Internet Marketing for Publications: Reviewing PerfectWeddingGuide.com
Ian Lurie Jan 31 2008
The latest victim in my site review series is PerfectWeddingGuide.com.
I’ve turned this review into a quick primer on internet marketing strategies for publications. Rex’s site is a perfect case study insofar as he’s in a very competitive space, and lives (I assume) on visitors and pageviews. More visitors and pageviews mean more advertising, and more money.
1. Remember Your Audience
First rule of internet marketing: Know who you’re talking to. This site caters to folks who are planning weddings. From long experience, we know certain common characteristics define someone who’s planning a wedding:
- They’re frazzled.
- They’re in a hurry.
- They’re mostly women.
- They don’t want to see an image of an absurdly thin, relaxed looking bride.
- They’re in a hurry.
- They’re frazzled.
If you want folks to stay on the site and really use it (which means more pageviews) you’ll need to:
- Make your pages load a lot faster with better code. On my household wireless connection, which is fast, your site took about 15 seconds to load. The slow load time is actually a slow rendering time: You need to recode your site using XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2. That will remove a lot of inline code, speed loading and rendering times, make your site more search friendly, and make geeks like me tingle with pleasure.
- Make navigation easier. Use a larger typeface, and increase line spacing. I say this all the time. But it’s far easier to navigate and read. Your home page is very difficult for a nearly-40-year-old like me.
- Break up the navigation. Your top bar navigation gets lost. Break it up! Make the ‘Free Copy’ a big, fat call to action instead of a nearly-invisible link. Provide more space above and below the nav bar.
- More empty space! There’s nothing wrong with using a little empty space to break up a page.
- Remember the ‘F’ shape. Folks browse sites in an F shape: Across the top, across the top 1/3, and then down the left. Put the most important stuff between the tines of the F.
2. Dress Appropriately
You wear a tuxedo to a wedding and a bathing suit to a beach. Right now, your site’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt with mustard stains on it.
I mean this in the nicest way – seriously. Your site’s design would work if you were selling something else. But your audience wants fun, or gloss, or both.
I know you hate to hear this, but you need to create a new look, following the guidelines above. Think simplicity.
3. Get the Search Engines On Your Side
Right now, your site isn’t particularly well-optimized for what I assume is your target phrase: “Wedding Planning”.
Every title tag on the site should have some permutation on that phrase, if it’s at all relevant to the page.
In the footer, have a link to the home page of the entire site with ‘Wedding Planning’ in the text.
Search engines are structured thinkers – keep that in mind and build accordingly.
4. Sound (look) Smart: Dump, or Speed Up, the Animation
You have an animated bit at the top of most regional wedding pages. It’s cute, but so slow that I’ve moved on to the next page – or site – by the time it’s loaded.
I’d either dump it, or consider a faster, lighter script.
5. Make a Connection: Sell Registration
Tell me why I should register before I click on the ‘register’ link. Do I get something cool? More information? Access to cool tools?
Registered users are your e-mail list, your selling floor and your most loyal audience. Get more of them!
6. Sound Smart, 2: Write More Content
Bottom line, you’re a publication. You need to produce more content, likely dealing with each region. I’d suggest something like putting together ‘packages’ of different wedding service providers so that brides-to-be can grab a quick list.
Good Site, Now Get Out There!
You have a great directory. That’s the least fun part: Getting all those vendors.
Now, you need to get – and keep – more visitors. That’s the fun part!
Note: You might also want to look at my article on SEO tips for newspapers and publications. Some of it’s applicable to your site.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint.He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More