I was on a call with Jeannie of Details Details Weddings and Events the other day discussing our plans to optimize her newly designed website ... it's a project I am super excited about! Each image on her website and blog will be optimized in a way that I know brides search online ... and I know this because I watched the analytics on Style Unveiled for 8 years ... I know what brides do and how they think. That knowledge can only be achieved by seeing what searches led brides to find my wedding blog and I'm so happy that I have it!
Now, as we all know, there are companies that make all sorts of promises about getting your company to come up on searches ... these SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies have tricks to get the searches you are after to pop up on Google and move up your ranking. Sounds like a dream, right??? Maybe! It's very important to make sure you are the right candidate for a SEO company before you hire them ... and it's important to remember that Google can change their algorithm anytime they want ... which means you may be dumping money into the wrong hands and investing in the wrong thing ... here are a few things I would recommend doing BEFORE you sign on the dotted line:
- Educate Yourself: Do you know about SEO and how it works? Are you up to snuff with Google's most recent algorithm change and what they factor in? Do you know what your target market is searching online? These are all questions you should know the answer to BEFORE you hire a company to plug in searches for you.
- Ask Questions: You need to ask each company you are considering lots and lots of questions ... and one of those questions needs to be: will they optimize each individual image on your website with proper 'alt text' ... and if they say yes: ask them to give you an example of what they would put in for the alt text of specific images ... and then ask them why they would do that. The wedding industry and 'searching brides' are very unique and need to be treated as such.
- Look At Your Website: Is your website current? Is it appealing? Does it attract and keep visitors?? If you dump a sh*tload of money into SEO and your website looks like crap then you just wasted a lot of money.
- Look At Your Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate will support if your website is appealing ... if you have a high bounce rate it means that your visitors don't like what they are seeing.
- Test Your Website For Mobile Optimization: Is your website mobile optimized? If not: you better take care of that first!! Google will ignore that you even exist unless you are mobile optimized ... so make that the first priority on your 'to do' list.
- Look At Where You Currently Advertise: Are you advertising? If so, where? Do these spots offer 'more than just a listing'?? And if so, are you utilizing those options? Remember that brides are on wedding blogs ... they are on Pinterest ... use what is available to you!
- Look At Your Referrers: Is Google a big referrer for you? Then you see your bounce rate is high? I would highly recommend NOT spending thousands of dollars each month on SEO through a ranking company if your hits from Google are already there, but your bounce rate is high. This is very telling.
- Remind Yourself: Upping your ranking on Google searches isn't a guarantee that they will keep things the same ... if Google changes their algorithm again and you have spent thousands of dollars per month to up your ranking ... well, then I'm sorry to say you just screwed yourself ... what matters to brides today is Pinterest and what descriptive text is being pulled with your images ... and a follow up to that is 'what' descriptive text matters ... Pinterest is now a search engine: and brides are ON IT.
Are SEO Companies a waste of money?? Heck no!!! Sometimes it's an awesome fit and will make your company a huge success!! Just make sure you are educated on WHAT they are offering ... and make sure you are savvy enough to know if it's actually getting done. A good SEO company will send you monthly (sometimes weekly) reports on what they've done, what's working, where your ranking is going, etc ... I would never hire a company who didn't help educate me on what they were doing and why.