A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Eddie Babbage on the The Wedding Industry Insider podcastand one of the questions he asked was how I built my wedding planning business so quickly back when I first started in 2004. My answer was simple: Google.
Back then, I was living in Boston and marriage equality had just come to the state. Of course same-sex couples were going to be Googling “gay wedding planner” – and because that was so obvious to me, I committed my resources to Google Adwords (and taught myself a thing or two about meta tags and keywords). Without much more marketing effort, the phone started ringing, and, to my surprise, I was hearing from media as much as couples. Reporters were contacting me to learn more about my business and its’ goal to be an advocate for these couples navigating a traditional industry. News articles followed, most of which linked to my website, and soon my website was on the first page of Google organically, without any paid Adwords.
When I decided to open a NY office of my company after marriage equality came to the state, I followed the same formula. I added keywords like “NYC gay wedding planner” to my website, created a dedicated NY weddings page, and was showing up on the first page of Google when the law officially changed on June 24, 2011. The next day my phone started ringing with calls from reporters, who wrote articles with links, and, you get the picture.
A few weeks later, I decided to create NYC elopement packages, but would need to market them in states that didn’t have same-sex marriage, so I went back to Google Adwords campaigns strategically appearing in cities like Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and more. I knew couples there would be searching the internet with LGBT-specific search terms. The formula worked.
How is this years-old advice still relevant? Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of conversations with wedding vendors who want to be the overtly LGBTQ-friendly beacon of light in the sea of more conservative / non-inclusive vendors in the area. One way they can do that is to show up on the first page of Google. According to the 2017 WeddingWire Newlywed Report, 20% of couples are still searching with those LGBT-specific terms, especially in places where they might fear rejection. This is their top priority. The good news for you is that most vendors don’t bother with LGBT-specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so it could be easy for you to position yourself, especially in a quiet market.
Of course, this advice is irrelevant if LGBTQ couples don’t feel included or represented when they visit your website. You have to do that first.
My advice is different for those of you who service major blue cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and others. In those cities, LGBTQ couples expect your friendliness to be a given. They are less fearful of rejection, so they are less likely to search LGBTQ-specific search terms, and your SEO is less important (though good SEO always helps). Assuming your portfolio and other marketing materials are inclusive (duh), those things will drive an LGBTQ couple’s decision to contact you.
My bottom line: don’t ignore the most basic form of marketing, getting found on the first page of Google. SEO still matters. And yes, we can help your business get found. Don't hesitate to reach out.