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Tips for Search Engine Optimization in 2017

by Danielle Andrews

Search Engine Optimization or SEO, is the act of optimizing your business website to appear higher in the list of websites shown when someone performs an internet search for the services your company offers. A common misconception is that by performing a search, the searcher is combing the internet for those services, when in fact they are only being shown that particular search engine’s index of the web.

In order to get yourself or your business listed higher on that Search Engine’s index, you must know how to optimize your website for that search engine’s algorithm.

As you know, technology is ever-changing. What worked for SEO a few years ago, or even a few months ago, is no longer relevant. To stay on top of the SEO game you need to change with it.

Google is the undisputed leader for Search Engines and therefore it is just good business to optimize your website according to Google’s algorithm.

What matters to the Google algorithm?

Quality Counts:

Google’s algorithms rank high quality websites higher than other websites.  Make sure your website has quality information, whether it is directly in your webpages or through your blog, content is King!


You have probably noticed that some URLs start with http:// and some start with https://  The “s” in the URL is a “Secure Sockets Layer” which encrypts the viewers connection to that website so their connection cannot be hacked.  As of January 2017, Chrome will flag websites that only have an http URL as unsafe!


It is far better to have a few related keywords (Google Adwords suggests no more than 25,) than to have hundreds of unrelated keywords.  Coming up in searches does not get you clients or money, its the quality of the searcher and their intent, that determines how effective those keywords will be.  Knowing this, it is important for you to do Keyword Research for SEO before choosing what keywords you want to focus on.

Stop “Keyword Stuffing”:

Google has warned webmasters over and over to stop the practice of “Keyword Stuffing” (putting as many keywords into a page as possible,) but I keep seeing this on certain wedding professionals’ websites.  Not only does it look awkward and silly, but it doesn’t work, and Google is penalizing you for the practice.  Did you know it is actually against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?

Optimize your Images:

Search engines can not see your images, so it is important to use relevant image file names and alt text (a description of what is in the image), do not use filenames such as IMG00254.jpg, THIS is where you can and should use your keywords.  Google can index the following extensions, so make sure your image files are one of these: bmp, gif, jpeg, png, webp, and svg.

Example of a title photo for Pinterest

Utilize Social Media:

A great way to improve your chances of getting on the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), is by having your viewers share your website.  Going back to “Content is King,” you need to have content that your viewers will want to share, and you need to alert readers to that content through Social Media.  Anytime you write an article or Blog that will be useful to your target audience, create beautiful title photo and post it to Pinterest and Instagram with a link to the article.

Get Rid of the Annoying Pop-up:

If you have a newsletter that you like to send out to potential clients, and you utilize a pop-up to collect your viewer’s information, which does not allow the viewer see the information on your website, you could be seriously hurting your SEO.  Google announced last August that they will penalize any website that makes it difficult for their client to transition from their SERP to the content itself.  That means, any website that utilizes “Intrusive Interstitials” (pop-ups that block the user from content) will be penalized with a lower rank than websites that do not utilize these pop-ups.

Be Mobile- Friendly:

According to Smart Insights, 80% of Internet users own a Smartphone.  Think how often you search things using your phone throughout the day.  How frustrating is it when a website is not Mobile-compatible?  A lot of your potential clients are going to be checking you out from their mobile devices, so make sure you are making it easy for their, by being Mobile-compatible.  Google mobile-compatible websites higher, so that their clients can have the best quality.  In their own words, “In Google Search, our goal is to help users quickly find the best answers to their questions, regardless of the device they’re using.”

Improve the User Experience:

Google wants to make sure that the pages it suggests to their user offer a good user experience so that they will continue to utilize Google as their search engine of choice.  Of course you want to be one of the websites that Google Suggests, so you need to make sure that your website offers a good user experience.  This means your pages load quickly, and guests stay on your page rather than quickly “bouncing” off of it.  Ways to keep guests on your page, is by being relevant, having an attractive site, easy to use and navigate and provide quality information, readily accessible.  For example, if your guest wants to know about the services you offer, they can easily and quickly access that information.

Make sure your Plug-ins and Extensions are Updated Regularly:

A lot of website owners put their website up and then forget about it.  You need to be checking your website regularly to make sure that all of the Plug-ins and Extensions that you are using are current, if they aren’t, Google might not be showing your website in their SERP.  This means updating every week or so.

