In a nutshell, a SEO strategy will:

  • Map out opportunities.
  • Identify content ideas that will assist in increasing traffic from organic search.
  • Provide a timeline of KPIs and how to execute the required tasks.

This is arguably the most important component of your SEO campaign as you are now running the race. Your SEO strategy is what will bring in new visitors to your website and allow you to convert them into leads and paying customers.

1. Pick the right keywords to target.

If you live and serve a major city, the chance of ranking for wedding photographer + {city name} is going to be extremely difficult.

This is because from your keyword research, you will know that this type of keyword has the most search volume. And when you look at the SERP for this query, you will likely see:

  • 1-2 very established wedding media outlets (theknot.com, junebugweddings.com, weddingwire.com).
  • 1-2 directory websites (expertise.com, peerspace.com).
  • 5-6 wedding photographer websites.

I can guarantee you that trying to rank for any of the following keywords will be extremely difficult for most of you:

  • wedding photographer NYC
  • wedding photographer Los Angeles
  • wedding photographer Phoenix
  • wedding photographer San Diego
  • wedding photographer Santa Barbara
  • wedding photographer Seattle

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to rank for wedding photographer + {city name}. With the right type of content strategy and authority building, it can be achievable within 2-3 years. As such, ranking for wedding photographer + {city name} should be a long term goal that works in conjunction with your month-to-month SEO efforts.

Now that we have established that wedding photographer + {city name} is not the best use of your time, let’s explore a content strategy that has been very effective for a past wedding photography client of mine based in Sydney, Australia.

What if you could get in front of marrying couples before they were even looking for a wedding photographer?

Let me illustrate.

Q: What is the first thing that a recently engaged couple will search for?

A: It’s the wedding venue.

The wedding venue is the most costly aspect of a wedding. Therefore, finding the right one that is available and fits within their budget and requirements is the most critical decision a marrying couple will make. In fact, many couples will shift their wedding date in order to accommodate the right wedding reception venue.

This goes to show how significant the wedding venue decision making process is and this is where you can have your first interaction with them.

This strategy is effective for wedding photographers because finding essential information on guest capacity, restrictions, and pricing is extremely time-consuming. Wedding venues are notorious for deliberately not displaying this information publicly to help their sales team bring couples in for a site visit.

This is your opportunity. Instead of trying to rank for wedding photographer + {city name}, rank for {wedding venue name} + wedding.

Let’s say you service the Austin – Georgetown area of Texas.

As we have already established, wedding photographer Austin and wedding photographer Georgetown will be very difficult from the beginning as almost every wedding photographer within a 50 mile radius will be trying to rank for these keywords.

Instead, pick a few of the smaller wedding venues in Georgetown to review as a wedding photographer.

For example:

  • Celebrino Event Center
  • Berry Creek Country Club
  • Dimebox Ballroom at Fire and Ice Hall

2. Publish wedding venue information pages.

Once you have made yourself a list of wedding venues, the next step is to contact each wedding venue to gather as much information as you can.

I suggest getting the following information from each wedding venue or event space for hire:

  • Max seated capacity
  • Minimum spend (expressed as dollar value or head count)
  • Approximate or starting price per pax
  • Disabled access
  • Deposit and booking process
  • Cancellation policy
  • Name of venue manager and their contact details

Now that you have collected all the essential information that a bride will want to know, it is time to create a landing page for the venue on your website.

Present all the information and add your own insights as a professional wedding photographer. For example, you can provide a list of nearby locations for the best bridal portraits – this will give the page the extra depth that other competing pages lack.

If you have a portfolio from the wedding venue, insert a gallery of images! I’m pretty sure every bride wants to picture how their wedding will look like and by including your own images, you can showcase your photography.

Publish the page and submit it to Google Search Console for indexing.

If you have followed my SEO checklist, Google should be able to discover your new landing page and add it to its index.

Repeat this process until you run out of wedding venues to review.

Here is a page that I created for jackchauvel.com – it still ranks for one of the most popular wedding venues in NSW.

