Recently I read a controversial Insider magazine article from September 2022 that questioned the effectiveness of major wedding-industry platforms. In the story, several industry professionals detailed their experiences of paying thousands of dollars for what were supposed to be high-profile listings on these “big name” sites in hopes of casting a wider net for customers. But all interviewees reported low return on investment, netting little more than spam messages and few prime leads. With that being said, I have spoken to many wedding vendors who get excellent responses and numerous bookings from advertising on sites like WeddingWire and The Knot.
So what’s going on here?
Crunching the Numbers
First, let’s look at some stats on the monthly search-engine traffic range from leading platforms that focus on local vendors, according to the reporting tool Ubersuggest:
- WeddingWire: 4-8 million
- The Knot: 15-25 million
- Here Comes The Guide: 600,000-1 million
- Wedding Spot: 760,000-1.75 million
Clearly, the numbers are appealing to wedding vendors who are hoping to capture just a fraction of those site’s visitors. But it’s important to keep in mind these platforms are spending a tremendous amount of money and time in local SEO, competing with every local vendor in the country to intercept traffic that would have been meant for local vendors and bringing them to their platforms to deliver them to their advertisers. And it’s a brilliant strategy that often nets advertisers meaningful results.
But what can often happen is that potential customers search for a business by name, like a fictional venue I’ll call “Haven”. Once a customer sees a listing for that business, they can click on it, thinking they’re going to Haven’s site while actually landing on a platform where the venue is listed. It appears, then, that platform drove that customer to Haven, when really it was the customer’s original Google search for that venue.
The debate is whether the owners of Haven would have gotten a better return on investment by putting marketing dollars into their own SEO, allowing them to rank higher without the help of advertising platforms.
And that’s where I come in to help.
The Key to Local SEO
My first SEO priority when a client hires me to design or improve their website for better visibility is focusing on ranking with their Google Business Profile in the set of local businesses that Google will show in just about any search whether local words are included in the search—like a specific town or region—or just terms like “wedding photographer,” where, in this particular case, Google will know the area that the client the site visitor is searching from, and deliver local results based on that knowledge.
Fortunately for local vendors, a business has to actually be located in or serve that particular geographic area to be listed in that directory. The bottom line is that these national platforms cannot be included in the directory of Google Business Profiles so ranking higher is less competitive.
On those searches that I mentioned earlier, Google will typically deliver the top three results prominently on the first page of Google – this is known as “the 3-pack”. These listings typically pop because they’re listed as a cluster and they include the amount of reviews. Wedding vendors have an excellent opportunity to take charge of improving their ranking which you could read about in this article.
Questions to Consider
So, should you use an industry platform to help improve your digital marketing and SEO? My answer is that’s a personal decision for every business owner. Here are some questions you should consider:
- Who are you competing with on each platform?
- Do you have a comparable amount of reviews on that platform with your competitors?
- If not, are you prepared to work hard to get more reviews, which will undoubtedly make your listing more clickable?
- How strong is your profile? Keep in mind the platforms typically provide standard landing-page templates, which means there is not much room for customization to differentiate yourself from competitors who are also on the platform. So it’s important to hire a professional writer and/or who can curate the content and carefully choose the most compelling images to help maximize your visibility on the platform. Also remember that this isn’t a one-and-done process but rather a continuous work in progress.
- How strong is your website? Industry platforms’ main skill is to drive traffic to your website so you can have your own exclusive chance to win their interest. If your analytics tell you that you’re getting a lot of traffic from these platforms, they are doing their job. How elegantly you present your business on your website is completely up to you. If you need a new website and can’t afford it, don’t stay stagnant. Here is a before and after study of some websites that were either or redesigned.
- How well does the platform cover your area? Are you paying for larger areas that are
costly and too far away for you to really benefit in a meaningful way?
If you want to discuss these questions or others, pick a time to chat or email me at [email protected].