Highlight the Fact that you are Local:

I have noticed that so many wedding professionals do not state where they are located on their website.  I am not suggesting that you post your home address, but you do need to state what your operating area is.  You want to attract local couples getting married, so you need to list your city and operating area on your website.  When couples are searching for a wedding professional, they are looking for a local wedding pro, not a random company for information.  So many wedding companies forget this basic information.

The long and short of Search Engine Optimization is: create the best experience for the end-user, your potential clients.  Keep your website up to date, mobile-friendly, relevant and easy to use, and it will rise in the rankings of Search Engine Report Pages.

Are You Holding Yourself Back From Success?

Photo by

By: Tracey Manailescu

Are You Holding Yourself Back From Success?

Is it possible?  In the words of the Beast from the children’s cartoon, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, “Great googly-moogly“,  yes, it is.  Strangely enough, I’ll bet that most of us unknowingly do it, too!

Are we afraid of the attention, nervous about how our peers/family/friends will receive it? Are we going to be judged and labeled?  Whatever the reason, we need to get over it like STAT! Time to get out of your own head and show the wedding planning world what you are made of. I am not talking about being in everyone’s face on every social media platform out there fifty times a day, but gosh-darnit, share some of your successes and talents with the rest of us. We want to see it.  We want to be proud of your achievements and accolades. How are clients ever going to see your value and what you are capable of, if you don’t show and tell? How are you ever going to be recognized as a power player and expert in the industry by your peers if nobody knows what you are are made of?

Hopefully, I have piqued your interest a little bit…

Here are some ways that you might be holding yourself back from success:

Not Investing in Your Business: Do you have a website? Is your website in need of updates or an overhaul? Examples would be using professional high-res photos of your couples weddings, having it look and feel modern, making sure your wording is geared towards the couples you want to work with, easy to navigate, and having information available for them to learn about your services, pricing and style.  Are you on social media? When is the last conference that you attended? Have you taken any courses to learn new skills? Are you WPIC certified? What are you waiting for? If you can’t take the time and initiative to invest in yourself and your business, then  why should potential clients? It doesn’t matter who you are, or how much experience that you have, you can always learn new ways of doing things to make your business run faster, easier and more profitable.

Shying Away From Making Decisions:  This is a tough one, I know because I do this, too. Waiting (or putting things off) until you have more time on your hands, more money or even more experience isn’t going to help your business grow now. Someone else will come along and do what you wanted to do, if you don’t. Find out about small business loans, talk to your spouse/family to weigh in on the pros and cons, and go for it! Sometimes in life you need to just take a chance. The worst thing that can happen is it won’t work but you can figure out why it didn’t, and try again. Remember that saying, ” Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”  People have tattoos of this on their bodies and signs or posters on their walls for a reason.

Making a big life change is scary, but know what’s even scarier? Regret.

Awkward Social Skills:  Get over it. So many of us are shy in new situations. Just like anything in life, the more that you practice the better you will be. Put yourself out there and you really will see the benefits from it. Attend local networking events, open houses and launches. Join Facebook groups for others in the same industry, read up on questions to ask new people that you meet.  Ask questions and give input. You have go to give a little to get a little. Stop making it all about you. I really mean this.  This is a BIGGIE! Monopolizing a lot of someone’s time at a networking event is self-sabotage. Ask questions and be interested in their answer. Make eye contact (not the creepy eye contact but the, “I am interested in what you are saying” eye contact) No one wants to hear all about your problems at a social event. Conversation should be light, entertaining and give and take. Save the serious stuff for a one on one.

No Clear and Concise Mission Statement: You need to tell people what you do, why you do it,  and what you do differently. Be clear and concise with as little mumbo-jumbo as possible. Think about your elevator pitch. If you only have thirty seconds to tell someone about what you do, what would you say to make them interested and want to learn more about you and your company? Let people into your world.  Let them know what makes you tick. Couples want to feel a connection with you from the get-go. There are a lot of planners out there (just like there are a lot of bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, etc. ) Give them a little bit of information about you that makes you, you.

Avoiding Being Around Like-Minded Individuals: Like what you ask? Well to start.  If you are WPIC alumni then you have this free tool literally at your fingertips. By being around others with the same interests as you, then you are hearing other ways of doing things, hearing others challenges and triumphs, and you will get the encouragement to keep going and growing! We have in-person get togethers about every other month that are geared to learning more and making your business better.


