SEO is part art and part science, it’s both technical and creative. There are dangers if you get SEO wrong, the worst penalty is your website being removed from Google rankings. Due to the risks involved we don’t recommend taking on technical elements of SEO, unless you know what you’re doing, but a lot of SEO activity is already covered in your marketing mix, if you follow our easy to implement and relatively low risk SEO tips below you can make your existing marketing activity increase your search rankings without costing you any more time or money
Fact 1: In 2016, almost all adults aged 16 to 24 and 25 to 34 years were recent internet users (99.2% and 98.9% respectively).
Fact 2: In England and Wales in 2013 57% of grooms and 66% of brides were aged 34 or under.
Fact 3: In 2013 80% of engaged couples could spend up to 10 hours a week on wedding-related websites
Source: PC Magazine
The wedding market is very actively using the internet to find wedding services and if you want to be found you need to rank well in search engines.
Use keywords – but don’t overuse keywords
If you use too many keywords you’ll get penalised, if you don’t use them enough, your website won’t rank to its potential. There is no perfect ratio of keywords to non-keywords in copy but Google’s advice is that it prefers content that is suitable for humans, not website crawlers. The best way to approach this is to use a free keyword planning tool (there are a lot out there, try Google’s) and then write your copy, using these keywords. But above all, make sure it’s ‘human-friendly’ and doesn’t read like it has an alternative keyword agenda.
Improve your website speed
Google confirmed site speed is a signal used by its ranking algorithm. It’s part of Google’s drive to rank websites based on usability. Having a website that loads quickly and efficiently is now a must-have for SEO.
Google provides a free page speed test tool which will tell you exactly how your website scores for page speed and what you need to address to get it up to scratch. If you don’t have access to a web developer and you’re not a techie you can easily start by simply decreasing the file size of images on your website.
Be mobile friendly
As mentioned previously the current focus is on usability; Google now uses a similar layout for searches on desktop and mobile and it wants your website to be suitable for both. If it’s not, there’s less chance you’ll do well in Google ranking’s, especially following their increased penalties against non-mobile friendly sites earlier in the year.
Go to Google’s free mobile friendliness analyser to see how your site ranks – if necessary it will tell you how to make your site more mobile friendly. If you’re not mobile friendly make it one of your goals this year.
Images are more than just pretty pictures
Images are great for showing your website visitors your venue but not enough people are harnessing them for SEO. Your image Alt text is a way to tell search engines what the image is and give further indication about the page content. The file name is used in a similar way so no more ‘IMG08759’, start giving your images descriptive file names before you upload them to your website. Remember Google likes websites that are user-friendly and user-friendly websites have images to support their copy (just look at any top ranking website) so use images as much as you can.
Optimising your images will not only help your search rankings but will also mean your images have a better chance of showing up in Google image searches, very important for wedding venues where the purchase decision relies so heavily on visuals.
Use Social Media and get your social mix right
Social Media helps widen your reach and drive traffic to your website and is considered by many to be a ranking factor in SEO. If you don’t have any social channels, open them today! Make sure the channels you use are relevant and represent a good use of your time. Wedding marketing relies on visuals and targets a consumer audience so bear this in mind when choosing your social marketing mix. Pay particular attention to consumer social media outlets like Facebook and image-led sites like Pinterest and Instagram.
People tend to search for wedding venues with a location determiner, this means in the wedding business ranking for local search is important, and so are your citations; not just the amount but the quality and the relevancy. There are resources and SEO experts available to check a directory’s quality, called its citation score (and to make sure it’s not going to do you more harm than good). Examples of high quality broad citation websites are Yell or Yahoo Local while high scoring industry relevant ones include www.weddingwire.com (Wedding Spot in the UK) and www.chooseyourevent.com.
