My incredibly complex SEO strategy

Of Offbeat Bride's 500,000 unique monthly users ("unique users" being an analytics term, although my users ARE very unique in a more general sense), almost half come to the site from a search engine.

The site is a top result for pretty common, non-offbeat searches like "wedding invitation wording," "wedding readings," "father daughter dance songs" and "first dance songs" and that's how about 15,000 people find Offbeat Bride every day.

So the question then becomes, what incredibly brilliant SEO strategy did I use to get traffic like this?

Here's my answer: Consistently produce original content people can't find elsewhere, and don't be shady.

Really, that's it. I mean, there are a few other things I do, but I don't think they have nearly as much impact as simply consistently producing original content that hasn't already been published all over the web. "Curating" is for Pinterest. For Google (and people!) to like your blog, you need to do more than paste a bunch of photos you found on other people's websites.

There's an entire industry that's built up around SEO marketing and consulting and for the most part, 90% of it is scammy. Google's algorithms are smart, and they reward sites that consistently produce original content and aren't shady.

I do have a few other tips, but they're small potatoes:

  • Use WordPress
  • Use literal, descriptive titles (If you need to be clever, use colons: Clever title: literal descriptor. For instance: The unplugged wedding: couples tell guests to put down their devices)
  • Follow this permalink formula: [location]-[descriptor]-wedding. For example: http://offbeatbride.com/2012/06/belize-ruins-wedding and http://offbeatbride.com/2012/06/arizona-nerd-wedding
  • In picture posts, always make sure you describe what's in the photos with text

But seriously? That's about it. Consistently produce original content people can't find elsewhere, and don't be shady.

  1. In the first paragraph: "about come to the site from a search engine". About what?

    0 agree
  2. I'm curious about using WordPress, and how using a certain platform helps with SEO more than over, for example, Blogger, which is Google's own platform? After reading further I realized I haven't been able to figure out how to alter my permalink in Blogger, but that can't be the only reason. I also agree about alt-text being super important and it's something I need to go back and fix on all my older posts. I really love this behind the scenes stuff, thanks!

    0 agree
  3. I really appreciate that you all are GENUINE here, and NOT spammy, as opposed to…most other wedding sites.

    That is what will keep me reading here, even long after my wedding in a few months.

    Long live OBB! :D

    4 agree
  4. I love this because it's true and it's not evil. In my job I am so tired of hearing about the brilliance of whatever super-awesome-marketing-guru-evangelist-of-seo a given client is working with. If I feel confident in my relationship with the client, I always tell them that all they're likely paying for are lame black-hate techniques that are shady and won't do much anyway.

    My big question is, how do you generate so much original content? Where do the story ideas come from? I know you have meetings and whatnot, but do you have any techniques for thinking up new stories? (I ask because the OBE, more than any other blogs I can think of, consistently produces original content).

    0 agree
    • Crowd-sourcing, baby!

      On Offbeat Bride, most of our ideas come submissions (real weddings) or the Offbeat Bride Tribe, where we see brides dealing with wedding challenges day after day after day. When we see issues come up enough times for enough people, we know it's time to crank out a post about the subject (or ask Tribe members if we can publish their work as a main blog guestpost).

      On Offbeat Mama, most of the content is reader guestpost subsmissions. We get a TON of submissions over there.

      On Offbeat Home (which doesn't have a forum OR many reader submissions) the ideas come from a mix of places… our RSS feeds, Pinterest, comments, our own homes, etc.

      1 agrees
  5. This is actually amazing! I love to hear about the behind the scenes of the empire.

    Another thing that drew me to your blog is the focus on photos. Every new post has at least one photo, but beyond that there is a good mix of credited private photos, amazing "Ariel edits", reader submissions and creative commons photos.

    1 agrees
  6. A huge part of why I come here every day, multiple times a day, is that the comments are often just as helpful as the original content. Thank you so much for taking the time to moderate the comments and even respond to them! It really makes all the difference!

    1 agrees

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