Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Guest Post by Misti Marquette Cooke.

This is a completely real and honest post about what I’ve learned about SEO and marketing our destination photography business from Mexico.  For many photographers, we get our first camera and think that once we learn how to use it correctly, we’ll have a cash cow on our hands! It might seem that all it takes is shooting an event, editing, and of course, getting paid. But I have found the biggest part of building a photography business is…marketing and SEO.

Over a year ago, I decided to build our website with no prior website experience. I went to Youtube, found an awesome 2.5-hour long tutorial, and followed it to a tee.  I ended up spending every day for 2 months learning a little coding, some HTML, web pixel sizing, and everything else that is boring, technical, and necessary.

And then…I waited. I patted myself on the back and thought, “mission accomplished”. I went to the beach, drank a piña colada, and thought I’d just wait for the customers to start rolling in. I figured Google would automatically do the rest and we’d be on the first page in no time…boy, was I ever wrong!

Looking back, I had no idea what I was doing – and we had moved our whole life to another country to start this business (Hi, my name is Misti and I’m a risk-taker.)

I’ve created a pie chart to illustrate my fantasy/care-free life vs. reality, so you really get the picture:

Destination Pie ChartFantasy vs. Reality
One night, there was a game-changer. We met some friends at an animal shelter fundraiser, who are website and SEO experts. My friend said to me, “What are you doing for SEO?” S..E..What? Search Engine Optimization. (aka Google-ability) I had never even heard of it! And so it all began… my journey into this crazy internet marketing world.

Fortunately, our first year in Playa del Carmen we received a lot of business thanks to Trip Advisor recommendations and referrals from former clients, and I am forever thankful for them… because it certainly wasn’t my Google skills! Word of mouth and referrals can be your best friend too – so don’t forget a little face to face interaction.

Today, I’m still learning something new every day on what it takes to get listed on page one for Google. I’ve found it is a lot of work (and money), and creating a monthly marketing budget is necessary, because ultimately ‘It takes money, to make money’.

Here are my top 7 SEO tips for your Wedding Business:

1. Add Homepage Content

The first page of your website should have words. A lot of them. And keywords at that. For example, I want to be found for “Playa del Carmen Photographer” on Google, so those words are definitely in the text on my homepage.

2. Do Not “Over-Optimize” Your Keywords

I would not want to write “Playa del Carmen Photographer” over and over again on my homepage. Google will think you are spam and “zap” your website from search results. So use other words that could be relatable like in my case, “Mayan Riviera Photography”, “Cozumel Weddings”, etc.

3. Keyword Your Photos Too

Most websites will allow you to keyword your photos. Once again, change up your words and do not write the same words several times. I keyword not only for my area but for specific venues. “Gran Porto Real Weddings”, “Barcelo Resort Wedding Photos”. Think of terms people might do a Google image search for in your area and use those.

4. Content, Content, Content

When I first made my website, I had very little text anywhere. I wanted a clean, photo-driven layout. While I still prefer that look, it’s just not preferred in Google’s eyes. The text will win over photos, every time. So blog, create pages with content, and keep up with it!

5. Update Your Site Often

Even if it’s a little change here and there each week, Google likes to see fresh content. This is why blog writing is important! It’s 2 birds, 1 stone (I hate that saying, poor birds) – Blog writing updates your website and gives you more content. Check and mate!

6. Get Outside Links

I had read something terrible about getting outside links, and totally steered away from it – which was my biggest mistake of all! When your website URL is listed on other quality websites, this tells Google that your website must be important and they bump you up in the rankings. The key is to get quality links, and not to get too many at once. Search terms like wedding directory listings, photography membership listings, etc. Search around for what suits your company and your budget.

Here’s my newest outside link advice: Write your alma-mater and see if you can be listed as an alumni business on their website. University websites are huge, high-quality websites, and being listed on one (or a few) of those, could be a game-changer!

7. Use Facebook Ads

Facebook is a great way of getting your name out there and being able to interact with potential clients on a daily basis. Of course, like many things in life, it’s not free. But it is cheap (in the world of marketing). You can set even a low daily budget like $1.00 – target your demographic and Facebook will advertise your page on news feeds. It’s really simple, cost-effective, and can get you a lot of page likes for your business.

This is only the beginning and there’s a whole lifetime of learning ahead.

Maybe when I’m the next big thing, I can hire my own marketing team and have some more beach time again (I’m coming for you my sweet little piña coladas) but until then, I’ll love every second of all this hard work and crazy ride to achieve what I want. Because, how much gratitude is given to success if it didn’t take hard work to get there?

How do you use SEO for your wedding business?

Let us know in the Book More Brides Facebook Tribe!

Misti from Bohemia Photography

About the Author:

Misti Marquette Cooke owns Bohemia Photography with her husband, a destination wedding photography business out of beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Photos and Graphics by Bohemia Photography.