Yell.com provide a free business listings scanner that will tell you where your organisation is listed on the web and where it isn’t, so you can begin developing citations. It doesn’t cover the entire web but it covers most of the top broad citation sites in the UK. Remember when taking out directory listings it’s important to maintain consistency in your address and contact details. Yell.com’s free citations scanner will also show how consistent your existing citations are so you can identify inconsistencies and contact site owners to get them updated.
Answer questions in online forums
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of questions about wedding venues and wedding planning in online forums. As someone that works at a wedding venue you’re professionally qualified to answer them. Answering online questions not only expands your brand’s web footprint (and yours too), it sometimes allows opportunities to link back to your own site which not only generates qualified, wedding-interested, referral traffic but will also help you build backlinks. Lots of forums make these links ‘No follow’ (put shortly it tells search engine crawlers not to consider them a backlink to your site) but many heavy weight SEOers regularly blog about going against this advice, developing quality ‘No follow’ links and seeing results. If nothing else you get referral traffic, online word of mouth, increased web footprint and not all forums make their links no follow. Quora.com is easy to join, has an ample amount of questions and is a good place to get started.
Backlinks (inbound links) are links to your website from other websites. The focus is on quality, quantity and relevancy. You’re probably gaining backlinks all of the time, without realising it, but by being smarter in the way you approach things you could generate even more, here are three tips to get you started:
- If a client has a wedding website (they’re becoming increasingly popular) ask them to add a page about the venue to their website. This makes it easier for their attendees to find information about the venue and gives you a backlink from a relevant page on a relevant site. If your clients don’t have wedding websites you could reach out to your preferred suppliers and ask them to provide a link back to your website.
- Develop content which is going to be interesting for your audience. This can be advice guides, videos, memes, podcasts, and much more. Publish whatever you produce in blogs and social media and watch nature take over. If it’s interesting enough people will read it, share it, pick it up, re-publish it and hopefully link back to your website as the creator.
- Reach out to people that list wedding venues on their website. Examples include the local council, wedding planners, the local chamber of commerce and churches. If they list venues check if yours is listed and if not contact them and ask to be listed. Often they list venues to be helpful and are keen to keep the list up to date and comprehensive and will be accommodating of your request.
Google My Business
In addition to being a ranking factor, this free tool is a great way to control how your business (address, phone number, company description, location map, website) is listed on Google. It ensures that when people search for your brand your business displays (see example below) on the right hand side of searches as well as in the search results. This is even more important if your competitors are bidding for clicks on your brand name and you want to occupy more of that prime real estate at the top of Google searches when people look specifically for your brand.
Available advice recommends producing content as frequently as once a day and as infrequently as once a month. More important than the frequency, however, is its quality and ‘shareability’. Quality content is not only going to build backlinks but will engage your social audience and website visitors. It will also help you naturally develop keywords on your website.
Content can be used to position your venue as a trusted authority on weddings and if used across other channels (like emails and digital display advertising) it works better at engaging your audience (and driving traffic to your website) than traditional promotional messages. With a free account Moz will allow you to search, by topic, for content across the web and see how well it performed in terms of social sharing and backlink generation, it’s a great way to develop a picture of what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to discover the power of content marketing for venues read this case study that explains how a venue achieved an income that in the strongest month of the campaign was 50% over forecast. If you want advice on how to approach content marketing read our Guide to Content Marketing for Venues.
About us and about SEO
That is ten actionable SEO tactics to increase the search rankings for your wedding venue that you can begin doing straight away. There are many more tactics available for SEO, and more technical approaches to the tactics listed here, but any in-house marketing team should possess the skills to execute the tactics outlined above without delay and, if following our advice on usability and quality, without risking damage to your rankings.
If you’d like to know more about these tactics, or any others, get in touch or post a question below firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 20 7952 1740.
Patch Media is a venue marketing and media buying agency that offers a full service marketing function, consultancy and single channel management. Our industry knowledge and relationships help us to ensure quality and relevancy in everything we do for our clients.
Our team of venue SEO experts offer consultancy and campaign plans for venues that want run their own SEO in-house and completely managed campaigns for those that prefer to use an agency.