Technology

Why Getting Published Doesn't Help Your SEO

And the few times it does.

Mandala Weddings    magazine cover photo by    Iman Khan

Mandala Weddings magazine cover photo by Iman Khan

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.


Last week I talked about simple edits you can make to your website’s photos to help your SEO to increase your chances of being one of the first search results in Google.

Today, I want to chat about another aspect of SEO, and one that is often misunderstood, even by otherwise savvy marketers.

When it comes to backlinks or inbound links – aka links from other websites that point to your site – there is a lot of well-intentioned, yet inaccurate, advice being doled out. What people tend to mistakenly believe is that getting published anywhere online will help your SEO, especially if the website linking to you is well established.

The idea that Google uses any and all backlinks to your site to improve your search ranking is an incorrect understanding of how SEO works.



How Backlinks/Inbound Links Work:

As a very simplified explanation, there are two kinds of links: “do-follow” and “no-follow."

  • Do-follow links tell Google to give your site SEO credit

  • No-follow links tell Google NOT to give SEO credit for that particular link

No-follow links exist to both cut down on spam and to reward organic, earned content by limiting the ability to purchase links on highly-ranked sites.

Among the links that Google wants counted as no-follow include:

  • links appearing in sponsored posts

  • links in ad graphics or banners

  • links in advertising directories (such as wedding vendor directories)

  • links for reviews or endorsements where products or services were received for free, etc.

You can read more here, but basically, if money or products/services changed hands, those links need to be coded as no-follow.

In addition, because the amount of outbound links a site has on it can sometimes “drain” the host site’s own SEO, many large companies tend to code ALL editorial links as no-follow, not just the links from ads or sponsored content.

These links aren’t being coded as no-follow because the website owner is greedy or wants to be mean to you. What’s usually more motivating to website owners when it comes to following these rules is that if links that Google determines should be no-follow are instead coded as do-follow, they will penalize the site that the link appears on. No publisher wants to risk that.



Websites Where A Backlink Itself Will NOT Help Your SEO:

  • Wikipedia

  • YouTube

  • Vimeo

  • Pinterest

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Twitter

  • Links from lookbooks or magazines hosted on Issuu

  • The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters or other mainstream news websites

  • Vogue or any other Condé Nast website

  • Harper’s Bazaar or any other Hearst website

  • Martha Stewart Weddings or any other Meredith Corporation website

  • Brides.com or any other Dotdash website

  • WeddingWire, The Knot, Bodas.net or any other The Knot Worldwide website

Being published or featured on these sites is still beneficial because they increase your brand’s chance of being discovered. They can drive direct traffic and one of those visitors may fill out your inquiry form. They also lend third-party credibility – the more people talking about you positively, the better. The old marketing adage, “A customer needs to hear about your brand seven times before they buy” is outdated. In today’s world of digital information overload, that number has tripled to 21.

While you should still have a marketing strategy that includes social media and a publishing strategy that shows off your work and level of expertise, the links from these sites do NOT help your SEO.



Websites Where A Backlink Itself May Help Your SEO:

  • Editorial features on most wedding blogs like Over the Moon, Love My Dress, and Style Me Pretty. (Because of the penalties I mentioned above, most of the vendor directories on these blogs follow Google’s rules and are coded as no-follow.)

  • Editorial features on most independently owned wedding magazine websites like Mandala Weddings, Munaluchi Bride, Destination I Do, etc. (Because of the penalties I mentioned above, most magazine online vendor directories follow Google’s rules and are coded as no-follow.)

  • Other wedding professionals’ websites and blogs

  • The show notes or links from an independently owned podcast you appear on (you’ll get SEO credit from links on their own site, not on any links from iTunes, Luminary, or other podcast syndication sites).



How To Check If A Link From Another Website Will Help Your SEO:

The easiest way for me to explain this is to show you, so here’s an example from a recent real wedding featured on MarthaStewartWeddings.com. The photographer for this wedding was the talented Beatrice from Luna de Mare. You can see that below the photo the editors credited her company with a link directly to her website, as they should:

To check whether or not the credit link is helping your SEO, here’s what to do:

  1. If using Chrome, right-click on the web page and select “View Page Source.” (If using Safari, follow these instructions for this step.)

  2. Hit Ctrl+F and type your search term into the Finder’s search bar. In this case I typed in the Luna de Mare photography website’s URL.

