Thursday, September 29, 2011

25 Tips in Making your Wedding Related Website Better

In my travels, I have come across a lot of wedding related websites and time after time again, I see many websites not set up well, if the webmaster can make some changes to their website, many of these websites could generate a lot more money for their business. To create a great website requires a lot of work, the key is to keep evaluating your website and keep making improvements, try different things and see what works best. I am not a website expert, but I have looked at thousands and thousands of websites and learned some things and am now sharing many things I have learned.

Tip #1 See a Great Website, Make a Great Website
If you see a great website that you really love and the way it is setup would be in sync with your wedding related business, contact that business and let them know you really love their website. Ask if it's all possible for them to put you in contact with their website builder. If they say yes, make contact with the website builder and talk possibilities, they have a template already in place, can they set up a similar website for you. Try to get a discount, since the template to build it is already there. If you love your own website, you tend to put more effort in maintaining your website.

Tip #2 You Only Get One Chance with a Good First Impression
Visitor's of web pages form first impressions of web pages, very quickly formulating a website's "Visual Appeal" which color subsequent judgements of perceived credibility, usability, and ultimately influence purchasing decisions. When you create your website, you want the want the website to be fast loading, or you will lose some visitors at the start. Also the website should greet the visitor with a beautiful vision right as the web page loads. You should be greeted by either a beautiful template or scenery along with beautiful pictures of the front of the building, or a beautiful spot in the business, a pretty scene of an activity or a beautiful picture of a product related to the business.

Tip #3 Make Sure your Website is Easy to Navigate
You want to make sure your visitor experience is positive. You want the navigation of your website to be easy and consistent. You want the visitors to be able to find what whey came looking for. Use a search bar to direct a visitor to find a page of a topic they are looking for, use anchor text to direct visitors to other pages internal and external to other websites. Also use a sidebar to direct visitors to topics on other pages. Another idea is to create a post on blogs of an index page at the beginning of the month so visitors can find topics of what they are looking for a little more easier. Many web sites have great content, but web site visitors could just not find what the information they really wanted quickly. A well-constructed, easy to navigate, good content website will leave a positive experience with the visitor and will keep the visitor to keep coming back.

Tip #4 You just got to have Great Content
If you want your visitors to return, your website needs to have compelling, high quality, and educational content. Websites should influence, persuade, and compel. Your focus is on sales and marketing, using branding techniques, understanding shopping habits of your online visitors, do some storytelling, provide fiction and human psychology. Your website is all about providing power to influence people. Creating great content is all about doing some research and then turning around and educate people about products and what you have learned using your website and/or blog. Also remember to keep your language simple in providing great content more so in laymen's terms, so your audience will understand what you are offering.

Tip #5 Call to Action
Having an effective call to action is very essential part of any website. Every website should have an object whether it be having a visitor order your product filling out a contact form, sign up for your newsletter, or informing visitors why they should use your business. First you want to identify a problem, then offer up a solution which might be ordering a product from us or contact us to discuss the services we can provide. Sometimes you need incentives to influence people's decisions, this may include offering discounts, or providing a free gift. You also don't want to present too many varieties of options or your visitor will be less likely to purchase. Use active language "call, buy, register, subscribe, donate" and put limitations on what you say "offer expires May 1", "for a short time only", "order now to receive a free gift", "discounts for those who sign up early". Put your call to action to where it's visible on your website or blog. Show white space around your call to action using a different highlight color, show it big, show it on every page, and lastly don't ask for personal data about the person contacting you. A call to action outlines where you want your user to click to land on page to download, sign up for a form, or how to contact.

Tip #6 Use Strong Keywords in your Titling
A keyword is a word or phrase that describes the main contents of your webpage. If you want your web site to do well in search engine queries, you want your main keyword in your URL, your main title, in any description about the website, and early in the wording in the body of your website. You also should thing of including keywords in anchor test in the body of your website. Anchor text in essence, is clickable text (use "strong" and "bold" to lift anchor text and keywords) and is used to direct visitors to another page either internal in your website or to an external website. Keywords in strategic locations in your web site add strength to search engine rankings when evaluating keywords.

