What have you learned along the way that helps you reach clients with the most efficiency and positive energy? What are the most successful ways you have used to internet to promote your business? What are the most helpful in-person methods you use to connect with new clients and keep in touch with past clients (who are a great source of referrals? We're all listening... ! Barbara

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Blogging does not have to be a story or have photos, it can be very simple and reaches so many when you connect it to the other social networking sites. One post goes to about a 1000 places all at once... when you link it to the other sites. It takes about an hour to set it all up and a post every couple of days... I would have to say the point would be to get your online presence increased and more couples the opportunity to find you...

To make a blog you set up a gmail account, while your gmail account is open, open a new tab and put in blogspot.com in the url. This will open a blog with your gmail account. It walks you through the set up. It walks you through picking a template design and lets you post. To post you simply copy and past things from your website, put in some key words and publish...

To set up a facebook business page, you open a facebook account, got to someones business page while your facebook is open and scroll down. On the left hand side it will say, make a business page. Click on that and it will walk you through how to make a business page. When you have made one, there will be tabs allowing you to go to your wall, photos, etc... and more... under more it should say Notes... open up the notes and on the left hand side it will say, import settings or import blog feed, click on that and put in your post atom from the bottom of your blog (on the bottom of your blog there will be a place that says blog atom... click on that and it will open the Atom of your blog on a new page, copy and past the url of your blog atom into your facebook notes page import settings area)

next, while your facebook is still open, open a new window and put in twitter.com , make yourself a twitter... it will walk you through it... then go back to your facebook and put in http://www.facebook.com/twitter in the url and connect your facebook to your open twitter...

Next go into twitter and search for weddings... follow all the wedding professionals that catch your eye or interest. Many will follow you back. Now when you get a following, each time you make a simple post to your blog you will get over 1000 posts online.
Thank you Heather... the internet is our friend and colleague! Barbara
I just was made aware of this on another forum... I am loving this tool... It's called http://copyscape.com/ and it allows you to see where similar wording is posted on the internet...

I put in Barbra's website and saw many great places she has listed her business. I think it's designed to find out if someone has posted your words somewhere online, but I am finding a great resource for finding suggestions for places to market my own business...
I have gotten a good percentage of inquiries from listing myself with a free listing on Google Maps. When couples search on Google, the first thing they see is a little local map with local vendors that match their search. A free way to 'be at the top of a Google Search." Go to http://maps.google.com. On the left column at the bottom of anything else you may see there, there will be a link for listing your biz on Google Maps. Just follow the directions. You can post info, photos, and have your couples write reviews... a good good thing. - Barbara
Some of you have seen this before, but here are some easy tips on improving your SEO with Google, Yahoo, and so on.

SEO: Best Practices
When researching SEO, you can find a ton of articles on the internet. Like all
topics, there is great advice and bad advice. So here are a few guidelines to
keep your site from being penalized by search engines for following bad advice.

The practices for SEO are called white hat or black hat, depending on how search
engines see these practices. In years gone by, most of the black hat techniques
could be used and search engines were none the wiser, today, that is not true
with the complex algorithms of the crawlers. And using black hat will get your
site removed from rankings.

White hat techniques included: proper keyword saturation, content organization,
easy of site navigation, quality of links TO your site, content updated
regularly, content is relevant.

Black hat techniques include: hiding content so that human visitors can't see it
by crawlers can to boost keyword density, keyword stuffing (just lists of
keywords on your site and not actual content), and doorway pages (seen by
crawlers not people). Just to name a few.

While using black hat techniques will get you higher ratings for a short period
of time, it will get you penalized in the long term and I do not recommend using
them at all.

SEO: Keywords and Keyword Density.
Keywords are probably the most important part of getting your site ranked from
day one. These are the words you believe users are going to search for your site
by and you are going to want to use them fairly heavily in your content throughout your website but especially on your landing pages. Most of us have very
small sites (think Best Buy, Sears, Penny's, etc for the big sites), so our main
landing page is our home pages.

On your home page you are going to have several elements. Some are on the page
for everyone to see and others are behind the scenes (and allowed to be there,
promise) which will all work to your advantage.

First all list out all the words you think someone is going to search your site
by and run them through a keyword discovery tool (Google has one) or another tool you are comfortable with. Then weed out
the least popular and probably the very top 2-3 and go with 10 or so from the
middle of the pack.

Put your keywords in your META tags (keyword lists), try to use them in your
titles of your pages (ie: Wisconsin Wedding Officiant (from my site)), and if
you have pictures on any pages, take advantage of the alternate text for them.
One reason is that if someone is visually impaired they still know what the
picture is of in general terms at least (much better than xx123.jpeg), if for
some reason the photo is incompatible with the browser being used, the user
still knows what is in the picture, and crawlers will count that toward your
keyword counts legally.