  3. The link code will look something like this:

    “a href=YourUrl” rel=”blah” “blah”>Your Company Name</a

In this case, the ‘rel’ attribute in the code tells search engines what the relationship should be between the host website and the linked website.

If the text following the ‘rel’ attribute says “nofollow” it is telling Google that specific link should not be counted for SEO.

If it says “dofollow” or isn’t followed by specific instructive text or the ‘rel’ attribute isn’t included at all, it tells Google to give that link SEO credit.

This is a very simplified explanation, but that’s the gist of what you need to look for if you’re checking the potential SEO benefit for your own links.

Back to the example of Beatrice’s feature on Martha Stewart Weddings. You can see from the screenshot below that the link to her site is coded as “nofollow” which means that while being featured is valuable for her in many ways, she is not getting any SEO boost from that particular link:

(Splendid Pro Tip: ‘noopener’ and ‘noreferrer’ do not mean the same thing as ‘nofollow’)

(Splendid Pro Tip: ‘noopener’ and ‘noreferrer’ do not mean the same thing as ‘nofollow’)

Again, this is not a case of Martha Stewart Weddings, or its parent company Meredith Corporation, “being mean” to the wedding professionals who submit their work for publication. It’s a case of Meredith putting a priority on protecting their own business interests.

In addition, in most large companies these codes are set as the default by the tech department and individual editors may not even have any idea the links in the online articles they publish are set up this way.

There are a ton of benefits that come from getting published online and you should definitely still submit your work. If you’re doing it for the SEO benefit though, do some homework as you’re developing your publishing strategy so you can figure out which sites will best help you achieve those goals.

3 Not-So-Glam Things You Need to Do for Your Wedding Business

Staying on top of #allthethings

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.


Many wedding professionals have a monthly “admin day” – a day where they tackle every mundane task that needs to be done each month. This includes sending financial info to their CPA, writing the monthly rent check for their studio, catching up on filing, planning out their social media posts, etc. Other people opt to do this weekly to keep the monthly catch-up to a minimum.

Some to-do’s only need to be done about once a year and as such tend to fall in the “out of sight, out of mind” category. Because of this, they’re remembered once the engagement season inquiries start coming in, which of course is when many wedding professionals are busy with holiday parties and decor installations for their social and corporate clients.

Setting aside an admin day just for your once-a-year updates before you’re in the thick of the holiday season means you’ll be able to reply immediately to an inquiry and send your professionally branded up-to-date information right from the Dropbox app on your phone.

Three of the things you may want to update include:

Number 1:

Informational lookbooks or PDFs highlighting your process in greater detail with updated imagery and details for 2020.

Splendid Pro Tip: Never send a potential client an itemized list of what you offer on a boring white Word document with just your logo pasted at the top, especially if you’re trying to brand your company as stylish and detail-oriented (wedding planners, florists, photographers, etc).

If you aren’t great with graphic design, you can use a program like Canva to DIY a beautiful PDF or hire a professional designer to help keep your brand collateral consistent. There are tons of great graphic designers, but if you need one, Kelly Ashworth is my go-to.

Number 2:

A list of colleagues you trust and are happy to refer if you are already booked for that date or if the wedding isn’t a fit for some reason (budget, etc).

Splendid Pro Tip: If you are booked, busy, and #blessed for the date of an inquiry, always refer another wedding pro who may be able to help them. The best way is to send a customized referral, the second best is to have a beautifully branded PDF with the contact info of colleagues you trust to take care of them. Brides and grooms tend to remember who was helpful, and you may not have landed that particular wedding, but you will get positive word-of-mouth.

Number 3:

Any sales scripts you may use to help guide your conversations on the phone or via email. While these should always be customized and NOT canned auto-replies to inquiries, it can still be helpful to have the basic gist of what you’ll say saved in your Dropbox app so you can access it at any time.

Splendid Pro Tip: Automated and canned replies may help you feel more organized and efficient behind the scenes, but they make you look cold and uncaring. This is especially true if you work in the luxury wedding market. High-end means high-touch – you get paid more because you have to give more personal attention.


These are not glamorous things to work on, but administrative tasks rarely are. Once engagement season begins, you’ll be glad you knocked them off your to-do list ahead of time.