Tip #7 Use Link Exchanges
Each web site has a search engine exchange ranking, the order in which your website gets ranked depends on 100+ factors. Whenever a visitor inputs in a keyword into a search engine and hits return, all websites with that keyword is ranked and returns results in the order of all websites with that keyword. One of the factors that help websites gain a higher ranking is what is called link exchange. Other websites have your website URL on their website, and because they do this, you receive like a vote and search engines add some more ranking to your web site. There are numerous link exchanges companies out there that can help your web site to connect with other link exchanges. When you link exchange with other companies, make sure you link exchange with other companies in your niche or search might penalize you. Evaluate link exchange companies using . Link exchanges I am personally familiar with and has a relatively high alexa ranking are and But there are dozens of linking companies, some are free to join, but some that offer high page ranking exchanges require fees to join. By the way, websites have page ranks with newbie companies are at PR0 and the top traffic website companies have a page rank of P9. If you are linked with a high page rank website you get a lot more votes to rank your website higher. You can contact companies in your niche and link exchange with them to create more power, a warning however, some companies will only link exchange with other high page ranked websites, you may get turned down.

Tip #8 Reciprocal Link Exchange with other Wedding Related Websites
If you are a wedding related business, it's a great idea to link exchange with other businesses, I will put a link to your business and in return I ask you to put our link onto your website. In essence, each business is promoting each other and because you include each other's website URL, the search engine world is going to add power to each of your website rankings. There is also a chance a visitor might visit your web site and find another wedding vendor from your site. The key when you do link exchanges with other wedding vendors you link exchange with those companies that aren't directly competitors. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, link exchange with other businesses such as wedding musicians, wedding venues, dress shops, bakeries, etc. but don't link exchange with a wedding photographer unless you are close friends with them and would not mind losing a customer to them.

Tip #9 Post Comments on Niche Websites and Blogs
Another way to add rankings to your blog, is to visit other websites and blogs and if they allow commenting, leave a comment and leave behind your URL. If the website or blog enables commenting, you can pick up some ranking power just as link exchanges do. Search for niche websites and blogs and look for a place in the website that shows "add a comment". Generally first you want to find a post to read, after the post if comments are open you can leave a comment behind, in some you will see 4 fields "name", "email", "website", and "comments". In the name field, it's best to input your keyword from your webpage into the name field (I know some feel you should just input your name), the keyword I have heard generates a tad more power. Next input your your email address and your URL of the related post into the website field and in comments say something positive about the post you read. The key is to put two or three sentences of a positive thought. The website owner has authority to allow the comment through and if it should get through you have added a link pointing back to your website increasing your ranking. Some comments show a box instead of the 4 fields, fill the box the same way "name", "email", "website", and "comments". Note, some blogs have what are called "dofollow" "nofollow" rules, dofollow allows point values to pass to your website, but you may get a visitor from a "nofollow" blog, so leaving a comment behind may still fetch you some visitors, especially from high ranking websites.

Tip #10 Promote other Wedding Related Businesses that have no Websites
You will find many wedding related businesses that don't have their own website presence, they may have little money, are not tech savvy, their website got shut down for not paying their website bill, or have some other reason. Many wedding vendors would love for someone to promote their business from someone else's website. I've seen it happen a number of times, I saw a group of wedding officiants which had very little money, a disc jockey added the wedding officiants to his website and the officiants started to pick up a lot of business. Wedding musicians might benefit, wedding venues might benefit and the wedding related web site might benefit too. If someone is looking for the name of the officiant, musician, or venue, who's website might pop up and it may very well be yours. You might pick up a wedding vendor while looking for another wedding vendor plus you help these other visitors find a wedding vendor they need.

Tip #11 Promote Social Marketing Websites
Some visitors that find you might want to let some of their other friends know about you. You never just know it could be a bunch of brides in a bridal boot camp, or a bunch of brides that met at a bridal show or from a bridal registry. In the last few years social marketing websites keep popping up and now there are tools available to put buttons available around your website or blog. Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Digg, Youtube, Stumbleupon, Reddit,, Myspace, Google Bookmark, Google Buzz, Google Plus, and dozens of other social media websites. Many of your visitors have signed up with many of these Social Marketing Websites and sometimes one visitor could turn into many by a friend telling a friend who tells a friend just by hitting a button. One company that can is helpful in organizing Social Media websites is or your website might have a program that sets up social media buttons directly in your website.