When writing your content, think of it in blocks. You can have as many blocks as
you are comfortable with on each page, but each block should contain the full
story or complete information in somewhere between 250 and 500 words. At first
just write out what you want people to know for that block of information. Then
start working in your keywords. SEO experts recommend a density on each page of
about 1.5% to 2.5% including all those hidden places like alternate text, META
tags, and titles.

When working with your keywords be careful not to go too far. Some experts say
that search engines start lowering rankings when keyword saturation reaches
something close to 5% and some say it does not happen until around 8%. I would
just recommend keeping keyword saturation under 3.5% on any given page and you
would be safe from being considered a spammer or stuffer.

SEO: Navigation
Again, most of us have smaller sites, and listing our navigation is simple. It
is either a list of buttons across the top or down the left side of the page.
Very few of us have hidden pages, and for the most part those hidden pages are
considered a big no-no, but there is one exception to that.

The exception is if you have a confirmation page for a contact us page or other
form to request services or register for them. When a potential client pushes
send, this page comes up and either thanks them for their time and lets them
know they will be contacted shortly or it shows them what they typed in the
fields and they can check for errors and resubmit if necessary.

Either way, if your site uses on of these pages, it should be indexed on your
site map. If a professional built your site, this was most likely done for you
when the site was submitted to the search engines. If not, you do need to create
a site map on a page, and put in the non indexed pages, such as your
confirmation page and submit it to search engines. This way the search engines
already know what your non-indexed pages are used for and will not penalize your
site for having those pages.

If you have a larger site that has categories and maybe drop down menus for
navigation. Be sure to have a site map available for customers so they can
always find their way to what they want. Also include a home link on each and
every page that links back to your initial portal page. To always allow a person
to find their way back to what they were looking at before, be sure to include a
bread crumb trail (a list of links across the top of where they visited) for
easy access to past pages.

These seem like small things, but can help your SEO and your rating greatly.
When it comes to your website, the little details count.

SEO: Back links
Marketing your site does not have to cost a lot of money, and to be honest, I
have not paid for a lead or advertisement online (other than my website hosting
that is) for three years and we continue to grow and become more popular. A lot
of that is due to the widely varied and solid back links I have to my site.

A great place to start is on the wedding industry sites, and there are a ton of
them out there. I suggest that you register and create links with as many of
these as you can find. Examples to get you started are Decidio, Eventective,
Wedplan, One Wed, Wedding Wire, Gathering Guide, Bridal Tweet, and so on. With
all the people here we could grow that list really long.

Don't forget your local places, such as Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, Yelp, Google
Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and whatever other ones you can find.

Create link exchanges with companies in your area. You aren't likely to do this
with large companies (think Walmart) but you will be able to with other small
businesses. The photographer that was so nice, the venue that had everything
organized, or the DJ who followed every cue and had the music perfect during the
ceremony are all people to get business cards from and give links to on your
site. The more you do this the more likely it is that you will get links back to

A last bit of advice is not to use a link farm. A link farm is a place that you
can create a ton of back links to your site quickly. That does not mean that
they will be related to your field or that you will create links with quality
people (99.9% of the time, you have never even heard of the people requesting a
link exchange). If you are found out to have used a link farm, your ratings will
suffer since search engines do consider this to be a no-no.

The more links coming into your site, the better off you are. It is like getting
votes in a popularity contest and the more votes you have the higher you ratings

SEO: Flash Should you do it?
There is a new trend in websites, and that is to build them completely in flash.
Yes, they cool. They are eye catching. But there is a problem with them. You may
have the coolest site on the web, but if you can't get customers to see it, it
is useless.

Right now, there isn't a web crawler out there that sees flash well. Instead of
being listed line by line like traditional web languages (HTML, XML, CSS,
JavaScript) it is processed differently. So when web crawlers come across flash,
they may over look it and deem your URL empty, or they only see part of the site
and deem it contentless. Either way, your site is doomed to a low volume of
traffic from search engines.

This does not mean that you can't use flash at all. Put in a flash banner, or
some other presentation. Just be sure that you, or the person you hire, uses
traditional web languages to post your content, keywords, and other data. This
way you have the best of both worlds. Flash to entice your clients and a site
the crawlers can find to rank so you get new customers as well.

Some day this may change. When it does, it will be easier on all of us.

A new note on Flash, but I have not fully researched this: Google announced this week that they can crawl flash and get content from it, but to what extent I am not sure at this time. As I find information I will update you.



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