A guest post by Photographer Rachel Whitehurst
I joined Sara’s Wedding SEO Bootcamp earlier this year because after following Sara on Instagram and listening to a couple of her lectures, I wanted to make 100% sure that I was crafting an informed SEO strategy for my website.
What I have discovered as I put those principles into practice is that they create a solid foundation for a multi-platform, fully-integrated, targeted, lead-to-booking marketing strategy.
SEO and the Big Picture.
Marketing strategy is all about putting yourself in the most visible place for couples to find you and connect with you. There are so many different platforms to use: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, wedding publications, wedding shows… even TikTok is a thing now! It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but creating an integrated marketing strategy puts everything in its place.
What a lot of wedding vendors don’t realize is that all of these platforms are connected by the behavior of the couples using them. Knowing how to optimize our content to get seen by them is the challenge.
After taking Sara’s SEO Bootcamp I had a revelation:
We can use SEO best practices as the glue that holds our marketing together.
Think about it— someone who is recently engaged is creating a dream wedding board on Pinterest and sees a picture of a stunning reception installation at the venue of their dreams. They click the link… taking them straight to the floral designer’s website. How do we get that picture in front of them? Pinterest is a search engine!
Or maybe they are on Instagram looking at venues to see what one they like best and end up on your profile from a post that you geotagged. Instagram is a search engine too!
Let’s take a less obvious example— The couple is walking down an aisle crammed with vendors at a wedding show. This is just Google brought to real life. Instead of scrolling past a list of websites, the couple is strolling past a line of booths. The same principles that get them to click a link on Google will get them to stop at your booth at the wedding show.
By learning and applying SEO principles across all of these platforms, we can create a cohesive marketing strategy that ultimately directs people to booking.
Keywords aren’t just for Google.
One of the first things Sara has Bootcampers do is keyword research. Keywords are the words and phrases couples are using to search for content.
We match these keywords to web pages and optimize them so that as Google crawls the Internet, it sees our page as relating to the keyword.
There are all kinds of ways to do this research, but ultimately, the words and phrases a couple is using to search on Google are remarkably similar to the words and phrases they will use to search on Pinterest or the hashtags they follow on Instagram.
When we find a keyword that a lot of people are searching for that is also easy to rank for on Google that also fits our brand (a “golden keyword” as Sara calls it), we can assume that if we create content on other platforms based on that keyword, it will also be successful.
For example, if we discover that everyone is looking up “Michigan vineyard wedding venues” on Google, we should definitely make a blog post like “Top Michigan Vineyard Wedding Venues” that we optimize for the keyword and pin it to a board called the same on Pinterest.
If we have Rich pins set up, Pinterest pulls the content from the blog post and all of a sudden Pinterest loves us too.
Then, we start posting some photos from our vineyard weddings on Instagram and use hashtags that relate. Make an Instagram post or story that directs followers to that blog post. Suddenly, that content is reaching a MASSIVE warm audience that we can assume cares about that topic.
All from one little keyword.
Backlinks increase your reach.
Another principle that Sara covers in her Bootcamp is the importance of backlinks. Backlinks are links to your website posted on other websites. The more backlinks you have, the more Google sees your content as respected and valuable.
Backlinks are a version of word-of-mouth referral. Someone is telling someone else about us. This kind of social proof creates a powerful connection with potential clients.
Building backlinks is an important part of an SEO strategy. By creating a network of referring websites, all websites reach a wider audience. Social media works the same way.
Think of Instagram mentions as backlinks.
Whenever someone tags you in a post on Instagram or Facebook, it builds credibility with the algorithm and with their viewership. Social networks are for networking!
If we are simply sharing content without connecting with other accounts, we are only utilizing the tiniest bit of the platform’s marketing abilities.
For example: One of Sara’s go-to blogging tips is to work to rank for venue searches. That’s because when couples are wedding planning, they are often looking at venues first.
Sure, they are going to look at Google, but as soon as their interest is piqued, they are for sure going to look up that venue on Instagram. They will look at the venue’s account, but they will also look at posts that have tagged the venue’s account and at posts that have geo-tagged the venue.
Use the tools provided.
Sara stays up-to-date on what Google likes. She talks about Google like it is her friend that she is in conversation with constantly. When the algorithm changes, when Google creates a new tool for us to use, she’s on it. She’s paying attention to the tools that Google provides so that she can see what is doing well.
We can do that on other platforms too.
Pinterest business accounts have their own set of tools and analytics. So do Instagram and Facebook and just about any platform where you can have a business specific account.
These tools tell us exactly how to be successful on their platform.
I’ve discovered and love these tools for Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and I share my nerdy knowledge in one-on-one coaching. Holler if I can help.
See the connections.
Much of marketing is simply being seen enough times by a couple to have made an impression.
We know that it takes 5-7 impressions before a person trusts and recognizes a brand. By using the tools provided by these platforms, we can see how effective our content is AND continue to reinforce the content that is most compelling.
For example: Once we wedding photographers know that a certain image is realllyyyy connecting with people, we can use it everywhere and all of a sudden a couple recognizes us. We stand out. We get put to the top of the metaphorical Google results page in their mind.
Cycling our content is just the beginning. Remember how I mentioned those platform-specific tools?
Look at what the data from all of the tools has in common and make it a bridge to actual booking.
People are loving your keyword-optimized blog post on “Michigan vineyard wedding venues?” They are re-pinning it on Pinterest and engaging with it on Instagram? Maybe it’s time to make a Facebook ad strategy that targets engaged couples who have interest in some of those vineyard venues and use Pinterest. Feed them that article, and then retarget people who clicked it with a special deal for your services at Vineyard weddings.
You’ve created an informed marketing strategy, based on analytics, that will cost you less than if you ran an un-targeted ad, AND it is based on a golden keyword that fits your brand and will snowball your reach even further.
Ultimately, wedding vendors are looking to get couples on their contact page to inquire with them. That’s the hinge moment for most of us.
Sure, we have to connect with them afterwards in order to make the booking, but the hard part is just getting them to take that step toward us. It’s easier for them to do that if we are showing them the path… and maybe even meeting them halfway with content they care about.
Because they can’t book us if they don’t see us. And that, my friends, is SEO.
All photos in this post provided by Rachel Skye Photo. Thank you, Rachel, for this article!