional. Take some time to get it right, because the rewards are worth it. Also, don’t write copy that you think will fool the search engines. You don’t want your page to look spammy – Google apparently uses advanced linguistics software to detect pages that appear to be written purely for search engines. It will easily sniff out unnatural prose that overuses keywords and their variations. So, write for humans and you can’t go wrong.
2. Page Titles – one of the most important metatags on each and every webpage. This tag tells Google what your page is about. Make sure that it relates to the page content, because otherwise you may be penalised. Try to include your main keywords close to the very start of the title. Make sure the title makes sense and is not simply a comma separated list of keywords.
3. Description Metatag – it’s not usually a key ranking factor but it’s important to get it right because Google sometimes uses your description metatag when listing sites in its search engine results pages (SERPs). So, write a nice accurate description that will attract humans to your site. Don’t make it look spammy and also remember to include a few keywords that relate to the content of the page.
4. Format Your Content – by this I mean structure the content on each page properly. Use a H1 Heading at the top of your page that is an accurate description of what the page is about. Include the important keywords in this heading, but make sure that it makes sense and isn’t merely a list of keywords. For the main body, break the content into appropriate sections with titles and sparingly make use of the bold or strong tag to highlight important keywords. It’s important to get the balance right. Be subtle and this will work best. Formating the hell out of a page will only make it look spammy. Again, think like a human, write like a human.
5. Hyperlink Important Keywords – put important keywords in the actual clickable links on your page. Make sure that they link to pages on your site that relate to the subject of the clickable keywords. Otherwise, Google will detect the deception. Which do you think is better? To view my portfolio, click here. OR Click to view my portfolio ?
6. Use Image Alt Tags – make sure that you use the Alt tag for all of the main images displayed on your site. For example a photographer can make excellent use of this by tagging a photo on his site as follows: “photograph of a bride and groom after their wedding outside St. Patrick’s Church, Wicklow Town“. This increases the liklihood of relevant visitors finding the photographer’s website when searching for keywords that closely resemble the Alt tags used.
7. Friendly URLs – what do I mean by this? A typical URL from a website that doesn’t use friendly URLs might look something like this: http://www.website.ie/index.php?view_content=?4533322211?v=detail
If that same website implemented friendly URLs, the URL above may change to something like: http://www.website.ie/articles/good-wedding-article.html
Be careful with sudden changes of many URLs on your site at the one time. All currently indexed pages may no longer work when clicked by users. Make sure that you don’t create any broken links resulting in 404 error pages. You’ll need to do what is known as a 301 permanent redirect but discussing redirections is well beyond the scope of this article for now. From an SEO point of view, having human friendly URLs is supposed to make a small difference but it is by no means a crucial requirement from what I can see.
8. Register for a Google Webmaster Account – this will allow you to tell Google all about your site. You can upload an XML sitemap and automatically ping Google (i.e. send Google an automated message) every time your site is updated with some fresh content. Having a Google Webmaster account is an important SEO step for every website, but it doesn’t guarantee high ranking (or indeed any ranking). It is however a good opportunity to ensure that Google is aware of your site and Google Webmaster will also notify you if it has any problems accessing or indexing your site. It’s a free tool by the way.
9. Use a Robots.txt file – this is placed on your site root folder and it tells (well-behaved) search engine bots where they can and cannot look and index on your website server. It’s a simple way of preventing the main search engines from indexing a particular section of your site. There is plenty of free help on the net about how to create and use a robots.txt file.
10. Utilise Social Media – the most modern of all our techniques mentioned above. Social media is becoming hugely popular in Ireland. Just look at the growing number of Irish wedding suppliers on Facebook and Twitter. You probably found this blog entry doing the rounds on Twitter (hopefully!). Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Stumpbleupon, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr are all powerful social networks where you can build up a presence and promote your wedding website for free. There is a balance requirement of course. You will have much better success if you helpfully engage with your peers and throw the occasional business message out there. This approach works much better than constantly broadcasting about how great your site is. Fans and followers who are being bombarded with your advertising message will soon get tired and move on. As I said, it’s all about balance.
11. Get Relevant Links – when it comes to links, it’s no longer strictly a numbers game. From Google’s perspective, two links from authorative sites can be much better than two hundred links from crappy spammy sites. Think about this when acquiring links. When it comes to link building, less is often more. Avoid spammy link farms like the plague.
By the way, I’ll end with a little caveat… when it comes to SEO, nothing is ever guaranteed. All you can really do is get the basics right and hope for the best! Good luck!
Can you think of any other SEO pointers to help Wedding Websites rank better in Google?
I’d like to hear your feedback on this article. Did I omit anything important? Do you have any other pointers to share? Please leave your comments below.