WPIC at Tianguis Turistico 2017 in Acapulco, Mexico

by Danielle Andrews, President of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc.

I don’t think it is a secret that we love Mexico and everything that amazing country has to offer to our wedding clients.  Ever since my first trip to Puerto Vallarta, where I spent my 13th birthday, I jump on the plane to visit any chance I get, which lucky for me is around 3-4 times a year 🙂  I have visited 9 of the 31 states of Mexico (and the Federal District of Mexico City of course,) and can tell you that every state is completely different and a must-see. From the cowboys of Durango, to the round pyramids of Gauchimontones in Jalisco, to the Mayan ruins and cenotes of the Riviera Maya, the deserts and camel rides along the beach in Los Cabos, and the rainforests in Chiapas, this country has it all!

*From this point on, all photos are my own.

Amazing sand art at the entrance to Tianguis Turistico

For Tianguis Turistico 2017, Mexico’s largest travel show moved back to Acapulco and the newly named Riviera Diamante region, to host the over 7,000 tour operators, agents, wholesalers and wedding planners from 85 countries in attendance.  I haven’t been back to Acapulco since I was 19, so I was excited to see all of the changes to this great destination.

Umbrellas covering the courtyard beside the Expo Mundo Imperial where Tianguis Turistico was held.

Acapulco is the destination that put Mexico on the International tourism map, and “this is a destination we will not abandon but will keep supporting,” said Enrique de la Madrid, head of the Tourism Secretariat, known as Sectur.  Héctor Astudillo Flores, Govenor of Guerrero (the state where Acapulco is located), announced that there will be a $2.5 billion investment in developing Acapulco, mainly south of the Costa Chica area, this year.

The opening and closing parties for Tianguis were stunning this year, full of the live music, amazing cuisine, pyrotechnic shows and warm hospitality that Mexico is known for.  The opeing party was held at Princess Mundo Imperial, and the Closing Party was at Tres Vidas Golf Club.

Trade shows in Mexico are unlike any other I have ever witnessed, booths are two-storey structures with giant television screens, there are live performers, not just a couple, 20 performers at a time!

Just a section of the Chiapas booth at the Tianguis turistico trade show

The trade show and education sessions were open for two days and there were over 30,000 appointments and business deals made on the show floor.

My host hotel for Tianguis was the Princess Mundo Imperial Hotel, in the Riviera Diamante, Acapulco, on the on scenic Revolcadero Beach.

The beautiful grounds at the Princess Mundo Imperial.

The view of the main building from the beach side.

Just a section of the huge expanse of Revolcadero Beach that the Princess Mundo Imperial sits on.

I was a part of the TravAlliance Group, but I also joined a group of 25 wedding planners from 23 countries being hosted by Araceli Lopez Dacosta, Director of Romance, for the Mexico Tourism Board.  I joined this group at the beautiful and serene Banyan Tree Resort for a special Wedding Planners breakfast and tour of the facility. The entire resort had a overwhelming feeling of calm. I can’t imagine how relaxed you would be after one of their spa treatments!

Wedding Planners Breakfast at the Banyan Tree Resort

The view of one of the bungalows with private pool from the patio of one of the bungalows 🙂

The main pool at Banyan Tree Resort

International Wedding Planners on a site visit of Banyan Tree Resort

Here I am with wedding planner Kevin Zhou, of VIP Hosting in Herare, Zimbabwe. He is one of the planners who traveled from 23 different countries to attend the wedding planner group.

Later in the day we went to Encanto Acapulco for a site visit of their beautiful cliff side hotel, followed by a lunch with a view.

The main pool at Encanto Acapulco

The Wedding Planners lunch at Encanto Acapulco.

Our view at lunch

Massage with a view

As you can see, this hotel was stunning and the views were just breathtaking.

I flew back and forth to Acapulco on AeroMexico, by way of Mexico City.  If you haven’t flown AeroMexico, I highly recommend you do.  They have held on to the way flying used to be, with impeccable service, nice planes, hot meals and drinks included.  I have flow with them a number of times and it is always a great experience!

The main pool at Princess Mundo Imperial Hotel.

It was a wonderful five days in Acapulco, and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to go this year’s Tianguis Turistico.  I met some great industry friends and contacts.  Due to our travel schedule, my group had a day on our own, so a couple of us spent the day at the pool, walked the 20 minutes to the local Walmart, and went for dinner in town, because when you are in Mexico, get out and enjoy! 🙂

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