5 Tech Products I Use To Make My Consulting Calls Run Smoothly


As a business consultant in the wedding industry, I often work with big-box retailers to fine-tune their bridal registry experience or with hotels to revamp their outdated wedding sales programming. Some of my favorite challenges to tackle, though, are the short-term projects that I get to work on with wedding pros via phone or in-person consulting. Small creative businesses are the backbone of the wedding industry and I love seeing people change the course of their business relatively quickly through focused strategy.

Over the years (and through a lot of trial and error), I've created a system that's allowed me to streamline both the behind-the-scenes and client experience of these consulting calls. While the process for ongoing projects looks a little different, here are five technology products that have made my phone consulting process run much more smoothly:
 

1. Calendly

Calendly is hands down the best program for scheduling calls and meetings. No more emailing back and forth, meaning you can say goodbye to the, “Oh wait, never mind, that time is no longer available, what about Tuesday instead?” email chains that slowly drive each of us crazy.

It has both free and paid plans and is super customizable, allowing you to opt for a different availability schedule each day. This lets me take things like random school breaks or half-days into account as I plan out my month. I've embedded mine on a dedicated page on my site so that I can include more info along with it. 
 

2. UberConference

I switched to using UberConference for all my consulting calls and it is one of the best tech decisions I’ve made. I upgraded to a dedicated area code and phone number that I got to choose, but there are also free options. 

UberConference works similarly to several conference call products and includes a screensharing option. It also allows my international clients to connect to the call online via their earbuds or computer's mic and speakers so that they don't have to incur expensive long distance phone bills. 

The aspect that won my loyalty, though, was the quality and reliability of its recording feature. Since I record consulting calls for clients to keep and listen back to later on, I need it to work every time, without fail. In the past I’ve dealt with the nightmare of services and apps not working the way they should: recording with subpar audio quality, or recording and then not playing back, or not turning on at all when they were supposed to. With UberConference I never have to think about this. It just works. Automatically. Every time.


3. Squarespace

I have admittedly not always been the biggest fan of Squarespace, but giving credit where it is due: they saw where they needed to improve and improved – a practice I think we all try to incorporate in our own lives and companies.

I view the annual fee (also payable as a monthly fee) as paying for ongoing tech support. Whenever Apple, Google, Samsung, or some obscure company I've never heard of releases a new phone with new sizing ratios, or new standards are introduced in responsive design, Squarespace's engineers automatically implement the changes. This means that my site works on every device, anywhere in the world, all the time.

Their sites are also designed with digital behavioral psychology in mind, meaning they don't just look pretty, they are set up based on how people actually navigate the web. They may not be the ideal solution for everyone, but one of my priorities is not having to worry about the above issues, ever.

One of Squarespace's features is the ability to create password protected sections. I use these to create a Splendid Dashboard for each phone consulting client. This is where the recordings of each call are housed so they can access them forever, as well as other client-specific documents and information. It also has info on upcoming consulting sessions, etc. 
 

4. Dropbox

Each client gets their own folder in Dropbox and everything is stored in the cloud via their Smart Sync feature. I keep everything about a client in their Dropbox file: my notes and research, PDFs and files they share with me, photos, videos, etc. Pretty standard practice for most of us these days, but as someone who has previously lost hours and hours worth of work because of hard drive crashes, it's well worth the monthly fee. 


5. TurboScan Pro

I'm old school in that I still take notes by hand, always in cursive. Whether on legal pads, in notebooks, or in the margins of my Day Designer, whenever an idea hits, I prefer to get it out of my head and onto actual paper. I also often take notes during my calls by hand.

Part of my workflow checklist for consulting calls includes using TurboScan Pro to immediately digitize my notes afterwards. It literally takes less than a minute to scan my notes, name the file, and export as a PDF to the client's folder in Dropbox. Everything is readable online and I never have to worry about not having access to certain notes when I'm out of town because they're in a filing cabinet in my office back home. 

I don't remember what the free version offers, but I paid $5.99 to upgrade to the pro version and use it daily. The app currently has around 132k reviews with a 4.9 star rating, so clearly I'm not the only one who loves it.
 

I'm not someone who loves to use a million complicated tech tools to accomplish a task. The five products above may seem pretty basic, but in my opinion, what actually gets used is what works best, and for me, the less bells and whistles, the better.