Tip #12 Keep your Website Fresh
Search engines have a mechanism and adds ranking power for websites that often do updates. The more you update your website or blog, the more search engines will love your website. Your goal should be to continually provide keyword-based content on a regular basis. Look to add fresh material all the time and do research, which could be from your local library or from search queries, from article marketing and even from niche forums. By the way, you should submit your website by providing feeds, a popular feeding system is RSS (stands for really simple syndication). Information from your feeds that reach article sites or forums, may have peaked interest some to some of their readers and may come back and visit your website. You should try to update your website all the time, every day, at least 3 days a week if possible. Visitors will come back if there are changes going on all the time and may not return if your website is static. Lastly, whenever you make an update to your website, you should ping your website, I recommend . This pinging lets all the search engines know you have updated your website and to do a new search to update the search engines with the new material from the website. Don't ping too often, if you do multiple updates in a day, ping maybe every three hours. If you ping too often, a search engine may penalize your rankings.

Tip #13 Use Opt-Ins
One idea you can do is to use pop-up ads with opt-in forms, you can collect email addresses and promote compelling offers. This is a very powerful way to present your newsletter, discounts, or other free incentives. Every time you sell a product or service, capture your customer's email address. In your place of business, keep a bowl of business cards and if your customers leave a business card, encourage them to leave their business card behind by having a drawing at the end of the year and offer a neat prize such as a later technology such as a Kindle or a recent IPhone or if it's got to be cheap pick up some packets of Water Beads which make a beautiful decorative piece for weddings. Also from your website include surveys and polls to entice offers. Don't send regular advertisements out to your subscribers, not more than once a month, if you get someone who thinks you are spamming, you may find your website gone one day. Exceptions are if you send a weekly notice of the food special for the week or what group is playing this coming weekend.

Tip #14 Don't Assume Everyone Has State of the Art
You want your website to capture as many visitors as you can. Your website might be state of the art but your website might not load so quickly on much older computers. To keep your website running efficiently on many older computers you need to do some things to your website so some of your visitors don't run out of patience waiting for a web page to load. If the web page loads slowly you sometimes have lost a paying customer. First of all, if you use blogs, try not to put too many posts on a page, try to keep 3 posts or less on a page. Don't import too many pictures unless you are a photographer and even if you are a photographer try to keep the picture count down some or you will lose some visitors waiting for the photos to load. Also when you use pictures, don't show so many pictures and try to keep the sizes small, best to use jpegs for photos and gif for charts that use shading. Try not to upload too much music sampling snippets as the music also slows down the website efficiency. Stay away from bells, whistles, gadgets, blinking, and tacky things on your website as they all tend to slow the computer down. Keep your website professional. If you find yourself getting a lot of traffic, that's great but in order to handle the traffic you might need to look in getting your website on a larger server that's faster and has more memory. Also review your website occasionally and eliminate dead links.

Tools to help you Analyze your Website

Tip #15 Utilize Youtube and Photos in your Website
One of the highest ranked websites in the world is youtube. Using youtube in your website will help your website get a high ranking quickly, it adds significant ranking power to your website. Buy some equipment that will allow you to tape youtube videos and look at youtube videos on how to load youtube onto your computer. When you have events take youtube videos of the event and make sure the videos are good videos and while you are at it take a few photos too. Do videos, talking about what your business has to offer, have videos on do it yourself projects and have videos of people promoting your business. Also promote the videos to your audience that the videos and pictures from the event will be on your web page and check them out to see themselves at the event having fun. Some people might see themselves at an event and will tell others about it and they will check for themselves too, word may get around and you will have picked up more visitors too. And if you get so lucky, if your youtube audience reaches a certain level you may even make some money from youtube in addition. Lastly, update the youtube videos often, so they keep generating lots and lots of traffic plus increase your traffic rankings.