3. Measure measure measure!

Recall how in the very beginning of this SEO guide that I said SEO is a diagnostic process?

SEO should be data-driven and the decisions you make should always be supported by your own data. This is because every website is unique and every single SERP and keyword has its own unique set of rules.

Therefore, you should always rely on your own data sources to make informed decisions on what to address. This is why it is imperative that you have connected Google Analytics and Google Search Console to your website.

Trust me, the wedding venue content strategy works.

Here is a screengrab from a past client of mine who is a wedding photographer in Sydney, Australia. As you can see, clicks and impressions have been on an upward trend in the past 12 months.

In the short 9 months that I worked on the account, I was able to get the client ranking for a number of lucrative wedding venue searches (see below).

The best thing about this SEO strategy is that you don’t even need to have photographed a wedding at the venue before and it is a great way to foster a relationship with each wedding venue.

But don’t just take my word for it. Review your Search Console data periodically to see if any of your wedding venue landing pages have started to get impressions and clicks.

4. Create content that helps Google understand your business.

Publishing venue information pages is not enough. This is because Google has yet. to understand why it should promote your page over others.

Think about it. If you were looking for a reliable mechanic, would you trust a website that sells car audio parts?

Perhaps you would if the website is a well-known company.

Trust is everything in SEO and there are no shortcuts to gaining and keeping trust.

At this stage, Google does not trust you and while it can see that you are publishing useful information, the jury is still out.

To combat this, your next step is to create content that explains to the search engine why a wedding photographer website should be in the top results for wedding venue related keywords.

You can do this by developing your website’s relevance to your service area.

Let’s say you service the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

Obviously, wedding photographer San Francisco will be something you would love to rank for. But getting there will take a fair bit of work and one of the first things you can do is to start publishing content that makes it easy for Google to associate your website with wedding photography related queries within the San Francisco bay area.

You can publish a comprehensive page that lists every single wedding venue in San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Oakland, Alameda, Richmond, and San Jose.

Alternatively, you can target smaller areas within the Bay Area per page.

Or you can publish a blog post that reviews a number of wedding venues that fit a certain requirement.

Some content ideas include:

  • Best wedding receptions with high ceilings
  • Best venues for small weddings
  • Best hotels for wedding receptions
  • Best garden theme wedding venues
  • Best indoor wedding ceremony venues in San Francisco

This is the exact strategy I used to rank a website for the keyword indoor wedding venues Sydney.

As you can see from the above screenshot from my Search Console, the page ranks for a number of keywords and has brought in some website visitors in the past 3 months.

In conclusion, the possibilities are endless and by methodically publishing this type of useful information, you can build your website’s authority and relevance for a range of strategic keywords.

5. Enrich your SERP visibility with FAQPage rich results.

Rich results are additional elements that are displayed with your blue link in Google SERPs. They can be very effective at drawing attention to your page and entice people to click on your page over others.

Adding FAQPage structured data is one of my favorite SEO hacks but you should only do this when your venue page is moving up to page 2 of the SERPs. This is because rich results will only display for results on page 1.

This is what FAQPage rich results looks like in the real world (see below).

At the time of writing:

  • Emoji’s work
  • Bold and italic formatting work in FAQ markup.
  • Links in FAQ markup works.
  • Bullet lists and numbered lists work in FAQ markup.
  • Only 3 pages per SERP will display FAQ rich results.
  • A maximum of 10 questions and answers can be displayed per rich result.
  • A maximum of 2 questions and answers can be displayed per rich result.

6. Build trust and authority to your website.

August 2020 update: Google now references E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) to its search quality documentation.

Producing great and useful content will only get you so far.

As Google continues to give more real estate to ad placements, the competition for the top remaining spots in the organical search results will only intensify.

From the recent major core algorithm update in May 2020 it was obvious that Google had taken a preference at promoting websites that had authority in the SERPs.

Therefore, if your website does not have adequate trust signals, getting to the top 3-5 spots is going to be impossible.