Tip #16 Make your Website Ledgible
When you set up your website page, be sure to keep the coloring a little neutral and try to not have your website too cluttery. Show plenty of white space. In your articles use black text on a white background, or white on black, or dark on light, or light on dark. Never use similar colors for test on background. Tired eyes might not read your text if they have to concentrate on viewing the reading. Also don't use too fancy a font and keep the font size ledgible. Sometimes website setup plays tricks on you, what you thought was ledgible, visitors sometimes have bad eye sight and sometimes can't make out your business phone number or email address and you might have just lost a customer. Also include your business phone number and an email address on each and every page and in each one with a different format, and if there is a specific person you want the visitor to talk to specify "ask to speak to" with the person's name on your webpage.

Tip #17 Consider Adding a Toolbar and Gadgets to your Website
You may think of of adding a toolbar, gadget, or game to your website. Using these items may enhance your visitor's experience when they visit you and some of these things can even become addicting and have your visitors coming back for more. Some platforms that help your create your own toolbar for your website are ,, and also there is . These platforms allow you to quickly design your own toolbar without having to learn difficult coding and these sites are free. You also might consider adding gadgets or games to your website. Some websites are built with gadgets or games and there are many places you can download gadgets or games, some are free and some require a fee to download them. Your website might get enhanced with a wedding related gadget with things such as makeup tips, design a cake or dress a bride. If you load a game, make sure you load a game that's geared to adults and not silly games for kids. You also could include a honeymoon setting for the day or National Geographic or Headlines.

Tip #18 Use Adwords to Find your Keywords
Often the keywords you want to talk about in your website or blog has a lot of competition. In order for the topic you are covering to show well, to get a lot of hits from search engines, you want to find an alternative keyword that will help your website to rank higher. in order to find an alternative keyword to promote your website or blog you want to perform a process called Adword research. Google has a nice tool that is free to used, just go to your browser and put in "google adwords keyword tool". This tool should be one of the first ones to pop up on the page. At the top of the page you will see places to input either a word, phrase, or website url of the keyword you want to find a replacement for. After you input a Captcha code you will see Search click it and a keyword table will result. On that table click where it says "Global Monthly Searches" by clicking this column your keywords will get ranked with most searches to least searches. You want to identify searches between 5,000 and 1,000,000. You want to narrow your alternative keywords by looking at the second column of the report showing Competition. You want to choose keywords to use in your website that have less than 50% competition mentioned in the range above. This Adword tool was originally created for PPC "Pay Per Click" but it has become a valuable tool for finding optimizing keywords. While mentioning Adwords, you also may look into placing adword ads on other websites, you may look at adword youtube videos to gain some ideas or call Google and get advice from them directly.

Tip #19 Change the Look of your Website Often
Ideally you don't want the same design of your website year after year. The repeat visitors will notice and will get so accustomed to the website that the website becomes dull and unattractive to the visitor's mind's eye. At least once a year you should change your website around a little, alter the format, add gadgets, take away gadgets that you feel aren't being used much, change the format of your website around. Add connections to the latest social media websites. Also check your competition too, see what they are doing to their website, you don't want to be surprised if they do something radical and check if you need to do something radical to keep up with them. Also update the website such as copyright dates as well as changes in phone numbers, email addresses or contact names and do you include any special wedding awards your business has received over the past year.

Tip #20 Consider Using Forms to Capture Queries from Wedding Couples
Another way to initiate contact is by creating a form on your website for a wedding couple to fill out. The form lays out preliminary information on the couple so you can gather a little information on the couple and respond back to them when your business is less busy. You might include in the forms, beside their name, address and email, and might ask questions like "The date of the wedding?" and "The amount of wedding guests you are expecting?" This gives your business a heads up whether the date would be available and can your facility handle the amount of guests. There are a number of websites that can help you build a form request. Some websites that help you build a form are , , , , , and you can also build a form using Google docs. How to build some of these forms can also be found on Youtube videos. I have come across many query forms from wedding reception websites, that show a form but offer no contact information along with the form. If you use the form also include a visible phone number and email address and contact person's name. Many businesses state they don't provide emails because it generates too much spam. If that's the case create a secondary email address and check this email address when you are less busy. By not including contact information, you are not making customer service information readily available and you may be throwing away potential customers.

Tip #21 Include your Biography and Picture
By putting a biography on your website, you help legitimize your business. Customers, when they see a face they feel more comfortable with purchasing a product or service off your website because now they identify you as a real person. You should include your picture, name, address, and if you don't mind your phone number and email address. You also might include a little background about yourself including your schooling and past work experiences and maybe even include some hobbies. If you don't like your current photo you may instead create a company logo or create a caricature of yourself, there are companies that take a picture and convert it to a like a cartoon character. Some visitors will get amused.

Tip #22 Use a Separate Webpage for Sales
Sales are the life-blood of any business. The best way to do this on your website is provide a link to a sales page and show an order form. Lot's of your visitor's won't read your entire sales page they just want to get down to business, they just want to know what you are offering, and how much does it cost. It's important at the point of ordering, you include every bit of essential information related to the offer; the product's name with a brief description, the free bonuses, the price, product guarantee, the assurance of a secure ordering procedure and a compelling reason to act right away.

Tip #23 Add a Map to your Location on your Website
It is important to make sure that your customers can find you. A map is especially important because it allows brides to see where you are located in respect to other wedding vendor locations. How far is the business from the church, how far from the florist, from the bakery and from the hotels where my wedding guests are staying? It allows them to find you to set up an appointment and they can also find the look of the place from Google Earth, does the place have the look that is acceptable for their wedding. You should consider putting wedding related businesses that are near your location, include churches, hotels, and other related businesses such as bakeries, florists, decorators, photo locations, photographers and other wedding businesses you can think of. Some places that can help you to create maps for free. There are dozens of map software packages you can use to build a map for your website. Some of the common ones webmasters use are; , , , and and you can create one using Google Maps. You can also see some videos on how to create maps right into your websites using Youtube.

Tip #24 Use Affiliate Programs
In this day an age you can advertise products of other businesses and sometimes you can make a lot of money when your visitors go from your website and see a banner or some type of ad and go onto to visit and end up buying products from these other websites, your website can get a commission for providing a referral. One of the more popular affiliate programs is "Adsense" which is a program that reads your website or blog and finds a product related to your niche topic and creates an advertisement. There are hundreds of other affiliate programs out there such as Clickbank, Amazon, and Share-a-Sale. You want to be sure to find an affiliate program from a reputable company where products are at a high enough level so you actually can make money but not too high in which your visitors can't afford them. The experts suggest you look for products in the $10 - $500 range and look for commissions greater than 20%. Make sure the payments are paid out at least once a month, (please note many of these companies require your commissions to exceed a $100 threshold and make payments to you generally through Paypal or send a check in you name to your location. Be sure the affiliate program has a tracking tool and an adequate customer support phone number.

One last note on affiliate advertising, studies show that ads that pop up as soon as someone visits a webpage aren't very effective. The best placement for ads is right after a discussion about a product or on the top of your right side bar and is visible on your webpage. Just to be greeted with an ad just turns people off. The size ads that tend to get the most clicks are your rectangle ads that are 336x280 and 300x250 and a banner ad 728x90 directly placed at the end of a talking discussion seem to work well. Little leaderboard ads that show about 5 lines of keywords that are 180x90 on your right side bar are effective too.

Tip #25 Provide References
There is an old adage, you are a stranger for the first few minutes of meeting someone, and that is true when visitors visit your website. Now if you add some references to your sight, your website has just become a lot more credible. You should try to find 3 or 4 references and try to get them to recommend your business to others. Have them include a couple of positive experiences and include what they have say in your website. Many website owners over the years are uncomfortable asking for references but they are great asset to comforting visitors in purchasing your services or products. Another note, your references should be from the last couple of years, no more than 2 years out. Also have one of your references available to be contacted by phone or email if a bride should request it.

So there we have it, 25 tips in making your wedding related website better. I hope some of my ideas are helpful, and just maybe by applying some of these strategies you are able to put some more money in your pocket.

See you on the other side!

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