Acquiring linked mentions from other websites is the only way how the Google algorithm can judge your website’s authority. This is why in the SEO checklist you were tasked with getting a few backlinks from your colleagues within the industry.

Some links are better than others and some are downright toxic and should be avoided.

Do not ever buy links from Fiverr. Ever.

If we believe that the best links are those that come from authoritative sites, how do we decide what an authoritative site is?

Pick a super competitive keyword (e.g., wedding photographers) and see what are the top 3 websites that show up in the SERPs. Chances are that those websites are deemed by the Google algorightm as being trusted sources.

The websites that you see on page 1 of the SERPs usually indicate that Google trusts them

From the above example, it is clear that Google favors weddingwire.com, expertise.com, harpershazaar.com and junebugweddings.com as trusted sources of information when it comes to wedding photographer related queries.

Therefore, find a way for these websites to link to you.

You can do this by a few ways:

  • A paid feature (as an advertiser).
  • Send them a gallery of images for them to use freely.
  • Via some other exchange of value.

7. Rank internal pages for commercial keywords.

Up until now you have not done anything directly to rank for wedding photographer + {city name} and if you have come this far, your homepage should have gained some trust and authority.

Assuming that page 1 of the SERP for the keyword wedding photographer + {city name}, now is the time to flex the compounding factor of your SEO efforts.

You’ll achieve this by shifting the primary keyword away from your homepage and onto an internal page.

This phase involves a few moves and may take a few months.

First, you will need to create a new landing page. This will allow you to set a URL slug with the exact match keyword (e.g., /wedding-photographer-austin-tx/).

Then you can use variations of this keyword in the page title, H1 and various H2 tags. For example, you can use partial match variations such as ‘top wedding photographer in Austin’, ‘pre wedding photographer Austlin’, and ‘wedding photography Austin’.

Publish the page and submit it to Search Console for priority crawling and indexing.

Third, you will need to link to this page from your homepage, preferably using the exact match achor text.

If possible, build some links to this new page. Remember those industry colleagues who linked out to you before? Ask them to change the link to your new ‘money’ page.

Next, pull up your Google Analytics to identify the top venue pages that get the most amount of website visitors. You are now going to make sure that each of these venue landing pages internally link to your new money page.

At the same time, you can link out to the most popular wedding venue landing pages from your new money page.

What you are trying to achieve is to build connections and associations between existing pages to the new. This will help seach engines trust the new content quicker.

After 2-3 weeks, jump into Search Console to see if the new page has registered any new impressions. If it has then this is a good sign.

Now your task is to optimize the keyword density of the money page and the best way to do this is via a data-driven decision-making process.

For this task, I recommend paying for a monthly subscription to a SEO tool called SURFER.

PS – when you sign up to SURFER using this link I will receive an affiliate commission.

SURFER has the ability to run analyses based on geolocation serves – this will often produce more realistic results so that your data can be more accurate

When you run a report in SURFER, you can select to analyze a keyword at a national level or at a major city level.

It is probably best to run a SERP Analyzer report at a city level as this will gie you the most accurate results and ranking pages to compare with the True Density tool.

As you would expect, running the same keyword at a national level (e.g., United States) will yield different SERP results at a major city level (e.g., Miami).

SURFER produces an overwhelming amount of data and it is easy to get lost in how much information it can provide. For the purpose of this objective, you want to compare your new money page against ranking competitors and the True Density function of SURFER will be a great starting point.

The best feature of SURFER SERP Analyzer is the True Density tool

The best way to tackle this list of recommendations is to start from the hightest relevance and work your way down.

Do not try to make everything green.

You must need to apply some critical thinking as True Density is just a formula. It does not take into account many things so you still need to use your better judgement.

Now repeat this process for other strategic keywords. For example, build out your online presence for surrounding suburbs and cities with unique geo-location landing pages.

Want to learn how to apply SEO like this?

For years I have recommended clients to invest in customer education to showcase their expertise. So watch me practice what I preach by showing you the exact process I deploy for my clients.

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